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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Lorraine Ford: on 6/7/14 at 3:08am UTC, wrote Hi Janko, Thanks for your comments on my essay. I have posted comments on...

Janko Kokosar: on 6/6/14 at 22:22pm UTC, wrote Dear Lorraine Ford I see that you write above all about free will. You...

Chidi Idika: on 6/6/14 at 3:17am UTC, wrote Hi Lorraine, Am reaching out to all those who actually read my essay,...

Jonathan Dickau: on 6/5/14 at 19:01pm UTC, wrote To be honest Lorraine.. I had no inkling that the 'no free will' anthem is...

George Gantz: on 6/5/14 at 19:00pm UTC, wrote Lorraine - and I likewise, re-post my reply here. Also more likely that...

Denis Frith: on 6/5/14 at 10:59am UTC, wrote Lorraine Your view of what is happening and the contributing factors are...

Lorraine Ford: on 6/5/14 at 8:28am UTC, wrote Dear George, (I will also post this on your essay blog) Thanks. I think...

Lorraine Ford: on 6/5/14 at 7:42am UTC, wrote Dear Tommaso, Thanks very much for your comments on my essay. Yes,...


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FQXi FORUM
October 22, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: Creating a New Future by Lorraine Ford [refresh]
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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on Apr. 23, 2014 @ 13:01 GMT
Essay Abstract

Most physicists seem to believe that human beings can’t steer their own futures. But I argue in this essay that people can and do “steer the future”, and that physics has made invalid assumptions about the nature of fundamental reality. Indeed, physics’ invalid ideas about the nature of reality are a major contributor to the toxic attitudes that are destroying our planet.

Author Bio

Lorraine is a former computer analyst and programmer. She lives with her husband, a cat, some ducks, and a wild flowering garden beloved by birds, bees and other insects. Lorraine is interested in animals, flowers, plants and living things, as well as artefacts of the 1920s 1930s and 1940s – the era of her late mother.

Download Essay PDF File

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Chidi Idika wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 09:56 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

First, let me thank you for the audacity and freshness of thought I find evident in your point of view. Am sure to let you have my comment after I have duly read through..

Best wishes(and for that garden, thank you!).

Chidi

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 11:29 GMT
Thanks Chidi, I am interested to read your comment (positive OR negative!).

Lorraine

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 22:18 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

So glad to see that you're still playing this game. I do agree with you that current physics is wrong about the nature of fundamental reality, although I had not before reading your essay seen this is a major contributor to attitudes that are destroying our planet. From previous essays and exchanges, we share a view of information as inherently connected with...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 00:39 GMT
Dear Edwin,

thanks very much for your welcome comments on my essay. Though I was not able to spend very much time on my essay this year, it covers everything that I wanted to say. "This game" of discussing ideas about reality is actually something that I take very seriously!

As you say, there may be hope that "establishment physicists can admit that consciousness is relevant for physics", what with physicist Max Tegmark's paper etc.

But I have found that the invalid current physics' mindset about free will has infected minds everywhere e.g. there have been quite a few programs and stories (not only philosophy programs) on Australia's Radio National over the years covering various perspectives on free will (or the lack of it). The online comments about the programs indicate that very few seem to consider that free will really exists. But what I found surprising was my extremely intelligent, vivacious and capable niece checking herself and rephrasing what she had said, after she had implied in a sentence that people had free will/free choice!!! I believe that the invalid deterministic ideas of physics have deeply affected everything from philosophy to the minds of ordinary people. These ideas have a negative affect: that's why I call them "perverse".

In this essay competition there seems to be a small number of us asserting that free will exists e.g. Georgina Parry considers that free will exists. Hope to read your essay "The Thermodynamics of Freedom" soon.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on May. 8, 2014 @ 07:48 GMT
Lorraine,

I have tried to kick your essay up to a higher visibility.

Good luck,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 11:58 GMT
Thanks so much Edwin!

Best wishes,

Lorraine

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Ross Cevenst wrote on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 04:39 GMT
My two cents - Determinism/free-will are not mutually exclusive

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 11:17 GMT
Hi Ross,

I'm sorry, but Compatibilsm is convoluted philosophical baloney.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, "free will" is "The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate".

In a deterministic universe, laws of nature allow only one possible outcome for each next moment in time. I.e. every physical outcome is determined, necessary, fated and unavoidable: there is no choice of outcome. I.e. every physical outcome is 100% fully constrained by necessity and fate.

I.e. there can be no free will in a deterministic universe, except in an ironic sense. In a deterministic universe, "free will" is purely a matter of self-deception.

The Compatibilsts have tried to hijack the term "free will" to make it seem like something interesting ever happened in their dreary deterministic universe. What they call "free will" is NOT free will. They should make up their own term, something like "determinism in action".

