EXPLORING THE ILLUSION OF FREE WILL 
 
 

George Ortega,
Producer

Nick Vale

Chandler Klebs

Nomi

Creating a world without blame and guilt

The world's first, and already successful*  initiative, including two TV shows, to popularize the refutation of free will 

*How it happened 

John Searle, the13th ranked post-1900 philosopher, says that our world overcoming the free will illusion "would be a bigger revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or Copernicus, or Newton, or Galileo, or Darwin -- it would alter our whole conception of our relation with the universe." 

The Washington Post, The New York Times, Psychology Today, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, USA Today, The Telegraph, Time Magazine, Scientific American, NPR Radio, The Economist, and Science Magazine  all affirm that free will is an illusion.


NEW FEATURE:
Complete online text and pdf download of EXPLORING THE ILLUSION OF FREE WILL, SECOND EDITION by George Ortega

 

Exploring the Illusion of Free Will is two TV shows - WHITE PLAINS NY TV and NYC LIVE CALL-IN TV,  several books - Mine and  Enel's,  and Chandler's one meetup - NYC, this website, Internet video and audio -  YOU TUBE  iTUNES AUDIO PODCAST  PUBLIC DOMAIN VIDEOS & MP3s, and a blog - EXOGENOUS AGENCY

 
Quick Links to the YouTube Episodes: 01-10  11-20  21-30  31-40  41-50  51-60  61-70  71-80  81-90 91-100  101-110  111-120  121-130  131-140  141-150  151-160  161-170  171-180  181-190  191-200  201-210  211-216
 

Quick Links to the 2013 Exploring the Illusion of Free Will, 2nd Edition Chapters: ( by titleIntro. to 2011 edition  Intro. to 2013 digital edition 1  (2 omitted)  3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   Epilogue  Books Refuting Free Will...

 

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Free Will Refutations in Major Publications

 

Free Will Refuted in the Blogs

 

Free Will Refuted on YouTube

 

Recent books for the public and academia refuting free will

 

Edited and Revised Transcripts of the First Eighteen Episodes

 

Quotes Disaffirming Free Will and Affirming Determinism by the Famous

 

Absurd Free Will Defenses by Major Institutions and Publications Who Should Know Better

 

Claiming credit for public awareness that free will is an illusion

 
 

More Featured Episodes

10. Why Change as the basic Universal Process Makes Free Will Impossible

13. Overcoming Blame, Guilt, Envy and Arrogance by Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will

16. Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will as an Evolutionary Leap in Human Consciousness

17. Revitalizing Religion through Transcending the Illusion of Free Will

26. Because Essential Elements of Every Decision are Stored in Our Unconscious, Free Will is Impossible.

38. The Messenger and I Have Evolved Human Consciousness

50. Freud Popularized the Unconscious.  Ortega is Popularizing Unconscious Will

60. Ten Ways to Refute Free Will

 
 

Landmark Coverage Refuting Free Will

 

USA Today - "Why you don't really have free will by Jerry Coyne January 1, 2012

"The debate about free will, long the purview of philosophers alone, has been given new life by scientists, especially neuroscientists studying how the brain works. And what they're finding supports the idea that free will is a complete illusion."


Time Magazine - "Think You're Operating on Free Will? Think Again" by Eben Harrell July 2, 2010

"In an intriguing review in the July 2 edition of the journal Science, published online Thursday, Ruud Custers and Henk Aarts of Utrecht University in the Netherlands lay out the mounting evidence of the power of what they term the 'unconscious will.'...John Bargh of Yale University, who 10 years ago predicted many of the findings discussed by Custers and Aarts in a paper entitled "The Unbearable Automaticity of Being," called the Science paper a "landmark — nothing like this has been in Science before."


The New York Times - "Your Move: The Maze of Free Will" by Galen Strawson July 22, 2010

"Some people think that quantum mechanics shows that determinism is false, and so holds out a hope that we can be ultimately responsible for what we do. But even if quantum mechanics had shown that determinism is false (it hasn’t), the question would remain: how can indeterminism, objective randomness, help in any way whatever to make you responsible for your actions? The answer to this question is easy. It can’t."

