Watch This. You Have No Choice.

Jerry Coyne plugs a video from Sean Carroll on free will:

Professor Coyne chides Professor Carroll for not straightforwardly rejecting so-called "libertarian" free will: the notion that when we "choose" to take an action (like picking out which shirt to wear in the morning), we could have chosen differently. Coyne emphasizes the determinism implied by the laws of physics: the atoms in your brain and body act according to well-known rules, and it's simply impossible that they "could have" acted differently to get you to pick out that tan shirt instead of the white one.

But as Carroll pointed out in a book I read a few years back: when you're looking for that shirt, try saying: "Well, I'll just stand here and let the atoms in my body do whatever they were deterministically going to do anyway."

Stand there long enough until you're convinced that your body's atoms just ain't gonna get that shirt-picking job done on their own.

I'm a believer in libertarian free will. No, I don't know how it could possibly work; when I say I'm a "believer", it's in the sense that I can't explain it, I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure it's (nonetheless) true.

I get the arguments otherwise. But it seems that those arguments go like this:

  1. We don't know how libertarian free will could possibly be true.
  2. Therefore libertarian free will can't be true.
I think that jump from 1 to 2 isn't rigorous.

Briefly noted:

  • Saul Zimet examines The Authoritarian Implications of Greta Thunberg’s Crusade against Markets. And it's not just Thunberg:

    In Naomi Klein’s 2014 New York Times bestseller This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, she constantly renounces free markets, writing that “free market ideology continues to suffocate the potential for climate action” and that “revolutionary levels of transformation to the market system [are] now our best hope of avoiding climate chaos.” Klein argues that, “Just as the climate change deniers I met at the Heartland Institute fear, there is a direct relationship between breaking fossilized free market rules and making swift progress on climate change.“

    But she doesn’t just want to transform the economy for environmental reasons. “I am convinced that climate change represents a historic opportunity on an even greater scale. As part of the project of getting our emissions down to the levels many scientists recommend, we once again have the chance to advance policies that dramatically improve lives, close the gap between rich and poor, create huge numbers of good jobs, and reinvigorate democracy from the ground up,“ she writes. And, “It can disperse power into the hands of the many rather than consolidating it in the hands of the few, and radically expand the commons, rather than auctioning it off in pieces.“

    In short: "I've always despised free-market capitalism, and now, thank goodness, 'climate change' has provided an excuse to impose my command-and-control vision on the world."

  • And "environmentalism" (generally) has been doing that for a long time. David Harsanyi notes an oldie, but not a goodie, Paul Ehrlich: '60 Minutes' Exhumes Enviro Cult Leader For Scaremongering.

    Earth is headed for a sixth extinction, warned biologist Paul Ehrlich on “60 Minutes” this Sunday. And since Ehrlich has predicted about 20 extinctions over the past 60 years, he’s a leading expert on the issue.

    Couldn’t “60 Minutes” find a fresh-faced, yet-to-be-discredited neo-Malthusian to hyperventilate about the end of the world? Why didn’t producers invite a single guest to push back against theories that have been reliably debunked by reality? Because the media is staffed by environmental pessimists and doomsayers who need to believe the world is in constant peril due to the excesses of capitalism. And Ehrlich is perhaps our greatest alarmist.

    His 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” is among the most destructive of the 20th century. The long screed not only made Ehrlich a celebrity, but gave end-of-day alarmists a patina of scientific legitimacy, popularized alarmism as a political tool, and normalized authoritarian and anti-humanist policies as a cure. Ehrlich’s progeny are other media-favored hysterics by other antihumanists, such as Al Gore or Eric Holthaus or Greta Thunberg, who skipped learning history and science because she also believes we are on the precipice of “mass extinction.” And none of this is to mention the thousands of other Little Ehrlichs nudging you to eat insects, gluing themselves to roads, and demanding you surrender the most basic conveniences and necessities of modernity.

    Interviewer Scott Pelley apparently didn't think to ask, "Don't you ever get tired of being spectacularly wrong?"

  • “Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot." Joe Lancaster assures me I can't be sued for typing that: Now Anybody Can Write a Sherlock Holmes Story.

    The detective novel was invented in the 1840s, but it was perfected in 1887. That year saw the publication of A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle's first book to feature his signature character, Sherlock Holmes. Over four decades, Doyle's stories of the preternaturally talented sleuth cemented Holmes as the world's most famous detective.

    Over more than 250 portrayals on the stage and screen, Holmes is typically portrayed as brilliant yet cold and aloof, aided by his constant companion, John Watson. Now, after more than 130 years and numerous complicated court cases, Holmes has definitively entered the public domain, meaning that anybody can use the character in a published work. And despite the Doyle estate's protestations, that's a good thing.

    Anybody can write one. But not anybody can write a good one.