the show: 01-08-07

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(MissJecka in an array of Sports Racer Apperal) Good afternoon sports racers from Boston MA, you are watching The Show with ZeFrank.

Hello, its raining outside. I'm a bit melancholy. Im having trouble deciding what to consume. So let's just have a little chat. Catman asks "Why do we do what we do?" Well thats a specific question. Sitting here right now I'm wondering the same thing. (with sucker in mouth) I'm not sure I can answer that question, but I can tell you what it makes me think of. Just how in control of what we do are we..(sucks sucker)in control. There was an article in the Science Times last week titled "Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don't." In the article they describe an experiment that was done by a guy named Benjamin Libet at the University of Northern California (1970). He wired up a bunch of people to electroencephalogram and asked them to make random spontaneous movements. What he found was that the brain signals associated with making those actions actually occurred a half a second before the subject was conscious and deciding to make those actions. In other words, their conscious mind didn't make the decision at all. It just sat there and noticed something was happening, and took credit for it all. Its easy to think of the conscious mind as a kind of control center, as the whole reason the rest of our body exists. But the conscious mind, at least the version that we have is a late evolutionary adaptation and if you think about it, its pretty stupid. Our conscious mind struggles with High School physics problems like where a ball will land when it rolls off a ramp at a certain speed. But when we get frustrated with that problem, we have no difficultly crumpling up that piece of paper, using two (points to eyes) visual inputs to calculate the distance to the nearest wastepaper basket, and then coordinating a whole series of muscle contractions which launch that piece of paper into a parabolic arch which lands that piece of paper in that basket. Even little children can do that. Considering the complexity of the things we do everyday, our conscious mind can be characterized with having an alarmingly little amount of information at its disposal. Put that together with the Libet Experiment (1970), you've got this sad dumb consciousness thats just along for the ride. Its not really even in charge. Its sitting there spinning yarns to justify its existence. Melancholy yet?! The Times Article points out that all this doesn't necessarily contradict free will. Even though its a bit late, the conscious mind can veto our urges. And it can reflect on things and it can imagine the future. All of which can feedback into the decision making process of the subconscious mind. All of this still doesn't explain why we develop consciousness in the beginning. For now, keep doing what you do.

This is Zefrank thinking, sort of, so you don't have to.

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NY Times Archive for Buying the article german Wikipedia on the Libet Experiment english Wikipedia on Benjamin Libet

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