The mind begs the question

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chewybrian
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Faustus5 wrote: February 21st, 2021, 9:44 am
chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 9:37 am No, I don't. I don't have to justify the experience I am having in my mind.
That's not what you are being asked to justify. Please stop playing games and try to be intellectually honest for once.

Right now, scientists can look at a scan of your brain--purely physical, deterministic activity there by your own admission--and predict which of two or three choices you are going to make as much as ten seconds before you yourself have had the experience of making that choice.

What does that do to your thoroughly un-justified, evidence-free assertion that the mind is not subject to the "rules" of determinism?
Nothing. We have no idea how those physical processes are connected to thought itself, which is still entirely another thing. No scientific examination of the thought itself, of the experience, is yet possible. There is a hard problem which can't be dismissed simply because some of the evidence seems to fall on your 'side' of the argument. My body is sending me information, and I am likely to respond in a rational way, most of the time, to the info. Sure, I am likely to decide to eat if my body tells me I am hungry. If you see that part of the brain firing that receives the hunger signal, then you might predict I am about to decide I should eat.

But, I can also make a decision not to eat. I can choose to starve myself until I die. Despite most people taking most of the prompts from their physical side and acting reasonably in response to them, this says nothing about free will. This is influence. If you wish to believe that all our choices can only result in a predictable answer in response to these impulses, if there is only one response possible to each impulse, then why are you bothering to debate the issue? Nothing matters and you don't exist as anything but a pass-through at that point.

You are free to attach whatever meaning you wish to your life. It is very sad that you would deny this ability. I can only guess that you might be afraid of the responsibility of choice. Perhaps you wish to find a set of hard rules that define and explain everything, so you can be relieved of the burden of choosing for yourself. Lots of people try to revert to the safety of the child's world by taking religion as a hard fact, meaning that they don't have to decide right and wrong for themselves. Others abuse science in the same way, and tend to be quite full of themselves for being serious enough to take science as fact. Because science is a useful tool for describing objects, they assume it must describe subjects, even as every moment of their existence is telling them otherwise. However, the serious world IS the world of the child, where there are only hard facts to discover, where actions don't have real consequences, and where we don't have to decide for ourselves what we wish to become. But, philosophy is a lot more than just science.

In contrast, I am saying that I don't have all the answers, that I don't treat existence as solved or on the verge of being solved. I'm a finite being in an infinite universe, and therefore my knowledge (and yours, and all of science) effectively rounds down to zero. The honest answer is to say that we just don't have all the answers. However, if your belief system results in treating your own subjective existence as if it doesn't exist or doesn't matter, this is an indication that you might be on the wrong track.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Faustus5 wrote: February 21st, 2021, 9:44 am
chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 9:37 am No, I don't. I don't have to justify the experience I am having in my mind.
That's not what you are being asked to justify. Please stop playing games and try to be intellectually honest for once.

Right now, scientists can look at a scan of your brain--purely physical, deterministic activity there by your own admission--and predict which of two or three choices you are going to make as much as ten seconds before you yourself have had the experience of making that choice.

What does that do to your thoroughly un-justified, evidence-free assertion that the mind is not subject to the "rules" of determinism?
I think it's fair to say the jury's still out on how much experiments such as Libert's can tell us, though they do offer evidence which questions free will.

The most compelling counter imo is the fact that we evolved conscious experience as a tool for making decisions. The brain is the body's decision making organ. In principle, there's no need for the correlated experiential states, even a basic experiential reward system, like 'ouch fire hurts, take hand out and don't put back in', or 'feel hungry - get food'.

But - If physical brains interacting with the physical environment can fully causally account for our behaviour, why would we evolve conscious experience at all? And why does it tally so well with evolutionary utility, like the fire and hunger examples if it's just redundant baggage, an epiphenomological by-product of certain brain processes?
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Pattern-chaser wrote: February 21st, 2021, 10:54 am The most obvious one is that conscious experience lags behind real time, as it takes our brains and minds around 250 ms to process sensory input and present it, fully interpreted, to our conscious minds.
That's an extra step completely unjustified by any evidence we have. All we need are various brain processes to process the kinds of sensory and cognitive information they evolved to process, and we're done. This "presentation" step is thoroughly unnecessary.
Pattern-chaser wrote: February 21st, 2021, 10:54 amThe fact remains that a brain can be examined, by scientists or others, but a mind cannot.
That isn't a fact, it is an outdated ideological position that essentially involves turning your back on modern science and remaining bizarrely attached to a dualism that has been dead in the water for over half a century.
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Re: The mind begs the question

