Testing for the Freedom Quotient

What if you could numerically measure the amount of free will you have?

By Melody Xu

Illustration by Charlotte Southall

The concept of F.Q., or freedom quotient, originated from a 2015 article by popular philosopher Stephen Cave in his article “The Free-Will Scale.” Like any other quotient test (ex. intelligence quotient or emotional quotient), the freedom quotient would ideally work as some sort of standardized test that people could take. In this case, the construct that is being measured is simply the amount of free will that someone possesses.

There are, of course, many definitions of free will. Speaking of free will at a dinner table with a handful of philosophers is most certainly going to be a different kind of free will discussion than you would have in a court case with a prosecutor. To make things simple, we’re going to stick with one definition that is outlined in Cave’s article. He suggests three major components that should be used: the ability to generate various options, the ability to rationally choose between them, and the ability to follow through with that decision. These three qualities most certainly do not have clear-cut, black and white lines drawn between them but certainly do an effective job of giving an outline of what the general consensus of free will is when used in the context of popular culture. Continue reading “Testing for the Freedom Quotient”

Editor’s Letter 4/20/16

Send in your contributions to the HERpothesis Golden Record project!

GIF by Alex Hanson, using photos of and from the Voyager Golden Record

Golden Record images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hi there!

For this month’s editor’s letter I want to issue a kind of call-to-action for a new HERpothesis project: the HERpothesis Golden Record. We’re making it, and I want you, you creative, smart, ambitious HERpothesis reader, to get involved.

This project is inspired by the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph and collection of images in a time capsule that was sent out on both of the Voyager spacecraft. Since 1977 two copies of the record have traveled with Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, acting as a sort of message in a bottle for any alien species that may find them one day. The records contain several audio recordings and pictures that are meant to give an impression of life on Earth: our lives, our architecture, animals, plants, music, math, and even a recording of human brain waves. Continue reading “Editor’s Letter 4/20/16”

LSD, the Brain, and Aldous Huxley

Now we know a lot more about what was going on in Aldous Huxley’s brain sixty-one years ago.

By Shelby Traynor 

Image via Imperial/Beckley Foundation

It’s Christmas Eve, 1955, and renowned writer and intellectual Aldous Huxley is on LSD. He reports his findings in his book The Doors of Perception:

“Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.”

Since LSD was synthesized in 1938, the world hasn’t exactly been deprived of first person accounts of its effects (see: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles, or this subreddit).  

However up until April 11, 2016 the world was deprived of something pretty major: modern scans of the brain high on LSD. Continue reading “LSD, the Brain, and Aldous Huxley”

Flame Test

There is something to be enjoyed and learned from every class—even if it isn’t going to be on the test.

Words and art by Alex Hanson

I crossed paths with my worst academic nemesis, fourth period Honors Chemistry, in my sophomore year of high school. While much of my distaste of the subject was due to a teacher whose vibes didn’t mesh with mine, as well as my severe inability to visualize the concepts that I was supposed to understand, I did find one class experiment to be particularly redeeming. Continue reading “Flame Test”