Friday, May 3, 2013

Free will = not what you think it is

This is an interesting lecture from philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris about how the common conception of free will is not scientifically supported. Specifically he debunks two assumptions on the popular conception of free will: (1) we are each free to think and act differently than we did in the past ("you became a police man, but you could have become a firefighter") and (2) we are the conscious source of our thoughts and actions, i.e. we feel like we want to do something so we do that thing. The problem with these assumptions is that "Everything that could possibly constitute your will is either the product of a long chain of prior causes, so you're not responsible for them, or it's the product of randomness, and you're not responsible for that, obviously, or it's some combination of the two."


He has an interesting analogy at the beginning about a man sleeping in a park and getting his face bitten off by an alligator versus a man with the axe. The result is the same, but people hate the man and not the crocodile because wWhat else is a crocodile going to do, coming upon you napping in the park" whereas a man is allegedly in control of his actions.

Another interesting assertion: "Most people imagine that a belief in free will is necessary for morality. . . . The difference between happiness and suffering exists without free will." Still, there are a lot of interesting implications for morality. At 46:00 he talks about how we can make reasonable distinctions between premeditated and impulsive crime given that free will doesn't exist. punishment, morality, etc.

"In specific cases we have already changed our view of evil. Whenever we see the cause of someone's behavior, when we see for instance that a murderer had a brain tumor . . . so as to explain his violent impulses, that person suddenly becomes a victim of biology. Our moral intuitions shift utterly. Now I'm arguing that a brain tumor is just a special case of physical events giving rise to thoughts and actions. If we fully understood the neurophysiology of any murderer's brain, it would be as exculpatory as finding a tumor in it. If we could see how the wrong genes were being relentlessly transcribed, if we could see how his early life experience had sculpted the micro structure in his brain in just such a way as to give rise to violent impulses, the whole conception of placing blame on him would erode."

153 comments:

  1. The forum is far more interesting than the blog itself. And, first.

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    1. And it is wonderfully insightful, fascinating contributions such as yours that ensure this.
      And, congratulations for being "first".

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  2. A world without coincidence... luck, chance or choice, makes for an interesting experience.

    Some may find this notion silly, but aren't you ruining the experience for yourself, by simply brushing everything off as 'coincidence'?

    A world without curiosity would be so bland.

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  3. The post is mixing “free will”, which is the capacity of making choices, with choosing our desires. We cannot choose to want something, but we can choose how we act towards that craving. We can choose to use and abuse people to satisfy the desire (sociopath classic behavior) or we can choose to do it a fair way (respecting others).

    “Free will” means we are responsible of our actions, and to be responsible of our actions just two things have to be true: we have consciousness and our conscious brain is able to give orders to our body.

    In the example of the man in the park, since the crocodile doesn’t have consciousness, therefore it is not responsible of hurting the man. While, the man with the axe, unless proven differently, is able to know that he is hurting somebody and his body answers to his orders, so he is responsible. Obviously the fact that the effect of the actions is similar has nothing to do with the amount of responsibility.

    Morality is a consequence of free will, not the other way round. Since most of us are responsible of our actions (we fulfill the 2 requirements mentioned) society has built norms with the goal of leaving in peace (since we don’t like to be hurt), those norms are called morality. (Another thing is if those norms are successful in their objective and if they have been corrupted with other objectives.)



    PS:in which side does this fall, Anon Ymous?

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    1. On the right side, Jessi <3

      Even the human mind is a physical thing, made up of neurons, electrical impulses, and a spatial array of billions of physical connections. In essence, we are biological computers with inputs and outputs, and transformations inbetween that are so complex they boggle the very mind that contemplates it. Perhaps you've heard of Obama's initiative to map the human brain, that we might gain an inkling of understanding of what goes on inside our heads.

      My point is that lack of free will is no excuse for any action, because we all go through the same physical process of thought and action. It sickens me that consequences of crimes depend on concepts such as intent and remorse, as if we could possibly determine the best punishment using these criteria, which are as easy to grasp and hold as smoke. Some inputs led to some outputs, and now someone is dead. If you think you understand how the one caused the other, you must think yourself God.

      Would any of you like to test whether you really have free will? Identify some part of your thought-action process that you do not like, and change it. Reinvent yourself as the person you want to be. It's not easy, but it's not impossible. By forcing yourself to act differently than your programming dictates, you can edit the code. I managed it for a month before, and I'm contemplating it again. It's easiest in a crisis, such as the dire situations in which leaders are born, when comfort is no longer an option and survival and necessity rule.

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    2. Yeah, I'm pretty sure even Obama knows more about what goes on in your head than you do.

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    3. Anon Ymous is correct. So is Sam Harris. Free will, as it is popularly understood, does not exist. The concept itself is incoherent. All you have to do is ask, what, exactly, is free of what, exactly? Once you start defining your terms and thinking them through, the incoherency of free will becomes apparent.

      You can also test this by simply paying close attention to your present moment experience. Where do thoughts come from? Do you choose to think them or do they simply appear within your consciousness? Can you be held “responsible” for what simply appears, with or without your permission?

      Most people recoil in horror from the notion that free will is an illusion for the same reason you do Jessi: they fear the possible ramifications of a universe that doesn’t allow free will.

