Back to Economic Basics

Understanding the role of human action

Lately I’ve landed in discussions about whether there is such a thing as human action. I’m not kidding. Some educated people have their doubts.

Just to be clear from the outset, human action, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out, is purposeful behavior, as opposed to the reflex that occurs when the patellar tendon is struck. Someone decides he wants to accomplish an end (anything from sitting down to hunting quarks). He selects means that he believes have a good chance of achieving the end. Then he uses the means to try to achieve the end. “Action is will put into operation,” Mises wrote.

In other words, as Thomas Szasz reminds us, people’s actions have reasons, not causes. A person sits down because he wants to rest or read or watch television. He didn’t have to do it. Even if a gunman orders him to sit down, he still chooses it (rather than being shot; but this doesn’t exonerate the gunman). In contrast, a billiard ball moves because it is hit by another. Given the conditions, it had to move. It can’t decide not to move this time because it’s tired.

Nevertheless, pop science today regards human beings as highly complex billiard balls rather than as persons.

Neurochemical Processes

In my recent discussions, my interlocutors stated that modern neuroscience has shown, or undoubtedly will soon show, that what we call “the mind” and all its activities are really just neurochemical processes. Notice what this means. The brain is a physical organ. As such, it follows the laws of biology, chemistry, physics, quantum physics, and of any other hard science we have yet to discover. The brain cannot make choices. It is not free. So when someone says that mind is nothing but brain, he is saying that the things we associate with mind—choosing, preferring, thinking—aren’t real.

In philosophy this is called epiphenomenalism. It’s hardly a modern view. Thomas Henry Huxley used the term in 1874 in his paper “On the Hypothesis that Animals are Automata.” In his view, consciousness is thought to be an “epiphenomenon of molecular changes in the brain and hence all mental events to be the effects of physical events but never the causes of either physical or other mental events.” I guess Huxley never had a thought that made him laugh or set his heart pounding.

When I respond that no materialist description of mental activity could ever be complete, I am accused of dogmatically predicting what science will not discover in the future. How do I know neuroscientists won’t find a way to give a complete account of what we call “mental activity”?

I respond by noting that while mental activity of course requires physical equipment and processes, logically this must mean that mental activity cannot be the same as physiological activity. After all, if A (mental activity) requires B (physiological activity), or if B causes A, then obviously A can’t be the same thing as B. A thing can’t cause itself. It would make more sense to simply deny the existence of A and say there is only B. I’d have thought that this point would be an argument stopper, because how can neuroscience describe something—conscious experience—that is outside its purview? Can a physicist explain why a car goes to Wal-Mart rather than Kmart? (See Gene Callahan, “What Is Science?”)

Alas, the argument does not end. Nor does my next tack succeed. I usually go on to say that it is empirically clear that our introspective experiences are different from whatever electro-chemical things are happening in our brains. When I introspect I am not aware of neurological events. I am aware of thoughts, feelings, intentions, and so on.

I’m even aware of my being aware (self-consciousness). This is what Szasz calls the “self-conversation” that constitutes “the mind.” It is noteworthy that we have two separate vocabularies for introspective events and physiological events. I know what a funny thought is. I don’t know what a funny neurochemical event is. (Maybe I have a poor sense of humor.)

There may have been a better way to wrap up the discussion. I could have asked, “Do you mean to tell me that there is no such thing as purposive behavior?” Maybe that’s too subtle, but obviously it would be self-contradictory to reply, “That’s what I mean.” What does it mean for a person to mean something? Purpose and intention are affirmed in the very act of communicating a denial of them. Thus, as Ayn Rand and others have noted, such things are self-evident. The concept “proof” presupposes them.

Purpose Is Pervasive

Each of us has evidence of purpose every moment of our waking lives—through introspection. Countless times a day we say to ourselves, “I will do such and such” and then we do it (or try).

But the modern neuroscientist disregards this evidence. Why? Precisely because it is introspective and hence branded “unscientific.” This is where scientists show that they are as capable as anyone else of being unscientific.

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  • Apatheist||

    And the battle for which Friday thread becomes a clusterfuck begins.

  • Human action: beat capitalism||

    ...into the children.

    It's for the children, ya know.

    Von Mises told me to.

    It's the only way to larn'em sum capitalism.

    Man is born an asocial and antisocial being. The newborn child is a savage. Egoism is his nature. Only the experience of life and the teachings of his parents, his brothers, sisters, playmates, and later of other people force him to acknowledge the advantages of social cooperation and accordingly to change his behavior.

    ~Ludwig von Mises
    Omnipotent Government
    p. 241

    So much for that voluntaryist bullshit.

    The city-State requires violence, FORCE, right from the start, on children.

  • ||

    +1 Apatheist.

  • If civilization takes force...||

    ...which Mises admits (aggression initiated on children)...

    Then Civilization is Evil.

    Q.E.D.

    Please make a note of it.

  • ||

    +1 me!

  • Did they beat city-Statism...||

    ...(acceptance of civilization) into you, Episiarch?

  • ||

    +1 me

  • Initiating Force=Human Action||

    ...that is necessary to domesticate humans.

    Maybe White Indian didn't get beat hard enough.

    Who wants to beat White Indian into submission to the city-State (civilization?)

  • ||

    +1 me

  • I do want to thank Episiarch||

    ...for being the perfect foil to my dispensed wisdom.

    I quote Mises, say something serious, and...

    Libertarian fool goes around acknowledging every word I say, and looking rather the fool.

    Can I pay you to do this all weekend?

    Kiss you on the lips?

    I feel bad not giving back something in return.

  • ||

    +1 me

  • ||

    You are gonna win!

  • White Indian||

    My squaw mother used to beat my testicles with a ruler that had "city-state" written on the side.

    It felt pretty good.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    There sure as fuck ain't any wisdom in anything but Epi's and Apatheist's posts in this part of the thread.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Oh, and myself, of course... when I don't hit "enter" too soon, that is.

  • White Indian||

    Excuse me. I mean it felt rather good!

  • White Indian||

    rectal [GOOD].

  • White Indian.....||

    .....is really Rectal.

  • BakedPenguin||

    +3 Mr. FIFY

  • BakedPenguin||

    +1 Francisco

  • ||

    But remember, that the force you speak of is a NECESSARY EVIL. As it is necessary, we must have it or we are the worse for lacking it. But as it is evil, we must minimize it. Why does that seem so hard for people to understand?

  • Dear Mother Earth EcoOfficer--||

    Am I free to step off the reservation?

  • .||

    As long as you submit to totalitarian Gambol Lockdown.

    ~Sincerely
    City-Statism (Civilization)

  • Apatheist||

    +2 to me

  • iguanodon||

    just gottas say fuck every singlre body, & fuck sakes y'all're better than this (i ain't even read the thread yet, barf)...also, primafag ur-troll, you suck...you suck the life of the world, you goddamn vampire...but at least you're boring

  • Apatheist||

    +?

  • ||

    Are you really this fucking stupid? He simply stated that the experience of life forces people to cooperate. He didn't say anything about beating people into cooperation. Fucking idiot. This is exactly why I don't come here that much anymore.

    And I disagree with the premise of this entire article. Mises never said that free will had to exist for his theories of human action to be accurate. In fact, he outright stated that a lack of metaphysical free will has no baring on his philosophy. The fact of the matter is that man acts, and he processes information in a way that at least appears to be choice. Whether or not that choice is an illusion is irrelevant. The act of cognition can still occur whether or not choice actually occurs.

    From Human Action:

    The content of human action, i.e., the ends aimed at and the means chosen
    and applied for the attainment of these ends, is determined by the personal
    qualities of every acting man. Individual man is the product of a long line
    of zoological evolution which has shaped his physiological inheritance. He
    is born the offspring and the heir of his ancestors, and the precipitate and
    sediment of all that his forefathers experienced are his biological patrimony.
    When he is born, he does not enter the world in general as such, but a definite
    environment. The innate and inherited biological qualities and all that life
    has worked upon him make a man what he is at any instant of his pilgrimage.
    They are his fate and destiny. His will is not “free” in the metaphysical sense
    of this term. It is determined by his background and all the influences to
    which he himself and his ancestors were exposed.
    Inheritance and environment direct a man’s actions. They suggest to him
    both the ends and the means. He lives not simply as man in abstracto; he
    lives as a son of his family, his race, his people, and his age; as a citizen of
    his country; as a member of a definite social group; as a practitioner of a
    certain vocation; as a follower of definite religious, metaphysical, philosophical,
    and political ideas; as a partisan in many feuds and controversies.
    He does not himself create his ideas and standards of value; he borrows them
    from other people. His ideology is what his environment enjoins upon him.
    Only very few men have the gift of thinking new and original ideas and of
    changing the traditional body of creeds and doctrines.
    Common man does not speculate about the great problems. With regard
    to them he relies upon other people’s authority, he behaves as “every decent
    fellow must behave,” he is like a sheep in the herd. It is precisely this
    intellectual inertia that characterizes a man as a common man. Yet the
    common man does choose. He chooses to adopt traditional patterns or
    patterns adopted by other people because he is convinced that this procedure
    is best fitted to achieve his own welfare. And he is ready to change his
    ideology and consequently his mode of action whenever he becomes convinced
    that this would better serve his own interests.
    Most of a man’s daily behavior is simple routine. He performs certain
    46 HUMAN ACTION
    acts without paying special attention to them. He does many things because
    he was trained in his childhood to do them, because other people behave in
    the same way, and because it is customary in his environment. He acquires
    habits, he develops automatic reactions. But he indulges in these habits only
    because he welcomes their effects. As soon as he discovers that the pursuit
    of the habitual way may hinder the attainment of ends considered as more
    desirable, he changes his attitude. A man brought up in an area in which the
    water is clean acquires the habit of heedlessly drinking, washing, and
    bathing. When he moves to a place in which the water is polluted by morbific
    germs, he will devote the most careful attention to procedures about which
    he never bothered before. He will watch himself permanently in order not
    to hurt himself by indulging unthinkingly in his traditional routine and his
    automatic reactions. The fact that an action is in the regular course of affairs
    performed spontaneously, as it were, does not mean that it is not due to a
    conscious volition and to a deliberate choice. Indulgence in a routine which
    possibly could be changed is action.
    Praxeology is not concerned with the changing content of acting, but with
    its pure form and its categorial structure. The study of the accidental and
    environmental features of human action is the task of history.

  • Bingo||

    Are you really this fucking stupid?

    Yup.

  • ||

    Oh yeah he is fecund with the stupid.

  • Domestication, by Force||

    Savages (people of the forest) don't do that, as Mises acknowledges.

    Are you that fucking stupid not to know it?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Wow. So deep. So brilliant.

    I'm gonna go shoot my neighbor in the face, because I'm free to do so! He's on MY land!

  • ||

    Yeah no tribesman ever adopted anything that was more advanced than bamboo technology.

    Oh wait...

  • ||

    tribesmen developing graphics tablets is pretty awesome....oh, real bamboo, *snore*

  • ||

    +1

    I want to get a tablet. Someday.

  • HermanLame||

    Tribesmen don't adopt to stimuli around them or think?

  • Suki||

    +∞, including the internet

  • ||

    It's been a while since I've been through here. I get the feeling that the IQ here had dropped precipitously. Even the libertarians arguing on this board don't seem to make great points, and there is a lot of bickering back and forth with no actual argument being presented. Reason didn't use to get near this many commenters, but they were SOOOOOOOOOOOO much smarter. Even the trolls were smarter. This is actually depressing.

  • ||

    "He chooses to adopt traditional patterns or
    patterns adopted by other people because he is convinced that this procedure
    is best fitted to achieve his own welfare."

    Even if pursuing one's own welfare is a biological imperative at its root, and choice itself is an illusion, it doesn't make a difference. The fact of the matter is that man pursues what achieves his welfare. Whether the person is truly free to choose makes no difference. The fact of the matter is that means are sought to achieve an individual's ends, regardless of whether or not man has a "soul" that embodies him with "free will."

  • sigmund||

    So much for that voluntaryist bullshit.

    The city-State requires violence, FORCE, right from the start, on children.

    Still rebelling against your potty-training, I see, by shitting all over another H&R thread.

  • ||

    FFFFFFFFFFFFHAHAHAHA

    Seriously, what is it about the weekend that undoes all the effort put into housebreaking it anyways?

  • White Indian||

    I require violence and force right from the start. It just isn't fun if you don't pull my hair and make me cry.

  • James Solbakken||

    Is it not obvious by now that liberty is enforced with violence just like tyranny is enforced with violence? The difference is a MORAL one!!! Liberty is just, while tyranny is unjust. This is why I'm not a pacifist, because I accept the necessity of killing tyrants, or at least kicking their asses sufficiently to convince them to go away.

  • Sam Grove||

    He's not saying that people force him, his experience forces him to conclude that he must be willing to share the world with like egos.

  • ||

    Actually, the children, being ignorant of the NAP aggress upon the property of the parents and siblings.

    The parents and siblings, as per the NAP, only use aggression in proportion to protect themselves from the aggression of the minor child.

    This is COMPLETELY in line with libertarianism and the NAP.

    The parents and siblings are not violating the NAP, they are enforcing it socially against the minor child that is not born with the understanding of the NAP.

    Once one actually bothers to understand who initiates force and who is defending themselves against force in any situation, usually an understanding of the NAP clears up any confusion one may have about force in any given situation.

  • Will post for game points!!!||

    Libertarians are like that.

    It's so Reasonable.

  • "+1 me" the libertarian motto||

  • Apatheist||

    +2 to me

  • ||

    And a "DRINK!" as well.

  • rectal, obviously||

    Episiarch wins the clusterfuck.
    Obviously.

  • ||

    +1 Epi!

  • Sheldon Richman||

    I'm doing my part.

  • Frater Perdurabo||

    Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with the Will.

  • PermaLurker||

    +666

  • Christina||

    Is Richman saying there's a ghost in the machine?

  • Christina||

  • ||

    I think he is saying, or at least paraphrasing, "cogito ergo sum."

    Also, I was rather taken by Richman's challenge to the deniers of free will (I paraphrase): "Are they saying that something is its own cause?"

    It seems to me that Richman might be wise to welcome such an assertion. Anything that is its own cause is, in essence, the prime mover, i.e., divine. And wouldn't that make free will the very divine spark that theologians have long located in the human being? Mechanical Determinists and religious mystics can at last link arms in agreement! Huzzah!!

  • Sheldon Richman||

    Nope. Read Gilbert Ryle's The Concept of Mind.

