[ExI] free will

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Wed Nov 1 18:00:41 UTC 2023

On 2023-10-31 09:50, BillK via extropy-chat wrote:

> Scientist, after decades of study, concludes: We don't have free will
> by Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times        October 19, 2023
> <https://phys.org/news/2023-10-scientist-decades-dont-free.html>
> Quotes:
> After more than 40 years studying humans and other primates, Sapolsky
> has reached the conclusion that virtually all human behavior is as far
> beyond our conscious control as the convulsions of a seizure, the
> division of cells or the beating of our hearts.

If this was the case, then all learning, training, and conditioning 
would be impossible. A person does not have conscious control of an 
epileptic seizure or their heartbeat (at least not without significant 
biofeedback training), but does have conscious control of their learned 
ability to ride a bike. Bikes did not exist on the African savannah when 
were evolving, therefore there is no way that it is hardwired into us or 
instinctual. That people ride bikes at all is a choice not determined by 
anything other than their own conscious desire to ride a bike and their 
physical ability to do so.

> "The world is really screwed up and made much, much more unfair by the
> fact that we reward people and punish people for things they have no
> control over," Sapolsky said. "We've got no free will. Stop
> attributing stuff to us that isn't there."

This is ludicrous. Incentives and deterrents must work, otherwise people 
would have abandoned their use a long time ago. San Francisco is a good 
example of where Sapolsky's misguided beliefs have nearly destroyed an 
entire city. You take away the deterrence of jail time for theft and 
guess what? People will start stealing a lot more. So much so that 
nobody wants to maintain a store in the city. Sapolsky sounds like he is 
trying to undermine the rule of law with his prescription of the 
coddling of criminals his glorification of learned helplessness. Maybe 
not everybody has free will. Maybe there are genuinely people out there 
who cannot control their behavior. If so, then those people pose a 
danger to civilization and should not be tolerated. They are probably 
doomed by natural selection any way.

Stuart LaForge

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