Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Determination ...

In one experiment, some people read a passage from Francis Crick, the molecular biologist, asserting that free will is a quaint old notion no longer taken seriously by intellectuals, especially not psychologists and neuroscientists. Afterward, when compared with a control group that read a different passage from Crick (who died in 2004) these people expressed more skepticism about free will — and promptly cut themselves some moral slack while taking a math test.

Well, Crick also cut himself some moral slack when it came to using Rosalind Franklin's purloined photo of a DNA molecule.

See also what Bryan has to say: Free Will.
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


  1. Bryan Appleyard comments:

    In the end it does not matter whether free will ‘exists’ in any of these senses since we have no choice but to act as if it does. We are free humans and there is no convincing perspective from which we can decide we are not free. What is interesting is the glee with which Crick and friends seize on the possibility of eliminating freedom. It is plainly not science, but what is it?

  2. Glad you mentioned Rosalind Franklin, who is still not given enough credit for her work.

    What's fascinating to me is that, in the history of science, 150 years ago physics was determinative and biology much more open to chance operation. Now that has completely reversed, and physics is indeterminate while biology has become dangerously over-determinative, making pronouncements about human experience, especially in neuroscience, that it cannot in any way prove.

    Bryan asks, what is that? It's faith. Faith on the biologists' parts that they are right. Or it's called scientism, the religion of science.