I am neither a mathematician nor philosopher but I am interested in the ideas about “determinism” & “free will.”
I was surprised to discover John H. Conway’s “Free Will Lectures” on YouTube because it seems to me that religions rely on “free will” as an explanation for existence and for human behavior but that “determinism” - based on science - creates fundamental problems for this conception. However, Conway supports “free will” based on his mathematical observations. Are his conclusions truly based on science?
What are the opinions of others on his presentation in these six lectures? http://youtu.be/Dkg3NWpoEt4

I am neither a mathematician nor philosopher but I am interested in the ideas about “determinism” & “free will.”
I was surprised to discover John H. Conway’s “Free Will Lectures” on YouTube because it seems to me that religions rely on “free will” as an explanation for existence and for human behavior but that “determinism” - based on science - creates fundamental problems for this conception. However, Conway supports “free will” based on his mathematical observations. Are his conclusions truly based on science?
What are the opinions of others on his presentation in these six lectures? http://youtu.be/Dkg3NWpoEt4

Science can not determine whether or not free will exists.

Science involving physically measuring things. No amount of physical measuring can test for free will.

Science can not determine whether or not free will exists.
Science involving physically measuring things. No amount of physical measuring can test for free will.

Obviously, according to Conway’s six lectures in this series, Conway & Kochen believe that they’ve managed to do so.
It’s better to watch them all in the sequence that the original poster of the video published them in order to observe how Conway & Kochen finally arrived at their conclusions. (It is a six-hour series).
I and others, I’m sure, would appreciate informed opinions based specifically on these lectures because we could then compare those opinions to the the data & methods they used. Otherwise, very broad and general statements about science are neither useful nor helpful in trying to evaluate Conway & Kochen’s theorem in the way it is presented in these lectures.
I neither have a position on the theorem nor on Conway & Kochen’s work. I do, however, think it necessary—when at least trying to understand the issue of Determinism—to be open-minded about legitimate challenges to it especially when they are based on scientific claims.
I don’t endorse the content. I just want to know what others think of it.
The text below is from the first of the lectures:

Published on Oct 1, 2012 by xknowledgeisfreex

John H. Conway’s Free Will Lectures: Princeton University 2009
A lecture series on the “free will theorem” by eminent mathematicians John H. Conway and Simon B. Kochen.

March 23, 2009: “Free Will and Determinism in Science and Philosophy”
Lecture 1—INTRODUCTION.
-Meet John Conway; hear about Simon Kochen and how the theorem came about.
-Free will and determinism in science and philosophy over the last two millennia; the implications of Newtonian and quantum mechanics.
-What Conway and Kochen mean by “free will.”
-Why it can’t be proved deductively that free will definitely exists in the first place.
-What the theorem does, and doesn’t, imply about behavior.
-A brief introduction to the three axioms upon which the theorem rests: SPIN, FIN, and TWIN.

FIN: There is a maximum speed for propagation of information (not necessarily the speed of light). This assumption rests upon causality.
SPIN: The squared spin component of certain elementary particles of spin one, taken in three orthogonal directions, will be a permutation of (1,1,0).
TWIN: It is possible to “entangle” two elementary particles, and separate them by a significant distance, so that they have the same squared spin results if measured in parallel directions. This is a consequence of (but more limited than) quantum entanglement.
“The free will theorem” http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0604079v1.pdf
“Do we really have free will, or, as a few determined folk maintain, is it all an illusion? We don’t know, but will prove in this paper that if indeed there exist any experimenters with a modicum of free will, then elementary particles must have their own share of this valuable commodity.
“I saw you put the ?sh in!” said a simpleton to an angler who had used a minnow to catch a bass. Our reply to an analogous objection would be that we use only a minuscule amount of human free will to deduce free will not only of the particles inside ourselves, but all over the universe.
To be more precise, what we shall show is that the particles’ response ? to a certain type of experiment is not determined by the entire previous history of that part of the universe accessible to them. The free will we assume is just that the experimenter can freely choose to make any one of a small number of observations. In addition, we make three physical assumptions in the form of three simple axioms.
The fact that they cannot always predict the results of future experiments has sometimes been described just as a defect of theories extending quantum mechanics. However, if our physical axioms are even approximately true, the free will assumption implies the stronger result, that no theory, whether it extends quantum mechanics or not, can correctly predict the results of future spin experiments. It also makes it clear that this failure to predict is a merit rather than a defect, since these results involve free decisions that the universe has not yet made.
Our result is by no means the ?rst in this direction. It makes use of the notorious quantum mechanical entanglement brought to light by Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, which has also been used in various forms by J. S. Bell, Kochen and Specker, and others to produce no-go theorems that dispose of the most plausible hidden variable theories. Our theorem seems to be the strongest and most precise result of this type, and in particular implies that there can be no relativistically invariant mechanism of the GRW-type (see Section 10) that explains the collapse of the wave function.”
**
The Free Will Theorem (assuming SPIN, TWIN, and FIN)].

