Thursday, August 16, 2007

Free Will and Indoctrination


Re: My earlier post about the LA Times religious editor who lost his faith. My last thought in the post elicited the most comments. Do we need indoctrination to hold onto closely held beliefs. Add to this stew the issue of free will vs some form of cause-and-effect only thinking, and it would at least seem to offer new opportunities for contemplation of the human condition.

If "I" and "my actions" are but the sum total of various data inputs, then, he who controls the inputs should be able to finally claim the crown of Emperor of the World. Hitler and Osama think information and oppression alone will do it, but what with chemicals and other biomethods, surely we could turn humans into robots.

Then we will be faced with the question I think I posted about here a while back regarding folks who are mentally imbalanced: "How will we know?" Has it already happened? Enter the Matrix.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

But humans ARE only complex robots. We are basically calculators running billions of calculations per minute, and creating variables which we ourself observe to be our own intuitive thoughts and decisions when they in fact are just the calculated results of billions of billions of variables, including personality which also is created by external variables, other peoples personalities, your current brain state which is also determined by more variables and ALL of these again are the result of mind bogglingly many variables and events that have taken part in the past. The nature of the human living being this, it has so happened that some groups have eventually become aware of this and started manipulating the whole human race through the means of media, terrorism, economy and others to achieve a goal nobody thought possible, immortality

Randy Kirk said...

See. I knew it. At the root this is the final thinking of a godless world. But then, comes Neo. See above. Somebody figures out that we are in the matrix and steps outside long enough to be in control. But why???? I can't figure out why anyone wants that control. I know they do, but if we are just robots, why would anyone want to control or be adored by a bunch of robots.

Maybe I'm the one who's mentally ill. Who decides? Maybe my mental illness is really the mutation that would bring humans to the next level if I was able to procreate.

Oh! There's a great new topic. If most folks only have one or two kids, how will we ever get better humans.

bernardo said...

Saying that we are "just" robots misses how amazing we are. A robot with billions of interacting parts is capable of really amazing stuff. I would, and do, want such robots to like me, since they are complex enough for their liking to be meaningful.

What is "meaningful", and why can we have "meaningful" opinions while traditional robots cannot? That's a tough question. I'd need to read more Douglas HOfstadter before I can answer it in a way that makes sense.

But back to your original question: Yes, everyone knows that the government and large corporations spend a lot of money and effort trying to get us to believe A, feel B, want C, and be afraid of D. The trick is building for yourself a model of the world, a model of what makes you happy, and a model of the risks you face and of the consequences of certain events, that is as accurate as possible, i.e. built with information given by people/organizations who don't have a strong agenda to get you to behave one way or the other. But a paranoid person sees an agenda in EVERY bit of released information. How can we know whether that paranoia is probably right? I don't know. But being aware of these questions sounds like a good first step towards getting out of the matrix, or at least towards not letting others' interests and propaganda control us too much.

Randy Kirk said...

The LA Times headlines that Cranberry juice causes cancer. The sales of Cranberry juice plummet that very day. Years later, and after many articles going the other way, many people still will not drink the stuff.

Kinsey says that 10% of the population is gay. 50 years later after hundreds of articles saying that the gay population is 2-3%, the 10% number just keeps coming up with no editors using the red pen.

Every month I get emails claiming that atheists are trying to pass various kinds of legislation to outlaw this or that. There are no such efforts, but the claim goes on, and people pass the emails along with great alarm.

bernardo said...

Memetics at work.

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