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chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 11:08 am Nothing. We have no idea how those physical processes are connected to thought itself, which is still entirely another thing.
Nonsense. We have an entire model in cognitive neuroscience which tells us, at least in an outline form that has been in place for decades, exactly how those processes are connected to "thought itself".
chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 11:08 am There is a hard problem which can't be dismissed simply because some of the evidence seems to fall on your 'side' of the argument.
Oh, it's much worse than that for your side, sparky: literally ALL of the evidence falls on my side. There is not a serious, respected scientist studying consciousness anywhere today in the 21st century who is saying anything that even remotely sounds like the kind of silly rubbish you post here.
chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 11:08 am

Despite most people taking most of the prompts from their physical side and acting reasonably in response to them, this says nothing about free will.
The fact that we can look at the deterministic physical processes in your brain and tell which decisions you are going to make before you even know which choice you will make pretty much means that your free will is entirely subject to those deterministic processes. There's no way you can escape it. This is just a brute fact which contradicts the fantasies you have about what you and your choices are.

The mature thing is to accept these facts and find a way to incorporate them into your self image. Sounds like this isn't something you're up for.
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Gertie wrote: February 21st, 2021, 3:06 pm
I think it's fair to say the jury's still out on how much experiments such as Libert's can tell us, though they do offer evidence which questions free will.
Libet is old news--this is newer material that goes beyond what his experiments were capable of measuring or revealing.
Gertie wrote: February 21st, 2021, 3:06 pm

But - If physical brains interacting with the physical environment can fully causally account for our behaviour, why would we evolve conscious experience at all? And why does it tally so well with evolutionary utility, like the fire and hunger examples if it's just redundant baggage, an epiphenomological by-product of certain brain processes?
Personally I don't have time for a concept of consciousness which doesn't name a property or event in the nervous which enables us to do something we couldn't normally do if we didn't have it. So I'm not interested in "conscious experience" as the name for some kind of epiphenomenal "glow" that happens in addition to the processes that initiate behaviors. I think the smart way to understand consciousness is that it is the very thing that is behind uniquely human and sophisticated behaviors in response to events in the environment. (This is not to say that other animals can't be conscious, but the starting point must always be us because we're the signature example of beings that definitely are conscious if anything is.)
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Faustus5 wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 2:59 pm
chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 11:08 am Nothing. We have no idea how those physical processes are connected to thought itself, which is still entirely another thing.
Nonsense. We have an entire model in cognitive neuroscience which tells us, at least in an outline form that has been in place for decades, exactly how those processes are connected to "thought itself".
chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 11:08 am There is a hard problem which can't be dismissed simply because some of the evidence seems to fall on your 'side' of the argument.
Oh, it's much worse than that for your side, sparky: literally ALL of the evidence falls on my side. There is not a serious, respected scientist studying consciousness anywhere today in the 21st century who is saying anything that even remotely sounds like the kind of silly rubbish you post here.
chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 11:08 am

Despite most people taking most of the prompts from their physical side and acting reasonably in response to them, this says nothing about free will.
The fact that we can look at the deterministic physical processes in your brain and tell which decisions you are going to make before you even know which choice you will make pretty much means that your free will is entirely subject to those deterministic processes. There's no way you can escape it. This is just a brute fact which contradicts the fantasies you have about what you and your choices are.

The mature thing is to accept these facts and find a way to incorporate them into your self image. Sounds like this isn't something you're up for.
So, assuming that you believe all you say, do you accept the obvious implications? Do you see that this would imply that you have never made a real choice in your life and will never affect any outcome relating to your own state of mind or the state of affairs in the outside world? Again, why bother setting me straight in such a world? Why take any pride in knowing the "truth", and why should I have any shame in believing what the universe prompted me to believe?

I don't have much interest in the small subset of philosophy which is science. Almost always, the scientists' findings make sense, and I accept their opinions as expert and use them to my advantage. But, when they are so clearly off the mark, as in this case, I have no problem discarding or ignoring them. They've been very wrong in the past, and it's fair to assume they don't have it right now. In fact, it would be downright arrogant and silly to think they have it all right, or that they are even close.

