Mike & Unseenstrings in Conversation

To: unseenstrings
From: mike
Subject: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 15, 2010

In regard to free will I didn’t have enough space to describe my full views. This is what I believe:

1. Free will only exists as a perception in the human mind, i.e. we FEEL that we make choices, however we don’t… everything IS pre-determined. Even determinists FEEL like they make choices, e.g. of what car to buy etc.
2. Most people don’t define free will this way, however there are two layers to free will – the religious view in regard to morality (which I do NOT believe), and then there’s 1. above, i.e. the FEELING that we make choices even if we know we don’t in regards to the laws of physics etc.
3. However we do make decisions when choosing A or B. This decisions making process IS the neurons firing in our brain… even though the neurons firing sequence is pre-determined a decision making process occurs… even if the result is pre-determined. So for example when I choose whether to have chocolate or banana milkshake my brain DOES go through a decision making process, however it is true that the whole process including the result is pre-determined.
4. Discussions on morality obviously are impacted by the deterministic view. e.g. if a killer is pre-determined to kill then should we forgive. I think that we should. However we have to be careful in leading ourselves down a pure ‘laws of physics’ take on the world without emotion. Our world does include emotion, as our consciousness and perception of the world for some reason includes emotions. If we use zero emotions in relation to debates on morality and societal issues, then we end up in dangerous situations. i.e. a person with zero emotions might logically conclude that it’s for the greater good to extinguish ALL criminals as they are using up resources and time even to heal them. So as you can see emotions are needed as a secondary input to arguments that relate to society. And as free will is a FEELING, we might need to have a hybrid approach between the old model of ‘people have choices’ and ‘things are pre-determined’.

Also if people are aware of punishments then that is a set of inputs in to their ‘system’. i.e. the threat of punishment will stop a certain percentage of people from offending, so maybe it IS a good deterrent.

Also another point is why do you and I bother debating with each other if we know the outcome of the debate is pre-determined… interesting until I realised that we didn’t even have a choice to have this debate lol. Ever since the big bang we were destined to have this debate.

Also what do you think of he many worlds view of quantum mechanics? Personally I think it’s a load of rubbish… however I remain open-minded.

I didn’t want to embarrass you in the publicly viewable comments so I sent you a message instead… You resorted to intellectual put downs and insults as way of argument against me, and said that according to some of my beliefs regarding ‘free will’, I needed to ‘grow up’ 😉

However ‘adults’ tend to have debates without resorting to insults… it is childish to resort to insults. I hope you can see that. I’m not offended by your insults, I think they were amusing and it made me laugh, as I used to resort to insults to… it reminds me of the old me 🙂

It might be worth thinking about. Hopefully this didn’t come across as too patronising… but how do I give you feedback without coming across as a complete tosser? It’s hard right? 😉 Anyway best wishes and look forward to your response. Of course whether you decide to insult me or not IS pre-determined, so it’s not worth me judging you 😉
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To: mike
From: unseenstrings
Subject: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 15, 2010

Free will exists only as a mental construct. We wouldn’t necessarily presume that we have free will if the idea hadn’t been hammered into our heads from our most tender years.

The mental construct stemmed from the notion that the body possessed a nonphysical soul. And this soul was supposed to be capable of effecting the physical world but itself could not be affected in return. Therefore, choices and thought were presumed to be free from the world of cause and effect.

Societies that did not believe animals had souls also did not believe animals had free will.

We cannot know for sure everything is predetermined/predestined. Therefore, belief in predetermination/predestination is a religious belief. I think Calvinists are the primarily ones to espouse the idea.

Humans do make decisions. Decisions can be observed happening in the brain using MRI. Dogs make choices too. Robots with multiprocessors running complex AI programs make choices too. However, none of the choices are free from physical necessity or causal law.

The choice to eat steak and potatoes or a vegan meal are not the result of a single neuron firing in the brain. Choices are much more complicated than that. Different modules of the brain are sending signals to each other and getting feedback before a decision is reached. Then when the steak is put on the table and it is too rare for the person, he sends it back to be cooked some more, or his stomach is turned and so he orders vegan. None of the choices are free from the existing neuroanatomy and physiological chemistry of the person’s brain (as a result of previous development) nor was it free from the sensory input being received.

