If you had a laboratory with a perfectly smooth table and perfectly smooth and rigid billiard balls, you should be able to make perfect predictions. If you had just 2 such balls you could predictions with 99.999999% accuracy. If you had to bet money on these predictions, you’d make money on 99.999999% of the time. That’s close enough to what we mortals would call “absolute truth”.
Once the first ball is set in motion, we would consider everything after to be predetermined. Once the first ball is in motion, nothing can happen except what was always going to happen. I hate this word, but I’ll say it, this looks like “Fate”.
Even if you had 100 of these nearly perfect balls, you could still predict the path of each of them. The math would be 100 times more elaborate, but it could be done.
Even if we couldn’t do all of the math today, it’s conceivable we could do it in 20 years. The balls might not be perfect, but we might 3D electron scan them to get their exact geometry. Math and technology is not the issue. We’ll get there eventually.
The question is, why would this laboratory experiment end with the balls?
Humans… are somewhat predictable. They have familiar patterns of thinking. This is the study of psychology. We can make predictions about the behavior of people and come out right … sometimes.
Marketing is applied psychology. I’m sure most of it is nonsense, but at least some of it is effective. I can speak from personal experience that I’ve been nudged to buy something based on an image I’ve seen. Speeches can be written to be “persuasive” because it’s been studied what most humans will accept as truth. It’s been documented how people think with certain filters applied.
It’s occurred to me, that if we can make predictions, with at least 50% confidence, and if people can be nudged or influenced, that maybe we are billiard balls too. Maybe we don’t actually have any choice. Maybe we’re bouncing from image to image influenced one way and another. Maybe our path of decision making is predetermined. We might not know it yet because our math and technology can’t track it. We haven’t isolated all of the variables. Isn’t this how people felt before Newton? They could make some predictions and come up close, but not quite. They didn’t have a reliable time keeping measurement, or a method of understanding the natural world.
So it appears that humans are at least a little predictable, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t be fully predictable. Free will seems to be an illusion.
But I can’t deny the feeling of free will. So maybe my logic is wrong.