EXPLORING THE ILLUSION OF FREE WILL 

Chandler Klebs

George Ortega

Creating a world of far less blame,
guilt, arrogance and envy

The world's first, and already successful*  initiative, including two TV shows, to popularize the refutation of free will *How it happened

John Searle, the13th ranked post-1900 philosopher, says that our world overcoming the free will illusion "would be a bigger revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or Copernicus, or Newton, or Galileo, or Darwin -- it would alter our whole conception of our relation with the universe." 

The Washington Post, The New York Times, Psychology Today, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, USA Today, The Telegraph, Time Magazine, Scientific American, NPR Radio, The Economist, and Science Magazine  all affirm that free will is an illusion

Chandler Klebs is the new administrator of this site. He's also the Executive Producer of the Free Will, Science, and Religion and Impersonal Opinion podcasts.

Exploring the Illusion of Free Will is two TV shows - WHITE PLAINS NY TV and NYC LIVE CALL-IN TVfour books - George'sGeorge's, Nick's, and Chandler's one meetups - NYC, one website, and Internet video and audio -  YOU TUBE  iTUNES AUDIO PODCAST  PUBLIC DOMAIN VIDEOS & MP3s, one blog - EXOGENOUS AGENCY and one forum for discussions -  GEORGE AND CHANDLER ON FREE WILL

Quick Links to YouTube Episodes: 1-10  11-20  21-30  31-40  41-50  51-60  61-70  71-80  81-90  91-110  101-110  111-120  121-130  131-140  141-150  151-160  161-170  171-180 

Quick Links to 18 Episode Transcripts: ( by title 01 02  03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14  15  16  17  18

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(Hover over numbers on left for titles)

Titles Episodes
   
01-10 01-10
   
11-20 11-20
   
21-30 21-30
   
31-40 31-40
   
41-50 41-50
   
51-60 51-60
   
61-70 61-70
   
71-80 71-80
   
81-90 81-90
   
91-100 91-100
   

101-110

101-110

   

111-120

111-120

   

121-130

121-130

 

 

131-140

131-140
   

141-150

141-150
   

151-160

151-160
   

161-170

161-170
   

171-180

171-180
   
   
 
Site Features
 

Free Will Refutations in Major Publications

 

Free Will Refuted in the Blogs

 

Free Will Refuted on YouTube

 

Recent books for the public and academia refuting free will

 

Edited and Revised Transcripts of the First Eighteen Episodes

 

Quotes Disaffirming Free Will and Affirming Determinism by the Famous

 

Absurd Free Will Defenses by Major Institutions and Publications Who Should Know Better

 

Claiming credit for public awareness that free will is an illusion

 
 

More Featured Episodes

10. Why Change as the basic Universal Process Makes Free Will Impossible

13. Overcoming Blame, Guilt, Envy and Arrogance by Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will

16. Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will as an Evolutionary Leap in Human Consciousness

17. Revitalizing Religion through Transcending the Illusion of Free Will

26. Because Essential Elements of Every Decision are Stored in Our Unconscious, Free Will is Impossible.

38. The Messenger and I Have Evolved Human Consciousness

50. Freud Popularized the Unconscious.  Ortega is Popularizing Unconscious Will

60. Ten Ways to Refute Free Will

 
 

Landmark Coverage Refuting Free Will

 

USA Today - "Why you don't really have free will by Jerry Coyne January 1, 2012

"The debate about free will, long the purview of philosophers alone, has been given new life by scientists, especially neuroscientists studying how the brain works. And what they're finding supports the idea that free will is a complete illusion."


Time Magazine - "Think You're Operating on Free Will? Think Again" by Eben Harrell July 2, 2010

"In an intriguing review in the July 2 edition of the journal Science, published online Thursday, Ruud Custers and Henk Aarts of Utrecht University in the Netherlands lay out the mounting evidence of the power of what they term the 'unconscious will.'...John Bargh of Yale University, who 10 years ago predicted many of the findings discussed by Custers and Aarts in a paper entitled "The Unbearable Automaticity of Being," called the Science paper a "landmark — nothing like this has been in Science before."


