Saturday, 8 June 2019

Born to do Math 123 - Will and Willpower: Contradictory Will

Born to do Math 123 - Will and Willpower: Contradictory Will
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
June 8, 2019

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: That's true. In this model, they aren't too dissimilar either. One has more time to come to more options to select among those choices as opposed to one.

Rick Rosner: According to modern experiments, modern decisions kind take place after a lot of stuff has happened, especially with regards to split-second decisions. The way to understand this is a really popular model of what your brain is for right now.

It is to help you prepare for what is next, to help you anticipate, to help you act based on what your brain predicts will be occurring based on its model of the world, which is developed through thought and perception.

I believe a lot of brain people would agree with the fashionable idea. That, whether you're aware of it or not, consciously aware of it or not, your brain has a set of possibilities in mind for what might happen in the immediate future and in the less immediate future.

The best way or one good way to see this is to see or imagine what you're doing when you're driving. You have a bunch of ideas in mind. The light is going to turn yellow. Some dickhead is going to cut in on you...

Jacobsen: ...[Laughing]...

Rosner: ...somebody is going to brake unexpectedly. A ball is going to roll out. A kid is going to run in front of you. A tire is going to blow out. There are a bunch of possibilities that you are more or less conscious of.

Your brain is constantly teeing up a bunch of possibilities for you to be ready for. In addition, it is also teeing up responses to those possibilities. When something happens in an instant, you react pre-consciously. Your brain takes the best spontaneous action before you even have time to be consciously aware of the action.

You have what, I guess, I call Confirmatory Will. That, as enough time passes for you to be aware of everything, it appears that you are confirming your action. Somebody cuts in on you. You suddenly decide to either swerve out of your lane or slam on your brakes, or yell, or something.

It appears to you afterwards that you decided to do that in response to a rapidly unfolding situation. You feel as if it was part of your conscious awareness, or maybe you don't. Maybe, you feel as if it was part of your conscious awareness. 

Maybe, you feel as if it was automatic. But it gets incorporated into your consciousness before you had time to think about it, and make a conscious decision.

Jacobsen: This is like hindsight confirmation.

Rosner: Yes, you did something. You confirm what you did. Most of the time you don't even realize at what level of consciousness that it occurred. It allows for the possibility of Contradictory Will. Where your immediate spur of the moment reaction is to do one thing, in the split second to make the decision, you modify the action.

When people used to do something stupid in traffic, I used to yell a certain word that I no longer use.

Jacobsen: [Laughing] what is it?

Rosner: If somebody cut in on me, and if I would yell, "You fucking... [no longer used word]", I am able to stop myself. It is a tendency to stop the spur of the moment action over the years.

Jacobsen: Maybe, it is like the long consideration of willing something. Those ones you can be more rounded about in terms of who that person really is. These split-second changes; you're bending a will a slight bit to another direction rather than a complete 180. 

Rosner: Yes, everything is felt that you decided to do as a default state. You touch a hot stove and dive back. Nobody says that they decided to do that. Or you wake up to find somebody standing next to the bed. 

You do a startle reaction. You jump. Nobody says, "I decided to jump." Beyond things like that, the flow of consciousness is such that you're deciding everything that you decide to do.

Jacobsen: There is an evolutionary reasoning for it, probably. In the sense that, you don't want to be consciously thinking about everything. If you're a pianist or a violinist, you want things automated, so you can more emotively express yourself in the moment, in performance.

Rosner: Yes, we signed off on a lot of stuff. We signed off on walking, on breathing, on the hand gestures that we might make when we're talking and not thinking about what our hands might be  doing. We decided through long experience that we don't need to think about those things.

Those don't enter the realm of conscious decision-making. If a mean girlfriend says, "You look like a dork," or, "Your posture is terrible." You may think about how you move through the world.

Jacobsen: On the one hand, it is informed will, approved will, and confirmatory will, then contradictory will.

Rosner: Your unconscious staging of actions wanting to push you in one direction, then you actively kind of move into another. Although, you could argue the conscious interference with the staging is your brain setting yourself up for the future. 

