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Do We Have Free Will? with Robert Sapolsky

Fork in path by michael, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

Is there a quantum reason we could have free will? Neil deGrasse Tyson and comedian Chuck Nice explore the concept of free will and predetermination with neuroscientist, biologist, and author of Determined: The Science of Life Without Free Will, Robert Sapolsky.

Could we put an end to the question of whether or not we have free will? Discover “The Hungry Judge Effect” and how little bits of biology affect our actions. We break down a physicist’s perspective of free will, The Big Bang, and chaos theory. Is it enough to just feel like we have free will? Why is it an issue to think you have free will if you don’t?

We discuss the difference between free will in big decisions versus everyday decisions. How do you turn out to be the type of person who chooses vanilla ice cream over strawberry? We explore how quantum physics and virtual particles factor into predetermination. Could quantum randomness change the actions of an atom? How can society best account for a lack of free will? Are people still responsible for their actions?

What would Chuck do if he could do anything he wanted? We also discuss the benefits of a society that acknowledges powers outside of our control and scientific advancements made. How is meritocracy impacted by free will? Plus, can you change if people believe in free will if they have no free will in believing so?

Thanks to our Patrons Pro Handyman, Brad K. Daniels, Starman, Stephen Somers, Nina Kane, Paul Applegate, and David Goldberg for supporting us this week.

A special thanks from our editors to Robert Sapolsky’s dog. 

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

In This Episode

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