Monday, June 5, 2023

Dr. Bee Denies Free WIll

Sabine Hossenfelder explains a lot of science well, but she goes off the rails when discussing a favorite topic this week:
I don't believe in free will. This is why.
She covers the main issues, but omits her wacky belief -- she believes in superdeterminism. That is the belief that everything has been determined by the Big Bang, and that it is impossible to do a randomized scientific experiment. We are all slaves in a giant machine, and it is impossible to learn how the machine works.

This belief is so crazy that it is enough to discredit everything she says. Maybe that is why she omits it in this video.

She disagrees with the philosophers who say that free will is compatible with determinism. But then she says it is also incompatible with indeterminism! She is wrong about this. Free will means acting contrary to what others predict, so it appears as indeterminism.

Her main argument is that physicists use equations to predict things, so everything is predictable by equations. The obvious exception is quantum mechanics, but she says the wave function is determined. She neglects to say that the wave function is not observable.

Quantum mechanics is indeterministic. It does not rule out free will.

The guy said to me: Why don't I kill myself tomorrow, because what is the point of anything? ... I am not a psychologist, I am a physicist. I don't know what to say to people with existential angst. Please see a psychologist. I am not a philosopher either.
In essence, she is a preprogrammed robot, and she is not programmed to kill herself.

She could give this answer to anything. Why does she believe in climate change? She is programmed to.

I think that some people have libertarian free will, and some don't. Pres. Joe Biden probably had free will when he was younger, but appears to have lost that mental capacity. Sam Harris probably did also, before spending a year doing LSD experiments. When people like Hossenfelder and Harris deny that they have free will, we should take them seriously. Maybe they are just puppets, lacking the mental ability to make decisions on their own. They are like schizophrenics who hear and follow voices in their heads. q

If you do not have free will, then you are not a fully conscious human being. Free will is the most obvious thing about your existence. Without free will, you are just a cog in a machine.

Here is a interesting new video in favor of free will.

Biologist Jerry Coyne summarizes Hossenfelder (and agrees):

In October of 2020, Hossenfelder declared that libertarian free will — i.e., the “I-could-have-done-otherwise-using-my-volition” form — didn’t exist. I agree with her, of course, for we’re both “naturalists” and “hard determinists.” If you think matter obeys the laws of physics, which is universally accepted in science,  then there’s no room for mental lucubrations that could somehow tweak the laws of physics (Mental lucubrations are instantiations of physical law!) That’s why she (and I) think that, as far as libertarian free will is concerned, “it’s obvious that we don’t have it.”
I believe in libertarian free will, but not in anything that breaks the laws of physics. If free will breaks the laws, which law? Where is that law published? Who got the Nobel Prize for such a huge discovery?

There is no such law. Just a belief, by some, that the past determines the future. But there is no such law, and much of science is based on the possibility of unpredictable influences.

She cites philosophers, but according to her data, only 11% say "no free will".

Her answer is a good one: those people should see a psychologist. I manage to hang onto being a hard determinist, though of course I act as if I can make free decisions. We can’t live without feeling that way because that’s just the way our brains are constructed.
At least he is honest here. It is like saying: As a schizophrenic, I hear voices in my head. I don't know why. Ask a psychologist. I follow the voices because of how my brain is constructed.

A recent PBS TV Nova episode seems to be against free will:

Your Brain: Who's in Control?

Are you in control, or is your brain controlling you? Dive into the latest research on the subconscious with neuroscientist Heather Berlin. Sleepwalking, anesthesia, game theory, and more reveal surprising insights in this eye-opening journey to discover what’s really driving the decisions you make.

The show presents evidence that your conscious decisions can be influenced by subconscious brain processes. I am sure that's true, but I don't think it has much to do with free will. You are still making a decision, even if you are not fully conscious of all aspects of it.


  1. Roger,
    Come on, This is actually FUNNY! Sabine has weighed in with absolute certainty about absolute uncertainty...which she then doubles down on with her observation she doesn't actually have the ability to do. The irony is RICH beyond measure I tell you, I'm savoring it slooooooowly. Poor little physicists, they handle their own inbred paradoxes soooo badly. It kind of almost hurts.

    Sabine Hossenfelder (paraphrased): I have no free will, don't blame me for what I say as I have no control over it - seek counseling for your frailties as you do have control over it...Here, let me tell you what I think!...even though I can't actually think...