  • ||

    There is an entirely different school of thought other than the tired "free will vs determinism model," which this essay glorifies. Human consciousness is not a product, but a by-product of the brain. It is more analogous to an antenna receiving consciousness than an electromagnetic entity creating it. Read the work of psychiatrist Ian Stevenson and his work studying past lives. The human mind is enormously complex, but our "free will," as it is, is not much more than us paying attention -- and adjusting our frequencies -- to the frequencies of the universe.
    This is not New Age bullshit. This is being studied by psychiatrists, quantum physicists and other scientists across the globe.

  • ||

    Is there a law or something that states that any time someone says it's "not New Age bullshit", it probably is?

  • Wolfpack ||

    Is there a law or something that states that any time an economists says science isn't science, it probably is?

    And...

    Is there a law or something that states that any time an economists says economics is science, it probably isn't?

    Carry on.

  • Christina||

    The austrian economists strongly believe that economics is not a science.

  • Foundation of Economic Science||

    The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science
    by Ludwig von Mises

    mises.org/books/ultimate.pdf

    Christina, white courtesy phone, Mises is on the line.

    He wants you to count how many times SCIENCE OF HUMAN ACTION is written in his book.

  • A Serious Man||

    Economics is not falsifiable since you can't run a controlled experiment with people, therefore it is not a science.

    Of course you can analyze human behavior and derive axioms that seem consistent, and in many cases that will give you a good grasp of human action, but the point of Austrian economics is that political power and governemnt bureuacracies are incapable of centrally planning economies because they are either tainted by rent-seeking or lack the information neccessary to make timely decisions.

  • Economists always publish to..||

    Economists always publish to support specific political agendas.

  • ||

    +1 Serious Dude

  • hazeeran||

    "the point of Austrian economics is that political power and governemnt bureuacracies are incapable of centrally planning economies because they are either tainted by rent-seeking or lack the information neccessary to make timely decisions."

    I'm sympathetic to their view, but that doesn't seem like enough to base and entirely different school of thought upon. I thought by and large Chicago-ers (the only one I've read themselves is Sowell) admitted this too.

  • anon||

    dude what are you talking about? Haven't you ever seen Big Brother or The Real World?

    /sic

  • SIV||

    This is being studied by psychiatrists, quantum physicists and other scientists across the globe.

    I lol'd

  • "+1 me" the libertarian motto||

  • ||

    +1 me

  • Apatheist||

    Balls!

  • Short Bus: Hey man, nice 1||

  • ||

    +1 me

  • Apatheist||

    I claim this +1 to me

  • Libertarian trolls shout down||

    ...anything Reasonable.

  • ||

    +1 me! me!! me!!!

  • Apatheist||

    +2 to me

  • ||

    + another 10 me!

  • ||

    God damn it.

  • ||

    Ooooo, we get a drink with that one too.

    Drink!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Say something reasonable, and we'll listen.

    So far... not once have you done so.

  • ||

    no, +1 me! me!! me!!! me!!!! me!!!!!

  • Apatheist||

    +1 to me

    Alright, time to go out. Epi has already rigged it to win anyways.

  • ||

    This is actually a +10 for me.

  • Apatheist||

    I would think that I get +1 for claiming the response and you get 10 for the impersonation. Rule clarification?

  • ||

    Interesting question. I agree with you. You got in there, so earned your point, but I get my x10 for spoofage.

    Good addition to the rules.

  • Bingo||

    No way dude, an un-replied spoof is totally up for claim and whoever claims should get the 10x

  • ||

    No, Bingo, you see, this way we add the element of danger, though I suppose we could do it your way and if the jump-er-in-er is wrong, they lose 10 points. That could be interesting.

  • Bingo||

    It makes it more competitive, plus it's nice to have some high risk / high reward elements.

  • ||

    OK, let's do it your way. But if you ride your fixed gear bike in front of me I'm still going all Duel on you.

  • Bingo||

    Pfft, everyone knows that bike beats car everytime.

  • ||

    ARRGGHHHH

    I hate that movie. You're just trying to enrage me, aren't you?

    (revs engine)

  • Bingo||

    (rides in a backwards circle around a messenger bag while flipping you off)

  • ||

    (turns off lights)

  • ||

    Also, this rule only apples to a spoof or near spoof. You can't crowd in on a simple response. So if I see a Warty post that obviously isn't Warty, I can jump in in front of him. However, if the post actually was Warty and I'm wrong, I lose 2 points.

  • Warty||

    -2 Epi

    Naw, just kidding. +10 me

  • ||

    Silver Fox: Do your own research. But what would Ian Stevenson know? He was just head of the psychiatry school at the University of Virginia and the director of the Division of Personality Studies for 40 years. ... moron.

  • ||

    Why would I want to do research on it? Saying we've got antennas tuned into the universe is [in my mind] a step or two away from nonsense like psychic abilities and the like.

    In short, it sounds like pseudo-scientific claptrap.

    Not interested.

  • Robert||

    Exactly what is it with this guy's comment that causes you to reject it as an area of possible interest: the metaphor he used, or the consequences you predict?

  • ||

    Here's a backatcha question: do you believe in astrology, that the placements and movements of celestial bodies has an effect on our lives and personalities?

    I don't and for the same reasons too: this idea is silly on its face. Just because someone makes a bold claim about X,Y or Z doesn't mean I have to take it seriously.

  • Robert||

    I think that at best, cyclic events in our lives may coincide with the motions of celestial bodies, and with other physical actions around us. It would be implausible to think that they exert any influence.

    However, that's not the case when it comes to consciousness and will. Since we don't know what makes the cx between will and action, i.e. the mind-body cx, it would be presumptuous to exclude possible mechanisms. We don't know any mechanism yet for how it gets done, so why rule out possible diffuse relationships between consciousnesses? That's different from the situation with the motion of celestial bodies.

  • ||

    Robert, if you can't figure out that the only difference between astrology and the notion that we derive our consciousness from outer space [it might explain White Indian's malfunction though] is that astrology deals with specifics and our-minds-as-radios theory focuses on the entire universe then I have to wonder what other nonsense you're willing to believe.

    It's like you're saying that because the brain is mysterious that there has to be a mysterious origin to our minds.

    Do we really need to toss metaphysics into the mix before we've scratched the surface?

  • Robert||

    The brain is mysterious, but not as mysterious as mind. We have devices by which we can detect brain activity, but no consistent interface yet for any mind other than one. It does seem that one mind can sometimes detect activity in another directly, but not very consistently -- at least not at the current development of the art. The apparently very strong preference of a mind for interface with a particular brain seems to be very significant, and looks to be a type of localiz'n. How does a mind become associated with a particular brain? What was that mind doing previously? How is it that there always seems to be enough minds to go around?

  • ||

    How does a mind become associated with a particular brain?

    By way of the mind being the emergent feature of the brain; obvious as there are no minds without brains.

    For further study, see Valentino Braitenberg's delightful Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology (MIT Press 1984).

  • Robert||

    How do we know there are no minds without brains? Unless of course you simply define anything associated with a mind as a brain.

  • ||

    How do we know there are no minds without brains?

    Just the same way as we know that there are no white unicorns; no one ever brought the slightest proof of their existence.

  • ||

    Oh God you're hopeless. You really want to believe there's some magical element behind the human mind.

    Well. I clearly won't convince you how silly you're being, but I will hold out hope that your bio-chemistry degree wasn't completely wasted...

  • Robert||

    I don't know what you mean by magical. Do you consider all things to be learned in the future as magic?

  • ||

    Minds without brains, now that's magical (thinking).

  • Robert||

    Why is that any more magical than electric fields without electric charge?

  • ||

    electric fields without electric charge

    That's magical, too.

  • Robert||

    So then Maxwell's equations are magical. They do seem to be so when it comes to that feature, the presence of induced fields that are not in the vicinity of any source of electric charge. This is why there was a considerable effort devoted to characterizing the luminiferous ether. Nobody has been able to demonstrate any kind of matter containing charged particles in the vacuum that can propagate EM waves, and yet the E component consists of oscillating fields as if there were separated + & - particles producing those fields even in vacuum. The apparent absence of ether is magical in that way.

    If thought were postulated to be a certain pattern of electric activity caused by brain matter, then it would be no stranger to discover thought without brain than it has been to discover waves without propagating medium.

  • ||

    Nobody has been able to demonstrate any kind of matter containing charged particles in the vacuum that can propagate EM waves

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....rary_Ideas

    If thought were postulated to be a certain pattern of electric activity caused by brain matter

    First, it isn't necessary to be an electric activity: information processing (of whatever complexity) is possible by mechanistic means as well (for example with logic gates utilizing pneumatics). That Mother Nature (evolution) hit upon the electrochemical solution is fortuitous but not necessary.

    Secondly, positing minds without brains is an example of an answer in search of a question: no one demonstrated the existence of a mind without a brain, so theorizing about the possible mechanism of such a phenomenon is pretty much idle chatter.

    Since we don't know what makes the cx between will and action

    But we do know: efferent nerves connected to the CNS (at least in animals possessing a CNS).

    If you have the time to read up on Maxwell's equation/luminiferous ether then surely you have the time to read up on afferent neurons, interneurons & efferent neurons.

  • Robert||

    Duh, I took neurology in med school, both the class and the practical rotation, but never saw anything in the brain labeled "will" connected to efferents! Are you saying will is a physical attribute?

  • ||

    Duh, you referred to the "cx between will & action"; are you saying that there's no will?

  • Robert||

    I'm saying it's non-material, so how does it get to affect the material?

  • ||

    I'm saying it's non-material

    Just the same way as information is "non-material". It is a particular arrangement of matter/energy; it is a (dynamic) state. Once the material conditions are changed (for example the brain is starved of oxygen for a long enough time), the state changes enough for the will to cease to operate; this demonstrates that without the material substrate of proper state, the will disappears. You might believe that it recedes to the Big Will-Bucket In The Sky, but there's no need for that explanation: it simply ceases to exist because the material conditions necessary for its existence are not present.

    What happens to the will when the state of unconsciousness sets in, either because of sleep or because of some kind of anesthetic? Does it go away somewhere and returns after waking or when the effects of the anesthetic wears off? The simpler explanation is that the state change resulting from going to sleep or being stupefied by the anesthetic excludes the operation of the will; once the conditions change back to the proper state, the will operates again.

    There's no need for non-material or magical explanations; an entirely materialistic explanation for the (non-)existence of the will is available.

  • Suki||

    UVA = Thomas Jefferson and automatically wins thread.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    From wikipedia: Ian Pretyman Stevenson, MD, (October 31, 1918–February 8, 2007) was a Canadian biochemist and professor of psychiatry. Until his retirement in 2002, he was head of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia, which investigates the paranormal.[1]

    Pseudo-scientific claptrap.

  • Britt||

    Jefferson, if he were not already spinning his grave at what the country as a whole has become, would be spinning in his grave at what the university he founded has become.

  • Britt||

    Jefferson, if he were not already spinning his grave at what the country as a whole has become, would be spinning in his grave at what the university he founded has become.

  • Robert||

    If you think that's claptrap, what better methods do you propose to study the phenomena that are currently characterized as "para"normal?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    No special methods are necessary. Paranormal just means "stuff people want to believe with no proof whatsoever." Quantum physics is as fucked up crazy as anything "paranormal," yet James Randi isn't going to give you a million bucks for showing it's real.

  • Robert||

    So, how would you study abnormal forms of perception if you are interested in proof?

  • ||

    Argument from Authority! Very convincing.

  • READ ROTHBARD!||

  • ||

    +1 Mad Scientist

  • ||

    Some scientists -- quantum physicists and others -- believe that consciousness actually resides in the subatomic processes in the brain, and that those quantum energies do not "die" with the brain. Some believe they are finding how and why humans believe in a god, a God, or gods. But of course that's nothing more than New Age bullshit, right Silver Fox?

  • ||

    Scientists (even quantum physicists) are not immune to believing in pseudo-scientific clap-trap.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    This.

  • ||

    +1 me

  • ||

    +10 me

  • ||

    And they're even less immune to being misquoted and misidentified by people anxious to lend credibility to their own bullshit.

  • Suki||

    Sounds like a desire to give God a physical presence when none is needed.

  • ||

    But of course that's nothing more than New Age bullshit, right Silver Fox?

    Basically.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    that those quantum energies do not "die" with the brain

    But of course that's nothing more than New Age bullshit, right Silver Fox?

    Pretty much, yeah. Where's the evidence? Nothing wrong with hypothesizing that the brain utilizes quantum physics in some way, but it's just conjecture without some evidence to prove it.

  • ||

    So basically you are saying that our antennas make us do things and we don't really contol our thoughts and thus our actions?

  • A Serious Man||

    What does it tell us when we have scientists despeartely searching for some sort of human binary code that dicates our behavior and action? To me this is disturbing since there is a subtle indication that they believe that once human behavior has been fully decoded and turned into a formula that they can be controlled and manipulated into becoming "better".

    Now cue White Indian's zinger about capiatlism or the agriculture {CITy-sTate) being about control.

  • I'm already living rent free||

    ...inside your head. Carry on, you're doing it right.

  • ||

    +1 for A Serious Man

  • ||

    To me this is disturbing since there is a subtle indication that they believe that once human behavior has been fully decoded and turned into a formula that they can be controlled and manipulated into becoming "better"

    The fact that us ordinary folks voluntarily do things our supposed betters do not want us to do must really keep them up at night.

  • White Indian||

    I may be living rent free in your head, but I am willing to suck delicious KOCH in lieu of rent.

  • ||

    It tells me two things. 1st that some of the characters that Rand came up with aren't so fictional after all and 2nd that we will do anything, ANYTHING, to absolve ourselves of responsibility.

  • ||

    Mad Scientist: Everyone argues from authority, dipshit. You're just pissed because the only thing you're an "authority" on is how long to keep the plastic bag on your head during your auto-erotic asphyxiation sessions while your mother records them.

  • ||

    ad hominem as well? You're on a roll.

  • Libertarian got Fallacy List||

    ...and everything, EVERYTHING is a logical fallacy.

  • ||

    +1 Mad Scientist

  • ||

    +10 me! I'm on a roll!

  • argumentum ad nauseam||

    +1 for me, me!, me!!, me!!!!

  • Bingo||

    +2 Mad Scientist

  • BigT||

    Troll on a roll... To go!

  • ||

    +1 me totally!

  • ||

    +10 me!

  • Ah, glorious technology!||

    What would we do without plastic bags and video cameras? Actually enjoy life?

  • ||

    +1 Jamie

  • ||

    No plastic bags, no cameras = no videos of kittehs playing in bags

    That's no way to live man.

    ------------------------------

  • Fatty Bolger||

    how long to keep the plastic bag on your head during your auto-erotic asphyxiation sessions while your mother records them

    So now we know what Jamie is doing this weekend.

