Monday, October 30, 2023

The decolonisation of mathematics

John Armstrong and India Jackman write:
We describe a mainstream "universalist" approach to the understanding of mathematics. We then conduct a systematic (but not exhaustive) review of the academic literature on the decolonisation of mathematics and identify how this challenges the universalist view. We examine evidence of whether the experience of mathematics in the UK is systemically racist, examining both the decolonial arguments and the empirical evidence.
The paper makes good arguments that mathematics is universal, that attempts to decolonize math have been big failures, and that math culture is not racially discriminatory.

There are some examples of Western books being more likely to credit Western sources, but that is to be expected.

All this may seem obvious, but it is good to see a paper defend Mathematics against the increasing attacks from leftist decolonizers.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Poor Reasons for Rejecting Many-Worlds

Sabine Hossenfelder has posted her video, The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics -- And why I don't believe it. I don't believe it either, so I was hoping to agree with her. Nope. Let me explain some basic points.

All scientific theories are probabilistic. Just read any scientific paper that reports experiments. There are always probabilities, error bars, p-values, or something to indicate probability. Even classical celestial mechanics, which is commonly thought to be deterministic, is always applied with probabilities. Astronomers estimate the position and other parameters for a planet, and then predict its future position, with probabilities.

Collapse is not really nonlocality. Anytime you make a probabilistic prediction, and then observe a definite value, you are ruling out the other possibilities. In quantum mechanics (QM), this is called collapse of the wave function. It happens in every other scientific theory. It does not mean that nature has any nonlocal properties. It only means that our knowledge of what is possible changes when we obtain new information. The Bayesians say this is essential to all of science.

QM is not inherently probabilistic, any more than any other theory. The wave function is not a probability. What it gives, most directly, is expectation values for observables. If A is an observable (self-adjoint operator), then <ψ|Aψ> is the expectation value of that observable. Usually a range of values is possible, and you can similarly get expectation values for the variance. If you want the probability that a particle is in a certain region, then you calculate the expectation for it being in the region.

QM is probabilistic in the sense that it predicts expectation values and variances, but the same can be said of any other scientific theory. They all predict expectation values and variances.

Any theory can be converted to a many-worlds theory, by rejecting the probabilities. Any time a theory predicts an event with probability p, you could disregard the probability, and say that observing the event splits the universe into many worlds, some with and some without the event.

Many-worlds theory (MWI) is just applying this to QM. It is not useful because the parallel worlds are imaginary, and because we lose the ability to interpret the probability. There is no real notion of being in a high or low probability world.

At this point, the MWI advocates start talking about the measurement problem, or the Bell problem. But MWI does nothing to solve the measurement problem. Measurements do not become less mysterious by postulating that world-splittings go along with them.

Bell's Theorem only says that QM is not a local hidden variable theory. Hossenfelder is wrong to say that Bell proved QM is nonlocal.

The obvious problem with MWI is that it hypothesizes parallel worlds that cannot be observed. There is no scientific value in discussing such things. The main problem is worse. Accepting MWI is the same as denying probability.

Suppose theory predicts a 90% chance of rain tomorrow. That means that if conditions are repeated 10 times, you can expect 9 rain days. But in MWI, it means that it will rain in some of the parallel worlds, and not others. You might think it will rain in 90% of the parallel worlds, but MWI has no way to count the worlds or make a statement like that. You don't know anything about the likelihood of rain in your world, because the MWI view is that there is no such thing. So arguing for many-worlds is the same as saying that the 90% probability is meaningless.

All of the above is mathematical fact, not opinion. Some physicists, like Sean M. Carroll choose to believe in MWI, but only because they choose to believe in unobservable parallel worlds with no scientific value, and because they reject probability theory.

What would Carroll say to defend MWI against these arguments? First, he would say that belief in wave function collapse is unnecessary because it is conjectured that solutions to the Schroedinger equation will exhibit a decoherence that is effectively the same as collapse. I say that may be true, but it does not have anything to do with the fact that the parallel worlds have no scientific value.

Second, he would say that you can still believe in the probabilities, even if they have no direct meaning. I say he has become detached from reality.

MWI takes a perfectly good theory about the world, destroys the part that gives it predictive power, and adds zillions of ghosts that can never be seen. What is the point? There is no practical or computational value to any of it. It is contrary to science. No good has ever come out of it.