A person who has developed a brain that makes him capable of murder is not going to murder until all the necessary criterion are met. The person who has developed a brain that makes him capable of selling drugs is not going to become a drug-dealer until all the necessary criterion are met. Forgiveness is quite irrelevant it the issue. We don’t harp on and on about whether a person who had contracted a contagious disease should be forgiven. But we don’t turn him loose to spread the disease either.

We install traffic signals at dangerous intersections because predestination is bull shit. We look both ways before we cross a busy street because predestination is religious bull shit.

Emotion can cause society to kill as quickly as apathy can. Do you really feel Germany felt no emotion toward the Jews? You need to read Mein Kampf if that is what you presume.

What is needed is a Constitution that will guarantee individual rights, regardless of the emotion or apathy felt by the majority. And emotion in the courtroom can only pervert justice, according to the prejudices of the emotion experienced.

Threats of punishment may deter a few people to a degree. But we know from the recidivism rate that it isn’t as effective as is commonly supposed. Besides, most humans had rather suffer death than social humiliation, which comes as a consequence of being arrested, charged, and/or incarcerated for a crime.

I debate because everything is not predetermined/predestined. And my input may have some positive causal effect on you, as yours may have on me.

Bear in mind though, the mind has a mechanism to protect itself from alien ideas as the body has to protect itself from foreign microorganisms.

Talking about the Big Bang when discussing choice behavior of any brain is an exaggeration fallacy or a fallacy of necessity. Can you imagine discussing the Big Bang when discussing the structure, state, and processes of a whale’s brain. It would be pure nonsense, as it is when discussing the human brain.

Quantum mechanics (the Butterfly Effect of supposed random events) may be why predestination isn’t true. However, events happening at the quantum level don’t have anything to do with free will. Nothing happening at the quantum level is guided or freely chosen by the conscious mind.

Also, many interpretations of the theory exist concerning quantum mechanics. The Copenhagen interpretation is the most popular. None are perfect. We have a long way yet to go concerning our understanding of he quantum world.

I did not say you needed to grow up. I said, “The people who believe in free will also need to grow up and realize free will is an illusion,” because “the illusion contributes to the delinquency of society.” You had already stated that you knew free will was an illusion. So I wasn’t talking to you.

Belief in free will acts as blinders, like the horse pulling the carriage wears. He can only see straight in front of him. But he can’t take in the big picture, which is necessary if we want to be more than stupid draft animals.

I’m 63 years old and in poor health. I don’t suspect I’m going to last for very many more years. I have enough years experience that I can look back with a degree of understanding about the human experience. And I truly believe that one of the most pressing issues confronting humanity is facing up with the fact that free will is an illusion. I therefore have decided to dedicate my remaining “years” to debunking the free will illusion.

However, free will is religious dogma. Free Will is the mainstay of practically every religion. I know the battle will not be won in my life. But that is not going to stop me from plugging away at the illusion as long as I live.

I hope I answered your concerns satisfactory.

Unseen
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To: unseenstrings
From: mike
Subject: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 15, 2010

I think you underestimate my intelligence lol… I do have a degree in computer science and have done a reasonable amount of artificial intelligence to know that choices will take more than one neuron firing! 😉

You say pre-determinism is religious dogma… you say free will is religious dogma too! 🙂 I think you are obsessed to make everything having a source from religion, maybe you are pissed off with religion? (I can understand why you might be… I’m an atheist but no longer angry with religion… I just think it sucks) You say that it was religion that hammered the idea of free will in to us… that is probably true… however even without religion, because we experience choices it would have been quite obvious for someone to postulate even a scientific premise regarding free will which some atheist neurologists have.

I think your cause is a grand one re debunking free will. Why do you think it matters though? I think a more pressing concern is to rid the world of religion, using intellectual debate rather than violence obviously! Maybe that’s a better cause as a lot of foolish ideas come from religion, although not all.