    No, Sabine, just no. You see, this is why philosophy is actually important (just ignore the 20th century onward psychobabble), as you do not understand basic rhetoric or logical debate... or self reflection for that matter. If you have no free will, by your own admission, you (just like all the other unwashed little people you try to advise) be nothing but a glorified meat puppet with frizzy hair on top with a German accent with no more actual ability to actually think than water freezing or boiling, just a bunch of (apparently delusional) chemical reactions following utterly pre-determined everything mapped out at the beginning of time.

    This is absurdist reductionism taken to its own logical conclusion in a flaming ball of empty nihilism: Nothing matters. I would like to ask Sabine why we should discomfort ourselves with funding the sciences when they can not even do experiments, much less consider such ideas. I would also ask Sabine why I should care what a scientist says, as they are all apparently 'judgement impaired' with their self declared lack of volition.

    I'd also like to add for all those too thick to consider the implications: If there is no free will, there is no moral consequence, which is exactly what certain would be world 'leaders' would like to believe, they are absolved of any responsibility for their actions that impact the lives of billions of people. Telling the king he doesn't have to care, he was pre-ordained to rule and do whatever he likes, it is ALL PREDETERMINED after all, kind of gives they tyrant free license to any atrocity.

    'I'm laughing at the superior intellect'...
    James T Kirk to Khan Noonien Singh

  2. The problem with what physics has become has much to do with a lack of any philsophical underpinning or understanding, as the sciences these days glorify long laundry lists of largely imagined factoids and formula more than any comprehensive self reflection of what they are actually even doing in terms of process, which stems from a near intentional lack of understanding of basic epistemology. Screw Niels Bohr, he was a creatively dead intellect trying to discourage anyone from questioning his work. Physicists really DO need to learn how to visualize every process, it's what leads to understanding how parts of a whole work together.

    When you reduce a problem to pure abstractions, like numbers or units for the sake of calculation, like determining the area of a room, this is fine. Existence or reality is often messy, complicated, and not clearly delineated into perfectly neat boxes, so for the sake of consideration you vastly truncate and simplify the world into into small imaginary chunks that more easily allow you to wrap your mind around it. What is not fine is when you quietly erase the boundry between abstraction and observed reality through bad linguistics (or intentional verbal sleight of hand), and consider the world AS abstraction. This is most assuredly a conceptual NO-NO, as reality is most definitely not abstraction any more than you are a name or a social security number. To demonstrate the idea, There is not a single number that exists in reality outside of pure abstraction in your head, everything you see that you call a '1', is a purely symbolic place holder for the concept you already hold in your head, NOT the concept itself. Think of it as a mere trigger to remind you of something you already do know. Remind yourself of how long it took you to master simple counting numbers as a small child, the concept had to be implanted and then connected to other concepts you could understand before you could even consider what it was. Everyone who has studied written language knows that the symbols that represent words themselves have no intrinsic meaning without a mind to reside within which already recognizes and comprehends them, without the internal understanding you just see little intricate squiggles, or pictures of birds, feathers, snakes, and wavy lines. The Rosetta stone made understanding the dead hieroglyphic language of the Pharaohs possible because it created a connection between a living and a dead language. This would not have been remotely possible though without a new conceptual connection of the known languages to the unknown language. This same situation exists through the digital realm of computers as well, as computers don't even really use numbers at all as humans consider them in how they process things, they just have many countless rasters that compare and tabulate under simple mindless instructions much like an abacus, then label certain outputs to resemble something the human operator can hopefully identify.

    Nikola Tesla really said it best decades ago:

    “Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. ”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  3. ``Pointer States'', Roger, ``Pointer States''. LOL! Berkeley! LOL! Last year's Nobel, Roger, Last year's Nobel!


    Wiki (partially thankfully) says this:

    Berkeley say this:


    New Delhi (infested with ``remote control'' by the SF Bay Area, AND, Redmond, WA, USA, AND, JUST Washington, District of Columbia) says this:

    You all tell me: Who isn't an Abrahamic / ब्राम्हण (Brahmin) here?

    [PS: I think I shared my thoughts on free will, didn't I?]


    1. Last year's Nobel, Roger, last year's Nobel! LOL!

      Clauser the Hippy of Berkeley, California, United States of America, Roger, Clauser!

      *This* idiot:

      and, here too:

      Best to you [and to your friends and family], Roger,

    2. OK, Roger, enough is enough. I won't bother you any further... Not at least for a few weeks or so...