The Atlantic - "The Brain on Trial" by David Eagleman July/August 2011

"In modern science, it is difficult to find the gap into which to slip free will—the uncaused causer—because there seems to be no part of the machinery that does not follow in a causal relationship from the other parts."

The Telegraph - "Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'" by Tom Chivers October 12, 2010

"The philosophical definition of free will uses the phrase 'could have done otherwise'... "As a neuroscientist, you've got to be a determinist. There are physical laws, which the electrical and chemical events in the brain obey. Under identical circumstances, you couldn't have done otherwise; there's no 'I' which can say 'I want to do otherwise'."


The Guardian - "Guilty but not responsible?" by Rosiland English May 29, 2012

"The discovery that humans possess a determined will has profound implications for moral responsibility. Indeed, Harris is even critical of the idea that free will is "intuitive": he says careful introspection can cast doubt on free will. In an earlier book on morality, Harris argues 'Thoughts simply arise in the brain. What else could they do? The truth about us is even stranger than we may suppose: The illusion of free will is itself an illusion'"


Psychology Today - "Free Will Is an Illusion, So What?" by

If you think carefully about any decision you have made in the past, you will recognize that all of them were ultimately based on similar—genetic or social—inputs to which you had been exposed. And you will also discover that you had no control over these inputs, which means that you had no free will in taking the decisions you did.

Complete List

 
 


A brief history of determined vs. free will ideas

Cause and Effect – At about the 5th century BC, in his work On the Mind, the Greek Philosopher Leucippus penned the earliest known universal statement describing what we today understand as determinism, or the law of cause and effect

“Nothing happens at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity.”

Human Will – The concepts of will and free will are actually Christian in orgin. It was Saint Paul in his Letter to the Romans, which is dated at about 58 A.D., who first discovered this thing we call human will. He came to it by recognizing that he could not often do as much right as he wanted. Saint Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 that:

“I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t.” I do what I don’t want to – what I hate.” (Translation – The Living Bible)

Free Will -- Nothing new was said on the matter for the next few hundred years until St. Augustine grappled with the concepts of evil and justice. Saint Augustine wrote in his book De Libero Arbitrio, 386-395 A.D., (translated as “On Free Will”)

“Evil deeds are punished by the justice of God. They would not be punished justly if they had not been performed voluntarily.”

The problem he saw was that if human beings do not have a free will, it would be unfair for God to arbitrarily reward or punish us. St. Augustine concluded that God could not be unfair, and so he created the concept of a human free will, whereby we earn our reward or punishment by what we freely do.

Scientific concepts relating to the determined will vs. free will question

Classical Mechanics -- In 1687 Sir Isaac Newton publishes his “Laws of Motions” that mathematically describes the physical universe as acting in a mechanistic manner according to the principle of cause and effect.

Classical Mechanics is a completely deterministic theory

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle -- In 1925 Warner Heisenberg describes mathematically that…

We can measure the position of a particle or the momentum of a particle (momentum meaning its direction and velocity), but we cannot simultaneously measure the position and momentum of a particle.

Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics -- Niels Bohr and others make the following assertions;

1) Particles do not have a simultaneous position and momentum.

2) Elementary particles behave indeterministically, and are not subject to the principle of cause and effect.

Believers in free will saw the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics as providing a possibility for free will to exist. They asserted that if elementary particles behave indeterministically, they are not subject to the principle of cause and effect that prohibits free will.

But, as noted above, it eventually became apparent that indeterminism also prohibits free will.