MWI is one of those ideas that is so crazy that if anyone advocates it, then his views are on all other subjects are suspect. Other such ideas are determinism, free will denial, and the simulation hypothesis.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

New Video on Non-Euclidean Geometry and Relativity

The latest Veritasium video is on:
How One Line in the Oldest Math Text Hinted at Hidden Universes
It is excellent as usual, and concerns the development of non-Euclidean geometry, from Euclid to relativity. It separates special and general relativity, and non-euclidean geometry being essential to general relativity.

In particular it tells how a supernova was seen 4 times in 2014, and predicted to be seen again in 2015, all being an illusion from gravitational lensing.

This is all correct, but special relativity has had a much bigger impact on XX century Physics than general relativity, and special relativity is also founded on non-euclidean geometry.

In the Veritasium model the "one line" is Euclid's Fifth Postulate about the existence of parallel lines. The "hidden universes" are model geometries where the postulate fails. Relativity is non-euclidean because it curves space. But it does not mention the bigger non-euclidean aspect -- light rays have null length. In euclidean geometry, every line segment has a positive length.

Euclidean geometry is based on Euclidean distances. The distance between two points is given by the Pythagorean Theorem. Time is the fourth dimension. The Minkowski metric applies, not a Euclidean one.

The non-euclidean geometry was appreciated early on, at least by Poincare in 1905, Minkowski in 1907, and Varicak in 1910. Einstein disagreed with it.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Whiteness in Physics Classrooms is Epistemicide

I try to avoid political topics, but woke papers are now infecting Physics journals.

Last year, the American Chemical Society published a paper on deconolonizing chemistry education, in a special woke issue.

Now the American Physical Society has published Observing whiteness in introductory physics: A case study. It is criticized here, here, here, and here.

The paper tries really hard to relate white supremacy to learning thermodynamics in a physics class. I don't see it, but that is supposed to be the original contribution. My whiteness prevents me from seeing it, the authors would say. More striking to me is the conventional woke wisdom they regurgitate.

Our goal in this paper has been to “make whiteness visible,” in the tradition of Critical Whiteness Studies. In particular, we have sought to make visible how everyday physics classroom interactions reproduce whiteness as social organization, and how physics representations, values, and pedagogical tools play a role in this reproduction. That whiteness is “ordinary” in physics classrooms is not surprising, given critical race theory’s assertion that whiteness is endemic to every aspect of U.S. society [7]. The ordinariness of whiteness’ reproduction is not surprising either, given critical scholarship’s emphasis on the invisibility and hegemony of whiteness.
Since the paper is about whiteness, you have to understand what it means by "white". It is not the skin color or the biological race. The paper is emphatic that there is no such thing. It does occasionally identify particular people as being white, but it is not clear what makes them white, if not race or skin color. It also makes a point of not capitalizing white, as it capitalizes Black, Color, and Hispanic. This is because whites have no culture, and no common identity. Even "Activists of Color" get two capital letters, but whites get none.

These papers are just lying when they say that race is a social construct with no biological reality. Popular racial classifications are nearly identical to results of objective DNA tests.

The impact of whiteness in physics classrooms cannot be understated. One outcome of enforcing a social organization with a (consistent) center and margins is epistemicide [45], or “the extermination of knowledge and ways of knowing” [37] (cited in Ref. [45]). We see glimmers of this in the data we have shared in this paper.
It goes on to explain that some white student solved a thermodynamics problem using an energy interaction diagram at a whiteboard. This was "an example where one form of knowledge building was discontinued (or extinguished) in service of another." Apparently he is called white because he solved a physics using white patriachal thinking, not because of his skin color.

This is analogous to white supremacy and patriarchy driving genocide. We are not killing Students of Color in the classroom, but we are marginalizing their bad science ideas.

The work is funded by the National Science Foundation. You tax dollars are funding this garbage, and our leading science journals are publishing it. You would probably be ostracized as a racist, if you disagreed with it.

The current Scientific American says:

The Theory That Men Evolved to Hunt and Women Evolved to Gather Is Wrong

The influential idea that in the past men were hunters and women were not isn’t supported by the available evidence ...

The inequity between male and female athletes is a result not of inherent biological differences between the sexes but of biases in how they are treated in sports.

They must think we are really stupid. Or that we will blindly accept scientific authorities. Or that we will be afraid to dispute woke pronouncement. I don't know. Scientific American was a great magazine for about 150 years.

