Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

I was turned on to this book by this Scientific American podcast interview with the author

I liked it because it provokes the best kind of disagreement. He starts with the highly provocative assertion:

There is no such thing as Free Will.

Of course that’s wrong, no? Ordinarily, (or at least ideally) to make your case you would then examine the arguments he provides that lead to the conclusion he makes and find the one or more points of contention.

But in this case, at least for me, I couldn’t really find anything. That means I have to think about it more, which is a good thing!

The next thing you do then is devolve your position to something like, “Well, say I grant your assertion, what are the consequences?” You then cite scenarios where things break down.

Again though I found that the author anticipated the scenarios I came up with and has answers for them. I still can’t say I agree, but I don’t know why.

That’s what I mean when I say it is the “best kind of disagreement.”

If you are interested in the argument, I’d encourage listening to the podcast. He also has a video that lays out some of the argument in convenient, TED talk form. The same base points are in both the video and podcast but they veer off in different directions when discussing the consequences.

I would also say about the video that the points he gets to are fairly relevant to our current circumstances with respect to the George Floyd protests.