Well, it's time for my third annual TEDxSalem speaker application.
I was rejected in 2014 and 2015, having pitched Grand Talks About The Cosmos that, obviously, didn't strike the speaker selection committee as being such marvelously interesting topics as I considered them to be.
Noting that the deadline for prospective speakers to apply for the 2016-17 event was coming up on April 18, I decided to pitch another talk idea. This time, Free will isn't. Existence is.
If nothing else, another TEDxSalem rejection will add to my Tortured Artist (or Misunderstood Genius) resume.
In my old age, well, more accurately, my even older age, I can picture myself sitting at the end of a bar, or better, an Oregon cannabis smoking lounge (once they're legal), drowning my tortured artist/misunderstood genius woes with mind-altering substances, telling whoever will listen about my brilliant ideas that have been rejected by an uncaring world not yet ready for The Truth As Known By Me.
Here's how I answered the question, "What would your TEDxSalem talk be about? What is your 'idea worth spreading?' What revolution do you want to start in our community? Describe your talk."
"Free will doesn't exist." This is a revolutionary neuroscientific fact that hasn't yet been widely embraced. Like Darwin's Theory of Evolution, or Copernicus' sun-centered cosmology, it will take time for the massive implications of this unsettling understanding to be fully understood.
Criminal justice, personal relations, social welfare programs, politics, conceptions of self-awareness -- these all have to be looked at in a new light under the glow of "Free will doesn't exist." And a closely-related fact: The brain is us.
While many people will initially feel chilled when the comforting blanket of illusory free will is taken away by modern science, the warmth of a philosophically unarguable proposition remains: Existence is.
Almost certainly there is no independent conscious will guiding things on either the cosmic or individual level. "Stuff just happens" is a pithy three word encapsulization of the best 21st century understanding of both the world outside and inside of our heads.
But with this realization comes peace of mind, love, interconnectedness, awe at the endless workings of the laws of nature via cause and effect. Once our mind is blown by the fact, "Free will doesn't exist," we are open (not free!) to explore the many positive implications of this revolutionary worldview.
Damn, I'd find this talk super fascinating!
I guess I could just give the talk to myself, if my application is rejected. Or re-read some of my blog posts on the subjects of Free Will Isn't and Existence Is. Here's a sampling: