News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on May 2, 2010 in News

How scientific historians do history vs. how “Historical Jesus scholars” do history.

Some good debate advice here, from the BBC.

Today I learned that Timbaland is not the new stage of Justin Timberlake, but actually a totally different hip-hop artist. I am so hip now.

Why me, daddy?” An atheist father responds.

Commenter TaiChi now has a blog. Posts so far include ‘Desirism: A Quick & Dirty Sketch‘ and ‘Answering the Skeptic’ (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4).

Paper of the day: “The Value of Believing in Free Will.” A scientific study that shows why many scientists and philosophers are reluctant to tell people they don’t have free will.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh May 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Thanks for the historical Jesus link, it seems really interesting.

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Mike Caton May 2, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Hi Luke, met you at your UCSD talk and went out for beers afterward. Excellent discussion and questions. Comment on the free will paper: do you think it’s a foregone conclusion that free will is a sham? If so, why does it *seem* like we have free will, and why would it be useful to have such a myth? I wrote about this below:

http://cognitionandevolution.blogspot.com/2010/04/free-will-and-materialism-or.html

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lukeprog May 2, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Mike,

I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that we don’t have free will, but it is highly implausible to nearly all non-theistic philosophers that we somehow possess contra-causal free will while our ape ancestors do not.

Why does it seem like we have free will? I honestly haven’t researched that much!

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John D May 3, 2010 at 3:13 am

Until these free will experiments clearly set out the distinction between fatalism and determinism, I will continue to be unimpressed.

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Reginald Selkirk May 3, 2010 at 5:59 am

Until these free will experiments clearly set out the distinction between fatalism and determinism, I will continue to be unimpressed.  

My experience in informal conversation is that you can explicitly and repeatedly lay out the distinction between fatalism and determinism, and some people will still not ‘get it.’

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Zak May 3, 2010 at 6:26 am

Hey Mike (and Luke),

Check out “The Illusion of Conscious Will” by Daniel Wegner. It is a science book on why we feel we have free will. It is really, REALLY good. All science, no philosophy (which to me, was a nice change).

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lukeprog May 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

John D,

I don’t think free will exists on either interpretation…

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lukeprog May 3, 2010 at 8:31 am

Zak,

Oh yeay, I remember the Wegner book. Unfortunately, I was not prepared to comprehend it when I read it.

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John D May 3, 2010 at 8:55 am

John D,I don’t think free will exists on either interpretation…  

I never said anything about the existence of free will. The experiments have nothing to do with the existence of free will either. They have to do with the implications of certain beliefs for behaviour.

My contention is that understanding the difference between fatalism (which implies that nothing you do “makes a difference”) and determinism (which does not imply this) might make a difference to the results.

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lukeprog May 3, 2010 at 9:41 am

John D,

Ah, okay.

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TaiChi May 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Wow, thanks for the mention, Luke! It was completely unexpected.

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