I'm not being dishonest by acknowledging my own experience. No, I won't be won over by anything you've said here or anything along the same lines. Imagine trying to talk someone out of their religious belief if they could access God at will. I can access my free will whenever I choose, so that's my perspective. It's not a matter of faith, and the burden of proof should be the highest imaginable to make me assent to all of my life being an illusion. Consciousness works on many levels, some automatic and unconscious and some fully free and driven by me, and many levels in between. I don't fully understand it, of course, but I know just enough to know that nobody has it all worked out. There is plenty of room for doubt to give me reason to think I could still be on the right 'side', and nothing to be gained by caving in.

The ultimate irony is that we are all condemned to be free, and you must endure the indignity of pretending at every moment to have the free will you deny, just to 'get along' in the world. You choose all day long without acknowledging to yourself that you can't possibly be choosing. Only when these arguments are at the forefront of your thoughts could you ever be reminded that you believe you can't choose. I have no doubt that you often forget that you can't live your own life on your own terms and 'accidentally' live your own life on your own terms!
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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Re: The mind begs the question

Post by Gertie »

Faustus
Gertie wrote: ↑
February 21st, 2021, 8:06 pm

I think it's fair to say the jury's still out on how much experiments such as Libert's can tell us, though they do offer evidence which questions free will.
Libet is old news--this is newer material that goes beyond what his experiments were capable of measuring or revealing.
Such experiments have problems, the combo of brain complexity, self-reporting and crude tech. Also issues of long-term and complex decision making. So they raise a doubt, but can't provide a knock out punch to free will (yet), in terms of causally mentally willing our behaviour. It's a question which needs an answer tho, along with split brain experiments which suggest we construct at least some narratives for our behaviour post hoc.
Gertie wrote: ↑
February 21st, 2021, 8:06 pm


But - If physical brains interacting with the physical environment can fully causally account for our behaviour, why would we evolve conscious experience at all? And why does it tally so well with evolutionary utility, like the fire and hunger examples if it's just redundant baggage, an epiphenomological by-product of certain brain processes?
Personally I don't have time for a concept of consciousness which doesn't name a property or event in the nervous which enables us to do something we couldn't normally do if we didn't have it. So I'm not interested in "conscious experience" as the name for some kind of epiphenomenal "glow" that happens in addition to the processes that initiate behaviors.
Nevertheless conscious 'what it's like' experience exists. And is presumably either causal re our behaviour, or not causal (epiphenomenological). If as you suggest it isn't causal, then you're left with the question of why it emerged in such a way as to mimic evolutionary utility. Simply hand-waving such evidence for mental causality doesn't invalidate it.
I think the smart way to understand consciousness is that it is the very thing that is behind uniquely human and sophisticated behaviors in response to events in the environment. (This is not to say that other animals can't be conscious, but the starting point must always be us because we're the signature example of beings that definitely are conscious if anything is.)
Not sure what ''is behind'' actually means here?
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Re: The mind begs the question

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chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 6:06 am So, the waves in the ocean might seem random, yet it is reasonable enough to assume that they all have causes. We can set up a still pool and create a single wave, and it is predictable. We can create two waves, and their interaction is also predictable enough. But, when you have billions of separate events creating waves that interact with each other, then we lose sight of the causes and things appear random. We can't document every bit of wind or uneven heating or the movement of a fish tail that might put some bit of the ocean in motion. But, in theory, if we could, we might predict every wave in the ocean.
That's the myth, yes. It turns out that in actual, real-world experiments, we often get recalcitrant data (which we tend to explain away in a variety of ways, because it doesn't fit the myth).

I think my position is the only fair and consistent one. The rules of determinism apply to material things. They apply to my brain, but not to my mind. Therefore, the mind is not material. If that makes me some kind of analog luddite caveman in someone else's eyes, I'm not bothered. The alternative would be dishonesty about what I see and experience in the world. Further, I would shirk my responsibility for the freedom inherent in my choices. If I am not really free, then I can not do right or wrong, any more than the waves in the ocean.
Again, I don't buy determinism in general. There's no need to posit some other sort of thing that's not deterministic.
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Re: The mind begs the question

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chewybrian wrote: February 21st, 2021, 6:06 am So, the waves in the ocean might seem random, yet it is reasonable enough to assume that they all have causes. We can set up a still pool and create a single wave, and it is predictable. We can create two waves, and their interaction is also predictable enough. But, when you have billions of separate events creating waves that interact with each other, then we lose sight of the causes and things appear random. We can't document every bit of wind or uneven heating or the movement of a fish tail that might put some bit of the ocean in motion. But, in theory, if we could, we might predict every wave in the ocean.