 

Exploring the Illusion of Free Will, 2nd Edition Chapters

Intro. to the 2011 1st. edition 

Intro. to the 2013 2nd. edition (digital version)

1 How I came to see my causal will

2 Proving causal will in real time (omitted)

3 Morality within a causal will perspective

4 What it all means

5 We Do Not "Experience" Free Will

6 How the Hedonic Imperative Makes Free Will Impossible

7 How the Unsolicited Participation of the Unconscious Makes Free Will Impossible

8 Asking When a Child Gains it Illuminates the Incoherence of the Concept "Free Will"

9 Overcoming our Reluctance to Overcome the Illusion of Free Will

10 Why Change as the Basic Universal Process Makes Free Will Impossible

11 The Absurdity of Varying Degrees of Free Will

12 Why the Concept of Free Will is Incoherent

13 Overcoming Blame, Guilt, Envy and Arrogance by Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will

14 Why Both Causality and Randomness Make Free Will Impossible

15 Why Frankfurt's “Second Order Desires” Do Not Allow for a Free Will

16 Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will as an Evolutionary Leap in Human Consciousness

17 Revitalizing Religion through Transcending the Illusion of Free Will

18 Why Humans Cannot Circumvent Natural Law to Gain a Free Wil
l

Epilogue: How Refuting Free Will Went From  Academia to the Public Spotlight – with hyperlinked  articles in major publications – 2004-2012

Books Refuting Free Will and  Fundamental Moral Responsibility
 

 

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Chapters of the 2013 Exploring the Illusion of Free Will, Second Edition

 

Epilogue: How Refuting Free Will Went From Academia to the Public Spotlight – with hyperlinked articles in major publications – 2004-2012

Everything is caused, and so it is with the popularization that free will is an illusion. For centuries, the determinism vs. free will debate languished within academia where proponents of free will could not understand, or accept, the simple but compelling truth that both determinism and indeterminism make free will impossible, and their colleagues who understood this truth had not only all but given up on the prospect of showing them the error of this conclusion, also either lacked the moral courage or failed to appreciate the vast personal and global benefits to be gained through the wider public’s understanding and accepting of this truth. Below is the history of how a few invaluable friends and I moved most correctly how the universe made us move the free will topic from academia into the public spotlight. This grass-roots, bottom-up and shoestring-budgeted initiative ultimately led to an explosion of media coverage over the last few years that included landmark cover stories that exposed free will as an illusion by New Scientist in 2011 and Scientific American Mind magazines in 2012, and to New York Times best-selling author Sam Harris publishing his 2012 refutation titled Free Will. While evident that this heightened major media and public interest in the topic began soon after I launched my Madison Avenue, New York City-based Meetup group titled, “The Predetermined Will Society – Busting the Free Will Myth” on April 7, 2010, I begin this history with some of my earlier efforts and initiatives to create a public buzz about free will being an illusion. To show the causal correlation between my strategies and the ensuring explosion in media coverage, I have chronologically list and hyperlinked the mainstream media articles that appeared within that timeline.

 

 

History of How Refuting Free Will Went
From Academia to the Public Spotlight

In early 1997, I began work on a book refuting free will. After drafting about forty pages, I began to edit and re-work the pages, and the rest of the book never got written. I plan to include these pages in a book scheduled for publication later in 2014.

On September 12, 1997, I wrote a physics paper titled Two Proofs of Determinism in All of Nature; A Case for the Law of Cause and Effect” that was accepted for review first by The International Journal of Theoretical Physics and subsequently by Physical Review D15 (Particles, Fields, Fluids, Gravitation, and Cosmology). Although both peer-review journals ultimately declined to publish, I continue to maintain confidence in the correctness of these proofs that refute the notion of true randomness, or uncaused events, in nature.

In 2000, I plastered Internet newsgroups with articles refuting free will. On February 28th, I cross-posted “The Impossibility of Free Will,” and on March 3rd, “The Insanity of Free Will.” On March 4th, I followed up with the regrettably titled and toned (thankfully I can’t honestly blame myself) “Regarding Stupid Psychologists and Free Will.”

In 2003, I produced and hosted the world’s first television program entirely about happiness – The Happiness Show, and on May 20th, for my seventh episode, I recorded, broadcasted, and uploaded to The Internet Archive and Google Video, “Happiness and the Determinism vs. Free Will Question.”