      Jessi said “the man with the axe, unless proven differently, is able to know that he is hurting somebody and his body answers to his orders, so he is responsible”

      First, how do you know what the ax murderer in question is able to know? More importantly, what determines the ability to know? Prior causes? What, among that stream of prior causes, can the man (because ax murderers are almost always men, which is another clue) take responsibility for? The specific genetic contributions from both his mother and father? His mom’s access to adequate prenatal care? The environment he was subsequently raised in? His mother’s capacity for emotional bonding with infants? His father’s career prospects? Whether he had siblings? Whether his nutritional needs in early childhood were met? All of that goes into the creation of a single human being. But why stop there? Should the ax murderer be held to account for everything that went into making his father the man he became? His mother? His grandparents? The American Revolution? The reign of Queen Elizabeth I? The Mayflower Compact? The Dark Ages? The fall of the Roman Empire? And so on and so on and so on, right up to the Big Bang, and perhaps beyond. To paraphrase Carl Sagan, in order to make an apple pie, you have to create an entire universe.

      EVERYTHING that went before determines what follows. In a universe governed by the laws of physics, there is no other alternative. It does not follow that criminals should not be locked up. It only means that they should be locked up for reasons other than holding them responsible for the state of their brains.

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    4. I know what I don't know. I don't know how I will act in any given situation. The best I can do is to objectively examine my actions to try to get a hint at the motivations for why I do what I do. Any time I'm not looking at my own mind as an outsider, I'm on autopilot. I have base wants and needs, such as eating, fucking, pissing, and shutting, but those don't even require consciousness. The reflections I seek here are really the only moments I spend conscious each day.

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    5. I don't know how I will act in any given situation.

      Any time I'm not looking at my own mind as an outsider, I'm on autopilot.


      Exactly so. None of us do. We can make educated guesses, but that’s only if we attempt to look at ourselves the way someone outside of your mind might. The unconscious mind is more often than not, the real driver. The conscious mind is just along for the ride.

      The best I can do is to objectively examine my actions to try to get a hint at the motivations for why I do what I do.

      While most people content themselves with confabulation and call it absolute truth. To bring it back to the subject of the blog, this is probably a major reason why normals are so easy to manipulate. They believe the lies they tell themselves, while their behavior reveals who they really are. The observant manipulator consciously or otherwise takes advantage of the gap.

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    6. so if free will is divided the kind that is not so illusory would be like a secondary free will?

      If free will is looked at as a single encompassing thing it cannot exist due to thoughts and the unconscious, but if it is split into levels or viewed as a subjective and transient thing that applies to specific things it can exist, at least in the eyes of the one acting on it?

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    7. The concept of free will is kind of like the concept of a supreme being. It can be defined and redefined and redefined some more because it doesn’t refer to anything objective.

      The common view of free will is something along the lines of, “I could have chosen differently, but didn’t.” It’s the ‘I could have chosen differently’ part that is problematic. It’s problematic because it is contra-causal. We seem to float above and beyond all prior causes because of the nature of thought, which we identify with. We are not immediately aware of the all the processes that happened at the level of the brain that goes into creating the experience of thinking. Also, it fails to account for the “I”. What is the “I” that could have chosen differently? How does the “I” exercise its supposed authority over the body’s behavior?

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    8. reading that felt like working a rubix cube ha
      but interesting

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    9. That's the thing about these kinds of subjects, someone's bound to bring in their perspectives on religion, science and whatever best describes their own little world.

      I would say, that the only thing of real importance would be the motive that influences the person to do the things that they do.

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    10. off topic, but can someone have a schizoid personality but still possess interests, aggression, and libido if interests are pursued in private, aggression generally remains under the surface, and the individual practices an autoerotic lifestyle? And are schizoids generally paranoid or are they just indifferent?

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    11. And what influences motive? Again, motives don't appear out of nowhere. What we think of as motive is itself a product of a long chain of previous causes.

      Most of us are profoundly ignorant of how our own minds actually work. Our ignorance is so pervasive that we can't even see it. We believe that the 'just so' stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves is the entire story. We couldn't be more wrong. Neuroscience is only just now beginning to clear away the fog that passes for knowledge.

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    12. Why don't you go ask a Schizoid at schizoidworld.com.

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    13. ha.ha.ha.

      just thought I'd ask since so many something-other-than-sociopathic people seem to interact on here. But I get your "point".

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    14. Hell, who knows.

      It could be that your dad molested you at a young age, today you're gay, and your motive is to stick your worthless opinion in other peoples faces.

      Cause that's what gets you off.

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    15. Off the top of my head, I'd say no. Schizoids aren't generally known for their aggression or their libidos. There is a creature known as the 'covert schizoid', however. Covert schizoids hide their basic personality under a much more social persona, which might, theoretically include pretending to have many interests, acting aggressive, etc.

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    16. I preface this by saying I know as much about the id, ego, and superstore as can be gleaned by skimming Wikipedia. Briefly, the is represents base desires, the superego is conscience, and the ego is the part if conscious thought that reconciles disputes between the id and superego and executes conscious action.

      For me, the id and superego are in complete agreement, so the ego has little work to do and becomes largely unconscious. Without trying to sound too arrogant, conscious thought for me operates as an objective observer of the combined id-superego, and the ego that unconsciously exercises its abilities to satisfy the id-superego by performing complex actions.

      That could explain why I feel like I'm constantly on autopilot, even when I perform complex tasks. Is there a word for the part of the mind that observes the is, ego, and superego?

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    17. totally cause I expressed an opinion rather than ask a question.

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    18. Fuck autocorrect :). Is is id, superstore is superego :p

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    19. Is there a word for the part of the mind that observes the id, ego, and superego?

