So you think you have free will

#1
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Do gut bacteria rule our minds?
It sounds like science fiction, but it seems that bacteria within us—which outnumber our own cells about 100-fold—may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity.
In an article published this week in the journal BioEssays, researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.

Bacterial species vary in the nutrients they need. Some prefer fat, and others sugar, for instance. But they not only vie with each other for food and to retain a niche within their ecosystem—our digestive tracts—they also often have different aims than we do when it comes to our own actions, according to senior author Athena Aktipis, PhD, co-founder of the Center for Evolution and Cancer with the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF.

While it is unclear exactly how this occurs, the authors believe this diverse community of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome, may influence our decisions by releasing signaling molecules into our gut. Because the gut is linked to the immune system, the endocrine system and the nervous system, those signals could influence our physiologic and behavioral responses.
More: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-08-gut-bacteria-minds.html
 
#3
In an article published this week in the journal BioEssays, researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices
So called food cravings... and yet we can say "no, thank you" :)
 
#4
So called food cravings... and yet we can say "no, thank you" :)
Well, it's a spectrum right? And a damn tricky one to understand. It's certainly not black and white.

For example, would you agree that physical/chemical reactions have an influence over our consciousness?
 
#5
Well, it's a spectrum right? And a damn tricky one to understand. It's certainly not black and white.

For example, would you agree that physical/chemical reactions have an influence over our consciousness?
Absolutely... just like food TV commercials, to stay on topic.
I just don't see the "provocation" about free will from the title in this thread. We're influenced by an innumerable amount of things, including bacteria in our gut
 
#6
Absolutely... just like food TV commercials, to stay on topic.
I just don't see the "provocation" about free will from the title in this thread. We're influenced by an innumerable amount of things, including bacteria in our gut
Yeah, I agree. But I'm also curious where we draw the line. At what stage does free will exert any actual power? Where is the line drawn between the varied influences and our ability to make a decision?

I do know that our perception of free will as a society is changing, trending towards articles like this.
 
#7
Sure, it's very difficult to draw that line. Every case is different and every person is differently subject to a variety of more or less conscious influences.
In the case of evil bacteria feeding on carbs/sugars (such as yeasts for example) and causing food cravings, it depends on the individual... observing his/her health state, body weight, etc... and decide that it's time for a change of diet.

@steve001 what's the point of the title, besides attracting attention? Do gut bacteria have any special advantage on influencing us compared to, say, social conventions, fobias etc...? I can't see the difference.

cheers
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#9
Is the negation of free will suppose to be a selling point for the materialist faith?

I mean, if we don't choose what we believe, aren't all the shaming tactics of the materialist evangelist toothless?
 
#10
Correct me if I'm wrong Steve, but it seems like you're suggesting that this article provides a (partial) argument against the existence of free will.
I agree it's tricky, too. Very much so. In fact, in another thread the other day where we were talking about the low level (un)consciousness (or lack thereof) of individual cells, I pondered how this plays into our holistic consciousness: are they/we separate, integrated, or what? I believe it was Craig who posted a video of a cell; aside from it being very, very interesting, the fact that the cell appears to be acting with intelligence makes it certainly appear conscious . . . On some level, at least.

Though that might open up another conversation, that's just to say I partially agree (with my example implying that our individual cells exert some force - conscious, physical, or both). Nevertheless, do you seriously think that what completely appears to be a sense of free will is illusion?
 
#11
To all posters don't take the title too seriously. But just remember this. The next time you blindly satisfy a food craving you will now know after the deed is done that it was the bacterial puppet masters that made you do it. Sure you can say no to the craving and sometimes you do, but there are other times when you just can't stop yourself from stuffing the ol' piehole. On a slightly serious note such research as this does not favor absolute free will.
 
#12
Sure, it's very difficult to draw that line. Every case is different and every person is differently subject to a variety of more or less conscious influences.
In the case of evil bacteria feeding on carbs/sugars (such as yeasts for example) and causing food cravings, it depends on the individual... observing his/her health state, body weight, etc... and decide that it's time for a change of diet.