Modern experts like to make fun of medieval scholars for trying to turn lead into gold, and the Sun going around the Earth. But what will our descendants think of 21st century science?

Update: Here is another example of bad science cited to support woke ideas. Coleman Hughes is a Black podcaster who gave a talk in favor of color-blindness, as pushed by M.L. King. He just posted a response to criticism. In brief, the TED folks tried to blackball his talk, claiming that it was disproved by social science saying that we must have racial preferences for Blacks. The social science is bogus, of course.

Update: Biologist Jerry Coyne debunks the rest of that SciAm article. Referring to the above quote:

Here the authors are wading into quicksand. In fact, the entire quote is offensive to reason, for it implies that, if women were treated the same as men in sports, they would do as well. Given the differences between the sexes in morphology and physiology, such a claim flies in the race of everything we know.  ...

In the end, we have still more evidence that Scientific American is no longer circling the drain, but is now in the drain, headed for, well, the sewers. It used to have scientists writing about their field, with no ideological bias, but now has ideologues (these authors are scientist-ideologues) writing about science in a biased way and misleading. 

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Sapolsky Podcast against Free Will

I mention the New Sapolsky Book on Determinism, and he explains his views on the Skeptic podcast, and also on the Lawrence Krauss Origins podcast.

He is against all forms of free will, including compatibilism. He particularly argues against theories of criminal responsibility, where criminals are convicted if they knew what they were doing, understood the consequences, and did the crime anyway. He denies that anyone could make a criminal decision, or deserves punishment for it.

He does not even talk about true (libertarian) free will, as he says that is too silly to consider.

I am trying to understand this view. He seems to make two arguments.

(1) Free will is a form of magical thinking, akin to witchcraft. Centuries ago, people believed that witches might cause thunderstorms. Now that we have a more scientific understanding of the world, we see this as absurd. Likewise, we will someday see free will as absurdly contrary to a rational worldview.

(2) While he cannot prove determinism on a individual human level, he can on a statistical level. For example, given a sample of children who are abused, neglected, low IQ, criminal parents, poor, etc, he can predict that a certain percentage of them will turn out to be criminal.

While some say a lack of free will would be depressing, he says it is liberating to know that we are not responsible for his actions.

It is legitimate to argue that people have more causes than they realize, and the causes might be external, genetic, or biochemical. But even if your choices are 90% determined, I don't see how this is an argument against free will.

He says that instead of punishing criminals, we should be figuring out ways to prevent crime. But what is the point of figuring out anything, if we do not have the ability to make the choices to make a better society? It all makes no sense to me.

There is an amusing thought experiment, where he has to explain an infidelity to his wife. Is he really going to tell her that he had no choice, and that his actions were a product of his upbringing? He said that he would try to show empathy for his wife's feelings.

Krause is also a free will denier:

I have long felt the issue of free will is overplayed. The laws of physics are deterministic, and since biology and chemistry are based on physics, I have never doubted that free will is an illusion, but have also felt that for all intents and purposes the world we live in is indistinguishable from a world with free will, so we should take responsibility for our actions.

As is often the case when reading Robert’s works, my view has now become more nuanced. His book masterfully discusses the neurobiology behind the illusion of free will, what actually interests me the most, and he effectively demolished claims of numerous philosophers, including Dan Dennett and others, that some magic occurs between the level of neurons and the level of the full brain that allows for some uncaused behavior.

Krauss knows a lot more physics than I do, but I do not get how he can say that the laws of physics are deterministic. I thought that the consensus for the last century was that quantum mechanics is not deterministic.

Since Sapolsky and Krauss believe that they are completely determined by their genes and upbringing, they spend a lot of time talking about their Jewish backgrounds and other early influences.

Update: Listening to more of the podcast, Krauss emphatically says that quantum mechanics is deterministic, contrary to common understandings.

Krauss compares belief in free will to belief in God. He says Daniel Dennett gives arguments for free will that sound like arguments for Gad that he would never accept.

Sapolsky promotes determinism, which I thought meant that the past determines the future. No, his definition is that things happen with no magic.

This is a huge dodge. Anything we do not understand can be called magic. That might include consciousness, free will, intanglement, multiverse, and maybe even neutrinos.

They implicitly accept this argument for atheism. Centuries ago, most of the natural world was unexplained, and it was reasonable to attribute various things to God. When science got much better, then at some point it became more reasonable to assume scientific explanations for everything, and deny God.

