10 votes

Why Belief in "Free Will" is Important

While philosophers have long debated the existence of “free will,” social engineers through today's mass media seem determined to convince us that free will is just an illusion. For example, if you google news search “free will” as I just did, you will find the following headlines:

Free Will: Is Your Brain the Boss of You?
Scientists determine that 'Free Will' stems from background noise ...
Free Will may be an Illusion – CNET
Searching for the "Free Will" Neuron - Technology Review
The Uncomfortable Truth about Mind Control: Is “free will” simply a myth?


Below is an excerpt from the last headline above:

“In the Sixties, a groundbreaking series of experiments found that 65% of us would kill if ordered to do so. We have vain brains; we see ourselves as better than we really are. We like to think that we exercise free will; that put into a situation where we were challenged to do something we thought unacceptable then we'd refuse. But, if you believe that, then you are probably deluded. I make this claim, based partly on the work of psychologist Stanley Milgram. Milgram devised and carried out ingenious experiments that exposed the frailty and self-delusion that are central to our lives. He showed how easy it is to make ordinary people do terrible things; that "evil" often happens for the most mundane of reasons.”

Notice how the findings from Milgram’s famous study have been reframed by the author by calling the 65% who gave the shocks the “ordinary” people. However, the truth is quite clearly the reverse - the 35% who refused to give the shocks were “humane” and the 65% who complied were not. Thus, what the study actually demonstrated was that the majority of subjects were not psychologically “healthy.” For the author to imply that the subjects who refused commands to harm another were somehow "abnormal" is morally bankrupt and equivalent to apologizing for those who have committed acts of genocide throughout human history.

In fact, I would argue that the 65% who would harm another on command suffer from the "mental sickness" described and foretold in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, a book written in 1932 about the world we live in today where social engineering has created a population of passive servants for the corporate state.

Huxley writes:
“The real hopeless victims of mental illness [will] be found among those who appear to be most normal...They are "normal" not in.. the absolute sense of the word; [but] normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society… their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society [will be] a measure of their true mental sickness."

Regardless of whether or not we can actually prove that “free will” exists, the more important scientific question is how does the belief in “free will” serve humanity in our daily lives today?

What the news articles above fail to mention is that we have strong empirical evidence that inducing disbelief in “free will” increases cheating (1), aggression (2), and conformity (3), while decreasing helping behavior (2), self-control (4,5) and judgment (6). When viewed from this perspective, it raises profound questions regarding the true intentions of those who want to convince us that “free will” is an illusion.

The reality is that believing in “free will” may be fundamentally important to establishing and maintaining a society of free, self-governed, moral individuals. So, if we truly value Liberty, perhaps it’s time we start cultivating the belief in “free will.”


1. Vohs, K. D., & Schooler, J. W. (2008). The value of believing in free will: Encouraging a belief in determinism increases cheating. Psychological Science, 19, 49–54. http://refhub.elsevier.com/S1053-8100(14)00007-5/h0330
2. Baumeister, R. F., Masicampo, E. J., & DeWall, C. N. (2009). Prosocial benefits of feeling free: Disbelief in free will increases aggression and reduces helpfulness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 260–268. http://refhub.elsevier.com/S1053-8100(14)00007-5/h0020
3. Alquist, J. L., Ainsworth, S. E., & Baumeister, R. F. (2013). Determined to conform: Disbelief in free will increases conformity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 80–86. http://refhub.elsevier.com/S1053-8100(14)00007-5/h0005
4. Rigoni, D., Kuhn, S., Gaudino, G., Sartori, G., & Brass, M. (2012). Reducing self-control by weakening belief in free will. Consciousness and Condition, 21, 1482–1490. http://refhub.elsevier.com/S1053-8100(14)00007-5/h0255
5. Rigoni, D., Kuhn, S., Sartori, G., & Brass, M. (2011). Inducing disbelief in free will alters brain correlates of preconscious motor preparation: The brain minds whether we believe in free will or not. Psychological Science, 22(5), 613–618. http://refhub.elsevier.com/S1053-8100(14)00007-5/h0255
6. Rigoni, D., Wilquin, H., Brass, M., & Burle, B. (2013). When errors do not matter: Weakening belief in intentional control impairs cognitive reaction to errors. Cognition, 127, 264–269. http://refhub.elsevier.com/S1053-8100(14)00007-5/h0260

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

do people really doubt their ability

to exercise their own will?

