It’s a short book by Alfred Mele, a Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. Mele was the director of the Big Questions in Free Will Project (2010-2013) and has authored several books and a large amount of articles on the subject.
Mele tackles the main scientific studies proclaiming that free will is an illusion. He takes them down, one by one, showing that they all suffer from several logical fallacies. But they have one fallacy in common, the Black Swan fallacy. That you have only seen white swans does not rule out the existence of black swans. That scientific experiments have not proven the existence of an agent of free will does not preclude the existence of free will. Some experiments doesn’t even look in the right places.
It was time for me to create an app. With an autobiography published in 2013, a bunch of OnePageBooks on Amazon, artwork on 500px, music on Spotify, just short of 50 projects on GitHub – the next natural check-off on my bucket list was an app. OK, a simple Android app viewing the AMAR NPCg site as a tool for Game Masters of the AMAR Role-Playing Game. But an app nontheless. As usual with stuff I create, it’s free. Get it on Google Play:
Humans have always tried to make sense of the world we live in. We have always tried to come up with simple explanations that covers what we see. From the four elements and a flat earth inside a dome to a spherical earth and a heliocentric world view, our view of the world has evolved. But the quest has always been to come up with a complete and consistent model that will explain all of existence. Just like Newton’s classical physics. He viewed the world as clockwork obeying a complete and consistent set of physical laws. And when those laws didn’t quite fit the bill, Einstein extended this quest with his theories of relativity. His goal was to come up with a grand unifying theory that could be encompassed in an equation no longer than two inches.
Einstein’s famous discussion with Niels Bohr where the former exclaimed “God does not play dice” was his rejection of the spookiness of quantum mechanics. This branch of physics seemed to destroy the quest to unearth a model for an ultimately orderly and rational, complete and consistent world.
Had they only looked to mathematical philosophy and seen the same quest fail there. At the start of the 20th century, there was this adventure in mathematics where the major thinkers of that field tried to codify all of mathematics into neat axioms and rules to rule’em all. But alas, Kurt Gödel shot it all down with his Incompleteness Theorems. And decidedly so. There cannot be any complex axiomatic system that is both complete and consistent. And to those who would like to believe that the universe we can observe is all that can be, mathematics is a subset of our universe. And as the universe is then a superset of mathematics, then the universe itself cannot be both consistent and complete. And that has some profound implications that I will cover in a OnePageBook sometime in the future.
Now, what prompted me to again delve into this? I was inteviewed by Aaron Smith-Levin the other day, and one of the comments on the resulting Youtube video read:
“Geir, so much of your world view hinges on the “law” a system cannot be both complete and stable, including the large conclusion that humans are spiritual beings, have you ever questioned the conclusion on systems, and if the conclusion about systems were the opposite, would you conclude you are not a spiritual being? If you were not a spiritual being, would you feel you should adapt the rational skeptic world view?”
To which I answered:
“The proof that complex axiomatic systems cannot be both consistent and complete is among the most solid mathematical achievements in human history. It’s irrefutable. So is the double slit experiment, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and Bell’s theorem. There is nothing rational about refuting any of these. They all point in the direction of consciousness being non-physical. Read my OnePageBook in free will for details: https://isene.me/2017/07/17/free-will-do-you-really-have-a-choice/”
Just like the old, classical Newtonian world view was naive, I believe the modern “rational skeptic world view” to be equally naive.
I would like to express my gratitude to Scientology and what I have learned from my 25 years as a Scientologist. Since it is now 9 years since I left the organization and 12 years since I completed the highest Scientology level, OT 8, I can calmly reflect on what gains I got from it. There are many years since I stopped considering myself a Scientologist. I am of no religion, of no particular faith. I am somewhat anarchistic at heart, not believing in any set methods and always trying to look at simpler truths. The scientific method is perhaps the most successful of human methodology, but even that has its limitations.
Some Scientology gains are short, fleeting, impermanent. Some are more lasting, and some have grown stronger over the years. The short-lived gains are uninteresting. The lasting gains have helped me throughout my life.
Perhaps my most fundamental gain from Scientology is leaving Scientology. Graduating with a sense of simplicity and on a quest for ever more simple solutions. It has taught me to trust my own senses, to reflect on my own actions and personality and to self-correct. A self-scepticism based on a healthy doubt and interest in finding out deeper truths. I am calmer from Scientology and much better at not giving a fuck about stuff that really doesn’t matter. Life is less serious.
An interesting tidbit is that I used to have nightmares. Several times per month I would wake up from one sweating. During just a few days, when I did OT 8 back in 2006, they completely disappeared and for 12 years I’ve had none. Given that I would have no nightmares only 1 out of ten months before, the probability that it is pure luck that I didn’t have one since is less than picking out one particular particle of matter in the whole observable universe. So I can with confidence say that this was a gain specifically from OT 8.