      I’m skeptical of most of the Freudian psychological concepts I’ve come across, with the exception of the adaptive unconscious. I don’t believe there is any evidence to support the id-ego-superego theory.

      The part of the mind that observes the inner monologue has been given several labels: consciousness, awareness, mind, and even witness.

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    20. If you don't mind me asking, how much of your time do you spend conscious, as we've described it? Do you think it's worthwhile to perform mental exercises to attempt to increase the level of conscious thought?

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    21. I would not mix actions with thoughts. No, I am not able to decide what I am going to think next, but I am able to decide whether I take a concrete action or not. This capacity of choosing action is what I always understood as “free will”, and this exist. Otherwise we can enter into a terminology discussion if it should rather be called differently.

      “how do you know what the ax murderer in question is able to know?” This is possible to evaluate.

      Daniel, you are giving to much importance to the environment and prior influences. All lived experiences influence a human being, but not in a deterministic way. It is always easier to blame others than to take responsibility, but as far as we have consciousness and our body responds, we know we can take an action or not. Our “free will” will be influenced by individual tendencies and past-present-circumstances, but we are FREE ENOUGH to be responsible and accountable for our actions.

      So I will call it "the free enough will" ;)

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    22. Anon Ymous, when you do everyday actions you are conscious of what you are doing even if they don't require your full brain power ;)

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    23. “The unconscious mind is more often than not, the real driver. The conscious mind is just along for the ride.”

      Come on… A pilot can place the autopilot but this doesn’t mean he is not checking if the plane is going to crash ;) “Ups! I murdered someone! I was in the autopilot”. You are beginning to fall on the left side… ;)

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    24. “The unconscious mind is more often than not, the real driver. The conscious mind is just along for the ride.”

      Come on… A pilot can place the autopilot but this doesn’t mean he is not checking if the plane is going to crash ;) “Ups! I murdered someone! I was in the autopilot”. You are beginning to fall on the left side… ;)

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    25. “To bring it back to the subject of the blog, this is probably a major reason why normals are so easy to manipulate. They believe the lies they tell themselves, while their behavior reveals who they really are. The observant manipulator consciously or otherwise takes advantage of the gap.”

      People should behave in a fair way. It is a lot of work to mistrust. So, since people should be fair, and it is a lot of work to mistrust, people trust. It is easy to lie to a person who trusts. It is unethical and miserable, but easy.

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    26. Its an interesting premise, if we view ourselves as just a series of chemical reactions that can be externally altered, which in turn determines our outward actions and inner thoughts then we lack any true free will. As an extension of this we then hold no true responsibility for the things that we due, because its the chemical reactions in our heads that in theory could be adjusted.

      In this theory, it would seem to me that we are little more than computers with software, software that can be updated and altered to reflect what society would deems "normal".

      I agree with a previous commenter, I feel that this topic will always lead down the path of belief, be it science or religion. Its the kind of question that will snowball into what it means to be a man or women, because most people want to believe they are unique and special.

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    27. Of course I'm aware of WHAT I'm doing, but rarely WHY, at least when it comes to complex actions. If you're not aware of WHY you are doing something, you have as much "free will" as an alligator deciding whether or not to bite the head off a homeless man sleeping on a park bench.

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    28. Because many times, Daniel, WE COULD HAVE CHOSEN DIFFERENTLY. And that’s the reason in life crossroads, well, and even in test exams, we do THINK. Yes, it might take us a long process of analysis to choose, but that time is been given, frequently, a good use.

      (I'm losing a little my patience, but I know I can choose to breath and relax...)

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    29. The long chain of previous causes… Daniel says... Who could have guessed all that when I just asked myself in front of the coffee machine: do I want one? And I said yes, because I felt like a coffee… Hope all the previous causes don’t tell me to through it on somebody today…

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    30. Anon Ymous, when you are not aware of WHY you are doing something you are pretty aware of the low level of damage that action has. You are not going to bite the head of a homeless man sleeping on a park bench and ask yourself WHY…
      (It was a bad day to bring my smart twin sister...)

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    31. Let's put it in another way: the fact that you have automatized some well known actions doesnt mean you don't know that you are doing them or why. The first time you got to use a fork you were pretty conscious of the activity. The first time you created a daily routine you were pretty conscious of it too. And in both cases you have the awareness of what you are doing, the possibility of not doing it, and therefore the "free enough will". Another subject would be to talk about the need of using a conscious examination of our automatic actions in order to stop an habit.


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    32. "I have base wants and needs, such as eating, fucking, pissing, and shutting, but those don't even require consciousness. The reflections I seek here are really the only moments I spend conscious each day."

      Not my case. I reduce automatic behaviour to boring tasks. I try to avoid boring tasks. I try to maximize being conscious. I don't know if it's worth it, I just like it.

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    33. Even animals make decisions such as whether to freeze, flee, or fight. As the lively Ms. Covington would say, humans are no better than animals, and often worse. What makes you different from an animal, Jessi?

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    34. Anon Ymous, why do you come here? Do you think to reflect here will help you to manipulate better in the future?

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    35. Lovely* although I'm sure she's quite lively as well.

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    36. Anon Ymous
      Can I ask you a question about what happened, yesterday? I am going to take myself out of it and ask about your side. Is that OK?

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    37. You never graded my roast to you, Anon Ymous, despite it stating everything the anon's roast contained, but in fewer and prettier words.

      I'm not that lively at all unless someone buys me ice cream. But that only lasts until the sugar crash.

      btw Monica you are gorgeous

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    38. Thank you Chet--so much. That is so sweet of you to say.

