Sam Harris on Joe Rogan Podcast 192


This is real. I get all of this, this experience… talking is writing on top of a machinery that I can’t inspect and when it fails, it’s a surprise and I don’t know why it failed.

And.. so that’s, that’s just talking about you know, parse and speech. But all of our.. all of our thinking and behaving and wanting and doing.. all of our.. in our life is made of, of, of.. unconscious processing of that sort.


And so their experiments where you can show that people, when you think you have consciously decided to do something, your brain is actually committed to doing it


Joe Rogan: Seconds


Sam Harris: half a second or seconds before you.. while you’re still making up your mind. So this really nullifies the conventional notion of free will because you’re…


Now if you say, you give me 2 buttons to push and I can push either one I want and push them when I want. You just tell me to make up my mind.


And I go back and forth and back and forth and I say I’m gonna push the left one completely free choice. I did it. No one forced me to do it.


The truth is if you’re recording from my scalp or EG or looking with from an MRI.. brain function. You could detect that before I thought I was committed. ‘Coz in these experiments subjects watch a clock and they… so I’m watching the hands of a clock or watching random numbers appear on a screen.


And I looked.. my only goal is to just look at when I’ve decided.. when I’m committed that I go back and forth between left and right, left and right and then I say okay, the hand is at 6, I’m gonna go left.


All the experiments show that for some decisions, several seconds before.. we can tell from the brain what… whether the subject is going left or right. So your subjective sense of being truly upstream of your decision making process is, is a false one.


Joe Rogan: The only problem I have with that is two-fold. One is that, if you’re gonna study something like that, and you… you make a clear study that there’s a red or green and you have to make a choice as to which one.

And you monitor on the subject’s brain, is that real? Is that real life? I mean it’s a fucking test, you know. How do we know what’s going on in a real life scenario? How do we know that there’s not a lot of overthinking going on?


Sam Harris: Right


Joe Rogan: How do we know there’s not a lot of shit going on behind the scenes? Like in a sort of situation, you’re setting up this test


Sam Harris: Right


Joe Rogan: Could psychedelics change free will? If a psychedelic experience changes your whole tune, could it… could it literally change what, what decisions that you would automatically make?


I mean if there is no free will, free will is just your mind for whatever reason goes left or right based on morals or ethics or what feels right or what feels wrong. In that sense, wouldn’t psychedelics be able to change free will?


Sam Harris: I think free will is a truly incoherent


Joe Rogan: Right, just a crazy word


Sam Harris: consciousness. It just doesn’t make any sense


Joe Rogan:  a placeholder


Sam Harris: We have causality and no one has ever described a way in which mental or physical events can arise that makes sense of this idea of free will.


Of being the true locust of the causes of your thoughts and actions. And this is.. most people think that we have this.. that there’s a mystery here.


We have a subjective experience of free will but we can’t map it on to a notion of physical cause and effect.


But I think if you look closely, you will only realize that you have subjective experience of free will. So if I ask you, you know think of a.. a MMA fighter.

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