Free Will

on fundamental matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and ethics.

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Re: Free Will

#4521  Postby archibald » Nov 28, 2016 10:54 am

GrahamH wrote:What about "realisable alternative"?
Realisability of any alternative is not testable. It may seem physically possible, and may occur on other similar occasions, but you can never know if any other option is something you could have actually chosen. Maybe you were destined to chose the one option you chose and the apparent freedom you think you had to choose otherwise on that specific occasion is just lack of knowledge about why you act as you do.

A thing we are agreed that there is a problem assuming that agency lies in conscious experience, that experience thoughts of willing something may not be self-generating cause that brings about action.


Agreed.

My guess, fwiw, is that our brains mainly confabulate reasons after the event (with the exception of the times when we say to ourselves, 'why the f**k did I just do (or say) that?' Imagine how confusing, indeed alarming, that would be if it happened all the time. Our sense of self might be annihilated.

Conscious experience is, it seems to me, a view of the past. Before you can have conscious experience of anything, it has already happened. I can't see how it can be any other way.

I'm not ruling it out, but I just can't see how it could be.

One interesting question, for me, is to ask why we would have self-conscious experience at all. Is it some sort of accidental by-product, or what? What function does it serve, because it's bound to come at an energy (biological processing) cost. Wouldn't we be more efficient, in evolutionary terms, if we were more like p-zombies, or if not that then just more like, say, well, some other hypothetical creature that has all our other 'algorithms' but doesn't additionally have self-conscious awareness too? Iow, just what do we even need a 'sense of self' for?

We might consider this as the ultimate version of, 'shut up and calculate'. Which would surely please cito at least.
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Re: Free Will

#4522  Postby GrahamH » Nov 28, 2016 11:20 am

archibald wrote:
GrahamH wrote:What about "realisable alternative"?
Realisability of any alternative is not testable. It may seem physically possible, and may occur on other similar occasions, but you can never know if any other option is something you could have actually chosen. Maybe you were destined to chose the one option you chose and the apparent freedom you think you had to choose otherwise on that specific occasion is just lack of knowledge about why you act as you do.

A thing we are agreed that there is a problem assuming that agency lies in conscious experience, that experience thoughts of willing something may not be self-generating cause that brings about action.


Agreed.

My guess, fwiw, is that our brains mainly confabulate reasons after the event (with the exception of the times when we say to ourselves, 'why the f**k did I just do (or say) that?' Imagine how confusing, indeed alarming, that would be if it happened all the time.

Conscious experience is a view of the past. Before you can have conscious experience of anything, it has already happened. I can't see how it can be any other way.


I think I know what you mean, but wrt free will I think we need to consider the situation where we experience anticipation of events yet to occur. Anything where there is confabulation after the event is really not a candidate for free will. We need thought preceding action. We need the "conscious choice", however that works.

Of course the relevant event in those cases is what brings about the experience of the anticipatory thought and action, so confabulation can still apply, but the event is hidden.

archibald wrote:I'm not ruling it out, but I just can't see how it could be.

One interesting question, for me, is why we would have self-conscious experience at all. Is it some sort of accidental by-product, or what? What function does it serve, because it's bound to come at an energy (processing) cost. Wouldn't we be more efficient, in evolutionary terms, if we were more like p-zombies, or if not that then just more like, say, well, some other hypothetical creature that has all our other 'algorithms' but doesn't additionally have self-conscious awareness about them?


It seems to me that experience is all about self understanding, modelling the organism as a unified subject has considerable value, from working out where the body is, what moves it can make, to what it will do in those supposedly "realisable alternatives". Beyond the basic sensory information there is the experiential context that "I see a tree". Imagine experience as a virtual world model of an agent in a location with various states and dispositions. This allows prediction of what's about to happen. It's like tracking other entities, but applied to self, with much richer input. It is highly functional, but the causl effects arise from the simulation activity, rather than the simulated self. Calculating the subjective state is valuable without literally being the subjective entity. Still, if the subjective state is there as a construct that has been worked out there is a good chance of mistaking the model for an agent that is doing things in and of itself. You go and get a sandwich because you feel hungry and want to eat vs. the brain responding to physiological state to work out that you are in a hunger state and in doing so precipitating behaviour to get food. If the various physiological information was not integrated into "hunger" coordinated "strategic" behaviour to stay alive would be difficult.
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Re: Free Will

#4523  Postby archibald » Nov 28, 2016 11:33 am

GrahamH wrote:I think I know what you mean, but wrt free will I think we need to consider the situation where we experience anticipation of events yet to occur. Anything where there is confabulation after the event is really not a candidate for free will. We need thought preceding action. We need the "conscious choice", however that works.

Of course the relevant event in those cases is what brings about the experience of the anticipatory thought and action, so confabulation can still apply, but the event is hidden.


Yes, what you describe is arguably just another confabulation process, which at first sight seems different but isn't really. I suppose the confabulation in that case is 'you' thinking you're in charge of the foresight, when, how can 'you' be, without you having some version of a laws-of-nature-defying hommunculi directing your mental traffic?