The New York Times - "Your Move: The Maze of Free Will" by Galen Strawson July 22, 2010

"Some people think that quantum mechanics shows that determinism is false, and so holds out a hope that we can be ultimately responsible for what we do. But even if quantum mechanics had shown that determinism is false (it hasn’t), the question would remain: how can indeterminism, objective randomness, help in any way whatever to make you responsible for your actions? The answer to this question is easy. It can’t."

The Atlantic - "The Brain on Trial" by David Eagleman July/August 2011

"In modern science, it is difficult to find the gap into which to slip free will—the uncaused causer—because there seems to be no part of the machinery that does not follow in a causal relationship from the other parts."

The Telegraph - "Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'" by Tom Chivers October 12, 2010

"The philosophical definition of free will uses the phrase 'could have done otherwise'... "As a neuroscientist, you've got to be a determinist. There are physical laws, which the electrical and chemical events in the brain obey. Under identical circumstances, you couldn't have done otherwise; there's no 'I' which can say 'I want to do otherwise'."


The Guardian - "Guilty but not responsible?" by Rosiland English May 29, 2012

"The discovery that humans possess a determined will has profound implications for moral responsibility. Indeed, Harris is even critical of the idea that free will is "intuitive": he says careful introspection can cast doubt on free will. In an earlier book on morality, Harris argues 'Thoughts simply arise in the brain. What else could they do? The truth about us is even stranger than we may suppose: The illusion of free will is itself an illusion'"


Psychology Today - "Free Will Is an Illusion, So What?" by

If you think carefully about any decision you have made in the past, you will recognize that all of them were ultimately based on similar—genetic or social—inputs to which you had been exposed. And you will also discover that you had no control over these inputs, which means that you had no free will in taking the decisions you did.

Complete List

 
 


A brief history of determined vs. free will ideas

Cause and Effect – At about the 5th century BC, in his work On the Mind, the Greek Philosopher Leucippus penned the earliest known universal statement describing what we today understand as determinism, or the law of cause and effect

“Nothing happens at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity.”

Human Will – The concepts of will and free will are actually Christian in orgin. It was Saint Paul in his Letter to the Romans, which is dated at about 58 A.D., who first discovered this thing we call human will. He came to it by recognizing that he could not often do as much right as he wanted. Saint Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 that:

“I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t.” I do what I don’t want to – what I hate.” (Translation – The Living Bible)

Free Will -- Nothing new was said on the matter for the next few hundred years until St. Augustine grappled with the concepts of evil and justice. Saint Augustine wrote in his book De Libero Arbitrio, 386-395 A.D., (translated as “On Free Will”)

“Evil deeds are punished by the justice of God. They would not be punished justly if they had not been performed voluntarily.”

The problem he saw was that if human beings do not have a free will, it would be unfair for God to arbitrarily reward or punish us. St. Augustine concluded that God could not be unfair, and so he created the concept of a human free will, whereby we earn our reward or punishment by what we freely do.

Scientific concepts relating to the determined will vs. free will question

Classical Mechanics -- In 1687 Sir Isaac Newton publishes his “Laws of Motions” that mathematically describes the physical universe as acting in a mechanistic manner according to the principle of cause and effect.

Classical Mechanics is a completely deterministic theory

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle -- In 1925 Warner Heisenberg describes mathematically that…

We can measure the position of a particle or the momentum of a particle (momentum meaning its direction and velocity), but we cannot simultaneously measure the position and momentum of a particle.

Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics -- Niels Bohr and others make the following assertions;

1) Particles do not have a simultaneous position and momentum.

2) Elementary particles behave indeterministically, and are not subject to the principle of cause and effect.

Believers in free will saw the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics as providing a possibility for free will to exist. They asserted that if elementary particles behave indeterministically, they are not subject to the principle of cause and effect that prohibits free will.

But, as noted above, it eventually became apparent that indeterminism also prohibits free will.

