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Oh, So You're Upset About Your Choices?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

I see people talking on the message boards about the choices they make. They talk about how they failed to make the right choices or they beat themselves up about not being able to force themselves to eat within their range. Often I start typing a comment to them, but I stop...because it will cause troubles for everyone.

You see, what I do for a living is sort of strange. I make videos of university level courses and make them available online to students. Many of these courses are things like Psychology. One of my favorites is Biopsychology. It’s all about the brain and how it drives our behaviors.

I very purposefully use the word “drive.” As the years have gone by, I have watched the evidence presented in the classes stack up. Increasingly, the evidence shows that we are slaves to our brains. They drive their meat suits around. They make our choices. Then our conscience minds have to make up explanations or excuses for the behavior that just happened.

Have you ever dated someone you knew was bad? They didn’t make you happy? They were a complete train wreck and were going to drag you down with them? You knew you should leave them, but you just DIDN’T? 

How about, how you ever seen a delicious, gooey, yummy thing, and you just KNEW you shouldn’t eat it. Your hand went and grabbed it and the whole time you’re eating it, you are hating yourself for eating it?

That’s your brain...driving you around...silly meat suit.

The really devious thing is, your biology makes you think you have a choice! It makes you feel guilty because you didn’t try hard enough! You should have chosen better! You should have worked harder!

Horrifying, huh?

Right about now, you are rejecting what I’m saying. You’re saying to yourself, “But I have FREE WILL! I make my choices! My failures come from my weakness! My success comes from my strength!”

I really want to say that. I would like to say that too. Yet, every day I go to work and I watch lectures, given by respected professionals. Every day, they present research that keeps piling up. It doesn’t look good for free will, folks. It’s like we’re riding on the back of rampaging elephants, and making excuses to those around us for the damage being done. We are riding on the back of our biology and make excuses for the damage we do.

When I see others talking about their negative thoughts here on SP, I shrug. I want to tell them that they’d be LUCKY if they were choosing to fail. That means they could choose to succeed.

" The essential consequence of our earlier remarks is that man being condemned to be free carries the weight of the whole world on his shoulders; he is responsible for the world and for himself as a way of being." ~Jean-Paul Sartre

(And THAT folks, is just about as negative as you are ever going to see me be here on this blog.)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    ignorance is bliss! LOL
    I like the "pit of dispair" - reminds me of Princess Bride.
    I love being overly dramatic - it adds flair. Actually I am not a drama queen but I do tend to overemphasize.
    I say, ignore all the data - if science teaches us nothing else, it always teaches that data can be manipulated to support what you want. Think on that in your pit of dispair and help yourself up. emoticon
    1841 days ago
    "The less you know, the better."

    That's the truth right there.

    "If you have seen the experts stack up research against free will, then is change never gonna happen?"

    *Shrug* Good question. That's the sort of pit of despair I find myself in. Well, "pit of despair" is a bit overly dramatic. BUT when people say they just can't stop their negative thoughts, I think, "Count yourself lucky that you don't know what science would say about that."

    "...At least I have something to blame it on!"

    That's how I usually handle this sort of existential crisis. While I would like to be in Sartre's camp and say that we DO have free will, but that it's a curse...There are days where I just throw my hands up in the air and ride the elephant.


    1842 days ago
    The mind is a powerful thing! There is an excerpt from THE SPARK that really resonated with me and I want to share it with you. It just shows that how we approach things (our attitude) really makes or breaks us. I don't know that it is relivant to your thoughts here but you decide.
    "There's a fable about a prisoner sentenced to a life of punitive labor - all day long he turned the crank of a machine that provided light for a nearby town. It was monotonous, tedious work. But when he gazed out of his small prison window he could see lights on the horizon. He was exhausted each evening, but he took pride in the fact that he'd spent his day in a useful enterprise.
    After years of work, another inmate told him:'you're not creating light=that's from the electric generator across town. When you turn that crank all you're doing is pushing paddles through sand in a drum. You're just wasting your time.'
    The prisoner investigated and found out that this was true=his turning the crank was completely unrelated to the production of light. When he had felt his work has meaning and purpose, he was able to deal with any setback and survive his ordeal. But once his illusion was burst-once he saw his work was useless-he grew despondent and lost hope."

    I like this excerpt because it really shows that the less you really know the better! Ha!
    1842 days ago
    So what is a girl to do who needs and wants to lose weight and start exercising? If you have seen the experts stack up research against free will, then is change never gonna happen? Oh well, if I can't change then at least I have something to blame it on! emoticon
    1842 days ago
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