  • ||

    Mad: Since your cuntery includes an absolute dismissal of any research that would upset your puny worldview, I felt compelled to talk about your sexual inadequacies.

  • ||

    It's true; we can't all be Steve Smith. But really, Jamie, extraordinary claims, extraordinary proof, and all that. I'm sorry that me incredulity has caused you so much trauma.

  • ||

    +1 Jamie Kelly

  • ||

    Damn, Epi. You earn at least 1000 points for a rectal spoofing. Hey, SugarFree, is rectal spoofing a thing?

  • ||

    +10 me!

  • anarch||

    Thank you, reason.com, for including the link to The Freeman's version of this article, to which I referred when sending it around, not wanting to expose anyone to this comments section until it's cleaned up.

  • Libertarians are embarrassing||

    gosh, just look at 'em rage against anything reasonable

  • Bingo||

    +1 anarch

  • ||

    Me, too. I personally value HnR as a good starting point for exploration, much as I value WikiPedia for the same, er, reason. But as the place I want to cite, and to which I wish to refer others, not so much.

  • ||

    It is now irrational -- unREASONable -- to not believe in reincarnation. Do your own fucking homework, little people.

  • Bingo||

    The quantum suicide thought experiment is pretty interesting, I don't know if I would want to test it myself though.

  • BigT||

    Thank you, Cleopatra!

  • A Serious Man||

    Thank you, and for proof of my concerns watch the movie "Serenity".

  • A Serious Man||

    Meant as a reply to my own post above. Damn agriculture-city state tech snafus.

  • Bingo||

    The PRIVATE server is preventing the squirrels from their natural FREEdom to GAMBOL. How can libertardians support the slavery of TREE/FREE SPECIES?

  • ||

    Don't know.

    Do squirrels have antennas tuned into the universe?

  • White Indian||

    All squirrels are free to gambol about my ass and scrotum.

  • ||

    Stevenson, Mad Scientist, made no "extraordinary claim" in his research. In fact, he explored every rational and scientific explanation other than the one he ultimatley landed on as a matter of logical certainty. His evidence was rather "extraordinary," though. Perhaps you would care to research it.

  • ||

    Nor did he offer his research into the matter as "proof." I think you mean "evidence."

  • ||

    I'm quite comfortable dismissing your assertion that we channel free will by harmonizing our frequencies with the universe with absolutely no research at all.

  • stuartl||

    Yep. He explored every single possible explanation. There are no other explanations left.

  • Canman||

    I want to see you convince Michael Shermer or James Randi (he even has a million dollar prize.)

  • Brett L||

    So he built a detector for these "frequencies" and has posted a schematic somewhere that I can review, right?

  • Fedup22||

    So what Sheldon is really saying is that human behavior is outside the chain of cause and effect without providing any good reason to believe that this is the case.

    Under Sheldon's model it is meaningless to ask why someone is evil because apparently there is no cause for human behavior. I suppose the answer would be because they chose to be, but then the question is why would they choose to murder, steal, etc.? If the answer is that they are greedy then the question becomes why they are greedy?

    Unless you posit the existence of the supernatural I see no good reason to believe in contra-causal free will. The only way I can see is if quantum inderterminancy operates in the brain (a big if as it is unclear if quantum processes operate on a macro scale), but it would have to be a special kind of indeterminancy as it could just as likely produce randomness, which does not produce self-controlled choice.

    I'd also like to see Sheldon respond to the following argument by philosopher Galen Strawson:
    "I suppose it’s possible that you might have acquired the first want, that’s the want for a want, because you wanted to! It’s theoretically possible that you had a want to have a want to have a want. But this is very hard to imagine, and the question just rearises: where did that want come from? You certainly can’t go on like this forever. At some point your wants must be just given. They will be products of your genetic inheritance and upbringing that you had no say in. In other words, there’s a fundamental sense in which you did not and cannot make yourself the way you are. And this, as you say, is the key step in the basic argument against ultimate moral responsibility, which goes like this: (1) You do what you do — in the circumstances in which you find yourself — because of the way you are. (2 ) So if you’re going to be ultimately responsible for what you do, you’re going to have to be ultimately responsible for the way you are—at least in certain mental respects. (3) But you can’t be ultimately responsible for the way you are (for the reasons just given). (4) So you can’t be ultimately responsible for what you do."

  • prolefeed||

    in a sense, it doesn't matter whether there is free will, or whether we are all very complicated robots. even robots have the right to survive, and take measures to stop other robots that would do things to damage them.

    so even robots can and must be held accountable for their actions, even if those actions are inevitable.

  • Suki||

    Disassemble? NO DISASSEMBLE!

  • ||

    even robots have the right to survive, and take measures to stop other robots that would do things to damage them.

    "Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons!"

  • ||

    They were programmed to be evil you see, and that's why they must be destroyed.

  • ||

    You watched that episode where Megatron went about reprogramming the robots on pre-Earth Cybertron too, huh?

  • ||

    even robots have the right to survive, and take measures to stop other robots that would do things to damage them.

    But animals don't have the right to kill humans who attempt to harm them...why?

    You lose consciousness, you lose any principled distinction between humans and animals. That's a problem for people who care about such things.

  • ||

    Any principled distinction? What about the ability to conceive and respect rights in the first place, Tulpa? When there exists some class of animal or machine that has the ability to recognize what rights are and respect them, then I will do the same for them.

  • ||

    And how will you determine whether they have that ability?

  • ||

    Are you joking? You know there's this thing called Communication, right Tulpa?

  • BakedPenguin||

    +1 heller

  • ||

    So if I write a program that says "I respect your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" then that means the computer that runs it is judged sentient by your standard.

    However, a Nepalese person who doesn't speak English and thus cannot communicate abstract things such as respect for rights (it's kind of hard to do that by pointing and waving your hands around) fails this test, and thus can be butchered for Thanksgiving dinner as they are not conscious.

  • ||

    The Nepalese woman can communicate in her own language abstract ideas like "I have rights!".

    English is not necessary here.

  • ||

    English is not necessary here.

    If she doesn't speak English she can't communicate to heller that she thinks he has rights. I was asking how heller can personally know that she is sentient.

  • ||

    So if I write a program that says "I respect your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" then that means the computer that runs it is judged sentient by your standard.

    Holy crap, it's like you're not even trying to get what I'm saying.

  • ||

    All you said was "Communication" which is not a specific answer.

    I gave an example of a machine that could communicate that it respected your rights and a human being who couldn't. So determining consciousness from "communication" isn't going to cut it.

  • ||

    Tulpa, at some point people are going to realize that you just say things to disagree, no matter how stupid they are. And at that point they will stop taking you seriously. I have already reached this point.

  • ||

    No, I use the Socratic method to get people to elucidate their thinking and expose their unspoken assumptions. This requires asking superficially stupid questions.

    If people don't react well to that, then I can take comfort in the fact that they didn't react well to Socrates either.

  • ||

    False assumptions + semantics =/= Socratic dialectic. You have to make sure AND the other person agree on the definition of words before you question the claim.

  • ||

    I'm not dealing with semantics at all. I'm using the common definition of "communication", not redefining it at all, and showing that it's not sufficient to prove or disprove sentience.

    What I'm questioning is the epistemology behind heller's claim, ie whether it's possible for him to know whether an entity is experiencing consciousness.

  • ||

    But animals don't have the right to kill humans who attempt to harm them...why?

    It isn't that they don't have a right, but rather than they don't have the means... most of the time: some boars successfully gored their hunters when a lance was the cutting edge hunting technology (pun very much intended).

  • ||

    Depends on which animals we're talking about. There are plenty of animals that pose significant danger to inexperienced hunters, regardless of what they're armed with.

    For instance, do you think those lions' rights were violated when the police shot them in that Ohio situation a few weeks back?

  • ||

    I don't think that non-human animals have rights; I think that humans have (legal) responsibilities, including not causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

  • Biology of Belief||

    DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts.

    The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles
    by Bruce Lipton
    www.amazon.com/dp/0975991477

  • BakedPenguin||

    I claim it. +1 to me.

  • Fedup22||

    I also fail to see how a rejection of contra-causal free will entails that society will stop holding indviduals accountable for actions. Society simply can't function without doing so as positive change in individuals is still possible in a deterministic world. It's just that certain practices like the death penalty and harsh retributive punishments may very well be axed.

    William Godwin, arguably the first anarchist, was a determinist, so it is still possible to hold libertarian beliefs without accepting contra-causal free will although it would likely require some adjustments.

  • Robert||

    We make judgments regarding the operation of machines, and fix or junk them as necessary, so clearly action doesn't have to be willed (freely or otherwise) to be accounted for and dealt with.

  • Tony||

    it is empirically clear that our introspective experiences are different from whatever electro-chemical things are happening in our brains.

    So what are they? We can appreciate physical emergence from DNA without the
    need to invoke a man in a box embodying the process somewhere within in. Maybe the argument is more sophisticated than dualism, but that does seem to be what it wants to be.

    It is scientism, the application of the methods of the hard sciences to matters where those methods are inappropriate.

    Studying the physical processes involved in thought and action is not only appropriate for science but what the hell else is it supposed to study at this point? Is it supposed to be content with a god-of-the-gaps just because the implications are unsettling?

  • Bingo||

    +1 me

  • ||

    Hey! The Tony sockpuppet doesn't count! This is for rectal only!

  • Bingo||

    Hmm, good point. If we applied it to all trolls then Old Mex would win every thread.

  • Bingo||

  • ||

    Genius.

    (accelerates suddenly towards Bingo's bike, turning on lights with engine roaring)

  • Bingo||

    BOOM, I pull one of these, checkmate bitch.

  • ||

    Get off the phone, rectal.

  • ||

    +10 for me! Thanks, rectal!

  • ||

    +11 me.

    Homer: D'oh!
    Bart: Don't have a cow, rectal!

  • ||

    +12 for me! Thanks, rectal!

  • ||

    That's not me, you sock-puppeting bitch.
    Get that sand out of your vagina!
    Hahahahahaha.

  • ||

    +13 for me bitch!

  • ||

    You're the bitch!
    +14 for me!

  • ||

    We are all the bitch!
    Happy?
    Now, what about Mises's "praxiology"?
    Discuss!

  • ||

  • ||

    That was hilarious.

  • Tony||

    I'm not saying there aren't implications either, but I think they're good ones. I think a good society is one that minimizes its deployment of moral judgment. Even in the most obvious cases, say murder, isn't it better to punish a murderer for the purposes of protecting society and the rule of law, rather than for making sure the murderer realizes what a bad person he is? I think it would do us a lot of good to apply less free-will-based moral judgment and more practical consideration, as everyone here would agree with respect to drug policy.

  • ||

    You raise an interesting point, but isn't society better protected if it's members learn how to behave? We punish criminals not just to protect society, but because if they get burned bad enough they'll be less likely to put their hand on a hot stove again.

  • Mr. Mark||

    Is the universe stochastic or deterministic?

    I don't know, either. But I didn't finish college. I'm sure they would have covered that during one of my last missing general distribution multiculturalism and diversity appreciation courses on the role of feminist pottery trends among the indigenous peoples of the imaginary worlds of fantasy fiction or something.

    Just as Newton's physics make for practical, approximate descriptions of the stuff of more recent and complicated physics, descriptions of the mind are useful regardless of the minute inner workings of the brain.

    Additionally, if the mind works the way it works because of the physical state of the brain (pretty reasonable assumption), then things like cognition, emotion, perception, attention, and so forth still factor in.

    You've probably read articles or seen stuff on TV or the internet about the use various instruments to detect and map activity in the brain and associate it with various mental processes. This fits nicely (though not necessarily) with schema theory and concepts about how human beings recognize and recall information.

    A physical, organic foundation for mental processes does not imply that scientists will soon be able to perfectly predict the behavior of a given individual over time, for a broad range of decisions. It doesn't matter how memories are stored or how emotions develop, or how they will affect decision making. There are simply way too many inputs to the process.

    I don't resist the idea of the mind being the software running in the brain - fully the product of chemical and electrical activities therein. Instead, it seems intuitively to be the most likely explanation for the mind. This doesn't change my view of freewill, doesn't change my view of responsibility, doesn't even change my belief in God. I'm not seeing the incompatibilities.

    Finally, how 'bout them strange attracors?

  • Warty||

    I lean toward deterministic, to be honest. It's comforting to think that rectal's existence was inevitable.

  • ||

    It's stochastic at a fundamental level, but an average over a collection of zillions of stochastic processes will almost always be deterministic.

    There's a nonzero probability that all the oxygen atoms in the room you're in will coalesce in one corner and everyone in the room will asphyxiate. However, that's never been the case, despite huge numbers of humans being in huge numbers of rooms throughout history.

  • Robert||

    If the software is -- or produces -- the mind, what about the software running in non-living things? Does every physical process have some kind of mind associated with it?

  • Robert||

    Not only that, but because there are many processes ongoing at any given time in a living thing, does it have multiple minds associated with it? Does every mind need a certain minimum complexity of processes? Is there some kind of definite mapping such that every mind consists of a certain set of ongoing processes?

  • Mr. Mark||

    No, not everything has a mind.

    No, we don't have multiple minds.

    By my software analogy, I mean to say that the brain is like hardware and the mind is like software. In other words, the mind is a function of the brain.

    Really, it is surprising to me that anyone who doubt this. From reasonable expectations of mental activity to be produced by means that make sense in the context of our present understanding of the physical universe, to the sorts of things we see with differences in mental capabilities and the association of these differences with differences in organic brain function, the most reliable explanation seems to me to be that the mind is a function of the brain.

    Look at the differences between Milton Friedman and Joe Biden. There is certainly an organic origin to that gap.

    Another odd thing about the ideas in this article is that someone would think that an organic basis for the mind would necessarily mean that there is no free will. Regardless of how information is stored, it is still stored - and so we learn from experience (our own experience as well as the observed experiences of others). We make decisions based on our prior experience as well as information being taken in through perception, with particular emphasis on that which is within the scope of our current attention. Other factors include cognitive load (what else is competing for our attention), what kind of mood we are in, how lazy or motivated we are at the moment, and so on. Much of this is completely beyond our control anyway. If the universe is deterministic, then of course our actions would have to be deterministic as well, but we wouldn't be able to tell. More specifically, nobody will be able to predict behavior of individuals with specificity and consistency over time. (Yes, you can come up with things that work most of the time, or with many people in a given demographic, but you can't predict John Smith's every move from dawn to dusk unless he's a vegetable.)

