An Old Man From Jersey Explains: Free Will

Check out the rest of the Old Man From Jersey series of philosophical comics:

These are comics, which are loosely based on the short stories.

These are short stories, which are precursors to the comics.

This is a film script for 6 of the Old Man From Jersey episodes.

Transcript

Every panel of the comic shows the same picture of an old man sitting on his front porch talking to a 9 year old boy.

Kid: Hey  Mister!

Old Man: What do you want, kid?

Kid: Is there such a thing as free will?

Old Man: Would it change the way you live if I say yes or no?

Kid: I’d feel a lot better if you said yes.

Old Man: Then yes, free will exists.

Kid: You gotta prove it first.

Old Man: Okay, I’m 100% positive that free will does not exist.

Kid: But you just said it does exist. What gives?

Old Man: The more convinced a person is that they’re right the more likely it is that they’re wrong. So if I’m 100% convinced free will does not exist then it probably does.

Kid: OMG! How many logical fallacies were in that statement? Give me some hard evidence.

Old Man: Suppose I did make an elegant, logical, convincing argument one way or the other. Supposed you spent the rest of your life trying and failing to disprove my explanation. Suppose I won a Nobel prize for my theory and had it certified as God’s truth by the pope and the Dali Lama. Would any of that make my theory true?

Kid: …close enough anyway.

Old Man: Wrong.

Kid: You’re not going to tell me whether or not free will exists, are you?

Old Man: Flip a coin. Heads it does, tails it doesn’t. Either way, life goes on.

Kid: Well I say free will doesn’t exist. Our decisions are the product of the casual nature of our environment. Our choices only appear to be ours because we can’t see all the cosmic dominoes hitting us in the back, pushing us this way and that.

Old Man: You’re free to think that if you want.

Kid: No I’m not.

Old Man: Hmmm. Funny that you just admitted you don’t have total knowledge of how the universe operates yet you’ve completely convinced yourself that you know how the universe operates. I wonder what the chances are you’re wrong.

Kid: I see what you did there, and I don’t like it.

Old Man: If you’d already made up your mind I don’t see why you came and asked me in the first place.

Kid: I figured there was a 50/50 chance you’d reinforce my preconceived expectations. Anyway, I’m still set on the conclusion that free will doesn’t exist. So how do I go on living with the weight of my insignificance ever on my shoulders?

Old Man: Do what you were going to do anyway and blame it on fate when you screw up?

Kid: Genius!

Old Man: Just know that that excuse isn’t going to get you out of trouble with your mother for getting home late tonight.

Kid: Curses.

The End


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