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Chidi Idika wrote on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 22:59 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

What comes below may seem odd but it helps me reconcile your notion of free will as “inherent unpredictability (perhaps due to the subjective topology of information)” with Brian Green’s idea of: “…free will as a certain sensation of the laws of physics acting themselves out.”

Let me just ask you, do you own your body or your body owns you? You will find...

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Chidi Idika replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 23:11 GMT
Sorry, correct link here: community/forum/topic/2094

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 12:48 GMT
Dear Chidi,

I don't think of free will as "inherent unpredictability": in my essay I was saying that the free will/free choice of a subject is inherently unpredictable to an observer. Also, I don't think that there can be any reconciliation between my idea of free will and Brian Greene's notion of "free will": his so-called "free will" is a type of self-deception.

Re "You don't tell your heart to beat...And you don't tell your body when it is hungry, it tells you" :

I agree with you. As I contend in the conclusion of my essay: "Within reality's dependable, deterministic structure, there are always degrees of freedom, openings and opportunities for subjects to choose/create physical outcomes." So I don't tell my heart to beat, and I can't choose to miraculously turn into a bird and fly away, but I CAN choose what to say or do i.e. I can create my own future.

Thanks for commenting on my essay: I will comment on your essay as soon as I can.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 12:52 GMT
Above "anonymous" post was me. I hadn't been logged in very long, and the system logged me out!

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Peter Jackson wrote on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 14:36 GMT
Lorraine,

An important point to make and very well argued. You highlight the contradiction of this essay topic, typical of the mindset that prevents advancement of understanding.

Nobody can ultimately describe consciousness with causality, even if we keep pushing back the boundaries of nonsensical 'quantum uncertainty' to describe classically observed effects with classical dynamics, we'll never disprove free will.

There is then always a place for originality, uniqueness and unpredictability in the most causal of backgrounds. As I argued last year everything, every person, grain of sand, cell and observable particle is different. We can't then even say A = A, only A ~A, so how can causality be 100%?

I also liked your; "Information in the universe has a subjective topology." which site well with my proof this year of observer dependence allowing classical reproduction of quantum predictions, so no 'action at a distance'. But again as you say;

"the perverse physics mindset is pretty rusted on"

so I can't see even that will free up thinking to the level required. I've suggested we need to start in schools, teaching kids how to think, challenge and express their uniqueness before we let them go into science. An example of poor attitudes is the 3 score on yours and 1's clearly put on mine and others without comment added. Do we need a revolution to escape that mindset? 'Toxic' in more than one way.

I always like your lovely easy to read style too. Very well done.

Best wishes

Peter

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 13:32 GMT
Nice to hear from you again Peter. Thanks for reading and commenting favourably on my essay.

As you say, "We can't then even say A = A, only A ~A, so how can causality be 100%?" So to me, this "originality, uniqueness and unpredictability" indicates a creative aspect of reality that current physics doesn't acknowledge.

Will look at your essay ASAP: I am interested to see what you say about "observer dependence".

Cheers

Lorraine

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 13:34 GMT
Above post was me. The system keeps on logging me out!!

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 05:50 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

I would like to support what you already clearly expressed in your abstract: "people can and do “steer the future”, and physics has made invalid assumptions about the nature of fundamental reality".

I will have to read your essay in order to understand what you meant with "new future". Isn't the future always something new?

Also I am curious, are "invalid ideas about the nature of reality" really "a major contributor to the toxic attitudes that are destroying our planet"?

While free will is not my topic, I recommend reading Roger Schlafly's essay as a beautiful while perhaps unintentional parody of what you are criticizing.

I see my own free will determined by a huge multitude of influences that can never be found out.

All the best,

Eckard

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 14:25 GMT
Dear Eckard,

What I mean by "new" is something truly new: a new rule or physical outcome, a new injection of information into the universe. I don't mean a physical outcome that appears to be new, but is actually entirely the result of old pre-existing deterministic law-of-nature rules.

You say that "free will is not my topic" but if people can and do steer their own futures, then this indicates that physics' story about the nature of reality is incorrect: something is missing from the picture of reality that physics is painting. This "steering" is clearly a fundamental aspect of reality that cannot evolve from a reality where no steering occurs.

I have read Roger Schlafly's essay, and I found it very well put, well written, and amusing - though I haven't commented on his essay as yet.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 06:04 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

While I expected a bit more, let me copy what you quoted:

“There are infinitely many other inhabited planets, including not just one but infinitely many that have people with the same appearance, name and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices.” [4]

Is this the utterance of a serious scientist? He didn't bother to indicate any checkable reason for his wild speculations. He didn't even cautiously write inhabitable but he wrote inhabited.

Eckard

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 14:57 GMT
Dear Eckard,

Thanks for commenting on my essay.

You say "I expected a bit more", and you are right - certainly more supporting evidence and discussion was required for my assertion that physics' invalid assumptions about the nature of reality are a major contributor to the toxic attitudes that are destroying our planet.