In March of 2004, I published an article in The Westchester, New York Ethical Culture Society’s monthly newsletter, The Page, titled “Determinism, Free Will, Ethics, and Happiness.”

 

 

Salon – “How free is free will?” by Farhad Manjoo, May 21, 2004

 

 

Foreign Policy – “Undermining Free Will” by Paul Davies, September 1, 2004

 

On February 28, 2005, my co-host Lionel Ketchian and I revisited the topic of human will as it relates to happiness on The Happiness Show with an episode titled “A Conversation about Happiness, Free Will and Determinism.

 

On April 17, 2005, at the Sunday Meeting of that same Westchester, New York Ethical Culture Society, I delivered an address to the congregation titled “Why Free Will is Impossible, and why it Matters.”

  

The Cornell Daily Sun – “Prof Denies Human Free Will” by Julie Geng, August 30, 2005

 

During 2007 and 2008, under the username Blisser, I visited Atheist voice-chat rooms on Paltalk, and repeatedly explained the theological and scientific reasons why free will is impossible. During that time, I also hosted a Paltalk room dedicated to refuting the notion of free will.

 

Science Magazine – “Case Closed for Free Will?” by Elsa Youngsteadt, April 14, 2008

  

The Economist – “Incognito,” April, 16th 2009

 

In June of 2009, I began emailing a group of academic philosophers and psychologists various free will refutations. Here’s a sampling of the themes: “Arguments against Liberty of Indifference and Quantum Indeterminancy,” June 1st; “A Simple Refutation of Frankfurt-Type Examples,” June 3rd; “Is a Free Will Moral and Worth Having,” June 11th.

  

Psychology Today – “The Will is Caused, not “Free” by John A. Bargh, Ph.D., June 23, 2009

 

At the invitation of philosopher Robert Kane, I visited The Garden of Forking Paths free will blog, and debated the academic philosophers there. Here are a few of the debates I entered and, in my opinion, won: “A Flaw in the Standard Argument Against Free Will?” by Bob Doyle, June 26th; “History of FW Skepticism” by Kevin Timpe, June 29th; “Are Humans Glorified Thermostats?” by Kip, July 3rd.

 

On Saturday, October 17, 2009, I delivered the lecture “Why We Humans Do Not Have a Free Will” at the 2009 Empire State College Student Academic Conference in Saratoga Springs, New York.

 

 

The Tipping Point in the Buzz about the Illusion of Free Will

 

On April 7, 2010, I founded the world’s first philosophical discussion group entirely dedicated to refuting the notion of free will: “The Predetermined Will Society – Busting the Free Will Myth” (now called “Exploring the Illusion of Free Will”) at Meeup.com. I live in White Plains, New York, but based the group at 550 Madison Avenue in mid-town Manhattan because while White Plains has a population of almost 57,000, Manhattan’s population stands at over 1.5 million. Also, I knew from personal experience that Meetup.com members from much of the New York metropolitan area, with a population of over 22 million, regularly search for and attend the events in Manhattan. My plan was to create a buzz about free will being an illusion among the many Meetup.com members who happened upon my group’s listing while searching through Meetup groups based in New York City. I estimate that since our April 7, 2010 launch date, my group’s listing and logos have been viewed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times. Evidently, this listing was the beginning and principle cause of a public buzz that jumpstarted the subsequent major media explosion of coverage on the understanding that free will is an illusion.

 

Scientific American – “Scientists say free will probably doesn’t exist, but urge: ‘Don’t stop believing!’” by Jesse Bering, April 14, 2010 (Dated incorrectly as April 6, 2010 see comments for correct date).

 

The Garden of Forking Paths morphed into Flickers of Freedom, and I began debating academic philosophers there as well. A few examples: “Determinism: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Roy Baumeister,” June 28th; “Does Consciousness Matter?” by Neil Levy, July 09th; “G. Strawson @ NYT” by Manuel Vargus, July 22nd.

