Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Last time I was visiting my mom, I picked up one of her Skeptical Inquirer magazines and flipped through the various articles. One was about the idea of free will and cited a study where the participants were given decisions to make and a button to push when they'd made the decision. However, their brains were also being monitored, and, supposedly, there was activity in their brains suggesting that the impulse to push the button happened significantly (this is where one of my concerns about the study lies -- what counts as "significant"?) before they would actually push the button.

Theoretically, the study showed that the decisions people make are made before the people making them intellectually realize it. Now, I don't know if the study really supports that. However, I think it's an interesting idea, and I've been trying to watch my own thinking since reading that -- trying to locate the moment when I make a decision. This is not very scientific. And, yet, I can kind of feel like sometimes I've made up my mind about something before I've managed to articulate the idea in thoughts to myself. And, then, the thinking and articulating I do is simply my mental way to explain my own decision to myself.

This may sound like I'm saying I make irrational decisions and then rationalize them to myself. (Which, actually, I think the article was arguing everyone does.) However, what I'm really trying to convey is more a sense that there's a moment when a flip switches somewhere in my brain, whenever a decision has to be made, and I can't necessarily pinpoint that moment, and it doesn't necessarily correspond with the moment when I say to myself, "I've decided that ---". Or even, necessarily, the moment right before saying that. So, perhaps, when the moment happens, it happens somewhere deep inside where I'm not even aware of it and can't feel it. And, then, the decision trickles forward and upward into parts of my brain where I can feel it and recognize it.

No comments:

Post a Comment