Who do they think animates their body?

Whether gold is laid at my feet or a gun is put to my head, only I can kneel.

Anyone care to test the theory with me? Go ahead and do your best to make me do anything against my will-lets see what happens...



"In reality, the Constitution itself is incapable of achieving what we would like in limiting government power, no matter how well written."

~ Ron Paul, End the Fed

Hey that's awesome!

Thank you!

Double edged sword

If the viewpoint chosen is the most accurate one, then free will move along on a path driven by that power to choose the most accurate viewpoint encountered each step of the way on that path.

That is the hard way when so many people choose the other path.

The power to choose can be a time and place where an individual chooses to offer another individual a less accurate viewpoint.

The example of that type of choice, to choose a less accurate viewpoint, begins as deception because the creator of the less accurate viewpoint knows that the viewpoint offered is less accurate.

A false choice is then placed in the path of someone in the form of deception, and then there is a choice to be made by the potential victim of deception.

The example of that type of choice can arrive in the form of a something for nothing offer offered by the deceiver to the potentially deceived.

If the choice made by the potentially deceived is a less accurate viewpoint, then the potentially deceived may "believe," in the lie that the deceived will get "something for nothing," from the deceiver.

At that point the deceiver is in command of the actions of the deceived.

If the choice made by the potentially deceived is a more accurate viewpoint, then the potentially deceived will not "believe," in the lie that the deceived will get "something for nothing," from the deceiver.

At that point the deceiver is not in command of the actions of the one who chooses not to "believe," in the deception.

Call in the "show me the money" choice.

If a whole lot of people believe in the false money "choice," then lies tend to become ubiquitous.


why "free will" is just an illusion

Rom 8:20 For to vanity was the creation subjected, not voluntarily, but because of Him Who subjects it, in expectation
Rom 8:21 that the creation itself, also, shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Mark Twain wrote the

Mark Twain wrote the definitive essay on the subject already: What Is Man?


"In reality, the Constitution itself is incapable of achieving what we would like in limiting government power, no matter how well written."

~ Ron Paul, End the Fed

He is not "definitive" if he is wrong.

"O.M. Yes. Man the machine - man the impersonal engine. Whatsoever a man is, is due to his make, and to the influences brought to bear upon it by his heredities, his habitat, his associations. He is moved, directed, commanded, by exterior influences - solely. He originates nothing, not even a thought."

Human reasoning alone always leads to error. A better stsatement would be:

"Whatsoever a man is, by nature, is do to his Maker plus the influences of those from whom he has descended. What he becomes is due to his submission or resistance to the influences brought to bear upon him by his heredities, his habitat, and his associations with people and books or other media material they produce." He originates nothing, but he uses all these influences in whatsoever manner his desires prompt him to use them, and is therefore responsible for his actions and his every thought."

Unlike a machine, we can choose whether or not to allow an outside influence to influence any particular decision we make.

We have all descended from a man (Adam) who became corrupted by disobedience to His Maker. He was influenced by his wife. But he did not have to eat with her. Its possible he chose to eat with her because he loved her and knew she would die according to the warning God had given him, and he did not want her to suffer alone. Or, he just plain liked what he saw in the fruit that was offered and figured "She hasn't died yet, so I'll take my chances."

Either way we have all inherited a sinful nature. That's why we all strive to teach our children to do right and not wrong - because wrong comes naturally.

We all go through life making decisions. Some of us follow the influence of our parents, some of us resist the influence of our parents. Many families have siblings that have a variety of responses to parental influence.

