A Question Of Free Will
Is it just an illusion?
Free Will - Freedom of Choice - Individuality
The human brain is a fascinating organ that is mostly still a mystery. The expanse of our solid grey matter continues to tempt droves of interested people to explore its depths to understand, leverage, and exploit its potential.
In 2012, I became aware of a person by the name of Derek Amato. He acquired the ability to compose and play the piano after sustaining a severe head injury. This man's life changed when he unveiled a remarkable musical talent that seemingly had always existed, albeit locked away deep within the recesses of his brain.
Other cases reported reveal these hidden savant-like talents emerging post a person's head trauma. Although it is deemed to be rare in occurrence, the point here is that it can and does happen. It is fascinating to note recipients of these new talents don't seem to have previously held an obsessive interest in the area to which their skill presents.
The Sleeping Prophet - Edgar Cayce
There was a man who was known as the sleeping prophet in the late 1800s who was called Edgar Cayce. In a transient state, he was able to execute medical diagnosis of people, make predictions and had on occasion referenced past lives. Of all the psychics I have researched, his story seems to, in my opinion, hold some validity. Given my penchant for writing fiction, I tend to explore the world from the parameter of anything that we conceive or are yet to imagine, holds possibility. I don't discount the probability that we have experienced life in various forms. Nor do I close myself off to the idea of clairvoyance, which leads me to my desire to pitch you my next thought.
What if the trauma sustained by an individual's head injury creates a bridge in the cerebral cortex that reconnects to an aspect of a person's past lifetimes. Before you mock this idea remember how little we know. Scientific research, and even simpler than this, asking questions and being willing to find ways to identify the answers, is a healthy way to advance toward the discovery of new possibilities.
"Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere."
- Albert Einstein
As we gain more insight into how our bodies work, the importance of the minutiae is apparent. Scientists are working to understand how the gut biome impacts day to day decisions and which parasites have the greatest influence on our behavior. Then there are the apparent plethora of external factors such as environment, culture, belief systems, that add a spectrum of conscious and unconscious overlays. All of these factors challenge the concept of free will, freedom of choice, and individuality. It arguably consists of far more than just our minds.
The Libet Experiment
BBC Radio 4 - The Libet Experiment: Is Free Will Just an Illusion?
This two-minute video gives you a brief and very clever explanation of the Libet experiment on the existence of free will.
What I enjoyed about the Libet experiment was the stimulus of conversation post his findings. The results of his curiosity drove people to question the very existence of Free Will. In essence, the experiment depends on the subjective interpretation of a person's experience. The dependence on subjectivity is the most significant flaw in the research. It makes the results devoid of any actual validity. Other than to say that Libet has more faith in people's ability to be in a conscious state of awareness than perhaps I do. The test contains compromise by the subject's perceived recording of the time they felt the signal to move. It is suggestive and therefore taints the analysis. A cleaner way to approach this would be to have the subjects listen to a series of commands and for them to decide how they wish to react to any given request.
In addition to the above, I would throw in the word 'yawn,' to record the response. This known subliminal trigger, which is deemed involuntary, could then be assessed in contrast to the other choices and behaviors. Hence, relying on the ECG as the sole tool for assessment.
Q. Do I believe in Free Will?
A. Yes. Yes, I do.
Q. Do I believe in Freedom of Choice?
A. Yes. There are varying degrees of freedom and their associated choices within those.
Q. Do I believe that Individuality exists?
A. Yes, but it is primarily stifled within most people. We allow ourselves to on the congestion of influences. Imposed 'norms' and societal parameters of acceptable behavior encourage the adoption of conformity.