I think your text ignores the existence of chaos and complexity...?
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Re: The mind begs the question

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chewybrian wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 9:21 pm
So, assuming that you believe all you say, do you accept the obvious implications? Do you see that this would imply that you have never made a real choice in your life and will never affect any outcome relating to your own state of mind or the state of affairs in the outside world?
Those would only be "obvious implications" if I had certain very specific beliefs and accepted various other premises which I do not, in fact, have or accept.

Once again, you seem to possess an extremely naive and simplistic conception about how these things work. There is far more complication and nuance to these issues than you appear to be able to grasp. I'm betting you've studied so little of this subject that you came to it not even knowing there is a vast body of literature defending the idea that free will can exist even in a completely deterministic universe.

Not everyone thinks free will requires that we have magical powers which defy physics and material causation.
chewybrian wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 9:21 pm Almost always, the scientists' findings make sense, and I accept their opinions as expert and use them to my advantage. But, when they are so clearly off the mark, as in this case, I have no problem discarding or ignoring them.
They are not "off the mark" here, nor can you articulate how they are off the mark.
chewybrian wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 9:21 pm In fact, it would be downright arrogant and silly to think they have it all right, or that they are even close.
Good thing literally no one here thinks such a thing. Perhaps it would better serve your time here if you stuck to things people are actually claiming in their posts.
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Faustus5 wrote: February 24th, 2021, 2:22 pm there is a vast body of literature defending the idea that free will can exist even in a completely deterministic universe.
. . . which I've yet been able to make much sense out of. Compatibilism just doesn't make any sense to me. It always seems to be changing the topic.
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Faustus5 wrote: February 24th, 2021, 2:22 pm
chewybrian wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 9:21 pm Almost always, the scientists' findings make sense, and I accept their opinions as expert and use them to my advantage. But, when they are so clearly off the mark, as in this case, I have no problem discarding or ignoring them.
They are not "off the mark" here, nor can you articulate how they are off the mark.
I already did, but you aren't listening, or you are dismissing anything I say. Determinism makes sense, for physical things. It seems to explain most of the action we see in the universe. When we think we see randomness, perhaps we only see complexity. Free will makes sense. I can go to the kitchen and choose soda or coffee or water or nothing. This is the very nature of my existence, so I see no way to deny it. It makes no sense to me to extend determinism to my own consciousness and free will, since the two things as I understand them are not compatible. I've never seen a coherent attempt at explaining how they could be, so I continue to believe they are not. I reconcile the issue by assuming that my consciousness is not material at all, and therefore not subject to the rules that explain inanimate things and their effects. I make no further finding about having a soul or anything, but only conclude rationally that subjects and objects are not in the same category.

Faustus5 wrote: February 24th, 2021, 2:22 pm
chewybrian wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 9:21 pm In fact, it would be downright arrogant and silly to think they have it all right, or that they are even close.
Good thing literally no one here thinks such a thing. Perhaps it would better serve your time here if you stuck to things people are actually claiming in their posts.

Perhaps you did not say it outright, but it was implied in your smug, confident responses that I am not "allowed" to believe what I believe and be taken seriously. If you did not say that word for word, I am certain that I am not the only one who got that message loud and clear.
Nonsense. We have an entire model in cognitive neuroscience which tells us, at least in an outline form that has been in place for decades, exactly how those processes are connected to "thought itself".

literally ALL of the evidence falls on my side. There is not a serious, respected scientist studying consciousness anywhere today in the 21st century who is saying anything that even remotely sounds like the kind of silly rubbish you post here.

The fact that we can look at the deterministic physical processes in your brain and tell which decisions you are going to make before you even know which choice you will make pretty much means that your free will is entirely subject to those deterministic processes. There's no way you can escape it. This is just a brute fact which contradicts the fantasies you have about what you and your choices are.
^So, that you weren't saying there that we pretty much have everything figured out in the realm of consciousness? You don't see any smug confidence, no sense of certainty coming through there?

I understand that the nerves going to the muscles begin to fire in anticipation of a signal from the brain. Is that right? Do you say, then, that the muscles must be in control of the brain? Does the order of action tell you who must be in charge? Does my arm tell my brain to tell it to catch the ball, or does my brain tell the arm to catch the ball, or...?