 

Time Magazine – “Think You’re Operating on Free Will? Think Again” by Eben Harrell, July 2, 2010.

 

The New York Times – “Your Move: The Maze of Free Will” by Galen Strawson, July 22, 2010.

 

On July 29, 2010, my desire to take this important truth to the streets compelled me to design order, and regularly wear a dozen custom t-shirts from an eBay seller that declare “Transcend the free will delusion.” I also designed a banner inviting discussions about the determinism vs. free will question, and held numerous public debates over the last few years at the Mall near Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City.

  

 

The World’s First Television Series Entirely
about the Illusion of Free Will

 

In September of 2010, I approached Meetup member Nomi with the idea of doing a cable TV show about the illusion of free will.

 

Psychology Today – “Beyond free will and determinism: Take a chance with the Dice Man” by Joachim I. Krueger, Ph.D., September 20, 2010.

  

The Telegraph – “Neuroscience, free will and determinism: ‘I’m just a machine’” by Tom Chivers, October 12, 2010.

 

The Telegraph – “Neuroscience and free will: when definitions become important” by Tom Chivers, October 12th, 2010.

 

On November 27, 2010, I began recording for our new White Plains, New York weekly television series, Exploring the Illusion of Free Will.

 

Psychology Today – “A random walk through the free will-derness” by Joachim Krueger, Ph.D., December 5, 2010.

 

On January 6, 2011, our show premiered in White Plains on Cablevision channel 76. It still cablecasts to White Plains, and Verizon FiOS channel 45 expands our reach to sections of neighboring Westchester County communities that include Ardsley, Byram Hills, Greenburgh, Hartsdale, Irvington, Mamaroneck, Mount Pleasant, North Castle, Scarsdale, and Tarrytown. Since 2012, it also cablecasts twice a week or more in New York City on Manhattan’s cable TV station, MNN. Part of how and why the topic of free will exploded into public awareness over the next year and a half is that White Plains, New York happens to be a community of choice for many of Manhattan’s movers and shakers who prefer to live and raise a family in a small suburban city rather than in The Big Apple. Incidentally, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was born here in White Plains, and was raised in nearby Ardsley. Cablecasting my show in White Plains, and other Westchester County, New York communities is the kind of “being in the right place” luck that Malcolm Gladwell refers to in his best-selling book Outliers.

 

Also in January of 2011, I created and published the show’s website, Exploring the Illusion of Free Will to begin disseminating the episodes.

 

Psychology Today – “How The Adjustment Bureau Threatens Free WIll” by David Kyle Johnson, Ph.D., March 8, 2011.

  

New Scientist – COVER STORY – Free Will: The Illusion we can’t live without “The Free Will Delusion” by Dan Jones, April 16-22, 2011. Here's a link to an online version.

 

The Atlantic – “The Brain on Trial” by David Eagleman, July/August 2011.

  

The Huffington Post – “The Conspiracy Against Free Will” by Paul Pardi, August 3, 2011.

 

 

 The Myth of Free Will Hits Live Call-In Manhattan TV on MNN

 

September 23, 2011 – The goal of busting the myth of free will among the public got a huge boost in 2011 when my Meetup’s group member, Enel, informed me that he had recently begun training to produce a cable television series in midtown Manhattan, where he resides. Enel quickly appreciated the significance of my plan to bust the myth of free will by creating a public buzz. He also fully understood the wide reach our message would gain through Manhattan’s public access TV station, MNN, and by being listed on Time-Warner’s on-screen TV channel guide where it would be seen millions of times by viewers while searching for shows to watch through their cable service. After airing two pre-recorded episodes in the spring of 2011 with Enel’s friend Gene, and two guys Enel met at the MNN training, Big Rob and Frank, Enel’s live call-in TV show, Myth of Free Will began airing in preview on September 23rd, 2011 with me as the associate producer and co-host.

  

USA Today – “Why you don’t really have free will by Jerry Coyne, January 1, 2012.