If the choice of directions in which to perform spin 1 experiments is not a function of the information accessible to the experimenters, then the responses of the particles are equally not functions of the information accessible to them.[/quote]

Science can not determine whether or not free will exists.
Science involving physically measuring things. No amount of physical measuring can test for free will.

Obviously, according to Conway’s six lectures in this series, Conway & Kochen believe that they’ve managed to do so.
It’s better to watch them all in the sequence that the original poster of the video published them in order to observe how Conway & Kochen finally arrived at their conclusions. (It is a six-hour series).
I and others, I’m sure, would appreciate informed opinions based specifically on these lectures because we could then compare those opinions to the the data & methods they used. Otherwise, very broad and general statements about science are neither useful nor helpful in trying to evaluate Conway & Kochen’s theorem in the way it is presented in these lectures.
I neither have a position on the theorem nor on Conway & Kochen’s work. I do, however, think it necessary—when at least trying to understand the issue of Determinism—to be open-minded about legitimate challenges to it especially when they are based on scientific claims.
I don’t endorse the content. I just want to know what others think of it.
The text below is from the first of the lectures:

Published on Oct 1, 2012 by xknowledgeisfreex

John H. Conway’s Free Will Lectures: Princeton University 2009
A lecture series on the “free will theorem” by eminent mathematicians John H. Conway and Simon B. Kochen.

March 23, 2009: “Free Will and Determinism in Science and Philosophy”
Lecture 1—INTRODUCTION.
-Meet John Conway; hear about Simon Kochen and how the theorem came about.
-Free will and determinism in science and philosophy over the last two millennia; the implications of Newtonian and quantum mechanics.
-What Conway and Kochen mean by “free will.”
-Why it can’t be proved deductively that free will definitely exists in the first place.
-What the theorem does, and doesn’t, imply about behavior.
-A brief introduction to the three axioms upon which the theorem rests: SPIN, FIN, and TWIN.

FIN: There is a maximum speed for propagation of information (not necessarily the speed of light). This assumption rests upon causality.
SPIN: The squared spin component of certain elementary particles of spin one, taken in three orthogonal directions, will be a permutation of (1,1,0).
TWIN: It is possible to “entangle” two elementary particles, and separate them by a significant distance, so that they have the same squared spin results if measured in parallel directions. This is a consequence of (but more limited than) quantum entanglement.
“The free will theorem” http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0604079v1.pdf
“Do we really have free will, or, as a few determined folk maintain, is it all an illusion? We don’t know, but will prove in this paper that if indeed there exist any experimenters with a modicum of free will, then elementary particles must have their own share of this valuable commodity.

Why *should* elementary particles have free will? What does that even mean? That elementary particles have the ability to choose? Does that make any sense to you?

witkola - 21 November 2012 10:46 AM

“I saw you put the ?sh in!” said a simpleton to an angler who had used a minnow to catch a bass. Our reply to an analogous objection would be that we use only a minuscule amount of human free will to deduce free will not only of the particles inside ourselves, but all over the universe.
To be more precise, what we shall show is that the particles’ response ? to a certain type of experiment is not determined by the entire previous history of that part of the universe accessible to them. The free will we assume is just that the experimenter can freely choose to make any one of a small number of observations.

So he *does* believe that we have free will—i.e. that we are free to choose. So what is this scientific research about? What is it trying to explain? What is the hypothesis? How do they intend to test it?

Why *should* elementary particles have free will? What does that even mean? That elementary particles have the ability to choose? Does that make any sense to you?
So he *does* believe that we have free will—i.e. that we are free to choose. So what is this scientific research about? What is it trying to explain? What is the hypothesis? How do they intend to test it?

I was hoping that someone who had actually viewed the lectures would respond. Thank you.

Why *should* elementary particles have free will? What does that even mean? That elementary particles have the ability to choose? Does that make any sense to you?
So he *does* believe that we have free will—i.e. that we are free to choose. So what is this scientific research about? What is it trying to explain? What is the hypothesis? How do they intend to test it?

I was hoping that someone who had actually viewed the lectures would respond. Thank you.

Why don’t you view the lectures and then answer my questions?

I was hoping that someone who had actually viewed the lectures would respond. Thank you.

Why don’t you view the lectures and then answer my questions?

I have viewed the lectures and, apparently, you haven’t. But I am still interested in the opinions of those who have actually viewed the lectures.

You watched the lectures and you don’t know the answers to my questions?

I suggest either dropping the whole thing, or watching the lectures again while this time having my questions in mind and trying to get answers to them.

I have viewed the lectures and, apparently, you haven’t. I am interested in the opinions of those who have actually viewed the lectures.

Why are you asking people to view the lectures? Is there any reason to believe that they are good? Without answers to the questions I posed, that would be a waste of time. In the entire thing you posted, I was not able to get answers to my questions. These are simple questions that have simple answers. The answers wouldn’t consume an entire 8.5x11 page of text.

So if you want to persuade Sam Harris readers to view the lectures, then you’ll have to do better than, “I would like to hear your opinion on X”.