The intricate pattern of the brain: free will, consciousness, and rationality

Is free will real? If you have read the previous articles in this series, then you will not be surprised that I don’t think it exists. Our decisions are just the result of the brain constantly analyzing external stimuli. But what does it then mean to be conscious? In this article I want to give a rudimentary explanation of what I think consciousness is. This article is part of a series of articles. I would advise you to read the previous articles.

The thread of the human brain is guided by external stimuli that travel over a path that is set by previous experiences. The emotional bonds of the memory objects of the pattern of the self dictate if they can be triggered easily or if it is hard. This dictates which memory objects get to decide where the externally guided thread goes.

This thread ends up at the senses, creating mental senses, which we use to understand our environment. Here, the thread sends micro memories to the work memory through the long term memory (LTM). There the emotional connections will make memory objects do more gatekeeping, and so on. This is a loop where there is no place for some free will to hang around. It just doesn’t exist.

In fact, free will cannot exist. Everything in nature is the result of particles colliding. Your brain is made up only out of these particles. The thread in your brain is the result of particles of external stimuli colliding with your senses, that trigger a cascade in the LTM. This cascade is the thread. The thread is also just based on the inevitable collision of particles, this time in the synapses. There is no free will here. Nowhere is there free will.


When you are sitting on the couch at home, you think about your life. What are you going to eat today? And what movie are you going to watch? These are all decisions that involve the social layer of the memory. To be able to ponder these decisions, you need to understand that you are an agent. And like all agents, you make decisions.

I would argue that society plays a crucial role in the consciousness of humans. Language plays an important part in that. Other people are constantly reminding you that you, yourself, are an agent, and that you have to make certain decisions. These constant reminders are the driving force of consciousness, I would argue.

When you, or any other mammal, sees an agent make a decision to turn around and go in the opposite direction from the one they went before, they try to find a pattern in this behavior. Humans have a big brain capacity and can try to find a lot of detail in this pattern. They find out that other humans do things with a purpose. Over time, they start to realize that they themselves are also showing these patterns. This happens when children start to learn language and get constant reminders that they are agents. I would argue that it is the realization that they, too, are agents, forms the fundament of consciousness.

I would argue that conscious thought is therefore the result of metathinking, or thinking about your own thinking, induced by society. It is the thread that opens up patterns that recognize that you are an agent. So, not only can you analyze the behavior of others, you can analyze your own thought patterns. In this way, you do not only make memory objects describing the thing that you were thinking of, you also make memory objects describing your own thought process. You make memories about the way that you thought.

Metathinking leads to the illusion of free will. You think that because you can analyze your own thinking, that somehow you are in control. But the decisions that you make after those analyses are based on a weighing of past experiences. All decisions in your life have been taken because you weighed past experiences. You don’t just randomly make decisions. You weigh options. You realize that you weigh options. If someone made decisions that are random and not based on past experiences, then you would classify that person as being crazy. And if you would not make decisions that are based on the weighing of your past, you would find yourself crazy as well. At least, you would, if you weren’t crazy. The averages of these past experiences are etched into your LTM. The thread goes where plasticity dictates it goes. There is no choice, not even when you analyze your own thinking.


There are two types of rationality in the human thinking.

Firstly, there is the rationality of the emotional weighing of past experiences that is ingrained in the pattern of the self. We call a person irrational in this way when they fear something to such a degree that it is not in line with the actual threat that is poses. So, if someone has a fear of daddy long-legs spiders, this is seen as an irrational fear, because daddy long-legs spiders pose no threat to any human.

For as far as I know, it is unknown how these phobias develop. I can imagine that this is based on past experiences. For some reason, this fear has attached itself to the memory objects of the thing feared. Maybe when the arachnophobe was very young, they had a nasty experience with a spider. After some years, the memory of the event has been forgotten, but the fear remains attached to the memory objects that represent spiders, since it kept on being exercised every time the arachnaphobe saw a spider.Someone who does not have this fear to such a degree that it becomes controlling, will be seen as rational.

Every human lacks this form of rationality, at least to some degree. Someone who has been in a traumatic event will overvalue the risk of that happening. But someone who has not been in a traumatic event emotionally weighs the risk at zero percent, since zero times out of the times that they have done this thing, the traumatizing event didn’t happen. This zero percent chance evaluation is also not correct. When it comes to low chance events, like crashes or floodings, there are no humans who have the emotional connections properly calibrated to the actual chance of it happening. The chance that these cataclysmic events happen is often so small, that no one can actually have those odds emotionally calibrated in their memory. You either have been a victim of one, in which case the chance of being involved in a traumatizing event is apparently, based on your life, pretty high, or you will think it is a zero percent chance, because you didn’t experience it at all. The fact that there could be a 0.0001 percent chance (which may be the actual chance of some traumatizing event happening) is not one that is stored in any memory.

Scientific rationality

That leads us to the second form of rationality, the type used by science. In science, your emotional feelings don’t seem to matter. They do, though, since all scientists are humans and all humans ultimately make decisions on the basis of their feelings, but in their scientific training, they have learned to build up a question memory object (QMO) that is sufficient to do science. This QMO is the result of many years of schooling, where doing experiments was central. By seeing that evidence based decisions lead to the best results on average, the student attaches positive feelings to the memory objects that represent the idea that the science QMO should be followed, and negative emotions to the memory objects that represent failing to follow it. Because of all of these known past successes of the scientific method weighing on their brain, they can now be used by the scientist to let their QMO guide them through the rational process.

