How would you feel if you woke up realising free will was an illusion and you therefore had no control over your destiny? The central question of concern here is, do we have free will?
This is not simply a question of whether I decide to eat out or eat at home tonight, but more a question of whether I make choices because I have the free will to do so or my choices are already determined at a quantum level of reality (events less than 100 nanometers long), where my brain is use to functioning in a certain way or responding to an external stimulus in which I have already been conditioned to.
At a quantum level, reality seems to behave differently from events at larger levels. Physicists have described these events as ‘indeterminate’ in the sense that the outcome of events cannot be inferred in advance except in statistical terms.
Relating this to synapses in the brain, which are as small as 20 nanometers where the quantum principle operates, cannot be predicted. At a greater scale we can look at thoughts and emotions that function at a neural level, one can ask what initiates those thoughts and feelings.
Therefore, at a quantum level it is plausible to infer that one cannot predict whether a neuron will fire or not. Does this leave us with an explanation that an external force or something non-physical intervenes with a physical force?
If I do make choices in my mind, there should be a spot that reacts in my brain, or lights up, a stimulus that enables my body to respond to the decision I made. This spot can be pinpointed at the smallest level known to physicist, the quantum level.
However, if at the quantum level, things behave differently as we have stated above and concluded that because one cannot predict the behavior of a particle at a quantum level or whether a neuron will fire or not, then there should be a nonphysical intervening in the physical world, does that mean that one can imply that this nonphysical force that intervenes invariably results in a deterministic state and we are therefore not really free to make choices?
Even though quantum mechanics is accepted by physicists, it remains a hot and controversial topic due to its paradoxes. For instance, as described in the New Scientist: ‘you cannot ask what the spin of a particle was before you made an observation of it – quantum mechanics says the spin was undetermined and you cannot predict the outcome of an experiment; you can only estimate the probability of getting a certain result.’
Responding to this contradictory dilemma, Hooft explained: “we cannot talk of particles or waves to describe reality, so he defines entities called “states” that have energy. In his model, these states behave predictably according to deterministic laws, so it is theoretically possible to keep tabs on them.
However, both Mathematicians John Conway and Simon Kochen at Princeton University said: ” any deterministic theory underlying quantum mechanics robs us of our freewill.”
Can we use quantum mechanics to answer the question on whether the uncertainty principle is the correct description of our reality or can Gerard t’Hooft be right in saying that beneath that uncertainty there is a deterministic order?
t’Hooft leaves us with this; that we actually do not have free will as we commonly understand it ‘because the way it is commonly understood is wrong,’ he said.
New findings published in the journal Neuron, suggests that we need to rethink what “free will” actually means.
The most famous findings on free will was devised by Benjamin Libet in 1983. The Libet experiment found that neurons start firing well in advance of conscious decision-making: “The surge in activity, or “readiness potential,” started forming almost a full second before the experienced moment of decision.
Libet suggested that the decision making moment wasn’t the present-tense sensation of making a decision, but the past-tense sensation of already having made one. This felt, to many observers, like a blow struck against the idea of free will.”
However further studies proved the Libet experiment imprecise. An experiment performed by Fried, Mukamel, and Kreiman showed that the sensation of making a decision is found in the motor region of the brain and not in any ‘decision-making’ area and that the moment of making a decision involves a decrease and increase in brain activity.
Therefore, neuroscientist Patrick Haggard counter argued the Libet experiment by stating that it is “wrong to think of the ‘moment of decision making’ as prior intention. Rather it seems to mark an intention-in-action, quite closely linked to action execution when the brain manifests a prior plan into a motor act.”
In fact, the decreases in neural activity before the decision making, meanwhile, suggest that the brain is set up to “tonically inhibit unwanted actions”: the sensation of making a decision is more about green-lighting one of many competing impulses”.
What this experiment actually illuminates is our understanding of what free will is. Is it a hypothetical concept of ‘making a decision’ in our head?
It is in fact more to do with doing. It is in fact not about choosing a decision but enacting one.
The conclusion I am left with is that the meaning and understanding of free will is actually our ability to come to terms with reality as to whether we have the necessary conditioning in order not to just DECIDE but also to ENACT our decisions.
To relate back to the arguments presented at the beginning; if so, that at a quantum level, our decisions remain unpredictable but also somewhat deterministic, where should we place the limitations of our free will?
The final question to you is, do you really want to know whether you have free will? It seems to me that we are better off believing so, for the mindset can only give us hope for change.
“Cursed charity shop painting ruined my life”, says British woman
A British woman purchased a portrait of a young girl from a charity shop and now asserts that the picture is cursed, reports mirror.co.uk.
Elliot-Brown, aged 36, spotted an artwork by an unfamiliar artist at
the Hastings Advice Representation Center in St Leonards-on-Sea, East
Sussex, a month ago.
Simultaneously, the seller cautioned Zoe
about the painting possibly being cursed, revealing that a prior
purchaser of the same artwork had returned it to the store with the
statement “it ruined my life.”