I wonder, do you have an opinion (positive or negative) on the 3 invalid assumptions that I identified ?

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Eckard Blumschein replied on May. 14, 2014 @ 07:05 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

I consider the third invalid assumption you mentioned the most striking one, and I repeatedly dealt with it in several essays of mine. Maybe, I am even a bit more blunt than you. I would never say a new future because the future always denotes what is new, what can be steered in principle while the past is what can definitely not be changed at all. Accordingly, I consider the topic of the contest containing an emphasizing tautology, which should challenge those who are taking the position of modern physics to rethink their view, as nicely demonstrated by Roger Schlafly.

I learned from you the also tautological expression "completely zombielike".

My dictionary tells me: "If you refer to someone as a zombie, you mean that they seem COMPLETELY unaware of things around them". Well, genuine zombies live only on the playground built for abstract fictions. I am aware that our honest critics tends to be unwelcome even here.

Cheers,

Eckard

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 14, 2014 @ 14:06 GMT
Dear Eckard,

Re the title of my essay:

Not only does the "future" always denote what is "new": to me, "creating" something implies making something "new" as well!

Re zombies being "COMPLETELY unaware of things around them":

In the movies, you see zombies moving around the countryside - so some part of them is obtaining information about the surrounding terrain, enabling them to navigate the terrain without falling over!

Re modern physics rethinking their view about free will:

I think this would require physics to acknowledge subjectivity AND creativity (of the new, of aspects/parameters of future physical outcomes)! I can't see any signs of this. I claim that subjectivity and creativity cannot evolve out of a universe that is non-subjective and non-creative.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Joe Fisher wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 13:43 GMT
Dear Ms. Ford,

Your deeply insightful essay was beautifully written and I do hope that it does well in the competition. I do have a minor quibble that I hope you do not mind me mentioning. It is not only the fundamental aspects of reality that the physicists got wrong. They got all of reality wrong. As I have gone to great lengths to patiently explain in my essay REALITY, ONCE, everything in the real Universe is unique, once. There are no laws of unique. Unique, once, cannot be predetermined. Unique, once cannot be measured, or analyzed, or synthesized, or moralized. Each person on earth has always had free will. No person on earth will ever exercise free will because each person on earth has a greater need to belong.

With comprehensive regards,

Joe Fisher

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 15:14 GMT
Dear Joe,

thanks for your compliments on my essay and your good wishes.

I of course agree with you that "each person on earth has always had free will". But I'm sure that people DO exercise their free will - I can't see that exercising free will necessarily clashes with "a greater need to belong".

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on May. 1, 2014 @ 18:52 GMT
Dear Lorrain,

I enjoyed reading your essay full of the spirit of Cartesian doubt. Basic concept in your essay - "law." Physics drove it in "formula" without clarifying the nature of the " laws of nature". But "truth must be drawn " (Alexander Zenkin Science counterrevolution in mathematics). "Physics rested against the consciousness" (Merab Mamardashvili), against understanding the nature of time, information, "The true physics is that which will, one day, achieve the inclusion of man in his wholeness in a coherent picture of the world."(Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) . Overcoming the "crisis of representation and interpretation", "crisis understanding" in basic science is only possible for the inclusion in the physical picture of the world of meaning "LifeWorld » (H.Husserl). And for that physics need to dig deeper, to the farthest depths of meaning. In addition to the standard empirical study of the fundamental physical knowledge is necessary to introduce an ontological standard justification that ultimately provides the answer to the question about the nature of information and time, structure of space . Do physicists and poets should be a unified picture of the world, meaningful «LifeWorld», deeper than today give us physics. Picture of the world, which provides a basis for "free will " and provides an understanding of why " freedom is the recognition of necessity"(Hegel). Intellectual breakthrough is needed to the fundamental generating structure, which will give a base, frame and set the boundaries of knowledge. It will be more reliable support for Humanity on the path of knowledge that gives hope for a more sustainable Future.

I wish you good luck!

All the Best,

Vladimir

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Vladimir Rogozhin replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 19:04 GMT
Sorry, Lorraine!

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 4, 2014 @ 02:15 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

Thanks for reading my essay and commenting on it.

I can only agree with what you say/quote:

"The true physics is that which will, one day, achieve the inclusion of man in his wholeness in a coherent picture of the world."(Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) .

and:

Overcoming the "crisis of representation and interpretation", "crisis understanding" in basic science is only possible for the inclusion in the physical picture of the world of meaning " LifeWorld (H.Husserl).

I would add that "The true physics is that which will, one day, achieve the inclusion of" LIVING THINGS in their "wholeness in a coherent picture of the world.", and that "meaning"/experience must be an inherent aspect of reality - not some convoluted thing that evolves.