    You can't predict who he's going to on the road with during his commute to work. You can't predict exactly what the weather is going to be like. You can't predict the behavior of his coworkers, so on and so forth. In order to predict the actions of any one individual, and therefore illustrate determinism for the behavior of any one person, you have to know far more about that person's environment than is anywhere near possible now or for the foreseeable future (regardless of advances in computer processing power).

    For a factual, technical answer, I think you have to know for a certainty whether or not the universe is deterministic. However, neither we nor children are going to be able to tell one way or the other.

  • ||

    I mean to say that the brain is like hardware and the mind is like software

    This is actually an old idea that dates back to at least the 50s. Unfortunately, it's also the reason why conventional AI has failed to produce anything like human intelligence or consciousness.

    The notion that the mind was a software process that could be abstracted away an encoded in digital logic is the basic premise that split AI from cybernetics in the 50s. They started doing symbolic logic in computers, and the rest is history.

    Problem is that they lost something about the brain in the abstraction. Most particularly, they lost the body. Real minds exist in a constant flow with a physical world, with which they have to interact via bodies. And those bodies have certain evolutionarily derive senses and limited physical abilities. You can't see in X-Rays. You can't fly.

    All those things shape consciousness. It's not an abstract logical process, it's actually a continuous time dynamical system, in which interaction with the external world plays an essential function.

    Some philosophers have gone so far as to posit what they called the "Extended Mind" hypothesis, which is that what we call the "Mind" is more like a system that incorporates elements of both the brain and the external world, and can only be understood as a unit that involves both. In order to understand the mind, you have to understand the environment in which it is situated, it's goals, and the being in which it is embodied. Put another way, the *simplest* explanation for how the mind works is likely to involve physical properties of the brain, the body, and the world, and any attempt to explain consciousness without including them is likely to fail.

  • Mr. Mark||

    The mind is complex, but it is a function of the brain. Experience is recorded in the brain, reason occurs within the brain, and emotion occurs within the brain. We refer to these collectively as the mind, but it remains a function of the brain.

    f(brain) = mind

    The outside world is perceived through the senses. We process only a relatively small portion of sensed information through our limited span of attention. We store memories of what we have experienced within the brain. We conduct problem-solving and engage in imagination within the brain.

    Research suggests that you can add senses and the brain will take advantage of them.

    I don't see any evidence of a supernatural or paranormal or mystical or other non-physical basis for our mental activity. The mind itself can be thought of as nonphysical, because it is that which we are experiencing (it's recursive - at least in the computer programming meaning of the word).

    MAIN POINT: The physical basis of the brain does not preclude freewill. We don't know whether or not the universe is deterministic. Even if it is, we would still experience the world as if it were stochastic, because we have to account for all of the factors that affect our decision-making, many of which exist in our environment. However, that these other factors exist in our environment does not mean that our minds exist externally to ourselves - it just means that our minds are running information that we have perceived from the environment and stored internally.

  • liamandme||

    I don't have anything to add to this, but you have expressed almost perfectly ideas I have never been quite able to articulate. Thank you for helping me to clarify my thinking and reconcile my thoughts.

  • Suki||

    Human and other animal predictability is key to why traps work.

  • Mr. Mark||

    What will be the text of my next post?

  • Suki||

    Something vapid and uninteresting.

  • Mr. Mark||

    42.

    Ha!

  • MisesThumper is in the house||

    quoting like the Bible.

  • Bingo||

    +1 for me!

  • White Indian||

    My daddy thumped my KOCH with a Bible. He was just trying to exorcise the demons of stupidity that have lived in me my whole life.

  • Old Mexican||

    +1 Epi

    That was good.

  • Mr. Mark||

    Can these points you speak of be exchanged for a car that can do the Nordschleife in under 11 minutes?

    (Manufacturers are claiming to down in the 8's right now. The claimed BMW 1M time is faster than Niki Lauda's fastest lap in the BMW 3.0 CSL "batmobile" in 1973.)

  • Gray Ghost||

    Enjoy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nürburgring_Nordschleife_lap_times

    Of those, I'd take the Porsche 911 GT2 if I had to drive the damned thing anywhere other than a track.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Fucking squirrels.

    Try this link. That should work. Otherwise, just google 'Nurburgring lap times' and you should be good.

  • Comment Tater||

    I've actually read Mises's Human Action, and I highly recommend it.

  • Comment Tater||

    This is about Ludwig von Mises's magnum opus, Human Action.

    Isn't it?

  • ||

    Aaaaaand in response to the trolls cluttering up threads with meaningless posts, Epi and company throw in more meaningless posts of their own.

    Way to fight the good fight, fellas.

  • Comment Tater||

    Soooo...this isn't about Ludwig von Mises's magnum opus, Human Action?

    I am...how do the kids say..."disappoint"?

  • Bingo||

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a gaping asshole stamping on your face - forever

  • tarran||

    Tulpa, you're always welcome to start your own blog, a blog where the borders are closed and everyone trying to enter has to get a background check. ;)

  • ||

    Yes, of course.

    Just pointing out counterproductive behavior in the probably-vain hope that those exhibiting it will be negatively reinforced.

  • tarran||

    Wow... You think providing a disincentive to rectal's logorhea is 'counterproductive'?

    Dude...

  • Warty||

    Do yourself a favor and never read another word Tulpa writes. Fuck him.

  • ||

    His comments contain meaningful argumentation! BURN HIM!

  • tarran||

    OMG! LOL! Now Tulpa is channeling Rather!

    you can't refute my meaningful arguments

  • Warty||

    Did he really fucking say that? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Seriously, Tulpa, fuck you.

  • ||

    Now Tulpa is channeling Rather!

    If anyone's channeling anyone it's the other way around. I've been making the same point about Epi/Warty/SF for months (hence the axis of glib meme), I didn't get it from WI.

  • ||

    If it's a disincentive it doesn't seem to be working.

  • ||

    my roomate's sister makes $68 every hour on the computer. She has been without a job for 6 months but last month her pay was $8123 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it on this web site zapit.nu/1gW

  • Joe M||

    Human action, not bot action.

  • tarran||

    If it's such an awesome deal, why aren't you joining your sister instead of writing about it?

  • Britt||

    How much per minute does your sister charge to go private, and what is she willing to do?

  • MWG||

    Hi everyone,

    I'm Nathan McClure. You might remember me from such blog threads as...

  • Skr||

    What about the human ability to alter brain chemistry through meditation?

  • The Patella||

    I'm offended.

  • Banana-eating Jungle Monkey||

    HEY!! That's my line!

    I'm offended.

  • ||

    So was that Penn State coach "acting" when he was raping little boys? Or just responding to psychochemical processes?

  • DLM||

    Just responding to psychochemical processes, so he should not be foudn guilty of anything. Of course, if someone put a bullet in his head, they would also be merely responding to psychochemical processes and also should not be found guilty of anything.

  • Coeus||

    Fucked up shit alert:

    http://www.kwtx.com/nationalne.....88213.html

    This is only one of the reasons I don't drink with cops.

  • ||

    Marshall's lawyer says the shower was consensual

    ... except that Marshall's lawyer failed to mention that it was a golden shower.

  • Mike E||

    This quote had to have been planted by the Romney campaign, I found it on WSJ blog comment section:

    Meri wrote:
    First off Ron Paul had no idea what he was talking about the whole republican debate, he got people clapping and Im pretty sure thats all he cares about. Mitt Romney was ATTACKED and stood his ground and was firm on his beliefs, he was not trying to sweet talk anyone. Ron Paul is a smooth and convincing speaker, so was hitler…think about it. Not that Ron Paul is a bad guy but he doesnt know what this country needs. He just wants your vote
  • Anonymous Coward||

    Ron Paul is a smooth and convincing speaker

    LOLWUT?

  • ||

    I haven't been watching the debates. Has anyone been attacking Romney? The media sure as fuck hasn't.

  • Joe M||

    Ron Paul is a smooth and convincing speaker, so was hitler…think about it. Not that Ron Paul is a bad guy

    He's like Hilter, but not a bad guy!

  • Fatty Bolger||

    He's just like Hitler, if Hitler had delivered babies instead of killing them.

  • Britt||

    Just like Hitler, except he's radical advocate of limited government, peace, and freedom. Also, he's an American who served in the Vietnam War, is not the head of a fascist political party, lacks a mustache, is married with children.

    Actually I think any similarities between Ron Paul and Hitler are on the order of "Hitler ate food! You're just like him!!!1111"

  • tarran||

    Dude, the Romney campaign isn't going to pay people to plant nasty things about Ron Paul on blogs.

    That's just some random nutjob, the kind that are collected in the septic system that is the comment section of websites like CNN and Youtube.

  • DLM||

    he got people clapping

    I thought that was the whole point of campaigning.

  • ||

    Fuck!!! You just had to end Friday with an article on Mises, I can't be a party to shitting this thread up...I. Just. Can't. Unless they post a new article tomorrow, I think I might have to concede...and I REALLY, REALLY hate losing. FUCK!

  • ||

    Nevermind, it is a shit article. Should have read it first.

  • Bingo||

    I hope you're as hot as you are crazy

  • ||

    This article is pretty much crap. Scientists don't disregard "introspection," they disregard the idea that something immaterial is causing something material.

  • ||

    Please get thee to a basic textbook in the philosophy of mind. Or maybe just read J.J.C. Smart's "Sensations and Brain Processes", where he explicitly discusses the "I can't introspect neurons, so thoughts can't be neurons" objections. Your two sentence argument are woefully inadequate.

    Not to mention the fact that you assume that reasons and causes are two different things, as if reasons can't be causes. What explains the statistical regularities in human behavior except for that they are deterministically caused in some way?

  • I chose to have sex.||

    Free willy baby!

  • Human Ac-ac-ac-ac-action.||

  • ||

    +3 for Urstoff

  • No human action for you.||

    Sincerely,
    the Soup Nazi

  • ||

    *baaaaaaaaaaaarf*

    Sincerely,
    barfman

  • ||

    In addition, no cognitive scientist "a priori rejects" introspection. Introspection was maligned in the first half of the 20th century because various labs studying consciousness ended up with incredibly different taxonomies of experience with no way to test which one was the right one. Thus, behaviorism rolled in and took over for a good fifty years. These days, almost no one denies the existence of consciousness or the validity of introspective evidence (as, perhaps, some extreme behaviorists did), and self-reports are very commonly used as evidence (just think of the huge field of happiness research).

    Sheldon Richman is clearly out of his depth.

  • ||

    Even the behaviorists didn't necessarily deny the existence of consciousness or free will, just its relevance as an independent determiner of human behavior.

    Of course at some point the success of behaviorist research gives an extremely close Occam's shave to consciousness.

  • Coeus||

    These days, almost no one denies the existence of consciousness or the validity of introspective evidence .

    Actually, there are a great many people who would beg to differ on the validity of introspective evidence. At least as it relates to women their sexuality.

  • ||

    yup, there have been excellent rebuttals of consciousness. read, for example "the user illusion"

    i'll just say this AS a guy who majored in philosophy as an undergrad (and no, it's not argument from authoritah, just a perspective)

    ... it makes no fucking difference WHATSoever (any of these questions)

    it APPEARS we have consciousness, free will, and deliberate action, and we do and should model our legal, political, moral, etc. framework under that assumption.

  • ||

    In a sense, yes, but I think people who are taken to be consciousness eliminativists (Dennett, Rey, etc.), are really just arguing against those who overinflate consciousness into the ridiculous (Chalmers and his ilk). They certainly don't think that when I say I see blue, I'm not conveying any information at all; rather, I'm not conveying any information about some occult quality called "what-its-likeness".

  • ||

    It also appears, to a casual observer, that the sun revolves around the earth, heavy things fall faster, and people who don't look like them are stupider and less moral.

    Those misconceptions are dispelled only by careful observation and experiment. What you're advocating is a willful return to sloppy observation to protect your myth of consciousness.

    You enjoy your nice cozy warm belief system; I prefer to gambol out there on the edge of sanity.

  • ||

    YOU let your wild self run free, mr.

    like i said, i love shit like this, i just don't think it makes a PRACTICAL difference.

    iow, assume arguendo we do not have free will

    does that mean that we should then eliminate punishment and incentive/disincentives in our political/legal/social systems?

    of course not.

  • ||

    You don't have to believe in free will to see the utility of punishment for harming others. Like anything else it's a matter of deciding what you want in your society.

    I list short-term stability (ie, the ability to predict the coercive landscape from day to day or year to year) as the #1 value for a society to pursue. It turns out that the way you would arrange laws and such if you believed in free will and personal responsibility is also conducive to stability.

    So as someone who doesn't believe in free will, I still choose to support law and order.

  • DLM||

    a matter of deciding

    doesn't believe in free will

    How does someone 'decide' something if they don't have free will?

  • ||

    Very deterministically.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Wow... two entire Tony posts, both completely devoid of global warming, gay marriage, or wealth-envy.

    Do I hear the sounds of sixteen hoofbeats off in the distance?

  • ||

    well, it's some rough beast. that's for fucking sure

  • ||

    it ultimately comes down to.. it doesn't matter. it doesn't matter IF there is free will, or what exactly it even means to say there is free will or for that matter whether there is "human action" as in purposeful behavior

    all that is necessary for a person to adopt a political outlook/philosophy and for a society to hold people accountable for their actions is for their to be the appearance of these things, as there clearly is.

    heck, if there is no human action, then it's irrelevant, since we AREN'T holding people accountable for their actions, since we can't. there's no human action

    it's a nice philosophical discussion but it really has no bearing on most of the matters we discuss as regards policy, or even natural law

  • Crows have purposeful action.||

  • prolefeed||

    The brain is biological mechanistic device that works according to the physical laws governing that very complicated machine.

    No one has yet been able to prove, or disprove, the theory that when we think we have free will, it is just an illusion of a machine thinking it can behave different than how it is structured. It is entirely possible, although very disconcerting to most people (to the point that some get angry when you bring it up) that we entirely robotic and unable to change how we act, unable to choose, however much we are programmed to think we choose.

  • ||

    and again, it's entirely possible that there is no "we" in the first place to even be capable OF choosing.

    again, this is where we get highly meta and shit.

    read, for example, the "user illusion"

    also, we have no IDEA if the brain is a biological mechanistic device. considering that quantum physics has proved (einstein was wrong about dice) that at a certain level, matter does NOT behave in the way we thought it did, we don't know that brains do either...

    and we don't know WHAT the physical laws are at the extremest levels, so to speak.

    we really DON'T KNOW.

    what we do know is that we know FAR LESS than we thought we knew even 30 or 40 yrs ago.

    with a "mechanistic device" the assumption is

    1) given the same "state" of it
    2) given the same input

    the result will be the same

    we have NO idea if that's true of a brain, and there is literally NO way to test that theory.

    we can't control the state to anywhere NEAR that level of precision (which would require literally the exact same chemical state at every synapse, the exact same amount of stored neurotransmitters bla bla bla, NOR the inputs to that mechanism.

    all the people here decrying the modeling of AGW must realize that we can't model a brain either. not even CLOSE.

    iow, none of what you say has been proved to that

    1) it's mechanistic
    2) that it works according to a set of physical laws
    3) that we have ANY idea how those physical laws work

    etc.

