In this post, I want to tell a little story about how a study can be negligent, and due to that negligence assert conclusions that should not be made. That study is titled “It’s OK if ‘my brain made me do it’: People’s intuitions about free will and neuroscientific prediction” by Eddy Nahmias, Jason Shepard, and Shane Reuter (2013).
Online debates happen both intentionally and unintentionally. I’ve had my fair share of ’em, in fact I’ve had too many debates to keep track of. Many are on the free will topic, and many are on other topics. I still have them but only when I can find the time, something limited. They are a great tool to get feedback and to provoke other thoughts or ways to go about addressing a topic of concern. They can also be a great tool for spreading information to others.
There seems to be an irony that often occurs when someone moves away from their free will belief. It’s often an unexpected irony that takes place after going through several phases of misinterpretation, denial, acceptance, and eventually a full-fledged understanding of why free will doesn’t exist and what that implies.
If you’ve ever seen the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting you’ll probably remember the powerful scene where the psychologist Maguire, played by Robin Williams, tells Will, a mathematical genius played by Matt Damon, that “It’s not your fault”. At first Will shrugs it off with an “I know” but Maguire ignores the attempts to shrug it of and re-enforces the idea that Will is not to blame. He knows the weight of such a burden on Will even if Will claims to already know that it isn’t his fault.