Hi,

Let me throw something into the conversation. Craig may have linked this previously, but it needs closed inspection IMHO. Attention John Clark!


"Debunking people's belief in free will takes the intention out of their movements

Undermining a person's belief in free will alters the way their brain prepares for a voluntary movement. Davide Rigoni and his colleagues, who made the finding, aren't sure what the precise mechanism for this effect is, but they speculated that bursting the free will bubble somehow causes people to put less intentional effort into their movements.

Rigoni's team tested thirty participants on a version of Benjamin Libet's classic task from the 1980s. This requires that participants watch a dot proceed round a clock face, that they make a voluntary finger movement at a time of their choosing (the current study had participants press a button), and then make a mental note of the position of the clock at the time they made their decision to move. Libet's controversial discovery, replicated here, was that the brain begins preparing for the finger movement several hundred milliseconds prior to the conscious decision to move, as revealed by electrical activity recorded via electrodes on the scalp. The finding implies that free will is illusory.

For Rigoni's task, an additional detail was that half the participants read a passage debunking our sense of free will (see comments for the text) before they completed the Libet task. The other half acted as controls and read a passage about consciousness that didn't mention free will."

read more at http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2011/05/debunking-peoples-belief-in-free-will.html


These findings seem to me to be consistent with placebo <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo> and nocebo effect <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nocebo_effect>s. The point here is that "belief" is not just a belief! It is a difference that makes a difference.

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Onward!

Stephen

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