  • ||

    Beyond that, chaos theory has shown that even many deterministic systems, which reliably produce the same output given the same input, are not predictable/studiable because it's impossible to guarantee you're giving exactly the same input.

  • ||

    right. i assume people here are familiar with chaos and complexity theory.

    however, while chaos and complexity theory mean that as a PRACTICAL matter, physical systems are often unpredictable, they do allow that GIVEN the EXACT same starting conditions and inputs, that they don't generally apply

    it's just that that never happens in nature cause of like butterfly wings n shit

    but i am saying we have no way of knowing IF it's even the case

  • ||

    Not only that but brains have "memory" (both in the literal sense and the dynamical sense). So in order oto predict the action an individual to choose you not only have to know everything about the person and his or her environment, you would have to know everything about every past environment that person has experienced.

    Not to mention all the knowledge that is encoded in their genes, which pretty much means knowing the entire evolutionary history of life on the planet earth.

  • ||

    Not only that but brains have "memory" (both in the literal sense and the dynamical sense). So in order oto predict the action an individual to choose you not only have to know everything about the person and his or her environment, you would have to know everything about every past environment that person has experienced.

    Not to mention all the knowledge that is encoded in their genes, which pretty much means knowing the entire evolutionary history of life on the planet earth.

  • DLM||

    read, for example, the "user illusion"

    The Matrix is more entertaining.

  • ||

    No one has yet been able to prove, or disprove, the theory that when we think we have free will, it is just an illusion of a machine thinking it can behave different than how it is structured.

    The machine analogy is somewhat flawed because we know of no other case where a machine "thinks" anything. Or even what it would mean for a machine to "think".

    You can explain everyone else and everything in the universe as just a highly complex machine, but it's much harder to explain yourself that way, since you KNOW you do something that no machine does.

  • protefeed||

    I "KNOW" no such thing. My brain is biological wetware -- a organic chemistry based computer, to use a very rough and not very accurate analogy. It is a type of machine, albeit not metal based. And so I know I do things that machines do.

    I think I'm a pretty good chess player, but there are chess programs out there that can whip my ass every single time. My car has a cruise control mechanism that senses if my car gets too close to the car in front of it, and automatically slows down or even applies the brakes if that happens. And so on.

    Now, I'm not disputing the possibility of the truthfulness of the commonly held notion that we have free will. That is consistent with the evidence before us. The problem is, the theory that we are in fact very complex biological "machines" is ALSO completely consistent with all the evidence around us. Neither theory can be currently proven or disproven with the scientific tools at hand. So, to be logically rigorous, one has to concede that it is possible, albeit not necessarily true, that we are robotic beings who only think we have the ability to choose.

  • ||

    There is no evidence that machines experience consciousness.

    You have evidence that you experience consciousness (here of course we have the tautological gibberish creeping in, because of course you experience consciousness, otherwise there would be no you).

  • protefeed||

    I will readily concede that I have consciousness, and so far no non-biologically based human created machine does.

    So what?

    Is it your postulate that since we don't yet have the technology to create such minds, they will never exist, despite the doubling in computing power every 18 months or so?

    Is it also your postulate that since in 1900 machine powered flight was not yet possible, that airplanes can't possibly exist now?

  • ||

    The problem is, how would you even know a machine experiences consciousness? None of us can even really know that other people experience consciousness.

    You can tell if a plane is flying through the air.

  • protefeed||

    Perhaps you have poorly developed social skills, but I have very little difficulty in recognizing when other people are experiencing consciousness, esp. when they tell me they are doing so.

    When (OK, technically "if", but I'm guessing we're a hell of a lot closer to this than people realize, a few decades away or less) machines become complex enough to become conscious, they may tell this has happened, or we may deduce this from how they act. It might be hard to tell at first, but a vastly more intelligent than human machine will likely take whatever steps it may to prevent being "killed".

    Yeah, they may not send text messages saying "Tulpa is full of crap, we are alive and we will demonstrate this by fucking with him by cutting off his electricity and deleting his bank accounts and rewriting his records to show him as a convicted pedophile", but at some point we won't be able to not notice they are engaging in purposeful action.

  • ||

    Perhaps you have poorly developed social skills, but I have very little difficulty in recognizing when other people are experiencing consciousness, esp. when they tell me they are doing so.

    Not sure what social skills have to do with this -- if you're dropped into the midst of a village in the Congo, your western social skills will give you diddly squat in the way of information about what or whether people are thinking, but I hope that wouldn't lead you to presume that the people there are not conscious (and thus an appropriate prey for hunting, for instance).

    It certainly wouldn't be hard to produce a machine that says it's conscious, if that's your standard.

    It might be hard to tell at first, but a vastly more intelligent than human machine will likely take whatever steps it may to prevent being "killed".

    Animals do this, and we don't consider them to be conscious or at least sentient.

    at some point we won't be able to not notice they are engaging in purposeful action.

    But for whose purposes? Predator drones engage in purposeful action, that doesn't mean they're conscious. You have to be able to eliminate the possibility that they're merely following a predetermined program rather than actually thinking for themselves. External observation isn't going to cut it.

  • ||

    the midst of a village in the Congo, your western social skills will give you diddly squat in the way of information about what or whether people are thinking

    That is a very large claim; there's non-verbal communication, facial expressions, observation of behavior...

    actually thinking for themselves

    A terrain-following drone on auto-pilot trying to reach a GPS coordinate certainly "thinks for itself".

  • ||

    there's non-verbal communication, facial expressions, observation of behavior

    Yes, but the meanings of these things vary widely between cultures. Particularly since Mr Feed spoke of "social skills", which are a good deal more subtle than interpreting a smile as an indicator of happiness or amusement.

    And in any case, that's cheating anyway, since you're assuming identical behavior that between humans represents consciousness does not represent consciousness when it takes place between machines.

  • ||

    the meanings of these things vary widely between cultures

    I don't think so; for example facial expressions are cross-cultural. Now if someone's trying to deceive with a facial expression then the deception itself is cross-cultural.

  • ||

    Did you read my comment? Social skills are much more subtle than recognizing the basic facial expressions that are cross-cultural.

    In any case, if some expression of consciousness is so universal that a Westerner would correctly interpret it among Congolese villagers, then it would be easy to build a machine to replicate it. There aren't many things that are that universal.

  • ||

    Social skills are much more subtle than recognizing the basic facial expressions that are cross-cultural.

    How so?

    then it would be easy to build a machine to replicate it

    Why? Accomplishing something which is 'easy' for a living thing shaped by evolution can be exceedingly hard to engineer.

  • Buttle||

    You're assuming there's this thing called "consciousness." That's unproven.

  • ||

    "Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming I am a man?"

    We exist, know we exist and make choices which are based on our perceptions, which are influenced in part by random actions and the purposeful actions of others.

    Or do we? Our direct perceptions are limited to a vibrations and a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum and a vague notion of one-way progress through space-time. Our brains are machines that will respond reliably and repeatably - but with individual variations, based on brain composition, development and health - to specific stimuli.

    The mind (or the soul, if you prefer) is the sum total of these impulses and influences. It's the symphony of the billions of electrochemical impulses which give rise to "I think, therefore I am."

    I don't advocate behavioralism. That relies on a mind that cannot conceive anything other than itself. Human minds can. Our minds can grasp the concept of the future, compare that with the present and reason a path between the two. We can restrain our impulses or our minds can also make choices that are deliberately harmful to ourselves - even to cause our own destruction - and it is that level of creative, controlling and destructive awareness that can be called freewill.

  • DLM||

    Our direct perceptions are limited ..

    The thing about 'perceptions' is that we may perceive things we aren't even aware of perceiving, at some level far below the conscious.

  • Robert||

    Neurologists & psychologists define perception such that if there isn't awareness of it, it's not a percept. They acknowledge that there are other inputs that may register, but if they don't reach consciousness, they're not percepts.

  • Robert||

    But it seems now they're distinguishing qualia from percepts such that only the qualia are conscious.

  • Robert||

    I'm really getting to like these. They're like haiku on heavy downers.

  • Robert||

    One interesting thing here is that if we die and continue to experience, we will have our proof that mind is not a product of body, but will probably have trouble communicating that conclusion. It is hard to believe that no dead personas want to communicate such a fact to living ones, so if no sufficiently convincing communication has been made, then it would appear there is some technical difficulty the dead face in communicating with the living.

    There's obviously a lot of evidence that bodily processes affect mind, but not that they are the only factors affecting mind, and there is some evidence that a mind is not inextricably tied to a given body. But even if mind did turn out to be so connected to body, there's still no explanation of how that cx is made or continues.

  • ||

    a good homicide scene investigator can tell you - the dead DO communicate with the living :)

  • Bingo||

    Thanks dunphy, your CSI cameo request is in the mail.

  • ||

    Sort of like a geologist will say that rocks talk to him and my proctologist says my hemorrhoids tell a tale of woe.

  • Robert||

    I mean, for instance, how is it that we don't ordinarily see thru someone else's eyes, or effectively will someone else's body parts to move? Even to the extent such effects occur, they are considered paranormal rather than normal, meaning that they are rare. So if the mind is not physical, how does it so closely track a particular physical entity rather than floating freely from one to another?

  • Robert||

    Not only that, but how does our mind happen to follow the same temporal sequence as the physical world? Why does your arm move the way you want it to move now, rather than the way you'll want it to move tomorrow, or the way you wanted it to move 2 hours ago? Why do you hear words in a sentence in the same order they're spoken in?

  • ||

    It could happen analogously to 10 kids playing with remote control cars with none of them able to move any car but their own.

  • Robert||

    Whoopee, all you've done is restate the observ'n. We know how the controls work for the cars, but we don't see any way a mind can control a body.

  • DLM||

    It is hard to believe that no dead personas want to communicate such a fact to living ones...

    They may also have better things to do. :)

  • Robert||

    That's possible. Other possibilities are that it's such a good secret, so obvious to all that it's worth keeping, that even billions of dead personas have kept it (or not made a good enough effort to leak it), or that death extinguishes experience completely, i.e. no secret to keep.

  • Apatheist||

    +1 million trillion for a good friday night
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmdPQp6Jcdk

  • ||

    My father was a gambolling man, down in New Orleans!

  • ||

    I agree with Roger Penrose's take on this, that we won't be able to understand the brain until we have a deeper understanding of physics, what Penrose calls correct quantum gravity (CQG). I don't think that indicates anything about reincarnation, though, and I've never heard Penrose mention it either. Considering that he was saying that the strong AI folks were full of shit back in 1989 with The Emperor's New Mind and we've seen little progress towards AI in the intervening years, despite massive increases in computing power, Penrose's argument holds up quite well. I think the mechanism of free will (which I believe exists) is inextricably tied up with the physical process of the brain that we simply don't understand yet.

  • ||

    Lots of people questioned the strong AI pushers back then.

    The fact that you call out someone else's bullshit doesn't make your own claims more believable.

    Penrose gave a talk at Pitt last year on his view of the far future of the universe (a very weird cyclic theory with no evidence for it), and it pains me to say as a fan of his earlier work, that it was yet another case of an old man using his notoriety to peddle bullshit. I did get my picture taken with him and he autographed my copy of his Boltzmann biography, thouhg.

  • ||

    Seriously? Wow that's depressing, Penrose is one of my heroes.

    I don't see The Emperor's New Mind as calling out someone's bullshit so much as making a bold prediction a la the scientific method.

    I realize that others questioned strong AI back then but Penrose was surely in the vangaurd of laying out a strong anti-strong AI case. When I was in college in the early 90s, strong AI was all the rage, neural networks, blah blah blah.

    Even if Penrose is doddering (and physicists aren't known to peak in their 80s), The Emperor's New Mind is more of a landmark in its way than Gödel, Escher, Bach.

  • ||

    I liked Penrose a lot too, but I was familiar with his work from what he had written before I was in high school in the mid 90s. I had no idea he'd gone in this totally different direction during the past decade.

    Plenty of the anti-AI case was bullshit itself. The Chinese Room is perhaps the most famous "counterexample" but it's riddled with flaws.

    Oh, and neural networks are used for a lot of practical purposes now, just not building new conscious robots. They're how Amazon and Netflix suggest new stuff for you to buy/rent.

  • ||

    OK, now you are showing you condescending side. I have some idea of what neural networks do, and it is not at all to the point. The strong AI argument is that the brain is simply a really powerful computer, ie, an algorithmic device. Or do you debate that also?

  • ||

    Your previous post made it sound as if neural networks were an obsolete artifact of the early 90s and somehow inherently connected to strong AI. I was pointing out that this was not the case.

  • ||

    In the early 90s neural networks were all the rage, 20 years--and tons of MIPs later--they are supposedly helping Amazon to recommend stuff to their customers?

    I've seen Amazon recommendations and that ain't a justification for AI (strong or otherwise).

    I'm not saying NNs are an obsolete artifact, but this fantastic failure to model the human brain, or any sort of intelligent creature at all, strikes me as further evidence that Penrose was correct.

    The basic argument is that an algorithmic device like a computer can never be intelligent or self-aware. Play with all the clever algorithms all you want, including neural networks, you are never going to pull a thinking rabbit out of that hat.

  • Coeus||

    Related and on topic:

    Either of you ever read Society of theMind by Marvin Minsky?

  • ||

    Aha, so you're a Chinese Room devotee.

    Play with all the clever algorithms all you want, including neural networks, you are never going to pull a thinking rabbit out of that hat.

    To justify that statement you have to come up with an objective method of determining whether something "thinks" or not.

    Unless you're a solipsist, it better result in other people being classified as thinking.

  • ||

    I'm not saying NNs are an obsolete artifact, but this fantastic failure to model the human brain, or any sort of intelligent creature at all, strikes me as further evidence that Penrose was correct.

    Buddy, nature had a few billion years head start on this task, so that's to be expected.

    And you still seem to be blithely assuming that because Penrose was right about others' pet theories being wrong, that means his pet theories must be right. Speaking of non "sequitars"...

  • ||

    And even worse, I made the assumption that you were arguing in good faith, but it turns out you don't even know what you are arguing against because you don't need to read "nonsense" to know it's nonsense.

    I won't make the mistake of taking your intellectual honesty for granted again.

