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Free Will and Clairvoyants

One question is all that is needed to see if a clairvoyant is genuine. Or at least to see if they believe their skills are genuine. I will explain why no one can claim to know what the future holds while simultaneously maintaining their belief in free will. This extends to deities, psychics, cartomancers - anyone who claims they can accurately and precisely predict the future. Today I will focus on modern day snake oil salesmen - clairvoyants.

To their credit, when fortune tellers give you their prediction for the future they will avoid giving any specifics. This will prevent you from testing their claim. Instead they give vague suggestions that could happen to anyone, which you then mold your experience into. “Something bad will happen to a family member” they say. Which family member? How bad? When? You fill out all of these details when an event like that inevitably happens. It will happen, not because they predicted it, but because eventually something bad will always happens to a family member. But what happens if they were to accurately predict very specific outcomes? Or more broadly, what does it mean for your ostensible free will if the future was known?

Let’s say you pay $40 to go see a clairvoyant. After running his hand over your palm for a few seconds, he tells you that you will have a ham sandwich tomorrow for lunch. Strange prediction, but okay - you pay the $40 and take your leave. If this clairvoyant is the real deal and knows the future, then that MUST be the case. You will have a ham sandwich tomorrow for lunch and you won’t have any choice but to comply. Because if he were wrong and you were instead to have a cheese sandwich, then they are not an actual clairvoyant. It seems strange because surely after the prediction and the time comes to have your lunch you could simply choose to… not have that ham sandwich. Which is precisely why they do not give you specific predictions, because they’ll often be wrong. Feel free to apply this to any God or person who claims they know the future. If it is indeed true that they accurately predict the future, free will cannot exist. 

Some may argue against this, claiming that you had the ability to choose something else but you used your free will to choose the ham sandwich instead. Maybe as you were getting closer to lunch you were just really feeling like that ham sandwich, and although the cheese sandwich was there, you went for the ham sandwich to satisfy your ham sandwich cravings. You used your own free will to choose exactly what was predicted to happen. What does it mean to have free will, if one is to choose what they were predetermined to choose? Is that really free will? The question is not, did you choose the ham sandwich, the question is could you have chosen otherwise? If someone can accurately predict the future, the answer HAS to be no. 

Those that believe the future can be accurately predicted must be fatalists. Fortunately for all clairvoyants - I am on their side and do not believe in free will. Unfortunately for them, I am not a fatalist, I am a determinist. A small, but significant distinction (more at the end). 

So the next time someone wants to read your palm and tell you your future, ask them that one question: “Do you believe in free will?”

Their answer has to be no, otherwise it’s bullshit.

Well, it’s bullshit anyway. 

Determinism vs Fatalism.

Now is as good a time as ever to plug in my video where I go in depth about determinism and why our own thoughts can prove that we don’t have free will. Click here.

When I talk about determinism I mean that everything is just cause and effect. The reasons we do things are results of prior causes, most of which we are unaware of.

Fatalism is the future already being set out regardless of our actions. The future is unalterable no matter what. You will have that ham sandwich tomorrow. This is clearly false. Determinism is simply that you don’t have control over your actions and, subsequently, the future. Which is different from the future already being set in stone. So we may not be in control of our actions, but we know that the future is not predetermined.


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