I am looking forward to reading your essay is due course.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Vladimir Rogozhin replied on May. 16, 2014 @ 18:14 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

Thank you very much! Good luck in the contest! Thank FQXi that brings together people for "brainstorming" on very important topics of modern Humanity and Science.

I invite you to comment and appreciate my essay.

Best regards,

Vladimir

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on May. 2, 2014 @ 01:27 GMT
Lorraine,

You posit that physicists are not helping humanity deal with its understanding of the universe and how to function in this world without destroying it, when they seem to have wandered completely off the reservation into extremely fantastical speculations about determinism, multiverses and any number of speculative projections from questionable theory, but I would go so far as to say this will prove to be a useful case of reductio ad absurdum. As such it is a form of bubble, to go along with various other economic, social, cultural and even religious paradigms that have grown increasingly corroded over recent decades and hopefully will lead to some serious soul searching before we go and blow ourselves up and or otherwise destroy the habitable function of the planet. Shock is a necessary component of change and this is one eventually bursting bubble of human ego and hubris to add to all the others.

Regards,

John Merryman

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 2, 2014 @ 02:16 GMT
Hi John,

I can only agree wholeheartedly with what you say!

Regards,

Lorraine

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Georgina Woodward wrote on May. 2, 2014 @ 07:51 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

really like your essay. Its easy to read and seems to me to be talking a lot of sense.It is one of the few essays in this contest, that I have read, dealing with philosophy of physics. So it made a nice change.

This is going a bit far though; Quote:"So despite human nature being generally benign, physics' invalid fundamental assumptions are a major underlying contributor to humanity's anthropocentric disregard and disrespect for the planet and its non-human inhabitants." It seems more likely to me that people are just concerned about living their own lives, with their own problems and priorities rather than using physics theory to excuse their behaviour. Disagreement between scientists, dismissal and/or ridicule of the warnings of conservationists and 'greens' and commercial considerations will have played a much bigger role IMHO.

Apart from that quibble I think you have done a fearsome job of standing up against nonsense for mankind's freewill to steer the future.Good luck, Georgina

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Author Lorraine Ford wrote on May. 4, 2014 @ 02:42 GMT
Hi Georgina,

thanks so much for reading and commenting on my essay. I always find that your comments on the essays in these FQXi contests are very thoughtful.

I'm glad you like my essay. And I agree that I probably went a bit far by contending that physics invalid assumptions are a major contributor to humanity's disregard and disrespect for the planet. However, while it would take a major work of research to attempt to actually prove such a contention, I DO feel that unseen, the ideas of physics are almost unconsciously picked up and utilized by philosophers and the rest of humanity.

I look forward to reading your essay as soon as I can.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Steve Agnew wrote on May. 4, 2014 @ 19:08 GMT
I agree with your promotion of free will as a natural attribute of our physical laws. But you put too much blame on physics and science and determinism for the woes of humanity. Also, you note that humans are naturally benign...oh really? Exactly what part of human history are you talking about? You might as well blame philosophy or religion.

Free will does exist and is compatible with science and is a very necessary part of moral responsibility. We must be held responsible and accountable for our actions for any kind of desirable future for humanity.

Another thing that you are correct in is that there is a fundamental confusion about free will that is due to an incomplete understanding of the physical universe. The science guys and that you quote go on and on but fail in one most important aspect of science. They invariably neglect to state very clearly that they could be wrong about free will...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 01:04 GMT
Hi Steve,

thanks for reading and commenting on my essay.

I tried to say in my essay that TODAY the ideas of physics/science (and also religion) ultimately underlie all other ideas: I think that all other ideas, including the ideas of philosophy, are influenced and fall into line. As I said to Edwin Eugene Klingman above, even my niece checked herself when she realized she had implied that free will exists. So I do put a lot of "blame on physics and science".

So that's why I contend that physics view of reality as non-experiential, non-subjective and non-creative necessarily underlies current ideas held by ordinary individual people; and these invalid ideas have a consequence in actions that disregard and disrespect the life of the planet. (Of course, people are complex and routinely hold conflicting ideas!)

Perhaps, as you said, I too strongly blame physics and science, but I really do take ideas seriously.

I tried to say that INDIVIDUAL human beings are naturally generally benign. I am not talking about the great sweep of official history, which only includes "important" events like wars.

I agree with you that free will exists, and that it is due to an incomplete understanding of the physical universe. As you say, "We must be held responsible and accountable for our actions for any kind of desirable future for humanity".