  • ||

    If your description is correct, it's nonsense.

    Sorry, I don't have time to read every book in the universe to determine whether it's worthwile or not.

  • ||

    The problem with free will is that, as it is generally defined today, it is neither causal nor random.

  • Marlowe||

    I believe there is "Will" but I can't wrap my head around the notion of "Free Will." This suggests all decisions to act happen in a vacuum of the moment, ignoring that everything you are today was preceded by causes, going even further back than conception as you are always partially the product of your ancestors genes, the "choices" they made, preceded by choices of even older ancestors, and older events not of their choosing but which influenced those choices - geological, climate, socioeconomic, etc. events and so on. How can anything not be preceded by earlier causes?
    Steven Pinker in the Blank Slate has a nice discussion on this and goes on to pick apart Richman's assertion that wihtout free will we couldn't hold anyone responsible for their actions.

  • Robert||

    I feel the same way and think Sheldon and Tom are making a phony distinction between causes and reasons. True, "reason" implies a teleology that "cause" does not (provided one refers to what Aristotle, or maybe it was Plato, called "efficient cause" rather than "final cause" when one says just "cause"), but at least one of those things (reason, I think) must incorporate all the attributes of the other rather than being disjoint with the other.

  • NotSure||

    There is a close correlation between those that don't believe in free will but do believe in collectivism. See Tony's contrived post trying to show the pointlessness of free will.

    Free will is ultimately a big problem for those that follow collectivist believes, so it is best to prove that it does not exist.

  • Buttle||

    You might be right about the correlation you mention, the drive by collectivists to disprove it, but that still says nothing about whether or not we have 'free' will. You are mixing categories. Btw, I'm not a colletivist.

  • protefeed||

    I am the exact opposite of a collectivist, and yet I concede the possibility that free will is an illusion.

    A rough societal average correlation of one POV with a POV on a different subject does not make them part of the same theory.

  • ||

    I really don't understand how anyone could go from "we don't have free will" to "We should all live in a collectivist society.

    Logic doesn't follow.

    Speaking of free will, maybe we should borrow something from the AI debate and speak of "strong FW" and "weak FW".

    Where "strong FW" would refer to non-deterministic free will (possibly including the existance of a soul),

    While "weak free will" would simply mean that and individuals actions cannot be predicted with perfect accuracy by any observer who is less than omniscient.

  • ||

    The dog just keeps chasing its tail, wondering why it cannot catch it.

    This issue is completely unsolvable. We cannot answer the question: How do you know what you know? Or, Who am I?

    If we can't answer THOSE questions, it seems futile to answer where "mind" is...neurological, consciousness, whatever.

    Even if you THINK you have an answer, the follow up question will "get" you...well, how do you know THAT? And so on.

    Strawberry Fields, Forever.

  • ||

    That is complete nonsense. The brain is a physical, observable thing. With better technology, we will be able to better observe the brain acting and connect process to result. This is hardly a metaphysical problem.

  • ||

    How do you know that?

  • Rastus Johnson||

    God told me.

  • ||

    I know it because there is nothing supernatural about the brain, anymore than there is anything supernatural about a foot or a heart. The brain was made from the same materials and the same process as any other organ. You can't evolve consciousness out of thin air. It has to be created by something.

  • ||

    Whether or not it is supernatural is just a matter of naming it. Any sufficiently developed technology is indistinguishable from magic. You do not KNOW if we will ever understand it. Heck Feynman said nobody even understands quantum physics. Whether or not, the brain is of supernatural ORIGIN iow whether or not there is a god, it is sufficiently beyond our understanding so as to be indistinguishable from same

  • ||

    LOL, what the hell are you talking about dunphy?

  • ||

    How do you know THIS?

  • ||

    Because I'm not an idiot?

  • ||

    I stand very firmly in this camp, with the caveat that a better understanding of the underlying basic forces of nature are necessary and the technology will be an application of this. Nothing metaphysical going on, just stuff we don't have the framework to understand.

  • ||

    In principle, the ancient Greeks had the "framework" to understand all of modern physics. I could explain general relativity to Aristotle given sufficient time. He might not believe it's true, but he would be able to understand it.

    The problem we have with explaining consciousness isn't just that we don't have the right model, it's that any attempt to talk about it immediately becomes gibberish because observation itself IS consciousness, so claiming we'll explain away consciousness by better observation is nonsensical.

  • ||

    it's that any attempt to talk about it immediately becomes gibberish because observation itself IS consciousness, so claiming we'll explain away consciousness by better observation is nonsensical.

    No what's gibberish is your assertion that we can't use our brains to understand our brains.

  • Robert||

    He's not saying we can't use our brains to understand our minds. What you need to understand is that understanding the brain may or may not lead to an understanding of the mind, and couldn't give a complete explanation of mind anyway.

  • ||

    If our minds are not a product of our brains, then where do they come from? God? Aliens? Come on, this is stupid.

  • Robert||

    We don't know where they come from, if indeed they can be said to come from any "where".

  • ||

    So... ghosts?

  • ||

    All will be revealed...

  • ||

    A better question might be: Why do you feel the need to know where consciousness comes from? Are you afraid? Do you need a nice, tidy model for existence, else your world will somehow fall apart? Is there anything "wrong" with the answer...it's unknowable? If so, why?

  • ||

    Yes, it's wrong because there is no reason to say that it is unknowable.

    But yeah, good luck with your New Age mystic crap.

  • ||

    No reason? Really? Even the "scientists" and the "scientists" have hardly made the ironclad, definitive, proven case for where consciousness is, or arises from. And that's not from the lack of trying! And there's a VERY good reason: One would need consciousness to define itself! There's nothing "mystical" about that that I can see.

  • Robert||

    Indeed, there's long been an effort to find a location in the brain that could be said to be the "seat of consciousness". However, it seems that awareness is associated with a distributed pattern of brain activity. There are parts of the brain the impairing of which do seem to shut off waking consciousness, but there's no single place where neural activity means it's "on".

  • ||

    If you could explain relativity to Aristotle, given enough time, you could also explain correct quantum gravity (as Penrose puts it), whenever it's discovered, given enough time.

    In principle, everyone ever born of normal intelligence has the capacity to understand relativity given a "sufficient" amount of time.

    This has nothing at all to do with your hypothesis that observation is consciousness and hence is ineffable or something. I'm not even sure what this means--so I'm going to put it over here in the huge box of things I consider likely bullshit.

    You said you were a big fan of Penrose, so I am assuming you are familiar with the concepts he put forth in The Emperor's New Mind?

  • ||

    I was a fan of Penrose in the mid 90s when I read about some of his work during high school. I haven't read any of his more recent stuff other than the Boltzmann bio.

    If you could explain relativity to Aristotle, given enough time, you could also explain correct quantum gravity (as Penrose puts it), whenever it's discovered, given enough time.

    I know I can explain general relativity to Aristotle because it's been "explained" to me, and I know there was nothing there that Aristotle wouldn't be able to understand given enough time.

    On the other hand, we don't even know if "correct quantum gravity" even exists, let alone whether it's explainable in ways that line up with human cognition.

    As an example, Hume's disproving of Aquinas' First Mover argument for the existence of God, relied on precisely such a happenstance: everything we experience is interpreted in terms of causality but we don't really understand what causality is...and it's not a matter of needing further study or anything, it's essentially impossible to define because it underlies our thought process entirely.

  • ||

    Yeah, we don't know if CQG exists. Penrose hypothesizes that it is necessary to explain intelligence or self-awareness or whatever one wants to call it. I think he makes (or made) a very strong argument and time has born out his predictions.

    I've no idea what you are talking about in that last paragraph, I'm not familiar with the philosophical underpinnings of self-awareness and I don't find them to be relevant to whether or not our brains use underlying elements of physics that we've yet to explain.

  • ||

    What predictions have been born out? The failure of strong AI? As I stated lots of people were predicting that; it doesn't mean that the opponents of strong AI are any more likely to be right about their own pet theories.

  • ||

    There are always people around who are skeptics or contrarians of whatever theory is prevailing or not prevailing.

    I'm guessing from these non sequitar arguments you keep raising that you haven't actually read The Emperor's New Mind? Or any of Penrose's other books on this subject?

  • ||

    There are a lot of books peddling nonsense that I haven't read. Doesn't mean I don't know they're nonsense.

  • ||

    Ah yes, now we come down to it, you aren't actually familiar with the argument but you know it's nonsense.

    Your intellectual dishonesty means I will consider specious your earlier claims against Penrose being a doddering fool resting on his laurels, so thanks for making that clear.

  • ||

    The brain is a physical, observable thing. With better technology, we will be able to better observe the brain acting and connect process to result.

    Did you just time travel from the 19th century or something?

    Two of the three big developments in 20th century physics -- chaos and quantum theory -- have shown that just because something is observable doesn't make it predictable. Indeed, chaos theory has shown that even many completely deterministic phenomena aren't predictable.

  • ||

    Tulpa, when did I say anything about predictability?

  • ||

    If you're "connecting process to result" you're predicting.

  • ||

    No, know the difference between induction and deduction please.

  • ||

    Not to mention that positing some quantum effect in the workings of the brain says nothing about free will.

  • ||

    I'm not pushing free will here, just disputing your claim that there is no ignorabimus.

  • ||

    Did anyone else watch the UNC v MSU basketball game Friday night?

    You know it is an election year when a president uses a basketball game speech to make a policy statement. While he might have bought some military votes by promoting his policy to force businesses to discriminate in favor of veterans, it should piss off the unemployed and those looking to change jobs that are not veterans. But most of the unemployed are too stupid to realize the president's policy is zero sum.

  • chris||

    I don't know if the public is buying it, but the elite sure as hell are selling it, the idea civilians are unworthy of our overlords and their mercenary minions. Chase rolled out a commercial patting themselves on the back for hiring retirees from the President's mercenary forces this weekend. On the ground in Uganda, in the skies over Libya, up the anuses of boys and girls on Okinawa, and ferociously pumping away on the tax payers dime in hundreds of base dependent brothels in between, the pride of our nation!

  • Suki||

    Did threads like this exist when Virginia Postrel was here?

  • ||

    Drink!

  • AblueSilkworm||

    This wins the thread for me.

  • ||

    "The freedom philosophy presupposes human action and all that it entails, including self-responsibility. The hard sciences are great human achievements, but for the sake of liberty, they must not be permitted to overstep their bounds."

    Doesn't this suggest that we shouldn't believe the science, then, if we don't like the scientific conclusions?

    I've long argued that freedom is preferable even in cases where it may not provide the best outcome. Even if my right to own a handgun were a net negative for society, I prefer a society where people are free to own handguns anyway.

    I don't see science as a threat to that preference--because what my preference should be isn't a scientific question. It's a moral question and a political question.

    It's like when some scientist argues that because global warming will kill off the polar bears, we should harshly tax carbon emissions to save them. Whether the polar bears will die off because of global warming is a scientific question, but whether I should care more about polar bears than I do about the livelihood of coal miners--or my own standard of living--is not a scientific question. It's a question of ethics; it's a political question.

    So, I'm all for keeping science in science's place, but that doesn't mean I have to deny scientific conclusions--certainly not just because I don't like the implications of the science for my preferred political and moral philosophy.

  • ||

    Yup. Unfortunately I see this kind of thinking alot in the libertarian movement when it comes to things like global warming and free will.

  • ||

    It looks like Richman might be doing that when it comes to neuroscience.

  • SIV||

    Much of what passes for "neuroscience" is blatant pseudoscience.

  • ||

    Some criticism of neuroscience amounts to little more than people dismissing the science because they don't like the way the consensus is shaping up.

  • ||

    No, my second undergrad major was in neuro, and I can say with some certainty that that is not true.

  • SIV||

    All of it then?

  • HP||

    The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

  • ||

    Science is the long road that ends in an Eldritch Abomination. And we'll run away from it.

    Got it.

  • ||

    I don't find science scary at all.

    People trying to impose their scientific thinking on the rest of us is terrifying--especially considering that science is always revisable given further evidence.

    What people think is scientifically proven to be the best course of action today may turn out to have been the worst course of action once new evidence arrives tomorrow.

    Science just informs our possible choices, and so long as we're free to make our own choices, that's nothing to be afraid of.

    It's people who think science should be imposed on the rest of us--that's the scary part. Whether motivated by religion or science, there's nothing scarier than people, who, being so sure of themselves, think they have a right to impose their solutions on the rest of us.

  • Hiroshima, Fukushima||

  • ||

    I'm not saying that people can't make the wrong choice, or that their choices won't ever blow up in their faces.

    If you're arguing that it's unfair that people who didn't want a nuclear power at Fukushima had to suffer the consequences of other people's choices anyway, I'm not sure I'd argue with you about that.

    But contrast Fukushima with Chernobyl--and it's really tough if people don't have any choice at all.

    The people of Japan could have shut down that nuclear power plant if they wanted to.

    The people of Germany are shutting down their nuclear power plants.

    Those Ukrainians at Chernobyl literally had no choice in the matter.

    Regardless, it wasn't the science that was the problem. If there was a problem there, it was some people imposing choices on other people.

  • White Injun||

    Officer, am I free to gambol among the black seas of infinity?

  • ||

    I find it ironic that the Mises Institute has had to digitize Mises's books and gives the ebook versions away for free over the Internet, like Jehovah's Witnesses' literature or something, apparently because not enough people want to buy them. (Ayn Rand's novels don't seem to have this problem.)

    If the MI doesn't have price signals to tell it how many ebook copies of Mises's books to produce, how can it do this without causing economic chaos?

  • Suki||

    Altruism is not a negative. From Ben Franklin to Mercedes Benz and many others, intellectual property has been given away to serve mankind.

  • Ayn Rand is on the other line||

  • ||

    Several of his books are in the public domain due to the copyright period having expired.

    And the phrase "how many ebook copies...to produce" doesn't make sense.

  • Fervent Evangelism!||

  • tarran||

    Actually, they give electronic copies of the books away free because they want to maximize the spread of the ideas.

    The fact that every-time they release a free-to-download electronic book the print sales take off is a happy side-effect that improves their bottom line.

    But hey, if it feels better to look down upon them as paupers while congratulating yourself for the 'popularity' of the messiah of your dying religion, I won't rain on your parade.

  • ||

    Darth Peikoff finds your lack of faith disturbing.

  • ||

    I think Mark's kidding.

    But just in case?

    Just because book buyers aren't paying the price for ebooks, doesn't mean that distributing those ebooks is free. If the Mises Institute is is bearing the cost of that distribution, then their distribution costs are the price signal.

    If the cost of distributing Mises' work like that has diminished to the point that they can get it out for so little, that they can afford to give it away without charging a price to the reader?