Likewise, now that we know much more about genes and neuroscience, we don't need the free will hypothesis anymore.

Sapolsky gives the example of prairie voles which were thought to be more virtuous than mountain voles, because prairie voles were monogamous. But then someone discovered a single gene that controls the difference, and mountain voles can be made monogamous by changing the gene.

Okay, I can believe that some apparently-virtuous humans are just behaving as they have been programmed. And some people believe in God because they are overly impressed by natural mysteries that have good scientific explanations.

But my belief in free will is mostly hased on my ability to make my own decisions. Not on any scientific ignorance.

Update: I listened on to where Krauss says quentum mechanics is deterministic. He says that solving the Schroedinger equation is deterministic from a previous wave function. Only the measurement is random. And while radioactive decay is random, macroscopic statistics from millions of decays are accurately predictable. Wow, I thought that he would have a better argument.

The wave function is no observable. You can never know what it was in the past, and you cannot use it to make a deterministic prediction.

Krauss says, at 2:25:20:

It is undeniable that we don't have free will, based on science. There's no loopholes, no places for the magic to occur.
No, I do not see how a smart physicist can say that. Sapolsky accepts his physics expertise, and says:
Clinical depression is the pathological failure of the ability to rationalize away reality.
These guys have a bizarre world view. He does say that people with an injured prefrontal cortex have no free will. So maybe that is were consciousness resides? But consciousness is just a tool for rationalizing what is forced on us.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Was Copernicus a Genius or Lucky?

Wikipedia says:
The Scientific Revolution was a series of events that marked the emergence of modern science during the early modern period, when developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology (including human anatomy) and chemistry transformed the views of society about nature.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The Scientific Revolution took place in Europe in the second half of the Renaissance period, with the 1543 Nicolaus Copernicus publication De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) often cited as its beginning.[7]
My view is that Copernicus was not really more scientific than his predecessors. He stumbled on some good ideas, but did not really have good scientific arguments that his model was superior.

The ancient Greek Aristarchus had a heliocentric model. Details have been lost. So the idea of heliocentrism was not new to Copernicus. There were a lot of good arguments for and against, and not enough data to reach a scientific conclusion.

Vincenzo Crupi writes in a new paper:

From Copernicus himself up to Kepler and Galilei, Copernicans have been "right for the wrong reasons" (Finocchiaro 2010), because there were no epistemically compelling reasons objectively favoring the Copernican position at that stage – a good deal of research in the history and philosophy of science has converged on this claim. The situation of early Copernicans would then be regarded as one of "epistemic luck".
It is not so simple, and this paper has a good overview.

The issue is central to the philosophy of science, as it shows big differences in what people think science is all about.

You could say motion is relative, and the heliocentrism geocentrism debate was a trivial argument about a preferred frame of reference. The biggest scientific concern was to predict what we see in the night sky, and either model could be used for that.

Others say we didn't really start to make sense out of cosmology until we rejected the stationary Earth. There is some merit to that, but it is exaggerated.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Dr Bee's Quantum Update

@SabineHossenfelder posts her latest video:
What's New in Quantum Computing? 2023 Update
She makes it sound as if a lot has happened in the last two years, but not really.

There is still no true qubit. A researcher may claim to have a functional equivalent of 50 qubits, but he does not even have one logical qubit.

There is still no convincing demonstration of quantum supremacy. Some say quantum advantage, but no convincing example of that either.

There is still no quantum computer to solve a problem. The claims are based on generating random numbers in a way that is hard to simulate.

Compare all this to the hype reported here, such as Google's Neven's Law, which said in June 2019 that quantum computers were advancing doubly exponentially. If that were true, then we would have a convincing example of quantum supremacy by now.

Unless it is impossible, of course.

Happy Columbus Day. The 1492 Columbus discovery of the Americas was one of the greatest events in the history of the world. Without that, where would science be?

Friday, October 6, 2023

Sweden calls with Nobel Prizes

This was Nobel Prize week. Some good technological advances got awarded.

The Nobel news seems to consist mostly of asking the recipients about their feelings as they got woken up by a Swedish phone call.

Some day a recipient is going to decide that he values his sleep more. What is the point of being awoken, only to have to answer 100 more calls asking about being awoken? It is embarrassing. These winners are scientists, not tv reality show contestants.