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    39. Anon Ymous

      I am going to ask my question because I want to get off the computer, for a bit.

      You flirted with me. I flirted with you. That was cool and that was fun.

      Then, we had a real heart to heart talk that touched me and meant something to me and I thought you, too.

      Then, you purposely seemed to want to hurt me. Why?

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    40. Jessi, your comments betray a complete ignorance of the latest findings in neuroscience as it relates to cognition and choice. The question of free will is controversial in scientific and philosophic circles to be sure, but the evidence and the logic arguing against it is compelling. Regurgitating the “common sense” views on the subject and feeling strongly about it, on the other hand, is not convincing in the slightest. But then again, convincing me isn’t nearly as important as convincing yourself. Emotions are useful when it comes to clinging to ignorance. Emotional conviction is common because it’s cheap and easy. Battling one's ignorance is hard. But if you ever wish to truly understand your own mind, the battle is worth it.

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    41. Monica, how much do you charge? Are you authentic?

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    43. Chet, your insults were too flowery for me to make sense of them. I was hoping for eloquence and clarity, which I consider pretty.

      Monica, I thought I was clear in the other comments section. I wanted your age and appearance, so I did what was necessary to get it. We've chatted in a public forum for all of 2-3 days, and in that time I've told you directly I would drive you away from me emotionally. You're very nice, and trust me, you're much better off disliking, or even hating me. If you were in your twenties, I may have selfishly drawn you closer to me. Be glad that you're not, and I didn't.

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    44. Anon Ymous
      You seem to be here to know yourself. Am I right? Wouldn't risking to know me and yourself be a good risk on the computer?

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    45. Daniel, don’t worry; the next findings in neuroscience will contradict the previous ones... They were never good at interpreting statistics (= their interpretations go beyond what data says).

      I’m not attached to the believe of free enough will, I just experience it daily ;)

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    46. Monica, I thought we talked already about that: a sociopath just gets you pregnant and leaves you.

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    47. Control yourself Monica, you're spamming all over the place.

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    48. That can't happen on the computer in the current state of technology~

      Anyway, I wanted to get to know him and have him get to know me, but if he doesn't want to do that, that is cool.

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    49. Chet, Anon Ymous is a science guy, we like it dry ;)

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    50. You are lucky Monica, I wished my spath would have been so honest...

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    51. I said I could be your friend, but I won't flirt with you anymore. Or Chet for that matter, I know a lost cause when I see one ;)

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    52. He is definitely better than my spath...

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    53. Anon Ymous, have you ever been really in love?

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    54. @OK Anon Ymous
      NO flirting. I'll live, Buddy :D

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    55. I figured you would :P

      And Jessi, yes I have.

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    56. I know. You got me with Hello :P

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    57. How? Why? I thought you were a spath.
      Jessi

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    58. I was obsessed with someone, happy to be with them, and strongly desired to be with them when we were apart. I am capable of those things, and if it wasn't love, it sure did have similarities to it.

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    59. Intimacy is from the head up, Anon Ymous. Here is to the head up <3

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    60. Do you still have contact with that person?
      Yes, the upper side, thanks Monica.
      Jessi

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    61. Indeed it is. Unfortunately, I make it a point to keep my word, so as far as intimacy goes, let's leave it at that :P

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    62. Anon Ymous,
      I would love to hear more about your relationship with that person. Love is something truly rare for me. I'm very curious about your experiences with it.

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    63. haha Anon Ymous, people often can't make sense of what I am attempting to communicate even when it isn't "flowery". but I gotcha.

      If anyone (and I'm sure no one does) cares what I really do. I am in a long-term relationship with an up-and-coming artist who is also a writer. I serve as their editor and help with marketing.

      I am intended to be returning to college this fall. Had to withdraw a year ago for financial reasons and move in with my mother. My goal is to get out of that place and take a day job while working on my own craft.

      On mygirlfund I don't videochat I just respond to messages. You get a dollar for each message you reply to, and you don't have to say something of a sexual nature. Just something I do on the side because every dollar counts and I do not want to rely on my parents for money any longer than I have to.

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    64. Oh and Monica do you charge people for emailing you?

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    66. It wouldn't work cause of the uk domain or something

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    67. Oh, well lets just be friends on here <3

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    68. Answer my question about love on yesterday's post and you might stand to make 2 :)

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    69. 2:05, I can tell you what I've learned, felt, and thought through a mix of truthful experiences and conjecture.

      It started as a long-distance relationship, given that we met online and lived 1,000 miles apart. It began as innocent conversation, and through our talks we found we liked each other. Talking progressed to flirting, which became graphic and descriptive, mostly from my end. Following this sexually stimulating conversation we exchanged pictures, and there was mutual physical attraction. Combining this with intellectual stimulation, we developed a mutual obsession. I flew to her, and for a couple weeks we fucked our brains out, after which I flew back. This went back and forth, the longest time spent together being four months. We moved in together, but without the occasional separation, obsession died to admiration, then to tolerance, and then it just died.

      I learn people, I get used to them. Without the distance, for me, love wastes away. With it, the feelings intensify with mutual longing and escalating desire.

      Anything ring true for you?

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    70. How do you think it died? I mean, you think you got to know her too well or you think you didn't know her before well enough? Could there have been something you unconsciously expected to have in her that she didn't have? When it died, did you see in her the same person you saw when you were still in love with her?
      Jessi

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    71. They probably shared a bathroom or discussed their taxes.