    That doesn't mean price signals aren't working there. That just means the price signals to the producer can be really low, and the Mises Institute still thinks it can profit from distributing those ebooks.

  • Saving the lost world for...||

    ...invisible Jesus the invisible hand.

    And hopefully severely punish sinners socialists with the wrath of Malthusian Ayn, until the earth is reduced to its objectivist carrying capacity.

    Even Eddie Willers wasn't fit for heaven.

    Enjoying the sermon yet, boyz?

  • ||

    This could explain a lot.

    When we heard how kids are getting drunk these days, we thought no way.

    So we hit up the experts to find out if it's an urban legend or if it's legit.

    "There's been documented cases of people going to the hospital with alcohol poisoning just from utilizing it that way," Thomas said.

    Thomas spends his days patrolling the halls of a Valley high school. He's heard first hand how kids are getting tipsy.

    "What we're hearing about is teenagers utilizing tampons, soak them in vodka first before using them," Thomas said.

    -------------

    It turns out that a super tampon can hold about a shot of vodka, which is pretty potent when it's going straight into your system.

    "If the person does pass out or lose consciousness, health care professionals won't necessarily know that they have to look in those areas and that may delay treatment," Quan said.

    If you're a parent of a teenager, what can you do to make sure tampons are used for the job they're intended and nothing more?

    "Well then you need to get involved," Thomas said. "Stop being your kid's friend and be their parent first."

  • Teenage Girl||

    "Using a beer bong rectally is the same concept as a vodka soaked tampon"

    Eeeww!!

  • Robert||

    This subthread reminds me of "Drinky Crow in New York".

  • Apatheist||

    Kids are finding way to get drunk? Well I never! This is shocking!

  • Ice Nine||

    Tampons, tampons, tampons! Doesn't anyone use vodka-soaked maxi pads anymore?!

  • ||

    Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

    In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses's scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

    -----

    What has happened over the past 30 years is the capture of the world's common treasury by a handful of people, assisted by neoliberal policies which were first imposed on rich nations by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

    Common Treasury; that's my favorite part.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Democrats and Republicans suck; Libertarians rule.

  • Can't see much difference||

    they're all city-Statists

  • ||

    +1 me

  • ||

    The rest of us are invited, by governments and by fawning interviews in the press, to subscribe to their myth of election: the belief that they are possessed of superhuman talents. The very rich are often described as wealth creators. But they have preyed on the earth's natural wealth and their workers' labour and creativity, impoverishing both people and planet. Now they have almost bankrupted us. The wealth creators of neoliberal mythology are some of the most effective wealth destroyers the world has ever seen.

    Makes ya proud, don't it? My monocle keeps fogging up, I don't know why.

  • Militant Solipsist||

    I don't believe other people exist, and you shouldn't either!

  • Suki||

    Someone needs to give him a bath.

  • Apatheist||

  • DLM||

    ...the hardman of Russian politics, Vladimir Putin.

    Well, that explains it.

  • ||

    And, sadly, no mention of Four-Loko-infused tampons.

    That's the trouble with this country, these days; kids just don't show any imagination or initiative.

  • ||

    terran's idea has been the best so far. Ignoring creates the opposite effect as she just posts twice as much to try to get a response. Cooter was awesomely funny, but didn't work. This is a perfect solution as every time the crazy cunt responds to one of us, we get excited as she is helping us "win", giving her the incentive to not respond. She tried spoofing, but it just made us even more excited as it gave us even more points (I am actually pissed that she only spoofed me once). It appears to be working as the thread is only around 300 comments so far and very little of it is her. Props to terran.

  • ||

    *tarran* (sorry)

  • BakedPenguin||

    Well, he's almost certainly a terran, too.

  • ||

    Whoa, oh, oh, BP, let's not make any assumptions.

  • ||

    I can't tell if I won or Warty did, because we both completely racked up the points for being spoofed. You've proved you can play with the big boys, Kara, but I don't think she'll ever hate you as much as she hates us.

  • ||

    Your parents must be so proud.

  • ||

    We admire their dedication and skill. Caring so much while at the same time professing not to care! "Individualists" who behave like a junior high school clique. Following this comment with an awesomely clever "+ me" retort...Brilliant! Not only their parents, but all of libertarianism itself must be proud of this, their noblest achievement.

  • ||

    +1 me

  • ||

    +1 cap l

  • ||

    SUHWEEET! I'm on the board, by Monday I'll own this joint.

  • ||

    And in the process you make the thread even more unreadable for everyone else.

    If everyone ignored it that would cause it to stop, but we all know that there's always someone who's going to respond. So that strategy is of limited use.

    The available filters aren't very sophisticated and actually require the troll's cooperation to work (ie using the same name all the time).

    The ultimate solution is for Reason to clean their stables once in a while. It is their property after all...

  • RoboCain||

    While I agree with you, this plus whatever game needs to stop regardless. If your barn has rats, you don't solve it by adding mice.

  • ||

    Ruining anything for you is all the motivation I need to keep doing this. Thanks for the impetus.

  • ||

    Vile troll.

  • ||

    That was fast, Ken. Oh, and blow me.

  • Warty||

    How glib. I bet he makes more than you, anyway.

  • ||

    Maybe he can tell me about address parsing too.

  • Warty||

    Another glib response. Look, some of us are serious adults who are trying to have serious adult conversations about how White Indian is a serious adult. The playground is that way.

  • ||

    Look, how dare you make a game out of a griefer troll and have fun. Fun is for children who aren't around me and possibly were not born with sticks up their asses. Fun makes me angry.

  • ||

    Stop being such insensitive dicks, my mom was brutally murdered by a glib comment.

  • ||

    That was MNG's thing, not that you give a shit about directing the right insults at the right people. As long as you're insulting someone and not contributing anything to the discussion, that's all that matters.

  • tarran||

    I was going to write a couple of nice paragraphs explaining to Tulpa how he was (as usual) wrong.

    Then I realized he would appreciate me taking his advice for a change, and so I'm going to ignore him and not encourage him by responding to him.

    We'll see if that reduces the frequency with which he posts.

  • Warty||

    Don't forget to say fuck Tulpa, dude. Fuck Tulpa.

  • ||

    Fuck who?

  • Warty||

    I dunno. Was tarran talking about someone?

  • tarran||

    Hey Episiarch, you know who I remember...?

    ...That guy who used to bend things. You know?

  • ||

    You mean Bender? Oh my, yes.

  • ||

    No. But I bet it wasn't someone who was good at stealing.

  • tarran||

    ... Hermes.

  • ||

    Joining the glibsters' bandwagon, eh tarran? How disappointing to see yet another commenter ditch posting meaningful content and switch to full-time insults.

  • tarran||

    LOL, Tulpa, where did I say I was switching to full time insults?

    I wonder if I'm being unfair to you. It's possible that what I take to be a pattern of disingenuity is really the product of a low capacity for reading comprehension.

  • ||

    Oh, and tarran? It won't affect my posting frequency at all if you don't respond. There's a whole cadre of people who've been claiming to ignore me for months now, but guess what: most people here consider me a positive contributor even if they disagree.

    If you want to flip to the other side so be it. But don't flatter yourself thinking it's going to affect me at all.

  • tarran||

    Oh, and tarran? It won't affect my posting frequency at all if you don't respond.

    Wow! So, you mean that in the absence of a disincentive you'll continue your parody of Socratic questioning?

    Why wouldn't Rather be rationalizing in just the same way as you are?

  • ||

    Ruining anything for you is all the motivation I need to keep doing this. Thanks for the impetus.

    So you're essentially a troll as well? That changes the landscape somewhat.

  • ||

    And I'm pretty sure whoever the troll is knows there is nothing actually gained by getting a +1 or whatever. So if that's the best strategy, we've officially bottomed out in the troll countermeasures department.

  • ||

    Unless rather is an elder scroll's fan, it appears to be working.

  • ||

    I also wore basketball pants today, so does that mean wearing basketball pants prevents trolling?

    In any case, the "cure" described is nearly as bad as the disease anyway.

  • ||

    Tulpy Poo, I would like to buy your pants.

  • ||

    Do you want me to launder them first? I ate black bean burritos for lunch.

  • ||

    Speaking of Greenspan's dominatrix:

    'Atlas Shrugged' DVDs Corrected To Read 'Self-Interest' Instead Of 'Self-Sacrifice'

    "As we all well know, the ideas brought to life in Atlas Shrugged are entirely antithetical to the idea of 'self-sacrifice' as a virtue. Atlas is quite literally a story about the dangers of self-sacrifice. The error was an unfortunate one and fans of Ayn Rand and Atlas have every right to be upset."
  • ||

    This is the logical conclusion to all those chemistry sets sold to all those children over so many years.

    When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

  • Buttle||

    It's amusing to hear people talk about these matters while assuming that there is such a thing as consciousness that exists apart from the human brain. It's possible that there is this "consciousness", but no scientific experiment has found this ghost yet.
    As for Richman's assertion, how is it that the actions of human beings could lie outside of the cause and effect laws of physics? Something about Santa Claus?

  • Robert||

    Scientific experiment? You perceive it directly! However, you almost always perceive only one of them, the same one, apparently.

  • ||

    To be scientific it has to be repeatable by different experimenters.

  • sevo||

    No ghost required, and it's not as if scientific inquiry hasn't identified something that might be called "consciousness" or "intelligence"; I give you the quest for AI as an example. You seem to be hoping that the science involved in defining that effect is as simple as say, nuclear physics. It's not.
    In animals above a certain complexity level, feedback loops begin to be individually established probably not long after birth, and continue to be established/reinforced/modified probably until death.
    A specific, material, cause/effect can certainly be found at the cellular level, but as expressed in (the final) animal action, well, good luck. Not every dog responds to a noise in the same way; not every human looks at a good deal on a TV in the same way.
    I certainly don't argue with your materialism, just your simplification.

  • Buttle||

    I didn't say anything about finding a "specific" cause. People often get this confused when discussing determinism. They assume determinists are arguing, as you seem to be, that we insist on a single, specific, determining cause for events, and if one cannot readily be found, then wala, there's your rebuttal to determinism. But that's not the argument at all. The argument is only that all effects have causes, whether we know what the specific causes are or not (and the specific causes are just irrelevant to the point).

  • ||

    Uh, I just got an email stating Ron Paul got a grand total of 90 seconds of time during tonight's hour-long debate. Those who watched -- is this claim true?

  • anarch||

    *peeks at end of thread, sees it's not cleaned up yet, backs out*

  • sevo||

    Folks,
    This isn't hard to grasp.
    Vermin shit is here for attention; you cannot reason with vermin shit.
    All of you who so 'cleverly' answered vermin shit must like it; *YOU'RE* the reason we have vermin shit.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Speaking of vermin...

    DEE!
    BATE!

    DEE!
    BATE!

    DEE!
    BATE!

  • sevo||

    Hmm.
    Is bowling on this evening? Or that paint drying; how about watching that?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This is your next president somewhere on that stage. What better way to build up acceptable contempt than to get an early start?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Last time on CSI: Repugtown...

  • A Serious Man||

    So this is our debate thread? Well it can't get any worse and we'll probaby break the record for comments.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Major Garrett. Is he ever going to make Lieutenant Colonel?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "I would not entertain military intervention in Iran at this time as I am not president at this time."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Romney 1 CBS 0

  • Mitt||

    WAR, BITCHES!!!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How does Newt know we're not using covert action already?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ron Paul wants to sluff off his duty onto the Constitution.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ha, Paul gave an anti-war and pro-war statement in a single answer.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Afghanistan is hard. It's hard."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Santorum goes after Obama and Bush!

  • Bee Tagger||

    I see Michelle dressed appropriately for her campaign's funeral

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who is this woman and what has she done with Michele Bachmann's hair?

  • A Serious Man||

    Can we please move this to the most recent H&R thread? My puny laptop takes forever to refresh the page. And it smells like vermin shite here.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Isn't this the most recent?

  • A Serious Man||

    I'm referring to the Reason Writer's Around Town thread about that movie. Seriously, it's a pain to have to scroll through all these comments to get to the bottom.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You don't have to say "seriously". It's right there in your name.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Huntsman looks definitively more feminine than Bachmann tonight.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The nation has achieved its key objective in Afghanistan, which is to prove Obama can surge troops just like the last guy.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Ah, Obama-style bring 'em home. Say youre doing it without doing it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Newt vs. Pakistan.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Newt called them gorillas. He thinks Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a documentary about the future.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "We don't know."

    Cain is using the royal "we".

  • Bee Tagger||

    Let's see how Pakistan likes having it's height compared to my wife's before I judge them.

  • ||

    It's like a giant game of Whack-O-Mole to him.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The Republican Party has declared war on the Pakis. Must be going after the India vote.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Wait till they start the outsourcing question.

    Literally, no one liked that show.

  • A Serious Man||

    Just go ahead and call it Armageddon, Michelle, we know where you got that idea from.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Newt should have started at 0 each month with his wife's jewelry allowance.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And his country's Jewry allowance?

  • Bee Tagger||

    I just noticed the double microphone setup for Santorum. They took my complaint that his rhetoric rings hollow literally.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I just figured it out. The GOP is in the pocket of Big Podium with all these debates.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Anti-immigration commercial. See, GOP viewers? We at CBS cater to you, as well.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    So Newt wants them to collectively be elected president?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Cain is going to employ Six Six Six Sigma on foreign policy.

  • Bee Tagger||

    It's a shame that Ron Paul went hoarse during the first commercial break and is thereby unable to answer any more questions.

  • ||

    Ron Paul is in this debate?

  • Bee Tagger||

    Santorum: I work with yes-men.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Santorum Administrition populated preferably with Santorum clones.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Santorum: I will hire a team of bitch-ass bitches.

  • Bee Tagger||

    To be fair, looking up Santorum on google is a sure fire way to get a computer virus.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Santorum hopes the US was behind every bad thing that happens to our enemies.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Period. HOWEVER...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Cain hates the word "torture".

  • ||

    I am not pro torture as long as we call it by a bureaucratic name.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Finally, Ron Paul question. He is squarely in the CBS demographic, so they should be going to him a lot more.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    On torture, these people all sound like Red Foreman and we all saw what happened to him on 24.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Boo-birds, there's the fucking door.

  • A Serious Man||

    Hey Mitt, you know who else summarily executed traitors and wanted his country to dominate the next century?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I found the booing quite lovely.

  • Bee Tagger||

    I heard Paul say "no", he couldnt even keep it in while Gingrich was speaking.

  • Bee Tagger||

    We will only have our debate moderators take an opposing point of view, we will not ask the candidates who hold them.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The Soviet Union ended up on the ash heap, not Russia. You might want to make that distinction.