 

Edited Transcripts of the First Eighteen Episodes
01 How I came to see my causal will

02 Proving causal will in real time

03 Morality within a causal will perspective

04 What it all means

05 We Do Not "Experience" Free Will

06 How the Hedonic Imperative Makes Free Will Impossible

07 How the Unsolicited Participation of the Unconscious Makes Free Will Impossible

08 Asking When a Child Gains it Illuminates the Incoherence of the Concept "Free Will"

09 Overcoming our Reluctance to Overcome the Illusion of Free Will

10 Why Change as the Basic Universal Process Makes Free Will Impossible

11 The Absurdity of Varying Degrees of Free Will

12 Why the Concept of Free Will is Incoherent

13 Overcoming Blame, Guilt, Envy and Arrogance by Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will

14 Why Both Causality and Randomness Make Free Will Impossible

15 Why Frankfurt's “Second Order Desires” Do Not Allow for a Free Will

16 Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will as an Evolutionary Leap in Human Consciousness

17 Revitalizing Religion through Transcending the Illusion of Free Will

18 Why Humans Cannot Circumvent Natural Law to Gain a Free Will
 
 

YouTube Collection



 
 
 

Free Will Refuted in the News
An explosion of coverage since 2010

Last updated July 30, 2012

 

The Charleston Gazette - "Charles McElwee: Is free will an illusion?" July 28, 2012 by Charles McElwee

The Washington Post - "The Philosophy of 'You didn't build that'" by Dylan Matthews  July 20, 2012"

"Some philosophers are what is called “hard determinists,” who deny that anything that could be called free will exists....But if hard or soft determinism is true, how can people be responsible for their actions, and thus deserve things because of them? ...And if causal determinism is true, your DNA and brain chemistry are more or less equivalent to that chip. In both cases, something you have no control over is manipulating your brain and making you do things."

While Matthews is correct in his analysis, what he misses is that even if hard and soft determinism were not true, the only remaining alternative is that our actions are the result of random, uncaused, processes that even more strongly refute the notion of free will.

Los Angeles Times - "Letters: Free will and the brain" by Laurent McReynolds  July 20, 2012

Los Angeles Times - "Jerry Sandusky -- a head case puzzle" by Robert M. Sapolsky  July 15, 2012

"It cannot be that our thoughts, emotions, urges and itches are the exclusive province of biology, while what we do with them is entirely in the biology-free province of good and evil. If we are going to incorporate biology into thinking about human behavior — as logic demands we do — then we have to consider how it applies to all our domains of behavior. There are no separate categories."

The New York Times' Sunday Book Review - "Have it Your Way; Free Will by Sam Harris" by Daniel Menaker  July 13, 2012

"However correct Harris’s position may be — and I believe that his basic thesis must indeed be correct — it seems to me a sadder truth than he wants to."

Psychology Today - "Nietzsche on Self-Control" by "You can administer rewards to shape behavior because the person is a seat of agency. If an organism responds deterministically or probabilistically to rewards, why not use them? A hundred years of research says that rewards (and punishments) work without the presumption of free will."

Psychology Today - "The Curse of Free Will "Much of self-regulation consists of the suppression of impulses and spontaneous behavior. This suppression and bringing-in-line of behavior with social norms usually entails behavioral standardization, homogenization, and thus a reduction of variability. In short, I have trouble seeing how self-regulation and behavioral variability might be used to score points for free will."

The Huffington Post - "Free Will Is an Illusion" by Victor Stenger  June 1, 2012

"Obviously, we cannot have a functioning society if we do not protect ourselves from people who are dangerous to others because of whatever it is inside their brains and nervous systems that makes them dangerous. Still, given that we don't have libertarian free will that sets us above causal laws, it would seem that our largely retributive moral and justice systems need to be re-evaluated, and maybe even drastically revamped."

