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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Steven Pinker
Progress: 54/576 pages
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Neil Gaiman
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Jo Nesbø

We really don't have free will, or at least what we think we have

Free Will - Sam Harris

Reading this online for the first 2 chapter. My order of the book finally arrived on 3rd week of April 2012. 

Chapter 1

"Consider what it would take to actually have free will. You would need to be aware of all the factors that determine your thoughts and actions, and you would need to have complete control over those factors. But there is a paradox here that vitiates the very notion of freedom—for what would influence the influences? More influences? None of these adventitious mental states are the real you. You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm."

I like it that even if there is no real free will, we still need the freedom to do what we do. We are the storm, and we are not lost in it. 

He explain more on this video on how he couldn't choose something that his subconscious mind hasn't come up with. 

"People feel (or presume) an authorship of their thoughts and actions that is illusory. If we were to detect their conscious choices on a brain scanner seconds before they were aware of them, they would be rightly astonished—because this would directly challenge their status as conscious agents in control of their inner lives. We know that we could perform such an experiment, at least in principle, and if we tuned the machine correctly, subjects would feel that we were reading their minds (or controlling them)."

That would be so cool to do experiment on yourself. To see that thoughts come from within before we are aware of its existence. 

Further argument. 

Spoiler alert:

If we human could find a vaccine or medicine that take away the "evil" part of human, so that human is in control and would not commit murder or harm another person by being "out of control" or "have the intention to harm. Then if those who didn't receive the vaccine committed crimes, we would not blame them, we would treat it as a medical condition. 

I agree that religious definition of sin is the worst kind of guideline for morality that lead to evil doing by religious people. We should recognize the precondition for someone that could commit crime and try to eliminate these precondition. 

Although the book is a bit short, I like the way he address the reader like he is talking to them. Overall, enjoyable read. 


Sam Harris talks about Free Will at the Sydney Opera House 2012

Pretty good explanation on Free will by Sam Harris. The stuff that he covered in the book is being presented in this video.