 

On December 2, 2011, I published the first edition of this book as Exploring the Illusion of Free Will: Eighteen episodes from the world’s first television series about the causal, unconscious nature of human will.

 

On January 18, 2012, The MNN show Myth of Free Will (now titled No Free Will) ‘officially’ premiered.

 

Psychology Today – “The True Meaning of Freedom” by Alex Lickerman, M.D. January 22, 2012.

  

Waikato Times (New Zealand) – “Free will is a figment of our imaginations” by Joe Bennett, February 5, 2012.

  

Los Angeles Times – “Book reviews: ‘Free Will,’ ‘Religion for Atheists’” by Richard Rayner, April 08, 2012.

 

The Daily Caller – “Do People Have Free Will” by Matt Cockeri, April 9, 2012.

  

Psychology Today – “Free Will Is an Illusion, So What?” by Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D., May 8, 2012.

  

The New York Times Sunday Review – “The Amygdala Made Me Do It” by James Atlas May, 12, 2012.

 

Psychology Today – “Your Chaotic Mind” by Joachim I. Krueger, Ph.D., May 25, 2012.

  

SB Nation – “Free Will, Responsibility, and the Penalty Box” by Megalodon, May 26, 2012.

  

Psychology Today – “Don’t Blame Yourself (or Others)” by John A. Johnson, Ph.D., May 28, 2012.

 

The Guardian – “The Question: Do footballers know what they’re doing?” by Jonathan Wilson, May 29, 2012.

 

The Guardian – “Guilty but not responsible?” by Rosiland English, May 29, 2012.

 

Scientific American Mind – COVER STORY “Who’s in Control? How Physics and Biology Dictate Your ‘Free” Will’” by Christof Koch, May/June 2012.

 

The Atlantic – “The Perfected Self” by David H. Freedman, June 2012.

 

The Huffington Post – “Free Will Is an Illusion” by Victor Stenger, June 1, 2012.

 

Psychology Today – “The Curse of Free Will” by Joachim I. Krueger, Ph.D., June 3, 2012.

 

Psychology Today – “Nietzsche on Self-Control” by Joachim I. Krueger, Ph.D., July 1, 2012.

 

The New York Times’ Sunday Book Review – “Have it Your Way; Free Will by Sam Harris” by Daniel Menaker, July 13, 2012.

  

Los Angeles Times – “Jerry Sandusky — a head case puzzle” by Robert M. Sapolsky, July 15, 2012.

 

Los Angeles Times – “Letters: Free will and the brain” by Laurent McReynolds, July 20, 2012.

  

The Washington Post – “The Philosophy of ‘You didn’t build that’” by Dylan Matthews, July 20, 2012.

 

Denial, or a Breather to Take it All in

A strange thing happened in July of 2012. Extensive media coverage of the topic of free will very abruptly ended. Since then, few, if any, major magazines or newspapers have covered the topic. Perhaps the 2012 presidential elections and the holiday season that followed explain this. Perhaps the public began to deeply understand that free will is an illusion, and that absolutely nothing they thought, felt, said, or did was in any way truly up to them. Perhaps people didn’t like how this revolutionary new understanding made them feel, or how it could nevertheless greatly benefit their lives and transform our world. I end this book with the same quote by American philosopher John Searle (in 2012, the 13th most cited post-1900 philosopher in the world) with which I began the first 100 episodes of my television series. He exclaimed that for free will to be acknowledged as an illusion –
 

would be a bigger revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or Copernicus, or Newton, or Galileo, or Darwin it would alter our whole conception of our relation with the universe.”

Revolutions, especially those involving human thought, can be scary. The questions that now remain are how soon will major media publications and best-selling authors, perhaps now joined by Hollywood studios, resume this pioneering exploration of the illusion of free will, and who else will emerge to take part in this historic leading of our world to a categorically new human consciousness?

Next chapter

 

 List of Chapters

 
Intro. to 2011 edition  Intro. to 2013 digital edition 1  (2 omitted)  3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   Epilogue  Books Refuting Free Will...
 


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