Do We Make Our Own Choices?

This is just a short note, sharing some interesting resources about a subject that I find highly intriguing.

One of my favorite interests these days is the question of whether humans really have free will. You might think that this sounds like a paranoid fantasy and chalk me up as a “big brother”-fearing government-conspiracy-believing crackpot. But, hear me out.

There is lots of evidence from brain research, behavioral studies, and even economics that suggest that what we humans perceive as our ability to choose based on our own whims is actually predictable and–frighteningly–controllable by outside forces. The matter is one of much debate, but if you it piques your curiosity like it does mine, here are some resources to explore.

1. “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely: Ariely is one of the most interesting scientists I have ever seen speak. You can appreciate his message in this talk from the 2008 EG conference (not technically TED, but closely related).

2. “The Brain on Trial” from The Atlantic: This recent article discusses how tumors in the brain can cause much of the behaviors that we associate with the worst criminals in society.

3. “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell: This book contains a lot of information about how the brain handles decision-making.

4. “Drive” by Daniel Pink: If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re really missing out. While making choices is not a major theme of the book, Pink spends some time sharing some of the current research.

Check these out and let your brain do a little stretching.

photo credit: “lapolab” via photopin cc