Ultimately, our Creator relies on our freewill for His satisfaction or disappointment. He provided a solution to our corruption, in that, in view of the fact that His Law stipulates death as the penalty for sin, He, of His own will, became flesh so He could pay that penalty in our place. He has proclaimed that anyone who believes in His earthly manifestation (Jesus) and believes in His plan to save us from the penalty of sin, will be saved from the penalty of sin.

So, freewill is very real and very important - Mark Twain's corrupted intellect notwithstanding.

Freedom is the ability to do what you want to do.
Liberty is the ability to do what you ought to do.
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 2 Corinthians 3:17

This Has Been

This has been something that I have wrestled with. I spent years in a church that taught predestination. The turning point for me was Matthew 23:37: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that kill the prophets and stones them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not." Also, "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." I now believe that predestination theology regarding man's free will crept into the early church through men like Augustine who had been indoctrinated into pagan fatalism as a result of involvement with the Gnostic and Greek philosophers.
Yes, environment and genetics impact us, but they are not blueprints, they are scripts which can be altered. Indoctrination hinders free will, but the advent of the Internet, IMO, has freed more minds than anything else ever has. I am responsible for my actions. How can anyone believe in self-ownership and not in free will? Thank you for posting this. I had to include the Biblical references because that has been part of my on-going odyssey.

Edward Moran

Another twist: how can you

Another twist: how can you own something you did not create? Did you create yourself or did God create you? Did he command us to do his will? Up until a few weeks ago, I believed in self-ownership and free will. Now I see that we are given a choice, we can choose to do God's will, or we can cast out God, put ourselves in his place and determine our own path.

free will allows us to do things like this:

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

Holy crap!

I can't wait to show this to my wife. We have a female Scottish Terrier that could have easily pulled this off. Hilarious! Of course some PETA supporting drone will call this abuse.

Poor Dog...

Who put that clown costume on him..?


"Take hold of the future or the future will take hold of you." -- Patrick Dixon


I bet that dog is really pissed about getting treats and sitting still for a whopping ten seconds.

Only you can prevent faceplants.

Don't forget to drink and drive.

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.


Very interesting – Thank you.

Two things jumped out. The vain brain, also termed by some as the lake woebegone effect, causes us to see ourselves as better than others. A majority of college prof will rate themselves better than average, most men think we are good looking, etc. – this is one of the strongest points of leverage for large scale mind control. Flattery is a low cost high impact tool of mind control.

The second point is the OPs post regarding which group in the study was the the normal group. The point strikes me as correct especially with the Huxley quote. I think I see this mislabeled normal definition in the collectivist identity politics where rights come from groups. (not factions-jk) Of course the latest group be it, marriage equality activists, pro choice’ers, or hebrew roots movement, or the (fill in the name) all have a strong superiority complex. Any disagreement with them only comes from stupid or mean, or both, people.

I guess humility would go a long way in all of our lives.


Liberty = Responsibility

Asclepius's picture

Thanks! Good points

I agree

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds. - Bob Marley


But somewhat contrary to everything I've learned on the subject of 'killing on command'. Historically at least (up to and including Vietnam) it has been quite difficult for militaries around the world to get even 40% of their troops to truly attempt to kill another human being---even if the person's life, or his buddies' lives, are in danger. They shoot high or low, or attempt to injure instead of kill, or to frighten the enemy off, or hide, or whatever---the aversion to killing fellow humans is very powerful (hence the dehumanization of the enemy and all that).

In the non-military crowd it has historically been under 10%, again even if threatened, and you see evidence of this every day in the news stories where people just cower and wait to be rescued rather than fight back, let alone kill.

Asclepius's picture

Thanks, u are correct RE the military of the past...

at least according to the source below. During World War II, "only 15 to 20 percent of riflemen could bring themselves to fire at an exposed enemy soldier." However,"...by the Korean War, around 55 percent of the soldiers were willing to fire to kill, and the rate rose to over 90 percent by Vietnam."


Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds. - Bob Marley