We act without being aware of true reasons
Two recent neuroscience articles in
important journals claim to undermine free will and “human exceptionalism”.
In the journal Science
Dutch researchers claim that an overview of the literature shows that conscious
decisions are deeply affected by the “unconscious will”.
“People often act in order to realize
desired outcomes, and they assume that consciousness drives that behavior. But
the field now challenges the idea that there is only a conscious will. Our
actions are very often initiated even though we are unaware of what we are
seeking or why,” says Ruud Custers, of Utrecht University.
Custers told Time magazine that our conscious
selves not really in charge, but that this is not necessarily a problem.
“We have to trust that our unconscious sense of what we want and what is
good for us is strong, and will lead us largely in the right direction.”
In a similar vein, a study in the Journal of Neuroscience claims that brain
scans can predict behaviour better than the people whose brains were scanned.
Scientists at UCLA were able to predict whether subjects would use suntan
lotion more accurately than the people themselves.
could be a major finding for advertisers. While
advertising agencies often use focus groups to test commercials and movie
trailers, in the future they and public health officials perhaps should add
“neural focus groups” to test which messages will be effective while
monitoring the brain activity of their subjects. “We’re just at the beginning,” says Matthew
Lieberman, a UCLA professor. ~ Science
Daily, June 23; Time,
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