But what type of thing is free will? I try to explain what I think in my essay, but also in my reply (May. 3, 2014 @ 13:57 GMT ) to Eckard Blumschein on the How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Blog.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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James A Putnam wrote on May. 8, 2014 @ 01:26 GMT
Dear Lorraine Ford,

I enjoyed your essay and thought to share my opinion. Theoretical physics is a simplified mechanical interpretation of the universe. It tells us nothing about free-will because its purview does not include intelligent life. What I mean is that it cannot predict nor explain the existence of intelligent life. The properties that it tells us are foundational to the universe are dumb properties having only the capacity to cause changes of velocities of objects. I say this because its empirical evidence consists of changes in patterns of velocities of objects. Theoretical physics is the science of solving mechanical problems. It is a push and pull explanation for a universe that gave birth to intelligent life. There is no physics equation, derived from its postulated fundamental properties, that can posit a non-zero probability for the existence of intelligent life. The universe of theoretical physics is an severely limited imitation of our universe. Our full propertied universe includes us. Its greatest achievement, having nothing whatsoever to do with the unintelligent potentialities offered by theoretical physics, is human free-will.

Thank you for sharing your opinion in this contest.

James Putnam

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 12:30 GMT
Dear James,

Thanks for reading my essay.

I think you are right when you say "The properties that [theoretical physics] tells us are foundational to the universe are dumb properties having only the capacity to cause changes of velocities of objects". Physics is wrong about the reality that underlies their equations: this dumb and dead reality cannot account for living things. Living things are not an aberration: they embody the nature of the universe.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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James A Putnam replied on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 15:50 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

I returned to comment and rate your essay only to be reminded that I rated your essay on May 7 and commented on May 8th. So, I can't help anymore, but, I do know the order of my ratings and I gave you a high rating. Good luck in the contest and in the future with your work.

James

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George Gantz wrote on May. 8, 2014 @ 02:03 GMT
Lorraine -

Bravo! I feel sorry for the physicists, and for all those in other scientific disciplines that have fallen into the trap of determinism (see my post here on neuroscience: Article). Free will is the most extraordinary and wonderful gift of life - we need to cherish it.

I took a far more tepid swipe at the same topic at one point in my essay, The Tip of the Spear. I'd appreciate any comments if you get a chance to read it.

Cheers - George

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 13:13 GMT
Thanks George,

Re determinism: I think there is something very sad about a person with free will, who believes they are a machine!

Neither of the links "Article" and "The Tip of the Spear" worked. However I can check out your essay from the FQXi essay contest webpage.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Luca Valeri wrote on May. 10, 2014 @ 12:31 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

I agree in every point in your essay. Only that almost everywhere I would replace 'physics' with 'most physicist'. That there are different views on how physics can be interpreted can be seen on a recent survey. Or do you think physics has to be changed itself (to include the real 'nature of reality' whatever that might be? I don't think that this is possible. In my essay I argue that physics is about predictable (in a statistical sense) events and that there might exists domains where physics is not applicable.

Best regards,

Luca

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 12, 2014 @ 15:46 GMT
Dear Luca,

Thanks for commenting on my essay.

I had a look at that survey on the attitudes of physicists to quantum mechanics - as you say opinions of physicists vary about what it all means. But I don't think that the equations of physics have to be changed.

Although I haven't yet read your essay, I may agree with you that "there might exists domains where physics is not applicable". I myself mean by this that there are aspects of reality that are not representable by a mathematical equation.

For example I assert that subjects can choose/create some parameters of a physical outcome (e.g. a spatial parameter x of a physical outcome). But although the outcome might be representable as an equation, e.g. x = 3, the act of choice/creation is NOT representable as an equation. Note that if x = 3 represents the result of choice/creation, then naturally x = 3 does not represent the solution to a set of equations: it represents an equation in its own right.

Cheers,

Lorraine

(See my 2013 essay for my interpretation of what numbers represent)

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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on May. 10, 2014 @ 15:30 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I basically agree with your perspective on the current mainstream views in physics, though I think the viewpoint of many physicists is more of a symptom than "the source of the disregard and disrespect towards our planet and its non-human inhabitants." These notions that are still often expressed (for example in your quotation from Brian Greene) about determinism and...

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 12, 2014 @ 16:22 GMT
Hi Conrad,

I entirely agree with you that physics is like a subject who 'describes the [rest of the] universe...as an object', and that we need an inside and outside view of information about reality.

And although I haven't as yet read your essay, I think you are right that 'the detached, objective "view from outside" only became possible with the emergence of writing' which converts our subjective experience into an object (i.e. a page with squiggly marks on it).

I take the "participatory conception of the world" seriously - I think that participation points to the fundamentally creative nature of reality.

Thanks - looking forward to reading your essay in due course,

Lorraine

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on May. 13, 2014 @ 02:05 GMT
Dear Lorraine

Can not be better! Physics is the fundamental basis of science - that science is one of two the largest faith (along with religion) to create any direction for our thinking - but Physics currently exceed dreaming lake, a dead end and extremely helpless or as "has a perverse mindset" and "physics is having a toxic influence on ideas in today’s world" as you mentioned.

My point is all determined by the "law of nature" so I be fully satisfied with your essay.

The true physic be must enough ability to explain any matter of science - if not it really is "the perverse physics mindset is pretty rusted on " and "it continues to inspire in its followers and apologists further anthropocentric and machine centred,toxic,visions of the future" as at present.