If you are expecting a call next October, I recommend turning your phone off. Answering will not get you the $1 million any faster.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

False Attacks against Robert Millikan

Robert Andrews Millikan was one of the great American physicists of the XX century, and make CalTech what it is today.

He is being canceled by leftists.

On the Caltech campus, several physical features, rooms, awards, and a professorship were named in honor of Millikan, including the Millikan Library, which was completed in 1966. In January 2021, the board of trustees voted to immediately strip Millikan's name from the Caltech campus because of his association with eugenics. The Robert A. Millikan Library has been renamed Caltech Hall.[39] In November 2021, the Robert A. Millikan Professorship was renamed the Judge Shirley Hufstedler Professorship.[40]
A new paper explains how foolish this is:
Robert A. Millikan (1868-1953) was the second American to win the Nobel Prize in physics. At the peak of his influence, no scientist save Einstein was more admired by the American public. Millikan, the head of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) during its first 24 years, oversaw its rapid growth into one of the leading scientific institutions of the world. In response to demands for social justice, Caltech reached a decision to strip Millikan of honors (such as the library named after him), following accusations against him.

This article analyzes a specific accusation against Millikan that was published in Nature: that he collaborated to deprive Japanese Americans of their rights during their forced relocation to internment camps during the Second World War. An examination of original historical sources will show that this accusation is false. On the contrary, Millikan actively campaigned during the war to promote the rights of Japanese Americans.

The article also treats Caltech's central accusation against Millikan: he lent his name to a morally reprehensible eugenics movement that had been scientifically discredited in his time. In a reversal of Caltech's claims, this article shows that all three of Caltech's scientific witnesses against eugenics were actually pro-eugenic to varying degrees. Millikan's beliefs fell within acceptable scientific norms of his day.

I do not agree with this presentism or cancel culture. If this is the standard, then Einstein is more deserving of cancellation. Einstein had horrible politics. He was a Communist. He belonged to many Communist front organizations. He supported Lenin and Stalin, even in the 1950s when the extent of Stalin's crimes became common knowledge.

Eugenics has become a bad word, but it mostly consisted of scientists using benign methods to better the human condition.

Even if Millikan did have some offensive personal opinions, he was entitled to his views. Those who disagree should explain why he was wrong. But I never see anyone try to explain why eugenics was wrong.

I have criticized Einstein, but almost entirely for his physics, his plagiarism, his philosophy of science, and for how he led others astray. I am not trying to cancel him. But as a human being, Millikan was a much better man. I am glad to see this paper defend him.

The Japanese relocation was a relatively minor wartime policy. Whatever you think today, it was backed by the generals, the governor, the President, and the US Supreme Court. The Japanese were treated very well, and compensated. Read about how Japan treated American prisoners of war, for comparison. It is absurd to attack Millikan for it, even if he were in favor of it.

Caltech was the last great meritocratic American university, but no more:

Caltech was unique among the most elite. Not long ago, Caltech boasted that on matters of admission, it made “no concessions to wealth, and it won’t sacrifice merit for diversity’s sake” [28, p 278]. David Baltimore, who was the president of Caltech and a member of the CNR committee, assured Golden that “Caltech would never compromise its standards. ‘People should be judged not by their parentage and wealth but by their skills and ability, ... Any school that I’m associated with, I want to be a meritocracy’” [28, p 284].

Never say never. The era of uncompromising standards at Caltech has come to an end. The Los Angeles Times reported on August 31, 2023 that Caltech is making historic changes to its admission standards. “In a groundbreaking step, the campus announced Thursday that it will drop admission requirements for calculus, physics, and chemistry courses for students who don’t have access to them and offer alternative paths. ...” “Data ... showed a significant racial gap in access to those classes.”

So canceling Millikan is just a step towards dismantling Caltech's greatness.

Some will say that we have upgraded our standards, and we now expect more from our idols. I don't buy it. Einstein is the biggest idol of all, and his reputation and stature has steadily grown since his death. And yet he was a horrible man.

I wonder if the real issue is that Millikan was a Christian. Also a White male. Respected and admired by everyone. Great family. Great American. If they can destroy his legacy, they can destroy anyone's.

Monday, October 2, 2023

New Sapolsky Book on Determinism

I write too much about free will, as it is an ancient philosophical issue that may never be resolved. However, I believe opinions about free will are extremely revealing, about one's scientific and political outlooks.

