What is free will, really? Steven Pinker explains.

The processes behind our ability to make decisions are complex, but they're not miracles.

  • Free will exists, but by no means is it a miracle.
  • We use "free will" to describe the more complex processes by which behavior is selected in the brain. These neurological steps taken to make decisions respect all laws of physics.
  • "Free will wouldn't be worth having or extolling, in moral discussions, if it didn't respond to expectations of reward, punishment, praise, blame," Pinker says.
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Heartbeats align during an Islamic ritual, new study finds

Researchers found that the hearts of Sufi devotees harmonized as one during a mystical practice. And this isn't the first study to show heart synchronization between people.

  • Anthropologists at the University of Connecticut discovered that the heartbeats of Sufi practitioners synchronized during an important ritual.
  • Sufism is a mystical component of Islam that emphasizes coming to know God through direct experience, like trance.
  • Other studies have also found that individuals who are closely connected emotionally and socially experience physiological alignment.
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Does chiropractic work?

Despite acceptance by many insurance companies, a number of studies don't confirm its effectiveness.

Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
  • With over 70,000 certified chiropractors in America, the modality has gained wide acceptance.
  • Yet many studies do not show chiropractic to be more effective than placebo or pharmaceuticals.
  • Some chiropractors treat newborns as young as two weeks to help alleviate "birth trauma."
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Treatable brain inflammation may be behind tinnitus

Scientists may have seen a way to cure a maddening symptom of hearing loss.

Image source: Alex Iby/Unsplash/Big Think
  • A treatment for tinnitus – a constant ringing in the ears – has been frustratingly elusive.
  • Out-of-control inflammation, the brain's response to damage, may be the cause of long-term ringing in the ears.
  • A study that examined mice with noise-induced hearing loss seems to have found the neural trigger for tinnitus.
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  • After Hurricane Maria, anole species on the island of Dominica developed super strong grips.
  • This development may be one of the fasted rates of evolutionary change ever recorded.
  • Climate change will likely to result in more intense hurricanes, but not all species will adapt so quickly.
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