Best wishes - Hải.CaoHoàng

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Hoang cao Hai replied on May. 14, 2014 @ 01:52 GMT
Incidents in my evaluation had to be overcome, 10 points for your essay.

Hải.CaoHoàng

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 14, 2014 @ 14:22 GMT
Dear Hai.CaoHoang,

Thank you so much.

As you say "The true physic be must enough ability to explain any matter of science". I'm glad you are "fully satisfied with" my essay!

I hope to find time to read your essay as soon as I can.

Best Wishes,

Lorraine

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Chidi Idika wrote on May. 13, 2014 @ 21:45 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Am really sure your perspective deserves a great rating NOW; all the backstabbing voters not withstanding.

Best,

Chidi

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 14, 2014 @ 14:31 GMT
Thank you very much Chidi!

I have on two occasions tried to vote for essays, but the system wouldn't let me do it. Others have had this problem too (see the "How Should Humanity Steer the Future?" blog). So I haven't yet voted on your essay, but I will try again soon.

Best wishes,

Lorraine

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Ajay Bhatla wrote on May. 14, 2014 @ 03:21 GMT
Lorraine,

I finally got around to reading your essay. I love the spirit in your essay and couldn't agree more that something happens to normal rational people - in every discipline - with time: they loose the ability to think that they might be wrong or at least not know something sometimes (at least) about their specialty. A vast majority, in every discipline of science, engineering, technology, management, psychology, philosophy ... .... suffer from this condition.

So, I loved your well thought out and written essay.

I'd like your opinion on (a) how evolution i.e. nature's plan (as far as we know today) impacts steering by humanity and (b) when people "can and do steer the future" what your recommendation might be related to "ideas and attitudes that are destroying the planet".

Also, at the risk of shooting myself in the foot, what spirited comments do you have in store for my essay(here)

- Ajay

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 14, 2014 @ 15:44 GMT
Hi Ajay,

Re "how evolution i.e. nature's plan (as far as we know today) impacts steering" by living things:

Very good question. It is interesting that, seemingly, accepted ideas about "selection" in evolution are about to be overturned. See two reviews of "Mutation-Driven Evolution" by Masatoshi Nei :

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3814208/pdf/evt
150.pdf and http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ede.12062/pdf .

Here's a quote from the second review:

"To suggest that selection "shapes" new genes out of the "raw material" provided by duplication mutations (e.g., Cotton 2008) - that is, selection shapes new genes out of the raw material of new genes - is an absurdity...Because we now know that the role of generative processes in evolution is not limited to supplying raw materials, we now know that evolutionary theory is incomplete without a theory of form and variation. Incorporating such a theory will require us to rethink how we invoke causation and explanation, and to reject the false metaphor of selection as a creative agent that builds from passive raw materials."

I would suggest that the nature of reality is such that every living thing, i.e. every subject, is ultimately the "creative agent that builds from passive raw materials." !!!

Re when people "can and do steer the future" what your recommendation might be related to "ideas and attitudes that are destroying the planet":

People steer the future by their freely chosen actions, and these actions reflect their ideas. I like to think that an appreciation of (what I consider to be) the true nature of reality (i.e. that it is inherently experiential, subjective and creative) would lead to a new respect for reality, especially living reality.

Hoping to read your essay as soon as I can,

Lorraine

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 15, 2014 @ 00:01 GMT
Re when people "can and do steer the future" what your recommendation might be related to "ideas and attitudes that are destroying the planet" (continued):

I will add that I think that genetic engineering/modification is a crime against the life of the planet. It typifies humanity's disrespect for living things/living subjects.

Lorraine

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Don J Chisholm wrote on May. 15, 2014 @ 18:12 GMT
Larraine, I find quite a lot to agree with in your essay, such as this sentence: “Actually, it is ideas and attitudes that are destroying the planet, ideas and attitudes that lead to actions.” And later you say: “One must disregard physics with its perverse and unsound ideas:”, continuing to indicate that humans are (can be) quite capable of changing our situation and future.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that you may placing too much blame of physicists for our collective lack sensible response to the compounding problems that may lead to our extinction in the not-to-distant future. In my essay, Our Journey to the next Paradigm, I show a circle of compounding issues that contribute to our paradigm paralysis.

Unfortunately, there has been significant influence and future steerage for the past few centuries by the private interests that exercise significant control the global monetary systems. I think this mostly hidden-from-view control needs to be transferred to coordinated scientific guidance that steers toward a future sustainable civilization.

Good to see that your essay is doing well in the contest, as it highlights some of the voices in the quire that suggest we cannot steer the future.

Don Chisholm

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 17, 2014 @ 22:53 GMT
Hi Don,

Thanks for your comments on my essay. I hope that "the voices...that suggest we cannot steer the future" don't win this contest!