This way of seeing rationality must be taught to us. Our default behavior is simply to analyze external stimuli and weigh them as we encounter them. The scientific method is one where you have to encounter many examples to make you not draw conclusions too quickly. It needs to steamroll plasticity in the brain to create a general understanding of why and how something is true.

Humans and the belief in magic

So, this rational method is one that needs to be taught to us. It is not something that comes naturally to us. Our natural state seems to be one wherein we will connect any patterns that we have recognized to the overall pattern of the self in the best possible way. With the best possible way, I mean the way in which it is easiest to remember. So, it has to fit in with the rest of the pattern of the self.

What does this mean? Well, if you live in a society where a lot of people are highly educated and know about the many discoveries of science, then it is hard to believe that a witch gave someone a disease. You know that there is science about diseases, and you know where they come from. You have learned this in school, from your parents, and from the rest of society. Believing that some witch made your friend sick, would mean that you would have to ignore all the rest of your pattern of the self. You would have to understand two sets of logic, one where witches exist and one where science is real. This is not a state in which your brain can exist. All the logic in your mind is interconnected and intertwined. Because of the mix-and-match capabilities of memory objects, you cannot have two sets of logic. One has to be dismissed.

But what about someone who has not had any scientific education. They also see that people get sick. Their brain is wired like any other brain. To remember it, they need to find a pattern. But because this person is uneducated, they don’t know what the actual pattern is. They don’t know about germ pathology, for instance, so they will just connect the dots in any way they can. They will believe in magic.

This belief in magic has been prevalent in all of human development. There were no human tribes in prehistoric times that did not believe in magic. They had to believe in magic, because otherwise they would not be able to remember the logic of their life. So believing that magic did something, or the Gods punished them for not being pious enough, are good ways of trying to remember what happened and “understand” why it happened. With “good”, I mean effective in creating an overall logic to remember things while you don’t have the actual logic. Of course, it is not good in the sense that it is not helpful to predict the future. An incorrect belief cannot predict nature accurately. The belief in magic and gods might have made the people in the past feel that they could predict their environment, but in actuality, they couldn’t.

In conclusion, uneducated people will believe more in magic than people with a better education. This is why in prehistoric times, everyone believed in magic.

Modern belief in magic

In the Western world there is still a ton of belief in magic. All you have to do, is to turn on the TV. Wherever you live, there will be tons and tons of people on TV and in the newspapers telling you what they “know” is the truth. These people are the prejudiced. Prejudice is just a more modern belief in magic.

There are people in the West today who think they can listen to a conclusion someone makes and that they can then feel if that is true or not (feel truth). Or there are people who think that when they read the newspaper they somehow attained the magic ability to ascertain all sort of complicated political processes. These people just don’t understand the underlying problems. They use an ability that I want to call magic intuition.

Magic intuition is when people who are not aware of the evidence at hand, being good or bad evidence, either for or against, still think that they can judge the situation better than people who are aware of the evidence. If you ignore evidence, one of the two pillars of knowing something, the other being the witnessing of an event, and think that you can still know something, you believe in magic. What you do is effectively no different than a medieval person believing that a witch killed his wife. You just connect two things together and believe that these are actually connected in real life.

Of course, the magic intuition always confirms that the pattern of the self of the person with the magic intuition, since this is the pattern that the magic intuition stems from. So, every time this magic intuition is felt, it will confirm the pattern of the self. And it will always give the person with the magic intuition a good feeling. This feeling, then, serves to them as “evidence” that their magic intuition is correct.

Knowledge seeking is done with evidence, not with magic intuition. Plasticity has to be grown by the observance of actual nature, not by making up what nature could be.

What do people do who are not prejudiced? Firstly, everyone is prejudiced to some degree. The pattern of the self is inherently dividing everyone you know up into categories, for instance. This is how you remember them, and this is how you will evaluate them. But that does not mean that you have to make up certain thing and just believe it, if you do not have certain information about a person. Because a rational person knows that magic isn’t real, they know that they cannot just feel the truth about a person they know. In science, there is a good way of dealing with this lack of knowledge. Instead of just making up an answer that feels good, the scientist starts with: “I don’t know”. This is a crucial step in looking at your QMO in an unbiased way. This realization will make an “I don’t know” memory object. It is this memory object that drives the scientist to come with an answer that they can prove. This makes the “I don’t know” memory object a fundamental cornerstone in the rational QMO. So instead of believing in magic, you can believe in “I don’t know”.

I will write more about this process in an upcoming article about pride, shame, and the opium memory object.

In conclusion

There is no free will, consciousness is the result of metathinking and rationality is just learned behavior. People will connect the dots in their LTM (quite literally) with the belief in magic if no other way to establish reality is possible. The only exception is the acceptance that “I don’t know” is the crucial first step in the rational process.

Now on to the next article. Do you want to live forever? And what does that mean? An article about immortality.