The thing that confuses me though is that you said the pre-determinism isn’t necessarily fact and yet free will is false. However if pre-determinism is false, that COULD mean that real free will (not just the illusion of it in the mind) actually exists according to that axiom.

Talking about the big bang was just an interesting side note in regard to how many states have been played through to get to the current state. You are a bit to anally retentive I think… relax! If you want a 100% formal / 100% pure logical debate then debate with someone who has autism! Seriously though I was being lighthearted you need to relax! Making a debate more enjoyable for the other party not only makes it more fun for you but your point of view will more likely be listened to! Just a thought!

Sorry to hear about your illness. Best wishes.
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To: mike
From: unseenstrings
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 15, 2010

I have no idea who you are or what your IQ is. I did note that your grammar seemed satisfactory. Sorry if you felt I underestimated you.

For the majority of my life I listened to preachers teach that “animals are driven purely by instinct but humans have free will.” Supposedly the free will came about two ways. For one we had a nonphysical “soul,” which I previously mentioned. And two, “Eve” ate an apple that gave her supernatural awareness of “right” and “wrong.” After all, what is free will without such awareness? Anyway, I’ve also heard preachers teach that everything that is going to happen is already written down in the “Book of Life.” And “God” knows everything that would happen before we were “created.” I previously mentioned Calvinists who espouse the idea of predestination. So yes, both free will and predestination are religious beliefs.

Here are a couple of links on the subject for you to check out:

http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/christianity_freewill.html

http://www.enotes.com/science-religion-encyclopedia/free-will-defense

Here is a link to a blog of a Muslim pondering free will versus Allah’s foreknowledge:

http://www.doodhpattiblogs.com/determinism-free-will-and-religion/

We have Christians who believe in predestination. We have Christians who believe in free will. We have Christians like my Muslim example (link above) who believe both are true. We have many atheists who continue to believe the Dogma of Free Will even after rejecting religion. We have neurologists who are Christian. We have neurologists who are atheists. Some believe in free will and some don’t. You see, scientists are members of culture and as such, are prone to some of the same beliefs prevalent within the culture.

You think ridding the world of religion is a more pressing concern than making people aware free will is an illusion? Don’t you get it? When people become aware that free will is an illusion, religion can more likely be seen for the slick psychological ploy that it is. How can an omni-benevolent god condemn individuals to Hell when free will is an illusion? And religion without the threat effect is pretty impotent.

DasAmericanAtheist mention yesterday in a video (Vloggy, Rambly Thing) that he was thinking about starting a second channel to reach people not interested in debating. Here is a copy and paste of my comment:

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Take lessons from a master:

“All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those toward whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.” —Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” (1926)

Also, ad hominem “arguments” are much more popular than logic. Be emotional, sassy, and sensationalistic on the new channel. Then compare results. Try!

In fact, read the writing of Robert G. Ingersoll. You can find free ebooks and free audio books online. Send me a note if you are unable to locate any.

Now the reason I recommend Ingersoll is because his father was a fundamentalist preacher. When you read Ingersoll you can feel the emotional power of the preacher in the pulpit. He learned (most likely unconsciously) from his father.

Put simply James, try fighting fire with fire for a change. Using vehemence gives preachers a subtle advantage.
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I suspect you’ll find what James (DasAmericanAtheist) has found. That is, you can’t reach the ignorant masses with intellectual debate.

The falsity of predestination doesn’t mean free will is true. But predestination would mean that free will is false. The falsity of predestination would only mean free will isn’t totally ruled out as a possibility, no matter how absurd.

Surely you could have found a less disgusting term to classify me under than “anally retentive.” And no I’m not interested in formal debate. I had no idea you’d reply to my answer to your concerns. And I am relaxed. I have a Chihuahua bitch laying in my lap stroking her head as I write. But I don’t really enjoy the effort and time it takes away from my other chores and duties to write personal notes to strangers. I was just trying to be courteous.

My “illness” is diabetes, pancreatitis, and I’m blind in one eye. But I’m still alive and doing what I can to debunk free will, which in effect is debunking religion.