Scientific "facts" are only widely held opinions which we find useful. They don't have a direct line to objective truth, even if that is the goal. In the past, scientific opinion has been very far off the mark, even as people of that time were very confident that they understood how the world worked. Witch doctors were scientists, as well as people who laid out the periodic table as earth, wind, fire and water. If we can step outside ourselves, it's easy to see that we are finite and potential knowledge is infinite. So, we still don't know **** and never will. We can be proud of our progress, but should be humble enough to see that the statistical chance of our having things figured out, now or later, rounds down to zero. All we can ever declare is that our current opinions are more useful than the ones which we discarded.

I don't dismiss science at all. I treat it as useful, and effectively true in almost every case. But, when someone who thinks they are a scientist tells me I am not "allowed" to believe in self-determination, or that I can only accept it if I accept a contrary, mutually exclusive proposition in the bargain, I say no.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Terrapin Station wrote: February 24th, 2021, 2:34 pm
Faustus5 wrote: February 24th, 2021, 2:22 pm there is a vast body of literature defending the idea that free will can exist even in a completely deterministic universe.
. . . which I've yet been able to make much sense out of. Compatibilism just doesn't make any sense to me. It always seems to be changing the topic.
Yep, I understand that, I'm just pointing out the need to realize that smart, informed folks are debating these issues and one cannot just assume they've been resolved in one's favor such that one's views are regarded as factual.
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Re: The mind begs the question

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chewybrian wrote: February 26th, 2021, 11:30 am I reconcile the issue by assuming that my consciousness is not material at all, and therefore not subject to the rules that explain inanimate things and their effects.
In other words, you "reconcile" the issue by inventing a fantasy about how the mind works and ignoring any evidence that is inconvenient for that fantasy. Got it, figured as much, glad to see you admit it in the open.

chewybrian wrote: February 26th, 2021, 11:30 am ^So, that you weren't saying there that we pretty much have everything figured out in the realm of consciousness? You don't see any smug confidence, no sense of certainty coming through there?
What I was doing there was stating a fact: that cognitive neuroscience has reached a consensus scientific model which explains consciousness (and here's the part you convenient didn't bother to understand) at least in outline form. We don't have all the details and there are still major issues that elude explanation (like the so-called "binding problem"), but we know enough about the material explanation for consciousness to be able to confidently dismiss the kinds of silliness you have been spouting in this thread as if it were fact.
chewybrian wrote: February 26th, 2021, 11:30 am I understand that the nerves going to the muscles begin to fire in anticipation of a signal from the brain. Is that right?
Uh. . .so you think muscles have psychic powers and predict the future? I sure don't.
chewybrian wrote: February 26th, 2021, 11:30 am Scientific "facts" are only widely held opinions which we find useful.
So you don't understand what science is, either. Got it.
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Re: The mind begs the question

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Faustus5 wrote: February 26th, 2021, 3:19 pm
chewybrian wrote: February 26th, 2021, 11:30 am ^So, that you weren't saying there that we pretty much have everything figured out in the realm of consciousness? You don't see any smug confidence, no sense of certainty coming through there?
What I was doing there was stating a fact: that cognitive neuroscience has reached a consensus scientific model which explains consciousness (and here's the part you convenient didn't bother to understand) at least in outline form. We don't have all the details and there are still major issues that elude explanation (like the so-called "binding problem"), but we know enough about the material explanation for consciousness to be able to confidently dismiss the kinds of silliness you have been spouting in this thread as if it were fact.
You have this exactly wrong. I am stating explicitly that my opinions are opinions. Because they are not verifiable or falsifiable, and they seem to explain what is happening, I say that it is valid to hold these opinions. You are also spouting opinions, yet treating them as facts, because you label them "scientific opinions".
Faustus5 wrote: February 26th, 2021, 3:19 pm
chewybrian wrote: February 26th, 2021, 11:30 am Scientific "facts" are only widely held opinions which we find useful.
So you don't understand what science is, either. Got it.
I do, and it's just what I said. It is a best guess, a work in progress, a model for understanding things which is always subject to review or revision. Scientific theories don't carry the weight of science if they are not verifiable or falsifiable. Talk of multiple universes or dark matter is just talk, like everything you've said here. These are ideas that might explain things we see and don't understand, but we can't be sure. It's fine if you want to hold an opinion about them, but only if you acknowledge that it is an opinion. A consensus of opinion is still opinion, and such popular opinion has been quite wrong many times in the past.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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