Free Will Contest Update
Originally I said the winner would have to prove free will. That’s pretty much impossible. There are many reasons, here’s one: we can’t rule out dualism. Any mind/body duality means that free will could still exist, but be supernatural in origin. Yes, that’s not particularly convincing, and I’d typically ignore it, but it’s a still a problem. Besides, “proving” something is almost impossible, even when you ignore things that are ridiculous.
Another problem is that, as an entry pointed out, I didn’t define free will. What I mean is that I (whatever that means) have the ability to control my actions. They are not determined by anything else, whether that anything be God, fairies, chemicals and electricity in my brain, quantum interactions, or whatever. Basically, I mean the common-sense definition, as most reasonable people would give it.
The final problem is that I would be a bad judge. It would take a fairly significant discovery to sway me either way, and the evidence just isn’t there. However, good cases can be made.
Also, the people who demanded prizes usually just mentioned cookies, which made me think that they’re really what people want.
So taking all of this into consideration, here’s what’s going to happen. I’ll be soliciting entries for the contest until at least the end of Thanksgiving Break (the 26th). Anyone can enter, although only once. You can enter by E-mailing me (stupac2 at gmail dot com) or leaving a comment at either post. At the end of the time period, I will make a voting website, where readers will score essays. Every entry can receive a score of 0 to 10, 0 being totally unconvincing and 10 being pretty darn good. After a certain amount of time voting will close and the highest ranked entries will receive the prize. The number of winners will depend on the number of entries, if I get 5 there will only be one winner, but if I get 30 or more there will be 3.
The prize will be a package of cookies shipped directly to your door. The winner can choose, but if they don’t I’ll send Nabisco Chips Ahoy - Chewy:
I think these are absolutely delicious cookies, the best that come prepackaged.
I’ll need the addresses of the winners, so either provide it to me when you enter or pay attention as the contest develops (subscribe to my RSS feed! Muahaha!). If you win and I don’t have an address, you won’t get cookies. Which would be a cryin’ shame. Also, you should probably title your post. I’m not entirely sure how the website will work (I’m going to try to follow the Blogger SAT Challenge that a couple of Sciencebloggers did a while back), but a distinct possibility is that it will have a list of linked titles, and the voting past that link. I’m not sure if that’s exactly how it will be, but a good title could never hurt.
So you really have nothing to lose. In the next couple of weeks come up with your best “proof” or “disproof” of free will, and maybe win cookies!