Good luck. Thanks for the conversation. This is my last PM to you.
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To: unseenstrings
From: mike
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 15, 2010

Right well maybe we’ve misunderstood each other again I was definitely talking about predetermination and NOT predestination. Predetermination is more of a scientific view of the world, whereas predestination is a religious view. They are very different in that respect.

I don’t like religious delusions, so I am totally with you that predestination is indeed a fallacy, however we don’t yet know if predetermination is a fallacy or not as this depends more on things like quantum theory and whether the Many Worlds Interpretation is true or not.

You said that your last message was your last so I wish you all the best 🙂
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To: mike
From: unseenstrings
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 19, 2010

Thanks Mike. These PMs kill my day if I’m not careful.

I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to do a copy and paste of a PM I just replied to. The only factor I forgot to add to lessons learned is a factor called “learning transference.” Learning transference is the ability to take learned knowledge and accurately apply it to a novel situation. Now I’m going to provide a unique example that I hope you can relate to: After WWII the Japanese people were justifiably pissed at the US for dropping atomic bombs on their country. A Japanese movie came out titled, Godzilla. In the movie some Japanese fishermen intruded into the territory of a monster whose name the title of the movie was derived. The monster got pissed and attacked Japan with an atomic like flame from her mouth, much like a mythological flame-throwing dragon. The Japanese Army threw everything that had at the monster but couldn’t stop her. A Japanese kid figured out the problem. It was Japan’s “fault” because they had first intruded on the territory of Godzilla. He was put on TV and radio and announced that the Japanese people needed to learn to love Godzilla and quit fighting her. Sure enough his plan worked. And many of the Japanese children at the time grew up to feel that the US was justified in her actions. And they started loving the US so much that they started dressing like Americans and listening to American music. That is learning transference. The hate and bitterness against the US pretty much died out with the older generation.

Anyway, I need to give some Chihuahuas a bath. What follows is the copy and paste:

To: marhoekful
From: unseenstrings
Subject: Re: personality
Date: Sep 19, 2010

A couple of factors have come to mind that you seem not to be aware of.

(1.) The gene cannot develop an organism independent of other necessary factors. Particular environments can result in certain genetic sequences switching off and others switching on. This is not the environment physically modifying the gene so that this event happens; instead it is a feature built into the DNA itself. Thus we can say that a specific environment caused a particular genetic sequence to happen, whereas it was a feature built into the gene and is a reaction to the specific environment instead of actually being caused by it. Therefore, when I say the individual is the product of gene-environment interaction, these factors should be understood.

Likewise, peers do not physically effect us as the term “peer pressure” indicates. Instead we have herd/pack/group instinctive mechanisms built into our genes. And the actions of peers result in instinctive reactions within ourselves, which we refer to as peer pressure or conformity instinct. The herd/pack/group instinctive mechanisms are so powerful that most individuals, especially adolescents, had rather die than be humiliated or experience public disgrace in the presence of peers.

Herd/pack/group instinctive mechanisms result in individuals having two modes of behavior: one when running with the pack, the other when alone. For instance, you don’t scratch your ass or pick your nose in front of the herd.

Oh, and just as a side note: Stress has been known to reset instincts to earlier stages of the individual’s development. Enough stress will reset previously modified instinctive mechanisms to their default.

(2.) The complex language of humans is learned. Not everyone learns the same lesson. Certain words evoke different images in the mind of one person in comparison to another. Certain words have more emotional significance for one person than another. Human language is sometimes ambiguous or incongruous. (These factors occasionally lead to confusion and/or disagreement.) Language and experience (experience includes electronic and print media) are used by the brain for programming and processing information.

You have chosen a life of celibacy. Your choice was not free from the previous programming of your brain and the way it has grown to process information. You do not change your brain, because there is no you separate from your brain. Should you happen to put a gun to your head in an attempt to change your brain, the thought processes and the finger pulling the trigger are all done by the brain.

