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As I sit here pondering the theses of Misters Evans, George, and Mann (Mailbox, Aug. 10) that free will is an illusion and irrelevant in human affairs, a questions arises.

For the victim, what is the difference between consensual sex and rape, if not free will?

Alex Ricca, Blue Lake


In his letter to the NCJ, Paul Mann defends the assertion that human beings' conscious control or "free-will" is an "illusion" limited to "nodding our head" or "choosing a brand of toothpaste" (Mailbox, Aug. 10).

And yet, by merely altering our view we can see that most toothpaste, and most commodities, are inextricably linked to child-labor, brutal dictators, endless wars for oil, environmental devastation, biodiversity collapse, climate change, and the reality of being slowly poisoned by products that prematurely break by design, or all of the above.

Is the path to economic, social and environmental justice, and every successful movement that has advanced it, paved by illusion? Is enlightenment an illusion? Until the science of human consciousness is fully understood, it's prudent to question purveyors of philosophies and religions that can offer absolution from personal responsibility based on a philosophy claiming that human beings lack free-will beyond "trivial acts."

In his public lectures, the late Kurt Vonnegut credited his renowned writing career to a 1940s University of Georgia psychology textbook by Dr. H. Cleckly titled, The Mask of Sanity. Vonnegut's life-altering epiphany came from research showing how psychotic, high-achieving individuals are often selected for leadership roles because they exude commanding levels of confidence and decisiveness that are actually symptoms of a repressed conscience and their inability to care what happens next.

What could be more convenient for the psychotic leaders of 1940 Germany, or 2017 U.S.A. than a philosophy providing solace for their decisions that have profoundly injurious consequences for others and to this world's life-sustaining resources? 

George Clark, Eureka

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