There are three main camps: libertarians who believe in free will, determinists who believe we are all pre-programmed, and compatibilists who argue that these are not contradictory.

Evolutionary biology professor Jerry Coyne writes:

The good news is that now when someone wants to understand determinism, I can just shut up and say, “Read Sapolsky’s book,” for I see no divergence between his views and mine (I’d also add Free Will by Sam Harris.) In the end — and I’ll get in trouble for this — I think compatibilists are semantic grifters. They’re really all determinists who want to find some way to convince people that they have a form of free will, even though they couldn’t have behaved other than how they did. This is the “little people’s” argument, not for religion but for philosophy. But in the end it’s the same: “People need religion/the notion of free will because without it, society could not flourish.” That, of course, is bogus. As long as we feel we make choices, even if intellectually we know we couldn’t have chosen otherwise, society will go on.  After all, I’m a hard determinist and yet I’m still alive, getting out of bed each morning. I don’t know what I’ll pick when I go to a restaurant, even though I know it’s determined right before I look at the menu. ...

Even compatibilists reject libertarian free will, and Sean Carroll has written extensively about why we know enough about the laws of physics to reject the idea of some “will” that is nonphysical. And free will has to be nonphysical if it’s to be totally libertarian. ...

When I say “determinism”, I mean “naturalism” because of the possibility of fundamental quantum unpredictability. Physical laws may not imply determinism, but they do imply NO LIBERTARIAN FREE WILL.

Physics is more important than biology when discussing the issue of libertarian free will.

Maybe Coyne should stick to biology, where his work is excellent. Saying that the laws of physics reject anything nonphysical does not help. I as might as well say that the laws of biology reject anything nonbiological.

On biology, Coyne points out that a professor was blackballed for saying that human sex can be reliably determined from bones:

No bones about it: skeletons are binary; people may not be. Sex identification – whether an individual was male or female – using the skeleton is one of the most fundamental components in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Anthropologists have improved their ability to determine sex since their initial studies on skeletal remains, which depended on subjective assessment of skeletal robusticity to say whether someone was male or female. An understanding of physical differences in the pelvis related to childbirth, hormonal impacts on bones, and extensive comparative studies have provided anthropologists with an array of traits, such as those in the Phenice Method, to determine sex using just bones. The use of DNA to identify sex in skeletons by their 23rd chromosomes enables anthropologists to say whether infants are male or female for use in both criminal abuse cases and archaeological cases, such as in recognizing infanticide practices. Anthropologists’ ability to determine whether a skeleton is male or female is not dependent on time or culture; the same traits can be used to make a sex estimate in a forensic case in Canada, or to estimate sex in a Paleoindian dated around 11,500 years ago in Brazil.
This all correct, but was rejected "in the spirit of respect for our values, the safety and dignity of our members, and the scientific integrity of the program". In other words, it offends the transgendered to say that sex can be objectively determined. See also Coyne's followup.

A comment refers to another new book, with a contrary view, as summarized by Bing Chat:

Based on the information I found, Kevin J. Mitchell does not believe in libertarian free will, which is the idea that human actions are not determined by prior causes or natural laws, but by the exercise of an agent’s free and independent will. Rather, he believes in a form of compatibilism, which is the view that human actions are compatible with both determinism and free will, as long as free will is understood in a different way.

In his book Free Agents: How Evolution Gave Us Free Will1, Mitchell argues that free will is not a metaphysical property or a supernatural gift, but a natural phenomenon that emerged from the evolution of nervous systems and brains. He claims that free will is the ability to act according to one’s own reasons, preferences, and goals, which are shaped by one’s genes, environment, and experiences. He also claims that free will is the ability to imagine, plan, and choose among different possible courses of action, which are constrained by physical and biological laws, but not predetermined by them. He says that free will is not a binary concept, but a matter of degree, and that it varies among different species and individuals.

Mitchell’s view of free will is different from libertarian free will, because he does not deny that human actions are influenced by causal factors, such as genetics, neurobiology, psychology, and social context. He also does not assert that human actions are uncaused or random, or that humans have an immaterial soul or a non-physical source of agency. He does not appeal to any form of indeterminism or quantum mechanics to explain human behavior. Instead, he accepts that human actions are part of the natural world, and that they can be explained by scientific methods and principles. However, he also maintains that human actions are not completely determined by external forces, and that humans have some degree of autonomy, creativity, and responsibility for their actions. He argues that human actions are the result of complex interactions between multiple levels of causation, from the molecular to the social, and that human actions are not predictable or reducible to any single level of explanation. He also argues that human actions are influenced by internal factors, such as beliefs, desires, emotions, and values, which are not fixed or given, but can be changed and developed by learning and reflection. He suggests that human actions are the expression of one’s unique personality, identity, and character, which are not static or predetermined, but can be shaped and modified by one’s choices and actions.

