Understanding Free Will

If we have free will, we can consciously make decisions that are not determined by the physics and biology of our brains. It's a philosophical and religious concept that has found no support in science, despite the strong illusion that we are free. Even if we are not, belief in free will can be healthy, as long as we remain aware that many factors influence our behavior subconsciously.

Recent Posts on Free Will

A Mind of One’s Own?

Julian Jaynes once made the strange claim that our ancestors did not evolve conscious minds until 600 BCE. But are we conscious at all? To find out, let's talk about Love.

Why No-Nonsense Classrooms Are Less Terrible Than Usual Ones

By Peter Gray Ph.D. on January 18, 2016 Freedom to Learn
Recently, we've heard of the success of "no-nonsense teaching." Here's what I like about it. It makes no bones about the fact that children are little prisoners who must ....

Laziness and Procrastination

By Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. on January 13, 2016 Don't Delay
"I am so lazy." What should we think of this?

Fables and Facts in Educational Neuroscience

By William R. Klemm Ph.D. on January 11, 2016 Memory Medic
Numerous critics have pointed out that neuroscience has not had much impact on education, and worse yet has spawned a series of harmful myths.

Ritual Killing: In 2016, Resolve to Forego Mindless Rituals

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on January 02, 2016 Insight Therapy
Social rituals are useful, perhaps necessary, but their dark side should not be overlooked.

Starting a New Year: Why I Embrace Discomfort

My freedom depends on my willingness to step outside my comfort zone – the habits and beliefs that have been ingrained in me through socialization and trauma.

Is the Universe Friendly? YOU Decide!

By Jeff Bell on January 01, 2016 Beyond the Doubt
Psssst: Looking for a simple New Year’s resolution you can make that will all but guarantee you the best year you’ve ever had? (Einstein and) I have a suggestion!

Dance, Sex Appeal & Democracy

By Po Chi Wu Ph.D. on December 30, 2015 Jacob's Staff
Popular dance is a powerful metaphor for individualism. How might the sex appeal of pop dance entertainers reflect those changes? How is this reflected in contemporary China?

Do Therapists Really Have More "Power" Than Their Clients?

By Clifford N Lazarus Ph.D. on December 24, 2015 Think Well
Many people mistakenly think their therapists have more "power" in the relationship than they do. Here's why you and your therapist relate on a level, interpersonal playing field.

Justice Without Retribution

By Gregg D. Caruso Ph.D. on December 14, 2015 Unjust Deserts
Is justice without retribution possible?

Why—With Humans—It’s All So Complicated

In relationships, all is relative. How could it not be when our perceptions of others are "preordained” by so many different factors. . . .

To Cuff or to Tether

By Stan Tatkin Psy.D. on December 02, 2015 The Puzzle of Love
Some think of fall and winter as “cuffing season,” but tethering with a partner is much more likely than cuffing to lead to a happy, long-lasting, secure-functioning relationship.

Ignoring Science Is Killing Us

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on November 29, 2015 Excellent Beauty
Racism plagues our lives. We'd do well to take its evolutionary roots seriously.

The Existential Crisis of Birdman

Birdman embodies the struggle to discover your authentic identity.

Releasing the Barriers to Love: An Interview with Tara Brach

By Mark Matousek on November 24, 2015 Ethical Wisdom
What is the role of radical acceptance in intimate relationships? Why is spaciousness necessary for deep connection? Is it possible to be committed without attachment? How can we set our beloved free without losing trust?

Have to? Should? Could? Will?

Caught up in the "too much" world, we may find ourselves living unconsciously, doing, doing doing. But take a moment and imagine what you might do in any moment. Sit with possibilities. And then, feeling into your own knowing, make a choice.

Being Here Now: The Art of Precious Present-Centeredness

By Dan Mager MSW on November 05, 2015 Some Assembly Required
When we aren’t paying conscious attention to the present moment, we are effectively sleepwalking, even when we are wide-awake. When we’re focused on the past or the future, we are cut off from the possibilities inherent in this moment—unable to see it and experience it for what it is; separated from the opportunities it presents.

Neuroscientific Prediction and Free Will

By Gregg D. Caruso Ph.D. on October 26, 2015 Unjust Deserts
Is free will compatible with the perfect neuroscientific prediction of all human choices?

Does Disbelief in Free Will Increase Anti-Social Behavior?

By Gregg D. Caruso Ph.D. on October 16, 2015 Unjust Deserts
Would disbelief in free will increase anti-social behavior?

The Four Stages of Desire: From Everything to One Thing

As a culture, we’ve always had ambivalent feelings about feelings of desire. The Christian tradition takes a dim view of desire, because it tends to focus on ephemeral satisfactions of this world rather than eternal rewards of the next world. Western philosophers, on the other hand, mostly view desire as fundamental. To be human is to desire what what we don't have.

Master Your Motivation

By Tina Seelig Ph.D. on October 12, 2015 CreativityRulz
There is a deep linkage between motivation and success. Those with a strong mission are much more likely to succeed.

The 30-Day Money C-H-O-I-C-E Challenge

By Michael F. Kay on October 01, 2015 Financial Life Focus
Ever looked at your stack of bills and wonder how the heck you're going to get these paid? How did that feel? Rotten, right? Of course it did. No wants to live with the weight of debt—to carry that hopeless frustration deep into their bones.

Fear the Walking Dead: Can Brain Parasites Make Us Zombies?

By Joe Pierre M.D. on September 28, 2015 Psych Unseen
Can brain infections really turn us into zombies? Research with the human brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii suggests that yes, maybe they can.

Are We Responsible for Our Violent Dreams?

By Patrick McNamara Ph.D. on September 26, 2015 Dream Catcher
Mental content of dreams can sometimes perfectly coincide with mental content of overt behavioral acts and that fact can raise thorny legal and philosophical issues.

The Sex Offender Next Door: Why Reintegration Helps

Ex-offenders are less likely to re-offend if there are people who will support their recovery.

You Are Not Your Body

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Ambigamy
If the history of the universe were shrunk to one year, life would have started today, September 21. Here's what happened and how to make sense of what you are as a result.

How Boredom Can Afflict the End of Adolescence

When it comes to leading a more independent path through life at the end of adolescence, finding a working interest to like and taking an active interest in work one doesn't like can both be hard to do.

How to Put Painful Experiences Behind You

By Erin Olivo Ph.D. on September 10, 2015 Wise Mind Living
Is a painful experience from the past holding you back? Try these 3 strategies to help heal and move on with your life.

Can You Really Catch Madness From Your Cat?

By Guy P. Harrison on September 08, 2015 About Thinking
Billions of human brains are infected with a bizarre cat parasite that seems to influence our personality and behavior. Could they be altering the course of human history as well?

The Lure of ISIS

By Saul Levine M.D. on September 01, 2015 Our Emotional Footprint
Thousands of youth from multiple countries, cultures, religions, and social classes have abruptly left their homes and families to join ISIS, a dangerous, destructive, messianic Islamic self-styled nation (caliphate). They abandon their past values and relationships. become zealous True Believers, committed to their charismatic leaders and their God, dedicated to victory