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    72. (After the comment of the evil anon I went back to yesterday's page. Still trying to recover from Monica's pictures. She doesn't look bad for her age but she scares me even more. I'm sure she looks like her mum };) )
      Jessi

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    73. Thank you, Anon Ymous.
      Very interesting indeed. I can identify with a big part of your story, actually.

      What I'm really hoping to know is how you behaved when you found yourself in love. Did you tell her how you really are? Did you lie to and manipulate her, or try to be honest and put her above all those petty games we so enjoy playing? Try and help her be happy... etc.

      I would dearly love to discuss this issue with you, but I'm afraid I have urgent business to attend to.

      Evil Anon :)

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    74. idk which anon told me to answer a question but I did

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    75. Well Evil Anon, I'd be happy to continue talking when you are available. The answer to your question is actually quite simple. I was not aware that I was a sociopath at that time. I am still in contact with her, and we are on good terms, though we have no residual relationship. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) I regret nothing, and feel no loss. Thank you for rekindling my memory of love, I look upon those experiences fondly :)

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    76. Eh! it was MY question. Evil Evil anon.

      So, how frequent is your contact? (Even for adept neurotypicals, when love dies, it dies :P )
      Jessi

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    77. I've had similar situations as Anon Ymous. I'm ADHD (medicated), with "sociopathic tendencies". Like most sociopaths, I'm assuming that Anon Ymous probably craves constant stimulation, what better way then sexual desire? That initial attraction and stimulation slowly begun to fade, and then you are left with just dealing with the person in front. For a sociopath, its about how useful is this person standing in front of me? If not useful, they become a constant annoyance - a roadblock to more desirable activities.

      A "normal" person might have pushed to understand the feelings, desires, and thoughts of their partner during the course of the relationship for reasons of becoming closer and more understanding of their partner, not for analytical and intellectual stimulation/pursuit.

      The way that attraction dies out for sociopaths is that we don't want the same level of intimacy that a "normal" wants. I myself experience love, while also making an honest effort to confirm to what I feel are the more reasonable rules of society, go out of my way to show others (deserving or not) the utmost respect. But, that doesn't mean I can force myself to feel an ounce of empathy for other people. I understand what empathy is, think it is extremely valuable to society, but view it as making people weak.

      Its the same way that I look at someone who needs constant emotional understanding and support from me - no matter how much I love and care for you - I still feel its a bit annoying.

      Reformed SP

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    78. Thank you, Chet.
      I saw your reply too, will get to it when I can.

      Anon Ymous,
      Thank you again.
      Does it really matter if you now have the label? A rose by any other name is still a manipulative, cold hearted liar :)
      I told the first person I loved as much, let them know how I really am without knowing there was a name for it.
      But, hope we can talk all about that tomorrow.

      Jessi, bite me ;)

      Evil Anon

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    79. Reformed SP, but you never had the wish of being understood by someone else? Not just being seen as a learning tool but as Yourself?

      Weak? I would not see the point of living without the capacity of loving. I would feel life is useless.

      Jessi

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    80. The name helps others to understand... and run.
      Jessi

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    81. To put it simply, when the lust dies, does the relationship die?

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    82. I did not tell the entire story. I stuck with her, and all I asked was that she contribute to our relationship. She refused to get a job, and lied about applying. She was home all day, but let the apartment go to hell. I worked every day to support us, and she was not willing to contribute, even a little, to the life we shared. I am patient and loyal, but not endlessly so. I gave her years to step up and be my partner, and offered support in every way that I could. She failed me, and I pushed her out of my life.

      I wasn't just unaware that what I was had a name (sociopath), I was unaware that I was manipulating and charming people. I get by just fine, and I probably hurt less people than most empaths. I don't go out of my way to hurt people, and the people I do hurt, usually inadvertently, never really say anything to me about it. And if they do, I'm really quite good at soothing people.

      Now, knowing what I am, hurting people in order to get what I want is a real option. I am both considering it as a path to personal fulfillment, and also exploring potential alternatives that could allow me to achieve the same goals. I don't have any enemies, and I'd rather not make any, so I will try to exhaust the benevolent options before I explore malevolent ones.

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    83. yeah I don't get why selfishness is often used as a distinguishing feature for sociopaths.

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    84. If the girl worked, do you think it would have worked out? How did it feel to be loyal to one person and sexually faithful to one person. Did you feel like you were in a box, so to speak.

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    85. Chet, sarcasm, or no? It's so hard to tell sometimes.

      Monica, if she had gotten a job, helped us out when I really needed her to, I would have stood by her and respected her.

      I've only ever been loyal and faithful in my relationships, so I have nothing to compare it to. But no, I did not feel boxed in. If sexual promiscuity, or criminal activity, are requirements for sociopathy, then I am not a sociopath. Like I said, though, I'm exploring my options :) I remain without guilt, remorse, or grief, and my code is not written in stone.

      Delete
    86. not sarcasm at all

      I'm not a sociopath but I don't experience grief or empathy unless it's like other people are eating so I'm suddenly hungry

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    87. I get hungry if I smell someone else's food when I haven't eaten. I'd be fine if it didn't smell so goooooood.

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    88. Did you ever have grief, remorse or guilt, even as a child?

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    89. or if someone says something awkward then keeps talking even after everyone is thinking "what a loser--just stop" I sometimes cringe to myself and think thank goodness it's not me.

      but sadness and emotional pain of others and loss I can't recall feeling.