I'm sure you are right when you say "there has been significant influence and future steerage for the past few centuries by the private interests that exercise significant control the global monetary systems": these are important issues - I hope to read about it in your essay when I get the time.

But I'm very concerned about our attitudes towards the natural world. Physics is ideologically unable to face up to the true nature of reality underlying its equations; it is stuck in old, untenable ideas; it has perpetuated an old view that reality is inherently non-experiential, non-subjective and non-creative. I think it's clear that all other ideas (e.g. philosophy) tend to fall into line with the views of reality put out by science and physics. And without appropriate ideas about the character of the natural world, our actions are likely to be detrimental.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Don Limuti wrote on May. 25, 2014 @ 06:03 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I like your brief and to the point essay. It remind me of Heinz Pagel's book "the dreams of reason".

He divides human logic into 1. what we believe in theory and 2. what we believe in practice. And from what I can see many physicists are very practical (as expressed in many essays). I will make an exception for Tegmark :)

Good to see you in another contest. I will rate your essay very high... I think it is free will :)

Wishing you the best.

Don Limuti

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on May. 26, 2014 @ 13:50 GMT
Thanks Don, and good to see you in the contest again too.

Re free will: I wish more people would stand up for it!

Re "brief and to the point": I'm actually relieved when essays are not too long, so I'm glad to see that your essay is also brief, though I haven't read it as yet :)

Best wishes,

Lorraine

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jun. 3, 2014 @ 02:06 GMT
Greetings Lorraine,

Excellent essay; or should I say ouch? I love Physics, but I will freely admit that free will is something I believe in and exercise. On some level; our capacity to choose our own course in life or influence a larger destiny does not happen automatically, however, and rather we can have the freedom to choose if we first engineer that possibility - putting ourselves in a position to exercise free will.

One example of the perverse influence of misconceived Physics that I've worked to repair is the notion that Entropy is disorder. There are individuals who adopt a discordian philosophy, in part because of the notion that the 2nd law of Thermo means that the universe tends to become more and more disorderly over time. This means that they sow mischief on the basis that they are obeying and embodying a law of the universe.

In my essay, I mention the work of Frank Lambert (and I should also mention Harvey Leff) to champion a different view of entropy, based on the spreading and sharing of energy and substance. So part of it is not Physics itself, nor the whole of Physics, , but certain metaphors adopted by a large continginet of physicists are indeed pernicious. High cores from me.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Jun. 3, 2014 @ 02:09 GMT
oops,

that should be scores.

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Jun. 3, 2014 @ 02:40 GMT
I'd like to add..

I had the pleasure to sit and talk in front of the UWA Physics building with Huw Price, during FFP10 in Perth a few years back, and to introduce and champion the view of entropy I cited above. Personally; I think the spreading and sharing of energy being universal is a whole lot more life-affirming than the idea that disorder is inevitable, and it leaves more room for free will. As you might imagine; his talk focused on the block universe view, and the implications of general relativity for our view of time and the future. But in private conversation; he was at least open to discussing alternate views and interpretations.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 07:23 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

Thanks very much.

Re "putting ourselves in a position to exercise free will": If free will is at all possible, and I think that it is, then physics has badly misjudged the nature of reality. Some philosophers use the label "free will", but as their "free will" is indistinguishable from complex processes in a deterministic system, then there is no justification for labelling it "free will".

I am interested to see what you say about entropy. I'll be sure to read and rate your essay before the voting closes. I agree that "the spreading and sharing of energy being universal is a whole lot more life-affirming than the idea that disorder is inevitable, and it leaves more room for free will".

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Member Tommaso Bolognesi wrote on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 09:39 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

I find your essay one of the most passionate among those I`ve read. Furthermore, it deals with one of the most intriguing and fascinating aspects of the physical universe - one that physics still has problems considering seriously, let alone understanding. While physics has always been dealing only with `the outside of things` - the standard forces, matter, energy, etc. -...

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George Gantz replied on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 16:19 GMT
Lorraine (and Tommaso) - I hope you don't mind if I chime in here. The two of you have authored two of my favorite essay in the contest! Lorraine - thanks for you comment - I just posted a reply that deals with the topic on this thread, and I repeat it here (for convenience:

"Lorraine - Thanks for the comment and the citation to Nei's book - which I will have to look up! Yes, I think evolution is often cast in very simplistic terms - random mutation / competitive selection / survival and procreation. It sounds like Nei is focussed on the "random" question. Clearly, mutations or innovations in any complex system are constrained (in terms of potential forms and range of variations), and some have argued that there must be a causative or "intentional" factor involved at the generative level. This is something I alluded to in my essay - "Debates continue on the degree to which such cooperative behavior exists in some, or all, emergent processes, and the extent to which it is consistent with reductionism or requires some form of top-down causation...."