Out of curiosity, Zoe captured an
image of the painting on her smartphone and shared the photo with her
68-year-old mother, Jane Elliot-Brown. Her mother seemed to be entranced
by the painting.
she began urging Zoe to acquire the painting. Yielding to her mother’s
persuasion, Zoe paid £20 for the artwork. However, as soon as she
introduced it into her home, strange occurrences commenced taking place.
Zoe entered her home and positioned the painting in the living room,
their dog named Cilla leaped up and started growling at the artwork.
Cilla deliberately kept her distance, refraining from approaching the
picture. Subsequently, Zoe’s mother’s health took a sharp decline. She
began experiencing alternating spells of fever and chills, requiring her
to wear four sweaters to keep warm.
Concurrently, Zoe’s mother
seemed to be captivated by the painting. She continuously gazed at it
and even caressed the painted girl’s cheek. During the night, she heard
peculiar knocks emanating from the room where the picture hung, despite
the room being unoccupied.
Zoe managed to persuade her mother that
the painting held negative energy and was cursed. However, Jane
staunchly defended the painting, reluctant to part with it.
never seen my mother yearn for something so intensely. She was
entranced by it, but not in a positive manner. She guarded it. She
frequently gazed at it. She ran her fingers over the painted girl’s
cheeks and polished the surface, although the painting didn’t require
“Each time I mentioned disposing of the painting, she
became exceedingly irritable. It transformed into a sort of family
heirloom for her, something she began cherishing.”
flatly refused to get rid of the painting. I think it’s a bit like the
magic power of the Lord of the Rings ring. It definitely works in an
attractive and charming way, it seems to pull you towards it.
“My mother became a bit like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings,” says Zoe.
herself says that it seems to her that the painted girl is very unhappy
and she stroked her to comfort her. She also does not attribute the
deterioration of her health to the purchase of the painting.
the same time, she admits that there were several cases when someone
seemed to knock on the door, and when she opened it, there was no one on
One day, Jane became so ill that she fainted right
in the bathroom. Zoe called 911, but her mother refused to go to the
hospital and was eventually left at home.
One morning, Zoe entered
the living room and saw her mother standing and stroking the painted
girl on her cheeks. And the mother could not remember how she ended up
in the living room and what she did at night.
was strange behavior, especially for my mom. She couldn’t remember
anything from what happened last night. My mom is still very weird and
distracted and doesn’t want to discuss it.”
And then something
even more frightening happened. Zoe and her friend Ben went for a walk
on a hill during a thunderstorm and suddenly saw a “creepy black figure”
that suddenly appeared in front of them.
They do not know if this
is related to the painting, but they immediately ran back in fear.
Deciding to get rid of the cursed painting, Zoey eventually took it and
took it to the same shop where she bought it.
And when she drove
up to the store, she saw that in one of the tires of the car, brand new,
someone stuck a screw. She gave the painting to the seller, but then
changed her mind and took it back.
didn’t want someone else to buy the painting and get hurt because of
it. Now Zoe wants to give the picture only to someone who understands
Now the painting is kept in Zoya’s house in a box filled with sage (it is believed that sage helps against evil spirits).
She also hung sage in every corner of the house, although Zoya’s mother was very unhappy with this.
thought knowing my luck some idiot will go and get it and try and burn
it and I don’t really want to be left with the remainder of whatever the
hell has been going on. Technically I was the last owner. [I want it]
dealt with properly. […]”
Wild man with a spear in his hand was spotted in the forests of Germany
A mysterious wild man, nicknamed by the locals “the wolf man”, was
photographed in the forested mountains of the Harz, in the center of
Germany. The man was completely naked and held a spear in his hand.
savage was accidentally noticed by two tourists who were walking
through the forest, not far from the city of Blankenburg in
Saxony-Anhalt, and examined the ruins of an old castle.
reached the caves in the sands, we saw this wolf-man. He stood high in
one of the caves and held in his hand a long wooden stick that looked
like a spear.
“He didn’t take his eyes off us, but he didn’t say
anything. He looked dirty and looked like a prehistoric man from the
Stone Age, like pictures in a history book,” Gina Weiss, 31, told Bild
to Weiss and her friend Toby, they observed this man for about ten
minutes. The naked man appeared to be in his forties and reportedly
these tourists were not the first to have seen him in the area.
It is assumed that he has been living in the forests near Blankenburg for about five years.
Authorities say they have received numerous reports of a person wearing a wolf’s skin or wolf costume over the past five years.
March 2023, a frightened eyewitness even called the police because he
thought that a wolfman running next to him wanted to attack him. In
other cases, people have seen how a savage is trying to make a fire or
building a hut out of branches for himself.
At the same time, it
is quite cold in this area in winter and it is not clear how this person
managed to survive here for several years.
According to Alexander
Beck, head of the local fire brigade, this savage clearly has the
skills to live in the wild and adapt to the changing seasons of the
Where this man came from is unknown. There are many theories, from the hermit to more mystical versions such as time portals.
However, there are those who believe that all this is just some kind of prank to scare tourists or some other purpose.
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