      I don't really feel my own sadness. sometimes a mild lethargic state or frustration expressed through tears but not sadness. I think my cat would have to die or run away. I feel more for cats than for humans. They are plush and fluffy so they make it easy.

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    90. When I was a child in grade school, my cat was hit by a car. She survived, but had blood leaking from the corner of her mouth. My dad said she had internal bleeding, and that he'd have to put her down. I went to school that day, and the world was grey. I knew he would shoot her while I was at school, and at one point I broke down and cried. I didn't want my kitty to die :(

      You can't stand to see people make such obvious mistakes, Chet, it turns your stomach. I feel the same way. I don't mean this as an accusation, but what exactly is it about yourself that makes you think you're not a sociopath?

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    91. You can feel. You can love. You can connect. You don't have to take the label( or category) of sociopath.

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    92. Did you ever have one adult who loved you unconditionally and with whom you felt safe and accepted, as is?

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    93. I'm not charming. Usually don't speak at all unless I have to. Not popular except with guys for my looks. I lack prowess and calculation, as it is hard for me to see past the immediate. While my identity is complex and made of many facets, I wouldn't call myself impressionable. I'm also very passive. Not just in the sense that I don't get into fights. I have a "beach bum" way about me. Monotone voice, seem depressed even when I'm quite content, not especially dynamic or upbeat about anything. I don't see the point. I'm very introverted, yet I would not consider myself a follower--at least not any more so than the next person. I don't mirror off of people often. Maybe by accident once in a while but most of the time I'm much more autonomous. It seems like my thoughts and views on things come from quiet observations/inventories I've made or from within my mind from a concoction of seemingly unrelated items and events. I'm also terrible at lying unless it is something serious like my shoplifting charge. I almost believe in my own innocence at this point. But on smaller scales I am honest to a fault. I get in trouble for saying what I feel, as it tends to be taken as hostile.

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    94. Whether or not I choose to accept the label has no meaning. I do not fit the criminal psychologist's definition of a sociopath. However, sociopathy accurately predicts and describes the motivations for my actions and how I handle other people.

      My sister and I are quite close, and she is a psychology major. I think she could handle the knowledge of what I am, but I don't think insisting it upon her would benefit her in any way.

      You should know, Monica, that I have managed you very gently, but managed you all the same. I appear to have internalized my identity as a sociopath, and I have experienced urges to defend it. I wonder why that is? I think I have some measure of pride in it, that it somehow makes me purer of thought, and that makes me superior. It is important that I define myself this way. While I contemplate this, please do not insist that I am not a sociopath. I likely have sufficient control not to lash out at you, but my lack of desire to hurt people is not a perfect deterrent.

      I, ahem, apologize for the internal dialogue.

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    95. Chet, that is a veritable goldmine of information, and I greatly appreciate it :)

      "I'm not charming. Usually don't speak at all unless I have to. Not popular except with guys for my looks."

      When I was younger, I was insecure about my social skills, and was very awkward. I was not popular.

      "I lack prowess and calculation, as it is hard for me to see past the immediate."

      I have been successful, but the decisions I made to get where I am have been impulsive and seemingly arbitrary. I didn't plan to end up this way, it just happened.

      "While my identity is complex and made of many facets, I wouldn't call myself impressionable."

      Do you respond strongly to praise and criticism? I am highly susceptible to these, as they can lift my spirits or crush them if I see them as honest.

      "I'm also very passive. Not just in the sense that I don't get into fights. I have a "beach bum" way about me. Monotone voice, "

      I would prefer to 'bum around', so to speak, but I've gotten into the habit of working, making money, and buying things I like. My monotone voice was one of the hardest things to change, as I've had to give multiple presentations. If I don't practice, monotone is my default presentation tone.

      "seem depressed even when I'm quite content, not especially dynamic or upbeat about anything."

      This is me when I'm not acting.

      "I'm very introverted, yet I would not consider myself a follower--at least not any more so than the next person."

      I'm a huge introvert, being in social situations is a large energy drain, even though I can manage it. It's exhausting.

      "I don't mirror off of people often. Maybe by accident once in a while but most of the time I'm much more autonomous."

      I don't mirror people so much as I try to be what they want to see. Direct mimicry is creepy, and creepy is usually ineffective.

      "It seems like my thoughts and views on things come from quiet observations/inventories I've made or from within my mind from a concoction of seemingly unrelated items and events."

      You have sufficient introspective ability to examine your motivations as an outsider. They don't always make sense, but you're aware that you are a product of your experiences.

      "I'm also terrible at lying unless it is something serious like my shoplifting charge."

      I don't put effort into lies that don't matter, why waste energy?

      "But on smaller scales I am honest to a fault. I get in trouble for saying what I feel, as it tends to be taken as hostile."

      Some people I've met that I think could be sociopaths, based on intuition, don't have much of a filter to screen what they say. This was particularly true for teenagers, including myself at that age.

      What else you got?

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    96. I am extremely paranoid. Once I got this idea for no good reason that my dad and the neighbor were conspiring to film me exercising in my swimsuit so they could get off to it. over the last 9 or so months my hearing has become more acute. But even before that back in high school I can remember being fearful of noises in the house. All footsteps and all doors closing sound angry to me. I am suspicious of everyone's motives--especially adults an even more specifically adults with authority of the female sex. I do struggle with misogyny and have felt superior to other females from a very young age. I can recall being a social/society critic at a tender age as well. Quite self-aware and aware of others. People think I'm not observant, but really I just don't observe the same things and I don't usually give away my findings.