The Atlantic - "The Perfected Self" by David H. Freedman  June 2012

The Guardian - "Guilty but not responsible?" by Rosiland English May 29, 2012

"The discovery that humans possess a determined will has profound implications for moral responsibility. Indeed, Harris is even critical of the idea that free will is "intuitive": he says careful introspection can cast doubt on free will. In an earlier book on morality, Harris argues 'Thoughts simply arise in the brain. What else could they do? The truth about us is even stranger than we may suppose: The illusion of free will is itself an illusion'"

The Guardian -  "The Question: Do footballers know what they're doing?" by Jonathan Wilson  May 29, 2012

"The assumption is that the act is instinctive but Wayne Rooney makes that spectacular overhead goal sound as though it were the result of a rational process."


Psychology Today - "Don't Blame Yourself (or Others)

"My best might not be good enough to make everything turn out perfectly, but I cannot do better than my best. This might sound like lack of free will
, but I have never had any use for the concept of free will anyway. I am quite content to accept that each person, including myself, is doing the best that he or she can at any moment, and could not have behaved any differently at that moment."

SB Nation - "Free Will, Responsibility, and the Penalty Box"  by Megalodon on May 26, 2012

Psychology Today - "Your Chaotic Mind"

"Some psychotic behavior is stereotyped, but some is variable, not contingent on its surroundings, and thus "crazy" in naive terms. The internal, self-stimulating processes of the psychotic mind are certainly not free. If the mind were free, it would stop itself from this kind of self-stimulation and end the suffering."

The New York Times Sunday Review - "The Amygdala Made Me Do It" by James Atlas  May 12, 2012

The Daily Caller - "Do People Have Free Will" by By Matt Cockeri  April 9, 2012

Psychology Today - "Free Will Is an Illusion, So What?" by

If you think carefully about any decision you have made in the past, you will recognize that all of them were ultimately based on similar—genetic or social—inputs to which you had been exposed. And you will also discover that you had no control over these inputs, which means that you had no free will in taking the decisions you did.

Los Angeles Times - "Book reviews: 'Free Will,' 'Religion for Atheists'" by Richard Rayner  April 08, 2012

"Harris, armed with the newest research in experimental psychology and neuro-imaging, fires a brief and forceful broadside at the conundrum that has nagged at every major thinker from Plato to Slavoj Zizek: Why is it that, though we can do what we decide, we cannot decide what to do? "Human choice," Harris writes, 'is as important as fanciers of free will believe. But the next choice you make will come out of the darkness of prior causes that you, the conscious witness of your experience, did not bring into being.'''

Waikato Times (New Zealand) -  "Free will is a figment of our imaginations" by Joe Bennett  February 5, 2012

Psychology Today - "The True Meaning Of Freedom" by "But for the age-old question of free will, it's even worse than that: it looks as if the answer is that we don't actually have it...It appears that the unconscious mind, functioning with an understanding bereft of language, may control far more of our conscious decision making than we ever imagined—if not all of it....Philosophers and scientists are speaking out against these results, not so much to deny them but to try instead to salvage the notion of free will by redefining it."

USA Today - "Why you don't really have free will by Jerry Coyne January 1, 2012

"The debate about free will, long the purview of philosophers alone, has been given new life by scientists, especially neuroscientists studying how the brain works. And what they're finding supports the idea that free will is a complete illusion."

The Huffington Post - "The Conspiracy Against Free Will" by Paul Pardi  August 3, 2011

"Many claim that we know we're free and that's enough to keep acting as if we are regardless of what the science and philosophy says.  My view is that if we take the evidence coming out of science and philosophy seriously, freedom of the will is hard to maintain."  

The Atlantic - "The Brain on Trial" by David Eagleman July/August 2011

"In modern science, it is difficult to find the gap into which to slip free will—the uncaused causer—because there seems to be no part of the machinery that does not follow in a causal relationship from the other parts."

Psychology Today - "How The Adjustment Bureau Threatens Free WIll" by

Psychology Today - "A random walk through the free will-derness" by Joachim Krueger, Ph.D. 

The Telegraph - "Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'" by Tom Chivers October 12, 2010

"The philosophical definition of free will uses the phrase 'could have done otherwise'... "As a neuroscientist, you've got to be a determinist. There are physical laws, which the electrical and chemical events in the brain obey. Under identical circumstances, you couldn't have done otherwise; there's no 'I' which can say 'I want to do otherwise'."

