Journal 06-03-16 Fri DEC

 

 

Time is going relatively quickly. I guess that indicates I’ve established something of a routine. It definitely involves lots of reading. *smile* I shower during morning dayroom and every other day Dennis and I mop and clean the cell. After showering I go sync the MP4 player to send any emails I wrote the night before and to pick up any new ones, though the new ones usually don’t come through the mail room until a bit later in the day. I then spend the rest of dayroom reading. I eat meals fairly quickly so that I have time to use the restroom in the showers just off dayroom rather than taking a crap in the cell in front of my cellies (we do have a sheet we string up for a tad bit of privacy if that becomes necessary though). When we go to yard I walk and if it’s morning or weekend yard I listen to the radio. I’ve calculated that at my usual relaxed pace I walk between 2-2.5 miles in the hour of yard that we get. Each day we have a long lockdown during the day that is between 2.5 and 3.5 hours long which I use part of to do Yin yoga. Recently I’ve been trying new asanas, or postures, from the book Bruce gave me so that I have more options to choose from and in order to try and focus on the ones that help my psoas . When we go to gym I’ve started to play handball regularly now though there are so many players we end up having to queue up and wait a turn. Between the walking and the handball I seem to be losing the little guy I had. *cheer* If we have the hour and a half of dayroom at night I’ll go up and watch whatever the TV is tuned to but given that our late nights are on odd days we aren’t out late on the same weeknight 2 weeks in a row and that makes it hard to follow any specific show. *sigh* After lockdown at 8 or 8:30 if the meals had a lot of gluten in them and I didn’t eat I’ll fix some rice, squeeze cheese and some meat. I usually do that once or twice a week. Otherwise I read, write emails and journals and get to bed around 10:30-11. I am of course the last one in my cell to fall asleep since Jacobs is always asleep and Dennis usually crashes around 9:30. Once in a rare while we will all 3 engage in an evening conversation but that usually doesn’t last past 9:30 because Jacobs meds knock him out and that’s Dennis’s bedtime anyway. *chuckle*

 

I’m pretty lucky as far as reading materials go. I get The Economist weekly, plus mom has been sending me occasional books. That alone wouldn’t be enough to keep me in reading materials but thankfully there are a few guys that have some Fantasy series, like George who lent me Beyonder, and Jackson gets Scientific American and The Atlantic which I read cover to cover. I also picked up Travels With Charley and Moby Dick at the library this month so that should keep me covered all this month. LOL I wonder when dad will start The Christian Science Monitor and how length a weekly issue will be?

 

I really want to discuss articles from SA and The Atlantic with someone but I have a feeling that Jackson is the only other one that reads them entirely (and I’m not 100% sure of that) and he doesn’t seem interested in having any kind of an intellectual conversation with me about any of the articles. *sigh* That’s particularly disappointing since he is supposed to go to NSP and max custody too so we may be seeing more of each other for the next few years. LOL Maybe I can get Ness interested in some of the articles since he’s been willing to talk about The Magician’s series with me. Or maybe George, who is a speed reader, but I’m not sure what topics he likes to read. Both George and Ness are supposed to go to NSP max custody too so I may see lots of them over the next few years too. George and I walked and talked on yard yesterday and he used to be in the Army, is a bigger guy and black(ish) but he’s a really quiet and gentle guy by nature so he’s concerned about violence and getting in fights once we are put in general population. He even alluded to the idea of arranging to be cellies if we both ended up at NPS. That was nice of him to say, and he’d make a good cellie but let’s see if we even both end up at NPS first. *chuckle*

 

There were 2 articles in The Atlantic, which I just finished, that really struck me and made me want to talk with someone about them. Since Jackson won’t I guess I’ll write about them instead. The first one was about the concept of free will. More and more science is showing how what we classically consider to be free will doesn’t exist.

 

When you move your arm, let’s say, the neural activity to initiate it actually begins before we are even conscious of making the decision, so obviously the action was initiated before our higher consciousness even “decided” to do it. This is just the latest experiment to erode the idea of free will vs “determinism” so I won’t attempt to persuade the reader that it is the case, but rather we’ll accept it as a scientifically accepted standard now. Then what are the consequences?

 

There have been ample and varied studies that show that when people’s assumption of free will is brought into doubt they behave more poorly. They are more likely to cheat, to be selfish and less altruistic, to lie, etc. If our actions are determined by our stimulus and neurophysiology then we seem to behave as less morally responsible beings. Some philosophers are of a group (called Illusion-ism) that argues that the science that disproves free will should be locked up in academic/scientific “ivory towers” and that the truth not be disseminated to the public for fear of the collapse of civilization. When I read that I have to say I was shocked, but then that same argument is already used to justify religion so I guess I shouldn’t be. Not surprisingly, Sam Harris (a noted atheist) disagrees with the idea that science should lie “for the greater good” and believes that letting the truth out would actually be best for the greater good. If we don’t correctly understand what is really causing people to do bad things then we will continue to use crude tools like imprisonment. We will be better off when we know “what are the levers we can pull as a society to encourage people to be the best versions of themselves they can be.” Yes, I had reached the same conclusion as Harris even before the article covered him. The “Justice” system is fundamentally flawed because it is based on the concepts of agency and free will. Thus it takes punitive, rather than reparative measures. Yes, yes, you’re thinking I’m using this to avoid “responsibility” for my actions. No, I’m arguing that the proper response would be treatment which addresses the neurophysiological cause, which incarceration clearly doesn’t do.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) attempts to do that by changing mental patterns which cause neural pathways to rewire. So without free will, the only justification for punishment is purely revenge, as it does nothing to improve the safety of the community. The implication for the legal system isn’t my main concern though. Can society cope with the loss of the concept of free will?

 

I think the issue comes down to the definition and our concept of free will. As the article points out, determinism isn’t fatalism. They define determinism as “the belief that our decisions are part of an unbreakable chain of cause and effect.” While fatalism “is the belief that our decisions don’t really matter.” This is a matter of what CBT calls “reframing.” Rather than looking at the science and saying “No decision I make matters” we should be looking at the science as providing us with new tools to “be the best version of ourselves we can be” as Harris put it. The science shouldn’t destroy our sense of ourselves, it should improve our understanding of ourselves and show us how to improve. If it is a general human trait to attempt to improve one’s self then adding this new stimulus, accurate knowledge of how we make decisions, will enable us to move closer to being “the best versions of ourselves.” The drop in morality that studies showed is only because participants were starting with flawed stimulus to begin with, they believed they had free will. Provide everyone with the proper starting stimulus and we will not only understand ourselves better but we can formulate proper moral frameworks based on our true nature rather that illusions and misconceptions.

 

Ok, it is 11:30 so I’m going to wrap up for now. I wish I had someone to go back and forth with about this topic but at least putting it down felt good. I think I’ll get some books on free will, including Harris’s. *smile*

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