      I am highly sensitive to criticism...or I was. I've conditioned myself to not give a fuck. It would actually hurt me more to be called womanly than boring or selfish or vapid.

      Yet, I do still perceive things to be insulting or meant with anger, even when the speaker claims they did not intend it that way. Sometimes the thing doesn't have to be said. I just sort of predict it will be a direct stab at my character.

      I hide in my room a lot and avoid my mother and step mother and company. I constantly think they are maliciously trying to sabotage me somehow, yet I know they are not clever enough, so i shouldn't feel this way. Maybe they read Malevolence for Dummies...

      Similarly with "friends" (I have place filler friends I have hung out with in the past but no one other than maybe one person I share a genuine bond and loyalty with)
      I will start to think they are all having orgies without me on weekends, even though they live in different states. That they all secretly take me for a fool and don't think my arrogance is justified.

      This usually occurs after I've felt pretty lofty and thought I was deserving of abundant admiration and didn't receive it. Although I am not much for the company of others I do NOT like being ignored by those I want praising me. Of course I cannot be expected to return this.


      I get very possessive over many things. Food, space, time, etc...lately I've become so MINE over the neighborhood swimming pool that I find myself muttering "oh my fucking god you fucking people deserve to die i hope you die" very quietly but still out loud on the sidewalk if I see someone's car already parked there. Then I'll enter so they see me seeing them, then leave to show that I do not want to be where they are. Last time this happened I had a mild panic attack during a walk I decided to take in the mean time. I think about living transiently on the streets from time to time these days. I'm obsessed with the idea of being "free" although I know that is but an elusive dream.

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    97. Too much to break down piece by piece, but I'll do my best :)

      Sometimes I feel like I know things that I don't have sufficient information to support. I labeled them as paranoia, but more often they are actually intuition. I'm sensitive to the thoughts and emotions of others on such a deep, unconscious level that I pick up on very subtle cues. I'm right so often that it's eerie. Try to look carefully at what exactly makes you feel 'paranoid' and ask yourself if there isn't some truth to what your mind is telling you.

      As for people seeming mean or angry and saying they're not, I am hypersensitive to how others are really feeling. It's so obvious that what they say doesn't really mean anything, they wear their emotions on their sleeves.

      Again, when I was younger, my self-confidence was extremely poor, and I felt people were always acting against me behind my back.

      I also expect praise when I think I deserve it. I feel cheated when I don't receive it. In fact, it pisses me off quite a lot.

      I get very possessive of my workspace, which could be analogous to your pool. It is MINE and I have IMPORTANT things to do there. Few things ruffle me, but people being in my space is aggravating.

      I often contemplate just walking out on my life, giving up all these things that I HAVE to do but don't WANT to do. Don't tell anybody this, but I fantasize about going to prison, where I have no responsibilities, and if I don't follow the rules, what will they do, throw me in solitary? Sometimes, that sounds like a real treat.

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    98. My social cue detection used to be fairly keen, but now my social adeptness seems to be fading away. I'm forgetting things. Having to ask people what they mean a lot, although that did start in high school. But back then I asked with an idea in mind already and was seeking support of that idea.

      Oddly enough, I find my self-esteem is higher than ever. I still like praise and dislike criticism, but I don't feel completely defeated if I don't get what I believe I am worthy of. Now what gets me is when I don't get to do what I want because of other people. I am accused of being rigid and not spontaneous enough a lot. But what they don't know is that my "plans" are usually based upon how I feel that day. So they are spur of the moment. It's just that I get a heads up because I was the first to know what it was I would endeavor to accomplish. But I do suppose I am inflexible. However, the way I see it is--they're lucky I make time for them at all. They might as well take what I offer them in a way that accommodates me because while I appreciate their company sparingly and appreciate the things they do for me/money they spend on me, ultimately they need ME the person more than I need them just as the are doing nothing but coexisting.

      Delete
    99. Well, for me, it's bedtime. Don't let anybody else decide who you are. You seem intelligent, and you're doing the right thing by being curious about and interested in your own identity, and the identity of others. When you stop learning and growing is when you stop living.

      Contentment is a trap, and if you can spring yourself from it you'll find there are a lot of enjoyable experiences out there that are worth the risk of a little loss in comfort and security. I'm probably going to hang out in mine because the cheese is pretty good and I love the smell of my own farts.

      Delete
    100. I plan to break my contentment in New England, if I find a way to get there.

      And good for you, Anon. Enjoy your apparent lactose intolerance.

      Good night.

      Delete
    101. "Now, knowing what I am, hurting people in order to get what I want is a real option."
      This is the problem of any kind of diagnosis, people tend to adapt to the concept they are assigned to (or self-assigned) Maybe you are not a sociopath, Anon... Don't excuse an intolerable behaviour in an external label.
      Jessi

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    102. The reason why there are so many wannabe sociopaths is because they are wrongly perceived as superior. For me is like someone telling a blind guy to cross where it is wrong and feeling smart.

      Jessi

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    103. I will respect that boundary, Anon Ymous.

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    104. What we know of the laws of physics are limited by our ability or lack thereof to observe things. And there is some extent that can never be predicted.

      What would look different in the Universe if we had free will? Or for that matter if there was no causality? Nothing. It would look the same, and we would still observe patterns and infer a concept and call it "causality". Even if everything was absolutely random if it randomly wound up the way we are experiencing it we wouldn't know the difference, and physicals laws derived from observation would still work.

      That is all that we can know, that we can describe things and then use the descriptions to guide engineering pursuits. It can never tell us anything about reality with certainty. We could all be brains in jars in some other Universe or immersed in a future-tech virtual reality game in the real world.