@steve001 what's the point of the title, besides attracting attention? Do gut bacteria have any special advantage on influencing us compared to, say, social conventions, fobias etc...? I can't see the difference.

cheers
Actually, if I'm correctly remembering an episode of the podcast this week in science, the answer may ve yes. Actually more than one ep. They reported on several gut bicrobe stories, one IIRC relating them to who we are attracted to (or some other thing of a similar nature- might not have been attraction).
 
#13
For reasons related to the OP I've been trying to eat more probiotics. Activia yogurt is supposed tobe one of the best. Has the most varried live cultures if my research is correct (haven't been able to find a reference to one that is beter). The danactive yogurt drinks also supposedky good for this.
 
#15
I agree it's tricky, too. Very much so. In fact, in another thread the other day where we were talking about the low level (un)consciousness (or lack thereof) of individual cells, I pondered how this plays into our holistic consciousness: are they/we separate, integrated, or what? I believe it was Craig who posted a video of a cell; aside from it being very, very interesting, the fact that the cell appears to be acting with intelligence makes it certainly appear conscious . . . On some level, at least.

Though that might open up another conversation, that's just to say I partially agree (with my example implying that our individual cells exert some force - conscious, physical, or both). Nevertheless, do you seriously think that what completely appears to be a sense of free will is illusion?
It's difficult to explain. I have very little knowledge of philosophy or neuroscience, so this might sound like gibberish :). Would it be odd to suggest that free will is simultaneously illusion and real? Illusion in the sense that, as you mentioned, our consciousness (and thereby conscious decision making) appears to be inextricably connected to, and influenced by, an infinitely complex web of cosmos. For example, consciousness comprised/built upon/influenced by other individual consciousnesses (cells). When viewed this way it is difficult to imagine that there is truly a "pure you" within this web that can make a "pure choice", or have free will.

However, for all intents and purposes it feels that we can do this! So it is real, in a sense, because we consciously experience it as reality. It is impossible to deny the conscious experience of individuality, or self. But this seems to be at odds with the clear stream of connectivity we see in life, especially when considering those who experience the many facets of the paranormal. So in the same way you could say we are simultaneously "self" and "one with everything else", I would say free will could be simultaneously "real" and "illusion". It just depends on the context.

We may need to start redefining some of these things from the ground up as we continue to learn more about consciousness.
 
#16
For reasons related to the OP I've been trying to eat more probiotics. Activia yogurt is supposed tobe one of the best. Has the most varried live cultures if my research is correct (haven't been able to find a reference to one that is beter). The danactive yogurt drinks also supposedky good for this.
Me too. :)
 
#17
For reasons related to the OP I've been trying to eat more probiotics. Activia yogurt is supposed tobe one of the best. Has the most varried live cultures if my research is correct (haven't been able to find a reference to one that is beter). The danactive yogurt drinks also supposedky good for this.
Best, generally: plain kefir, raw if you're extremely fortunate ( don't know Canadian laws). Also, here in the Southern US, they sell yogurt from grass fed cows . . . Best to get it plain then lightly sweeten it with, say, local honey or just some fruit. Kombucha has become extremely popular and is good as far as probiotics go, but it should probably be moderated bc of acidity.

Mainly, though, with the kefir and yogurt, and especially if you're getting grass fed, be sure to avoid low fat versions; get full fat!
 
#18
Best, generally: plain kefir, raw if you're extremely fortunate ( don't know Canadian laws). Also, here in the Southern US, they sell yogurt from grass fed cows . . . Best to get it plain then lightly sweeten it with, say, local honey or just some fruit. Kombucha has become extremely popular and is good as far as probiotics go, but it should probably be moderated bc of acidity.

Mainly, though, with the kefir and yogurt, and especially if you're getting grass fed, be sure to avoid low fat versions; get full fat!
Thanks, I read about kefir drink too - was looking at it the other day in the supermarket but didn't pull the trigger. Think I will though. Heard about kombucha but didn't see it in my local supermarket.
 
#19
Thanks, I read about kefir drink too - was looking at it the other day in the supermarket but didn't pull the trigger. Think I will though. Heard about kombucha but didn't see it in my local supermarket.
Kefir may sound weird . . . but give plain, Greek-style a try . . . I suggest the brand Lifeway.
 
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