I had an aunt get Alzheimer’s Disease. You could see the physical correlation between who she was and her brain. Before she passed away, she was again playing with dolls. There is no you separate from the cause and effect that have put your brain into its present state. Remember, the person who counts to 10 is the person whose previous learning experiences taught him such is necessary. The person who doesn’t count to 10 had either never been taught to do so, or the lesson wasn’t learned well enough to be effective. Your choice to live a life of celibacy was not free from the previous programming of your brain and the way it has grown to process information. Your choice was not free. If you feel it was, the feeling is the result of an illusion. Free will is an illusion.
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To: unseenstrings
From: mike
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 19, 2010

I think sometimes your ideas involve very black and white thinking. Sure ‘herd’ behaviours do exist HOWEVER people can and DO override them often… some people more successfully than others. I was particularly successful in life at avoiding peer group pressure so I know this from first-hand experience, however I’m also aware of the power of this and I know I’m not immune by any means, however I am more questioning of things than most people I know. I didn’t do drugs and I never stole even though others I know sometimes did.

One issue with your arguments sometimes is that you take part of a theory and extrapolate beyond what happens in reality… so although some of the concepts you use exist they are not as extreme as you make it which totally nullifies your argument in some areas.

Also you might find that not ALL Japanese people would have seen Godzilla, and not ALL of them who saw it would be effected… so there are many shades of grey. Also when we research something, in this case you obviously read about the Godzilla film’s impact, it doesn’t mean that it’s 100% true. It might be partially true, again we all have to be careful reading something and taking it as 100% correct, although I’m sure it DID have a huge impact. There were almost certainly so many other factors involved! Just a thought!

I totally agree with the ambiguity of language and that is something which takes a lot of careful thought… indeed I learned about the ambiguity of language on my computer science degree when learning about artificial intelligence and natural language processing, so I’m there with you on that one.

I hope that didn’t come across as criticism as overall your discussions are very informative, however your points remind me to re-evaluate and question, as of course most of us extrapolate ideas, especially when they justify something important to us.
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To: mike
From: unseenstrings
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 19, 2010

I live in Florida and every hurricane season residents starts worrying. Weather forecasters working with the latest technology and theories try to predict the chance of tropical cyclone formation, the intensity of the formation, and the path it will take. And they have at times been wrong with disastrous results. However, no one claims complex weather formations have free will merely because they are sometimes extremely difficult to predict.

Magic phenomena is only claimed in one and only one complex physical system: the human brain.

I hear really preposterous claims all the time concerning the human brain. For instance, it is claimed to be the most complex thing in the universe. And people believe the bull shit without taking into consideration the immensity of the universe and our ignorance of other possibilities.

When I hear anything about the actions of Nazi Germany, the blame is put primarily on Hitler. How so? If people have free will, and since Hitler didn’t hold a gun to their head, why is he held up as the primary blame? Of course, if people truly had a will free from causality, fear of death could not drive them to go against their “will.” Nothing could. The will would be free from the “restraint of physical or divine necessity or causal law.” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1975))

When you see the Muslims and their behavior in the Mid-East, do you presume it is the result of free will as so many of the ignorant masses do? I don’t. I know their behavior is nearly as predictable as the weather.

When I see some Christians living among Muslims in the Mid-East, do you presume I think the variance is the result of free will? Well I don’t. I see them as natural eddies in the raging river of Islam. I don’t see the magic of free will or any other magic happening to cause the phenomena.

When I was 13, my brother and some of his friends started stealing neat little trinkets from Murphy’s 5 & 10. I had been taught that stealing was wrong, but a deprived youngster is tempted to get what he can buy whatever means happens to seem available to him. I got me a little trinket and got caught.

I must have really put on a show for store security. It was one of the most traumatic events I can recall experiencing. I cried so much that they turned me loose without calling the cops or my parents. And I never stole anything again, and that was 50 years ago.

For a long time I felt thieves were the lowest of all criminals and were on par with cockroaches. But now that I realize free will is an illusion, I realize thieves are who they are because of natural occurrences and events that happened in their lives, not because of a choice free from the laws of cause and effect.