      What I have just put forward is often known as the instrumentalist view of science. And indeed there is no compelling reason for prefering realism other than that people want questions answered. Causality is not something we know about reality, it's a concept that is useful in planning and engineering and predicting the future course of observeable events like the Earth going around the Sun. But for all we know nothing might be causal and we're just extremely lucky that things work out the way they do. Or some things even most things may be causal but with some things uncaused.

      But there is a compelling reason to prefer instrumentalism. Instrumentalism allows for free will. And studies even show that people who believe in free will tend to be more well-adjusted and behave better. So if free will didn't exist we'd still be better off believing in it.

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  4. The determinism of the speaker is sickening me. This pseud-'It is not my fault. My brain was done this way.' I’m glad to know that if I kill his family he will excuse me… at least, that’s what he says… The guy is comparing controlling thoughts with controlling actions!! I’m surprised he didn’t say: you didn’t choose your eyes color, how could you possible choose to kill somebody or not. Then my brain order me to turn off the video. I didn’t have the choice…

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  5. WIKI:"Harris's basic message is that the time has come to freely question the idea of religious faith. Harris specifically attacks Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, characterizing them as much more dangerous than other religions, such as Jainism. He feels that the survival of civilization is in danger because of a taboo against questioning religious beliefs, and that this taboo impedes progress toward more enlightened approaches to spirituality and ethics."

    What a view for someone with doesn't believe in Free Will.... Maybe he is a sociopath ;)

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    1. The one who likes you ;)
      Jessi

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    2. older than a teen ;)

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    3. Are you Jessi and the anon signed Jessi? Why does one of you seem modest and mildly smart while the other is basket-casesque?

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    4. Hahaha. Besides one day when someone used my nick for a while, I am both. ( I'm the anon signed Jessi when I'm on the ipad)

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    5. Weird you're not quite as insufferable when you aren't anonymous

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    6. Pure coincidence ;)
      Jessi

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    7. Are you in the clubbing scene as UKan suggested?

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    8. Hahaha. No. I don't even wanna know what that one suggested...
      Jessi

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  6. Replies
    1. Extremity had very little, if anything, to do with what happened yesterday. Hardly fair for you to attack him for it.

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    2. It's over now.

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    3. Thanks Anon, I wasn't even there yesterday. :(

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    4. <3 I believe you!

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  7. Replies
    1. Holy fuck.

      And i thought, that M. Brig, good old (dead) Rich and I would have spammed.

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    2. Yeah, seriously. These fuck tards really know how to make this place boring with their never ending paragraphs of shit no one cares about

      Delete
  8. Tactics is to keep a good equilibrium while it's true applying the lookup. Search engine optimization is question the most important thing in internet marketing, because a individual normally puts pretty much everything on good motors to find individual results.

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  9. I would say that our beliefs stem from our motives (our needs), and our actions that follow stem from our code or beliefs, our choices.

    Motive comes first, as we are able to act against our own beliefs.

    A form of belief could probably be used to suppress or divert certain needs, so belief is a control mechanism for that.

    Our needs can come from different places, physical needs, social needs, etc.

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    1. There might be a 'spiritual need' as well, but whether that is simply a device for enhancing the 'belief' mechanism's control over the 'will' or an actual need would differ from person to person, I guess.

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    2. Believes should stem from facts not from motives.
      Jessi

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    3. People have motives, that's a fact.

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    4. People have legs, that's a fact.
      Jessi

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    5. What about those that were born without legs? Or lost them in an accident for example?

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    6. Then they have no legs, that's a fact.

      Jessi

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    7. If beliefs serve no use, then what's its purpose?

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    8. As initial conditions.
      Jessi

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  10. I didn't follow the link but this looks like more typical half baked ideas with a side of slant.

    First of all, I think some people, many people, would hate the alligator and everything that made it possible for the alligator to have made its way to the victim. We can definitely hate the "naturally dangerous" alligator and likely even have it killed without a trial needed for any party. And someone killing a loved one who had a brain tumor is not shifting anything "utterly" in my neighborhood.

    We do have free will. We can exert our will conciously and choose to successfully quit extremely addictive substances for example. Substances that can exert profound control over the brains basic core reward/learning system. We are free to choose this from a range of choices. Despite having a genetic and environment background that strongly favors use. We can choose to see and experience and attend the present moment and not be lost in our head. We can freely choose to observe the thoughts that spring forth seemingly of their own accord in our heads and not get attached to them, or engage them, and let them indirectly slowly die off, like sleepy children ignored. We can want to hurt someone or even kill but choose not to because we know we are just very angry, and need to cool off, and that doing so would be grossly unjust, and likely result in imprisonment, as it should. We can reinvent ourselves. We can let die long established pathways in the brain and build new ones.

    We can break habits. We can choose not to respond in the habitual way. We can get in between the space between stimulus and habitual response and make a different choice or not make any choice at all. All through effort of will. It may not always be easy. And it may be more difficult for some than for others. But you never know what is possible until you try. You are free to choose and exert your will to do as you wish.

    RIP Jeff Hanneman:

    Slayer

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    1. You didn't follow the link? Then you lost less time than me.
      Jessi

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  11. The conclusion that science, such as it is described here, supports the premise that there is no free will only describes the limitations of science. For example, 'science' is relatively mute when questions about individual consciousness arise. This may change in time, but at this point I suspect this gentleman's arguments are flawed.

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