Therefore, Kevin J. Mitchell does not believe in libertarian free will, but in a form of compatibilism that reconciles free will with determinism, naturalism, and evolution. He believes that free will is a natural and evolved capacity that allows humans to act with purpose, reason, and agency, within the limits and possibilities of the physical and biological world. He believes that free will is a matter of degree and variation, and that it depends on the development and functioning of the nervous system and the brain. He believes that free will is a source of human dignity, creativity, and morality, and that it requires respect, protection, and enhancement. You can find more information about his book and his views by using the links provided in the results of my search tool.

It is not clear to me whether Mitchell believes in libertarian free will or compatibilism. Perhaps he does not like the definitions, and avoids those terms. This description says compatibilism, but it is really more accurately describing libertarian free will. Coyne, Sapolsky, and Harris would not agree with it. Not sure about Carroll.

This is a philosophical issue, so believe what you want. I am mainly puzzled how any intellectual can believe that his restaurant order is determined before he looks at the menu, and that a scientific outlook requires determinism. How can you do a scientific experiment, if you cannot choose the parameters? How can you strive towards a better life, if you cannot make choices? Why would you try to persuade anyone of anything, if no one can make a decision? The determinists and compatibilists make no sense to me.

And if science somehow showed free will to be impossible, who published that scientific paper? Who got the Nobel Prize for that discovery? Where is the textbook that details the argument?

Yes, I believe in libertarian free will, and reject arguments claiming that it is contrary to science.

SciAm has an article on a panpsychism conference. It does not mention free will, but addresses the issue of how a conscious mind could be reduced to inanimate parts.

Part of the appeal of panpsychism is that it appears to provide a workaround to the question posed by Chalmers: we no longer have to worry about how inanimate matter forms minds because mindedness was there all along, residing in the fabric of the universe. Chalmers himself has embraced a form of panpsychism and even suggested that individual particles might be somehow aware. He said in a TED Talk that a photon “might have some element of raw, subjective feeling, some primitive precursor to consciousness.” Also on board with the idea is neuroscientist Christof Koch, who noted in his 2012 book Consciousness that if one accepts consciousness as a real phenomenon that’s not dependent on any particular material—that it’s “substrate-independent,” as philosophers put it—then “it is a simple step to conclude that the entire cosmos is suffused with sentience.”

Yet panpsychism runs counter to the majority view in both the physical sciences and in philosophy that treats consciousness as an emergent phenomenon, something that arises in certain complex systems, such as human brains. In this view, individual neurons are not conscious, but thanks to the collective properties of some 86 billion neurons and their interactions — which, admittedly, are still only poorly understood — brains (along with bodies, perhaps) are conscious. Surveys suggest that slightly more than half of academic philosophers hold this view, known as “physicalism” or “emergentism,” whereas about one third reject physicalism and lean toward some alternative, of which panpsychism is one of several possibilities.

Sean M. Carroll was there arguing that panpsychism must be wrong because it suggests that there is something more to reality that what we can measure, and that violates the laws of physics. Not online, but a Carroll debate on panpsychism was just released. Except:
Even Carroll, however, admits that there’s more to reality than meets the eye. He’s a strong supporter of the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, which holds that our universe is just one facet of a vast quantum multiverse.
Neither camp has a good explanation of consciousness, and I am not sure who has the better argument. If your brain is conscious and you believe in reductionism, then it makes sense to say a neuron has a little bit of consciousness, like an electron has a little bit of electricity or a transistor has a little bit of computational ability. I used to think that panpsychism was crackpot stuff, but now I am not sure. As it does not make any useful predictions, I don't know how to say it is right or wrong.

Update: I started watching the Carroll debate. He admits that he does not understand consciousness, but he does claim to understand the fundamental nature of reality, and is confident that hard science underlies everything.

I appreciate the hard-nosed scientist who only accepted established science. But his idea of reality is many-worlds theory! The many worlds are much more outlandish than panpsychism.