I don’t do drugs either. But the mirror neurons in my brain caused me to develop the same sentiments in regard to drugs and those my mother expressed. It’s partially her fault I don’t do drugs. I could throw out my chest and boost my self-esteem/ego by bragging that I didn’t do drugs as a result of my own free will. However, I know that if my mother and father had been my aunt and drunkard uncle, then I would have most likely done drugs just like my cousins grew up to do.

You pretend that every person subjected to peer pressure is going to experience precisely the same degree of internal stimulation. However, I don’t know if I’ve stated the fact to you but I’ve said it so many times that I don’t guess it won’t hurt to state the fact again. Instincts are not equivalent to a gear interlocked with another gear. Instead, instincts are dynamic and can be modified so that the organism is capable of adapting to new and varying environments.

You offered me what I assume was an attempt at some constructive criticism. Yet your criticism was so vague that it is useless, which totally nullifies your argument.

I don’t recall saying ALL Japanese watched the movie, Godzilla. I will clarify for you if that is necessary. The lesson would have been learned by a certain percentage of the Japanese youth, whom the movie was directed toward. A certain percentage of those youth would have experienced “learning transference.” A certain percentage of those who experience learning transference would have passed on the lesson learned to others.

Then again, memory isn’t a steel trap like we often imagine. I could be wrong about the particular “moral is the story” of the movie. However, I have read research on the impact of other movies on audiences and how that influence is transfered to others who never saw the movie. A movie made in Germany titled “The Eternal Jew” (1940) is not permitted to be viewed by just anyone. The film has been banned for public use, the only exception is when exhibitors have the required formal education in “media science and the history of the Holocaust;” and even then the use is confined to only college classrooms and other academic gatherings. Why in the fuck are such movies censored if humans truly have a will that is free from causal influence?

The human can hold contradictory beliefs. They usually call the beliefs, “paradoxes” and believe both are true. Many people believe the will is free sometimes and not free sometimes. But what they mean is that they can see the effect of causality sometimes but be ignorant of contributing factors in other instances. You see, the will is either free or it is not. There is no middle ground. The will has been proven to be caused in certain instances, but it has never been proven to be free. Free will is really nothing more than ignorance resulting from gaps in knowledge.

I spent much more time on this reply than I intended. That is the reason I don’t like PMs.
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To: unseenstrings
From: mike
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 20, 2010

Again you are generalising!!!!! You do this a lot.

I don’t know anyone who thinks Hitler alone was responsible for the atrocities of Nazi Germany. It is extremely clear when researching this that Hitler preached his ideologies during an extremely desperate time for the German people, so they were more open to some of his ideas. For example in the UK stronger immigration laws have been pushed through during the credit crunch, as when people are out of work and hard up financially, they are less tolerant to things like immigration and benefits, so context always plays a part. I don’t know anyone who would deny that there is a bigger picture beyond Hitler. So I think you have either spoken to uneducated people or you are misunderstanding people.

Just because you’ve spoken to people who get an idea wrong doesn’t mean everyone else does. I bet if you asked the question “Do you think Hitler alone caused the situation in Nazi Germany?”, most people would say “no”.

The other hugely incorrect thing you do is the project thoughts in to my mind. You say things like “You pretend that every person subjected to peer pressure is going to experience precisely the same degree of internal stimulation”… err… I never said that!!!

This is why I’m going to terminate our discussion. No offence but you get the basics of communication wrong. You have these faults to quite an extreme level:

1) You extrapolate ideas to the extreme (i.e. you distort truths in a black and white way of thinking).
2) You generalise a lot about people, i.e. you speak to a small group of people and assume that therefore most people think like that… wrong! Learn about statistics and the size of datasets!
3) You make assumptions that people are thinking something, as explained above.

In short it makes it pointless to debate with you! I’m not saying I’m perfect, but you do do these to the extreme. I wouldn’t be surprised therefore if you often anger people in discussions.
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To: mike
From: unseenstrings
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 21, 2010

Yes, I do generalize a lot. I realize there are at times exceptions to examples I give. But I thought my generalizations were understood as such. Sorry for not clarifying.