I am currently learning how to “Lose without a loss” – to be able to lose in a situation and not carry on a loss afterwards. And I’m getting quite good at it. It’s incidentally an exercise that will ultimately help me when I die, as that is the ultimate loss in life.
Scientology is a polarizing subject. Most people who care to discuss the subject view it as a black-or-white proposition. It quickly degenerates into a good vs bad, either-or, Republicans vs Democrats, Cowboys vs Indians or US/them discussion (pun intended). I view it differently. There are good and bad in everything, and while the Church of Scientology is a fascistic cult, I have gotten invaluable gains from my years studying and applying the subject. Maybe I could have gotten the same or even better elsewhere. I wouldn’t know. I only know what I did get, and I’m grateful for that.
I have been a serious contributor to the HP Forum for the past 15 years, having contributed software, prototyping and ideas for a number of calculator models – especially the HP-41. The Forum is a part of the HP Museum – a resource dedicated to Hewlett Packard’s range of calculator products.
Lately something interesting happened, something that validates the OnePageBook “And?”. I got banned from the forum with this message:
A few weeks back, I referred to the “Do What the Fuck You Want to Public License“, twice. That got one of the moderators on the forum all riled up. He didn’t ban me but was fuming. Then, when another member posted his reimplementation of the Brainfuck programming language, I replied that he would get in trouble with the moderators for posting that. Now THAT got me banned – with the message above. The moderator then went postal and started manually deleting all my close to 600 contributions to the forum, missing only 8 posts along the way.
Now this wasn’t the first time the moderator had blown up. He has a history of being toxic with escalating conflicts with users in public. While that moderator has some clear anger issues, the root cause is that the forum owner, Dave Hicks has kept him as a moderator, even after a major debacle back in 2015 when the moderator went full frontal on another major contributing member. There has also been several deletions of whole threads of work – just because someone was offended by some words in there.
A very sensitive person. Someone who is easily hurt or offended by the statements or actions of others.
All this made me realize that I cannot trust posting any serious contributions to that forum. Who knows whan another random moderator would go batshit and start deleting my work.
I tried my best to resolve this back channel, but the moderators kept ignoring my messages. Then I was suddenly unbanned, but my posts were put in a censorship queue. Every new post were to be reviewed by a moderator before it got posted. A post where I criticized the forum owner got blocked. It included a message I sent to Dave just before:
As I posted in one of the queued posts, I cannot trust posting anything of value to this forum anymore. And with all my contributions permanently gone and with the level of censorship going on, there is no reason for me to remain. I saw Dave’s rant about Thomas and account deletions, but since I have basically been deleted from this forum, I would like to let you off easy: Rather than facing a few hours of work to retreive my posts, you will now go ahead and permanently delete my account and all the remaining posts of mine – along with the moderator thread discussing me. I am not mad or angry. I am not even disappointed. But as I said, Dave has lost my respect and I cannot trust the forum. I request the deletion of my account in accordance with GDPR. This is final. There is no regrets or need for any cooling period. Please send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org confirming the action. If I ever want to join the forum again, I will do so with a fresh account.
Dave then went on the forum saying I had been “mad at him since 2015”. While that is untrue, it only confirms my decision.
So, what can I learn from this? First of all, integrity trumps snowflakes. Secondly, it has helped me exercizing enjoying debacles. And thirdly, I should remember not to be too terse or succinct in my communication as it could be interpreted as harsh or angry – when I am really just trying to be efficient. Maybe more emoticons would help?
I am not sure whether the US population has become markedly dumber in recent years or it is simply more visible now through social media. But the amount of moronic memes and general stupidity from Americans visible on social media is staggering.
The US is clearly in rapid decline. We are seeing a nation imploding from lack of intelligence, empathy and responsibility. The current political polaization is but a symptom. Trump is a symptom.
And I believe the social media – predomenantly created in the US – has been a catalyst for the US decline. Call it karma, call it our Great Filter. But whatever it is, the rest of the world may be wise to start planning the future without the former super-power.
Conservatism is about conservation. It is about limiting change.
From the multitude of conversations I’ve had about the right side of politics, it seemss clear to me that the further to the right a person is, the more he or she is driven by fear. Fear of the government, fear or limitations or having freedoms or rights taken away. Fear of other cultures or unfamiliar sexual orientations – the Us versus Them. Fear of someone “in control”. Fear of change, of progression. Even fear of damnation or Hell.
It is a political belief mired in fear, of which paranoia is born. Paranoia begets conspiracy theories. From the Illuminati, “the bankers” and “reptilians” to all kinds of “Truthers”; be it 9/11, fake moon landings, hollow or flat Earth, telepathic beams from Polaris, HAARP, chemtrails or governments hiding alien life forms.
Paranoia and fear clouds the rational mind and promotes aggressive behaviour – as so often seen in online discussions with labelling of opponents, name calling, threats and the usual wide range of logical fallacies.