So, that there is no difference between the conscious interference and the staging. It is all part of the same dialogue. Your split second reaction is contradicted by you being conscious about it. You are not confirming the staging. You are deciding to do something else.

Jacobsen: There is also the thinking about something at the start and then making a choice along those lines.

Rosner: A lot of my reactions take a long time to play out. I have a do the wrong thing and a do the right thing. I walk by a panhandler. I think, "No, I don't want to give money to people." I'm like, "Really? Am I that kind of dick? You haven't given to someone in a long time." 

By that time, I am 4 or 5 steps past the person. Then I go and give in to the decision and give them a buck. That whole process takes several seconds. It is a long term playing out of staging. What do you do when you see a homeless person asking for money? 

My default is generally not to give. Then there is the contradictory will that places this in a context of being kind of a dick if you never give. How long has it been since you have given? Then asks you, "Are you reflexively more inclined to give to others?" This whole thing plays out over several seconds.

I will make a more conscious decision over several seconds to walk on or to give them a buck. That whole thing is a longer and more involved kind of process. It is the same process as the dialogue between staged reactions - reactions that you're ready to have in a tenth of a second - and more considered reactions.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner
American Television Writer

(Updated March 7, 2019)

According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writers Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote ControlCrank YankersThe Man ShowThe EmmysThe Grammys, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He worked as a bouncer, a nude art model, a roller-skating waiter, and a stripper. In a television commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the "World’s Smartest Man." The commercial was taken off the air after Subway sandwiches issued a cease-and-desist. He was named "Best Bouncer" in the Denver Area, Colorado, by Westwood Magazine.

Rosner spent much of the late Disco Era as an undercover high school student. In addition, he spent 25 years as a bar bouncer and American fake ID-catcher, and 25+ years as a stripper, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television. He came in second or lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a flawed question and lost the lawsuit. He won one game and lost one game on Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person? (He was drunk). Finally, he spent 37+ years working on a time invariant variation of the Big Bang Theory. 

Currently, Rosner sits tweeting in a bathrobe (winter) or a towel (summer). He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, dog, and goldfish. He and his wife have a daughter. You can send him money or questions at LanceversusRick@Gmail.Com, or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing

(Updated September 28, 2016)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

He is a Moral Courage Webmaster and Outreach Specialist (Fall, 2016) at the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center), Interview Columnist for Conatus News, Writer and Executive Administrator for Trusted Clothes, Interview Columnist for Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), Councillor for the Athabasca University Student Union, Member of the Learning Analytics Research Group, writer for The Voice MagazineYour Political Party of BCProBCMarijuana Party of CanadaFresh Start Recovery CentreHarvest House Ministries, and Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Editor and Proofreader for Alfred Yi Zhang Photography, Community Journalist/Blogger for Gordon Neighbourhood House, Member-at-Large, Member of the Outreach Committee, the Finance & Fundraising Committee, and the Special Projects & Political Advocacy Committee, and Writer for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Member of the Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab and IMAGe Psychology Lab, Collaborator with Dr. Farhad Dastur in creation of the CriticalThinkingWiki, Board Member, and Foundation Volunteer Committee Member for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and Independent Landscaper.

He was a Francisco Ayala Scholar at the UCI Ethics Center, Member of the Psychometric Society Graduate Student Committee, Special Advisor and Writer for ECOSOC at NWMUN, Writer for TransplantFirstAcademy and ProActive Path, Member of AT-CURA Psychology Lab, Contributor for a student policy review, Vice President of Outreach for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, worked with Manahel Thabet on numerous initiatives, Student Member of the Ad–Hoc Executive Compensation Review Committee for the Athabasca University Student Union, Volunteer and Writer for British Columbia Psychological Association, Community Member of the KPU Choir (even performed with them alongside the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Delegate at Harvard World MUN, NWMUN, UBC MUN, and Long Beach Intercollegiate MUN, and Writer and Member of the Communications Committee for The PIPE UP Network.


[1] Four format points for the session article:
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  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott. 
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