With Hitler I was again speaking statically. Say for instance a survey was taken asking people who they thought was responsible for the atrocities of Germany, I suspect the answer will be Hitler. Of course, in surveys one must be aware of the question and the way the question was asked in order to get a good perspective of the results.

I look upon Hitler as being a product of his time just as everyone else was. And the situation that arose in Germany was a social phenomena. It probably had a lot to do with the “loss of face” suffered by Germany after WWI, and the social and economic affairs existing at the time.

I did not project thoughts into your mind. You said, “Sure ‘herd’ behaviours do exist HOWEVER people can and DO override them often… some people more successfully than others. I was particularly successful in life at avoiding peer group pressure so I know this from first-hand experience… I didn’t do drugs and I never stole even though others I know sometimes did.” That is what cause me to respond with, “You pretend that every person subjected to peer pressure is going to experience precisely the same degree of internal stimulation.” That was the impression I got from your statement. And I tried to explain the causal factors involved in your behavior versus the behavior of someone else by using myself as an example. I guess I may have gotten a bit carried away, since I was also replying to another PM in which the YouTuber was no where near as reasonable as you; and those thought processes and emotions from that response likely carried over to my conversation with you.

When one person yields to “peer pressure” and another doesn’t, the difference is the difference in previous environmental circumstances (such as personal experiences) to which each person has been exposed as an individual. (Genetic differences may contribute to a slight degree, even if we are comparing two individuals of the same species.) You’ve already agreed with me that free will exist only as an illusion. I felt you were contradicting yourself. Anyway, I apologize if I was abrasive in my response.

By the way, behaviours is the British spelling. I guess Canadians may spell the word like Brits. (behaviors, US) However, sometimes I spell the word that way myself and I don’t know why. I reckon it could be because I’ve read some of the some of the classic English literature, such as, The Golden Bough /by Sir James Frazer (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3623), which is a really informative book if you’ve never read it before. Oh, and you may want to read The System of Nature /by Paul-Henri Dietrich Holbach (http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/holbach/index.html or http://facts4u.com/free/).

I still don’t get why you assume my thinking is black and white with no shades of gray. Maybe it is because I cannot imagine a will free from the laws that govern everything else in the universe. In fact, I realize that, as previously mentioned, the existence of the will is analogous to the existence of the wind. The wind nor the will can exist in and of themselves. They are the consequence of natural forces acting on physical phenomena–air in the case of wind and neurons in the case of the will. And as stated, to say the wind is free may be poetic, but it is also pure nonsense, as it is in the case saying the will is free.

I appreciate the conversation we’ve had. I too want to “terminate our discussion,” but for different reasons than you. Thanks for helping me see some of the shortcomings I have when trying to convey my ideas to others.

Best of luck. Please send me any links you may happen to find while browsing YouTube or the Internet that give logical arguments for physicalism, materialism, naturalism, or debunking free will. Also, you may want to check out Tom Clark’s site at http://www.naturalism.org/

Thanks again. Later.
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To: unseenstrings
From: mike
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hi 🙂
Date: Sep 21, 2010

Hi again,

I have learnt a lot from our discussions… I am aware that my emotions distort my views too… ironically I might have distorted my belief that you perform a lot of black and white thinking… maybe you don’t! – again this is why I prefer face to face communication as there is a faster feedback mechanism in regard to understanding the other person, as people clarify things much quicker, often within seconds.

This is why I don’t like PM’ing too much… it is an inferior form of communication for debating ideas, at least in my opinion. We misunderstood each other often, and yet I think we are reasonable communicators, and as you mentioned earlier there is indeed ambiguity in the English language. Also when speaking to someone face to face, we often know their background so we have extra information. i.e. if you knew me then you’d know that I am an atheist and hence would not believe in predestination, you may well therefore have realised that I meant predetermination from a scientific point of view. I still think I have failed to get my point of view over to you… my fault probably 😉

Anyway it would be great if you find some interesting links related to what we’ve talked about. Good luck debating with other you tubers… it’s not always fun… but I’ve enjoyed talking to you even if I was poor at getting my point across. From your last PM I also realise that I misunderstood you! I am now understanding you communication style a bit better.

Best wishes 🙂

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