The Telegraph - "Neuroscience and free will: when definitions become important" by Tom Chivers  October 12th, 2010

"The idea that we're not radically free is hardly breaking news. Unless you believe in an immaterial soul – I recognise that many people do, but bear with me – then you have to believe that we are matter. And, if we are matter, if we are made of atoms like everything else, then those atoms obey physical laws."

The Telegraph - "Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'" by Tom Chivers  October 12, 2010

Psychology Today - "Beyond free will and determinism: Take a chance with the Dice Man" 

The New York Times - "Your Move: The Maze of Free Will" by Galen Strawson July 22, 2010

"Some people think that quantum mechanics shows that determinism is false, and so holds out a hope that we can be ultimately responsible for what we do. But even if quantum mechanics had shown that determinism is false (it hasn’t), the question would remain: how can indeterminism, objective randomness, help in any way whatever to make you responsible for your actions? The answer to this question is easy. It can’t."

Time Magazine - "Think You're Operating on Free Will? Think Again" by Eben Harrell July 2, 2010

"In an intriguing review in the July 2 edition of the journal Science, published online Thursday, Ruud Custers and Henk Aarts of Utrecht University in the Netherlands lay out the mounting evidence of the power of what they term the 'unconscious will.'...John Bargh of Yale University, who 10 years ago predicted many of the findings discussed by Custers and Aarts in a paper entitled "The Unbearable Automaticity of Being," called the Science paper a "landmark — nothing like this has been in Science before."

Psychology Today - "Is free will real? Better believe it (even if it's not)."   

Scientific American Blogs (web only) - "Scientists say free will probably doesn’t exist, but urge: 'Don’t stop believing!'" by Jesse Bering  April 14, 2010 (Dated incorrectly as April 6 – see comments below article for correct date)

 

Manhattan Meetup -Exploring the Illusion of Free Will (originally named The Predetermined Will Society – Busting the Free Will Myth) Founded on April 7, 2010 by George Ortega.  Between 2003 and 2009, about twelve articles were published.  This Meetup lead to the historic challenges to free will by major publications beginning in 2010.

 

Psychology Today - "The Will is Caused, not "Free" "Determinism, if it were true, would indeed rule out this sort of free will, or shunt it into the realm of total redundancy. But indeterminism (of whatever flavor) isn't any kinder to the notion. Just because some event is not strictly determined by prior physical data doesn't mean it is caused by a free will. It may be simply indeterminately, probabilistically, or (to whatever degree) "randomly" caused by prior physical data."

The Economist - "Incognito" April, 16th 2009

Science Magazine - "Case Closed for Free Will?"   April 14, 2008

New Scientist - "Free will – is our understanding wrong?" by Zeeya Merali  August 01, 2007 (Preview Only)

New Scientist - "Free will and evolution" by Matt Palmer February 03, 2007 (Preview Only)

The New York Times - "Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t By Dennis Overbye  January 2. 2007

"Mark Hallett, a researcher with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said, “Free will does exist, but it’s a perception, not a power or a driving force.  People experience free will. They have the sense they are free.  “The more you scrutinize it, the more you realize you don’t have it,” he said. That is hardly a new thought. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, as Einstein paraphrased it, that 'a human can very well do what he wants, but cannot will what he wants.'" 

New Scientist - "The Big Questions: Do we have free will?" by Patricia Churchland18 November 18, 2006  (Preview Only)

New Scientist - "Free will – you only think you have it" by  by Zeeya Merali  May 04, 2006 (Preview Only)

The Cornell Daily Sun - "Prof Denies Human Free Will" by Julie Geng August 30, 2005

Foreign Policy - "Undermining Free Will" by Paul Davies September 1, 2004

Salon - "How free is free will?" by 

New Scientist - "Sex, brains, robots and Buddhism: looking for free will"   by Chris Frith, Shere Hite, Owen Holland, Geshe Tashi Tsering, Simon Blackburn Aaron Sloman and Christopher Cordess  May 10, 2003 (Preview Only)

Virtually no articles by major media refuting free will were published before 2003.

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