For a very interesting and provocative discussion of the issue, I'd suggest tackling Ian Thompson's - Starting Science from God. Ian's work is quite technical (he is a physicist), and his theistic approach is hardly "mainstream", but his presentation is thorough and consistent. He goes quite deep into that nature of top-dopwn causation from multiple generative levels across all of creation - cosmology - quantum physics - biology and consciousness."

Tomasso - I'm still not convinced that algorithms / mathematics will yield solutions to these questions. There is a transcendent factor at work in the processes of emergence where the math is confounded by infinities. Solve the Halting Problem and you will solve creation - but I suspect we will just keep spinning our wheels (to employ a pre-digital analogy...).

With deep regard - George

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Member Tommaso Bolognesi replied on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 17:32 GMT
I don`t know whether everything, including free will, might really pop out from an algorithm and a pile of emergent layers packed on top of it. But I am deeply convinced that we are still very far from having explored the huge amount of complexity (possibly life-like) that can emerge in this way. In this respect, I value a conjecture expressed by George Ellis in a past FQXi contest essay, suggesting that emergent complexity in such artificial/computational systems can be boosted by top-down causation. Unfortunately I have not (yet) succeeded in implementing/detecting this feature in my experiments.

By the way, George, too bad I have already (and positively) rated your essay long ago, otherwise I would have now added a penalty for having spelled by name incorrectly!! :-)

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 07:42 GMT
Dear Tommaso,

Thanks very much for your comments on my essay.

Yes, physics doesn't consider or understand "what Teilhard de Chardin calls 'the inside of things'": I would call it "subjectivity" (I haven't actually studied his work). And I think that free will is another one of the key components of our physical universe that "still escapes the grasp of traditional physics".

Re the "mathematical characterization" of free will, I think the way to look at it is as follows:

-- Physical outcomes in a deterministic universe can be represented in a generalized way by a set of law-of-nature relationships/rules which look like mathematical equations. E.g. the form of an equation might be something like "a + bc = d" . Our universe is at least partly deterministic - i.e. it has a dependable, reliable structure.

-- Physical outcomes in a deterministic universe which has meta-laws above the ordinary law-of-nature rules, might be represented in a generalized way by the following sort of rule: "If (condition) then a + bc = d , else a + bc = d +e" . But I think there is no such thing at the level of fundamental reality.

-- Physical outcomes that result from free will are representable by the creation of a new rule for one or more parameters of a specific outcome. E.g. "a = 3". Note that "a = 3" doesn't represent a solution to a set of equations: it represents a selection from a range of possible outcomes; it represents the creation of a new temporary rule, as well as representing a parameter of a physical outcome. I discuss (what I think is) the physical reality behind numbers in my 2013 essay.

I hope to read your essay as soon as I can.

Lorraine

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Denis Frith wrote on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 10:59 GMT
Lorraine

Your view of what is happening and the contributing factors are very different to the view I portray in my essay. I focus on what natural laws have done, are doing and will continue to do. Physics covers only some of these laws and lack of understanding has resulted in people making such decisions as those that have led to the response of nature in a changed climate. Humanity can only make decisions that steer the future if they acquire more understanding of the fact that the technological systems of civilization are irrevocably destroying the environment. Society has to make decisions that will slow that irreversible process down.

Denis

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 19:01 GMT
To be honest Lorraine..

I had no inkling that the 'no free will' anthem is so pervasive in Physics, until you hit me over the head with it. Talk about not seeing the forest, because of the trees... I tend to blame that sort of thing on the rampant reductionist materialism in the life sciences, which fixates on the Physics of the Classical era - and is about 100 years behind what we now know about QM... - but this mechanistic view is undeniably a part of modern physics too.

I can only say that not everyone thinks that way. The view I have of Physics is more life-like than the mechanistic and lifeless view of reality which prevails in the life-sciences, but I guess I'm an odd-ball to have such views. However; seeing the way that Penrose was fiercely struck down for being a Physics and Math guy, and having the audacity to suggest a quantum mechanical solution to a open question in neurological science (that would accord us some freedom of choice), it is no wonder that most physicists are reluctant to stand up for free will.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Chidi Idika wrote on Jun. 6, 2014 @ 03:17 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Am reaching out to all those who actually read my essay, reminding them to please spare a little time to also vote on it. FRANKLY too.

Wishing you all the best that life gives.

Chidi.

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Janko Kokosar wrote on Jun. 6, 2014 @ 22:22 GMT
Dear Lorraine Ford

I see that you write above all about free will. You use common sense logic that free will exists. I also claim that free will exists. I write about it in my essay from 2013. But, metaphorically, I write about it also in my new essay.

My essay

Best regards

Janko Kokosar

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Author Lorraine Ford replied on Jun. 7, 2014 @ 03:08 GMT
Hi Janko,

Thanks for your comments on my essay. I have posted comments on your essay on your essay blog page.

Regards,

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