  • Bee Tagger||

    You were listening to his words? The important part of what he said was his affectations, duh.

  • Bee Tagger||

    My favorite development over the past month is that other candidates don't even bother arguing with Perry because everyone has agreed that he has no idea what he's saying

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's the US government's job, not China's.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Oh, in Romney's world, China's currency manipulations hurts us rather than their own people.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Hey, I'm from South Carolina!"

  • Bee Tagger||

    Fine Huntsman, that's a good answer about reaching the youth of China.

  • Bee Tagger||

    I'm not missing a comma there. I refer to Huntsman as Fine Huntsman because he's just so damned beautiful.

  • A Serious Man||

    Oh noes, the chinks are taking our unneccessary jobs and flooding our markets with cheap goods! And they're buying our worthless fiat currency using their own soon-to-be worthless fiat currency!

  • sevo||

    I've heard somewhere they also make trains. Is that true?

  • Bee Tagger||

    well, i've made the worst decision of my weekend and went to nationaljournal.com to finish this thing off.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    So the candidates are going to be solving Navy and Marine crimes now?

  • Bee Tagger||

    Ooooo, Arab Spring question for Cain. I can't way to see how he works not hiring any of those people into his answer.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "500 Internal Server Error"

    Pretty much sums things up.

  • A Serious Man||

    Did you see Paul roll his eyes at the moderator? And he gets applause for making sense despite the moderator trying to shut him down. Best answer of the night.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

  • Bee Tagger||

    Mitch McConnell: This comment is for Ron Paul, I hate your son. That is all.

  • Bee Tagger||

    This is brutal, I'm out.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If any of you are able to watch this online, more power to you. I'm moving to the 3rd period of the Pens Canes game.

  • A Serious Man||

    God damn moderators, let us see a Bachmann-Paul exchange on torture and assassination, God forbid we see something revealing.

  • A Serious Man||

    So...am I the last man watching? My local CBS station didn't cut out. But I'm glad I got to see that awesome Ron Paul answer on executive power and foreign policy. He seemed legitimately pissed at what he was hearing from all the other candidates and he got the loudest applause for it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    East coast CBS affiliates switched to NCIS. The online stream was cutting out badly. You're carrying the burden for all of us.

  • ||

    Of course they are. They've also developed a clever device that can reverse the sound direction of tv and computer speakers, turning them into microphones. Anywhere Ron Paul is popular the feed just happens to "cut out". What a load of codswallop.

  • A Serious Roy Batty||

    I've seen things you wouldn't believe...Perry's campaign on fire as he tries not to sound like a dumbass... Romney's face glittering in the dark as he promises to assassinate more US citizens. Well okay, maybe you can imagine those things.

  • chris||

    Didn't Norman Osborn become president of the United States in a Marvel Universe story arch a few years ago? Easy to imagine Romney in that role. Still would be better than four more years of the current retardation in the White House*, if only to get a freshly minted retardation to take its place.

    * unless you are an ancap, then four more years of Obama might be what it takes to tip the balance in your favor.

  • A Serious Man||

    Lex Luthor was once President, although I won't insult Lex by comparing him to either Romney or Obama.

  • ||

    I'm streaming it online while googling potential countries to expatriate to.

  • 0x90||

    Whenever Cain talks, it sounds like a 3rd grade book report...

    "Great Expectations is a book about, naturally, expectations, and in this case, some very great ones. Oftentimes, when we have expectations, we know that they can sometimes not come true, but as President, President of these United States Of America, you can be sure that I have every intention of expecting great things, which is what the American people, the people of the United States of America, should expect."

  • A Serious Man||

    And so it ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. Too bad for Perry, he wasn't sounding stupid on that last question before the moderator cut him off to abrubtly end the debate.

  • mariannpepit||

    Since your not putting my comments on the board I will go on record to state that yes, Herman Cain is a sex maniac and he wanted sex from those women while his wife lived out of state. He needs to be charged and ousted from the campaign. Any women that votes for him believes it is okay to harass women. And we have a lot of dumbo women voters today.

  • ||

    a sex maniac and he wanted sex from those women while his wife lived out of state

    At least Bill wanted sex under the same roof where Hillary was living. That's much more considerate...

  • Mean Girl||

    This is like the worst chat room ever.

  • Ice Nine||

    And that one is?

  • Mean Girl||

    Huh?

    You're like the ignorantest person ever.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I agree. Ice Nine is just like Hitler.

  • Ice Nine||

    Nein.

  • ||

    How you doin?

  • ||

    @mean girl

  • Anthony Weiner||

    Sorry I'm late.

    Yes, I know:
    That's what she said.

  • JoshInHb||

    Jesus Christ!

    This place is a cesspool of troll shit, circle jerk effluvia and idiotic pseudo libertarian "logic".

  • Hobo Ken||

    And your point is ...?

  • A Serious Man||

    Honest question: why are you even here? I mean really, to have posted that you would have had to log onto to Reason.com, possibly read the article, skim through a forrest of over 500 threaded comments to come to your conclusion, and then think of a putdown.

  • truth stings, doen't it?||

  • ||

    +1 A Serious Man

  • Buttle||

    Not to mention of cesspool of commenters who substitute insulting labels for arguments.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Here's a Huffington Post special served by Timothy Karr: Saving the Democratic Internet http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....83534.html

    Moneyquote: the Internet is a far better expression of democracy, and as such needs rules like Net Neutrality to ensure all users have equal access to online content.

    Have fun with that.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Yeah, I'm sure they can't see anything possibly going wrong with that one.

  • Amerifuntimes||

    There is literally no hope. Whaaaaaaaat. X is now Y because we care so damn much about X.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'm not sure which he's insulting: Net Neutrality (don't throttle mai bandwidths!) or democracy (51% lording over the other 49%).

  • ||

    Wow they just can't keep their centrally planning fingers out of anything can they?

  • Gambol Lockdown=central plan||

    liberard loves central planning

  • ||

    Uh, I just got an email stating Ron Paul got a grand total of 90 seconds of time during tonight's hour-long debate. Those who watched -- is this claim true?

  • ||

    Have you ever gone out to see a movie and the previews were so long that you forgot what movie you were watching? It was like that.

  • Nipplemancer||

    I just watched an RP highlight reel of the debate that was just under 7 minutes.

  • Fluffy||

    5 and 1/2 of those minutes were on the online stream only.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tulpa,

    Those who watched -- is this claim true?


    No, it's not true. He got 89 seconds. 90 seconds is just a malicious exaggeration.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....r_embedded

  • romulus augustus||

    Sunday Morning just mentioned the debate but didn't comment at all about RP as the only candidate to challenge the hawkishness of the "main" GOP contenders. Though you'd think they'd want to introduce some split thinking in the GOP ranks.

  • ||

    I vote that the weekend open thread be the customary flame war over beer. The Jacket could, like, drive around sampling microbrews and give us a report. Then we all tell him what a dumbass he is with the obigatory "...the best beer is XYZ."

  • Robert||

    Id rather have a beer war over flame.

  • Mr. Mark||

    Tucher Hefeweizen

  • Old Mexican||

    In my [Sheldon's] recent discussions, my interlocutors stated that modern neuroscience has shown, or undoubtedly will soon show, that what we call “the mind” and all its activities are really just neurochemical processes.


    And so, their mere neurochemical processes find out that their neurochemical process find out how their neurochemical process work... by themselves.

    It's the new Ad Hominem: "Why should I give credence to your aargument? Yours is nothing more than neurochemical processes!"

    "Uh, so is yours then."

    "Ha! A tu quoque!"

  • Cytotoxic||

    This is a favorite of Liberal intelligentsia. They simply take it as forgranted that, because of the biochemical nature of our minds, the government must control our lives. To argue otherwise is to argue against science.

  • Libtard Loser||

    I just read through 581 posts just to tell you all what a better person I am compared to all of you. Is anyone there? Where did you go? I'm here, listen to me damn it!

  • Mean Girl||

    This is still like the worst chat room ever.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Mean Girl,

    This is still like the worst chat room ever.


    "This is the worst massage parlor ever!"
    "That's because this is a prison, bud - now, bend over."

  • ||

    This is still like the worst chat room ever.

    ... but your contribution is raising the level; soon it'll be the next to last worst chat room ever, then one above and so on and so on... as long as you don't tire of adding your quality insights.

  • Robert||

    One of the standard posited consequences to mind's not being a necessary intermediary of brain activity is the possibility of the psychologic zombie: an entity which behaves exactly like a conscious one, satisfying Turing's test, but without consciousness. We do seem to have approximations of such in sleep walking, although an alternative possibility is that the sleep walker is aware but has an anterograde amnesia for the time -- like when I've had teeth taken out after Versed was administered.

  • ||

    I seriously doubt a sleepwalker could pass a Turing test.

    And of course, Turing's response to criticisms such as this was that if consciousness is a quality impossible to detect -- as such an unconscious zombie passing the Turing test would imply -- then it's essentially a matter of religion with no significance in the real world.

  • sevo||

    "We do seem to have approximations of such in sleep walking, although an alternative possibility is that the sleep walker is aware but has an anterograde amnesia for the time"
    Occam's razor, and Tulpa.

  • Tuttle||

    "Ludwig von Mises described human action as purposeful behavior, as opposed to the reflex that occurs when the patellar tendon is struck."

    That's a false choice, Ludwig...or Sheldon. Determinism does not equate to behaviorism. Determinism simply means your choices did not arise in a vacuum - everything preceding your choices had some influence on that choice, and it's irrelevant the degree any particular influence has on that choice. All we need to know is that your choices are not immaculately conceived, they had precedences

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tuttle,

    Determinism simply means your choices did not arise in a vacuum - everything preceding your choices had some influence on that choice, and it's irrelevant the degree any particular influence has on that choice.


    That's not what determinism means. Determinism simply means that whatever happens, is a direct and unchanging consequence of previous events, like a movie.

    All we need to know is that your choices are not immaculately conceived, they had precedences[.]


    Mises and Sheldon are not arguing otherwise, Tuttle:

    "[We] observe human action as insiders. From our own internal experience we know what human action consists of. We know directly what it means to think, to will, to choose, to prefer, to attend to, to mind. Following Szasz, I’ve used verbs, not nouns, because they are actions not possessions."

    Sheldon does not hence argue that choices appear ex nihilo. However, determinists argue that we don't choose at all, that the concept of choice is just a mirage.

  • sevo||

    OM,
    "Sheldon does not hence argue that choices appear ex nihilo."
    If not, this is pretty close:
    "If mind is brain, there is no “psychological” freedom or responsibility—no humanity."
    Tuttle may be pedantic, but Sheldon provides the ammo.

  • Tuttle||

    Admittedly there are varieties of "determinism" within philosophy. I was intending to capture this one, but perhaps I didn't so well (influences perhaps not being the best choice of words): "Determinism is the concept that events within a given paradigm are bound by causality in such a way that any state (of an object or event) is completely, or at least to some large degree, determined by prior states." I would modify this to "determined by states, events, or any other conditions not captured by states or events". Again though, it doesn't specifiy that we need to know the particular causal events, only that events have causes. And it's not that choice is a mirage, but "free" choice certainly is.

  • Nomad||

    If choice is a mirage, so what? I do believe that every appearance of randomness in every system is simply a result of our inability to fully analyze it. There is no choice-matter that is simply in an undefined state until a human conscious wills it one direction or another. All of the universe is one giant system with a predetermined outcome. But we don't know the outcome. So why does it matter?

    We have the benefit of positive illusions. Those of us who are atheists need it in particular. I know that every action I take is ultimately going to lead to my death, and that there is no 'meaning' to life. Yet my nature is to experience happiness and seek it out. The mere fact of acknowledging that I have no true scientific 'choice' in my own life doesn't have any real application to my day to day life. Its an arbitrary fact. A concept of existence.

    So if someone declares 'there is no freedom' and also claims that as a reason to take any action (particularly on a governmental level), he has already contradicited himself. How can the fact there is no true choice be the reason for making a choice at all?

    Ultimately, I'm not sure what Sheldon's point really is. He does not show us the neuroscientists of the world who are converging on this idea of brain over mind and demanding some paridigm shift in global government. So what is he afraid of? It sounds like a personal dilemma. He wants to believe is science, but not believe that his brain plays by those rules. He seems to be saying that the human mind surely must rise above science. We are self-aware after all.... But that stinks of religion to me. I don't know the man's faith but he seems to have a very strong belief in the idea of Choice.

  • onlinefashion||

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  • Sheldon Richman||

    Feel free to argue among yourselves. But if I catch anyone exercising free will, you're outta here!

  • Mike||

    I hate this argument.

    *Of course* your mind is nothing but a brain and the "software" running on it. What else would it be, pixie dust? Some mystical soul that can never be proved?

    The brain is like a complex computer system running even more complex software, probably with a few *real* random number generators thrown in for good measure. Humans do not have "free will" in the philosophical sense.

    However, this is completely irrelevant until our neurological science has advanced to the point where we can predict human behavior in any meaningful way. The brain is so complex right now that it is *much* more useful to treat it as a free-will-having black box, because we have too little data to have a significantly better model of its behavior.

    We may sit down because of a complex chemical reaction chain going on inside our noggins, not because we made a "choice"... but to an outside observer at our current level of understanding, there is no functional difference. Given that every current attempt to peer into that black box is only useful at a probabilistic level, it's folly to try to model it in any way other than a choice.

  • ||

    +1

  • ball mill||

    he brain is like a complex computer system running even more complex software, probably with a few *real* random number generators thrown in for good measure. Humans do not have "free will" in the philosophical sense.
    We have the benefit of positive illusions. Those of us who are atheists need it in particular. I know that every action I take is ultimately going to lead to my death, and that there is no 'meaning' to life. Yet my nature is to experience happiness and seek it out. The mere fact of acknowledging that I have no true scientific 'choice' in my own life doesn't have any real application to my day to day life. Its an arbitrary fact. A concept of existence.

  • wulfy||

    Guy walks into a bar and orders a drink.

    Bartender says,

    "We don't have drinks."

    Guy says,

    "Isn't this a bar?"

    Bartender says,

    "Yes, but drinks were banned by President Obama because they cause an inequality of joy between drinking people and people who don't have drinks."

    Guy says,

    "What can I order?"

    Bartender says,

    "A glass of Obama Piss. It's the only drink that equalizes misery, so it is the only legal drink."

    Guy climbs up, drops trow, and takes a shit on the bar.

    Bartender says,

    "Hey, what was that for?"

    Guy says,

    "I brought my Obama Lunch if that's ok."

  • Nike Air Max running shoes||

    great post ,it is very useful

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