It's also interesting to ask what foresight and anticipation are. My guess is that they're (automatically/instictively induced) 'dry runs' (tests) made up of regurgitated memories. In that sense, foresight is possibly not much different to hindsight. I mean, I would have trouble imagining something that I had no experience of whatsoever. I don't think I could manage that. For example, if we could hypothetically ask a newborn baby what it thinks is going to happen next, I'm not sure it would be able to tell us much, even assuming it could somehow communicate. :)

GrahamH wrote:It seems to me that experience is all about self understanding, modelling the organism as a unified subject has considerable value, from working out where the body is, what moves it can make, to what it will do in those supposedly "realisable alternatives". Beyond the basic sensory information there is the experiential context that "I see a tree". Imagine experience as a virtual world model of an agent in a location with various states and dispositions. This allows prediction of what's about to happen. It's like tracking other entities, but applied to self, with much richer input. It is highly functional, but the causl effects arise from the simulation activity, rather than the simulated self. Calculating the subjective state is valuable without literally being the subjective entity. Still, if the subjective state is there as a construct that has been worked out there is a good chance of mistaking the model for an agent that is doing things in and of itself. You go and get a sandwich because you feel hungry and want to eat vs. the brain responding to physiological state to work out that you are in a hunger state and in doing so precipitating behaviour to get food. If the various physiological information was not integrated into "hunger" coordinated "strategic" behaviour to stay alive would be difficult.


Yes, but it would seem to me that all this calculating, predicting and learning could be automatically (algorithmically) done (and I'm thinking, more efficiently) without 'you' thinking 'you' are in charge of any of it. This is, after all, the way it works for the vast majority of the things happening in our brains and bodies. So the question is, why does an apparently tiny minority of them 'break the surface'?

I agree with you that it seems to help sustain in us a sense of self, I'm just not sure why we even have or need such a thing in the first place.

Personally, mine is a pain in the ass quite a lot of the time and not all that attractive. :)
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Re: Free Will

#4524  Postby GrahamH » Nov 28, 2016 12:04 pm

archibald wrote:
GrahamH wrote:I think I know what you mean, but wrt free will I think we need to consider the situation where we experience anticipation of events yet to occur. Anything where there is confabulation after the event is really not a candidate for free will. We need thought preceding action. We need the "conscious choice", however that works.

Of course the relevant event in those cases is what brings about the experience of the anticipatory thought and action, so confabulation can still apply, but the event is hidden.


Yes, what you describe is arguably just another confabulation process, which at first sight seems different but isn't really. I suppose the confabulation in that case is 'you' thinking you're in charge of the foresight, when, how can 'you' be?


Well, since in this scenario it's not "you" working out that "you are in charge" it's not "your" error. My point is that the working out Is valuable. Isn't evidently valuable to work out what others are doing and how they will respond? How much more valuable then to be able to do that to yourself?

archibald wrote:Yes, but all this calculating and learning could be automatically done (and I'm thinking, more efficiently) without 'you' thinking 'you' are in charge of any of it.


It is "done automatically", to integrate all sort of information into a model of a self or agent. The point would be that "you" Is that model the "automatic" processes work out. The brain works out what the creature is about to do. There is no "you" apart from that. "you" are the model that is automatically evaluated. How can that be "more efficient" for equivalent functionality?

Various functions could, and do, operate locally without integrated information or a possibility of planning ahead, but coordinated action requires large scale synchronous interaction (not centralised command). If or when that arises it will appear like an agent. I think of that as a bit like a murmuration of starlings, appearing like a larger organism. Why couldn't the ensemble react to that appearance as the agency of the whole, if there were means to sense it at larger scale? Don't you get larger scale from longer, deeper interconnections between neurons of the parts?
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Re: Free Will

#4525  Postby archibald » Nov 28, 2016 12:16 pm

GrahamH wrote:
archibald wrote:
GrahamH wrote:I think I know what you mean, but wrt free will I think we need to consider the situation where we experience anticipation of events yet to occur. Anything where there is confabulation after the event is really not a candidate for free will. We need thought preceding action. We need the "conscious choice", however that works.

Of course the relevant event in those cases is what brings about the experience of the anticipatory thought and action, so confabulation can still apply, but the event is hidden.


Yes, what you describe is arguably just another confabulation process, which at first sight seems different but isn't really. I suppose the confabulation in that case is 'you' thinking you're in charge of the foresight, when, how can 'you' be?


Well, since in this scenario it's not "you" working out that "you are in charge" it's not "your" error. My point is that the working out Is valuable. Isn't evidently valuable to work out what others are doing and how they will respond? How much more valuable then to be able to do that to yourself?

archibald wrote:Yes, but all this calculating and learning could be automatically done (and I'm thinking, more efficiently) without 'you' thinking 'you' are in charge of any of it.


It is "done automatically", to integrate all sort of information into a model of a self or agent. The point would be that "you" Is that model the "automatic" processes work out. The brain works out what the creature is about to do. There is no "you" apart from that. "you" are the model that is automatically evaluated. How can that be "more efficient" for equivalent functionality?

Various functions could, and do, operate locally without integrated information or a possibility of planning ahead, but coordinated action requires large scale synchronous interaction (not centralised command). If or when that arises it will appear like an agent. I think of that as a bit like a murmuration of starlings, appearing like a larger organism. Why couldn't the ensemble react to that appearance as the agency of the whole, if there were means to sense it at larger scale? Don't you get larger scale from longer, deeper interconnections between neurons of the parts?


Yes.

I guess I was only wondering why we (unlike the flock of starlings) get an (arguably illusory) sense of coherent self to accompany the process. When I say why, I don't mean how, because there's little doubt it has evolved to happen in some way or other. Put it this way, if the agent isn't actually doing anything other than being under the illusion that it is, then it's using up valuable resources while doing that. Everything could be happening (in, say, a p-zombie) using less resources.
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Re: Free Will

#4526  Postby archibald » Nov 28, 2016 12:22 pm

One idea I have is that attributing agency to other things (as a means of improving predictions about them) is evolutionally helpful and it has just backfired onto us.

But that's surely backwards. Maybe it's more likely going in the other direction, that we feel like we're agents and project that outwards.

Just ruminating.
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Re: Free Will

#4527  Postby GrahamH » Nov 28, 2016 12:26 pm

archibald wrote:I guess I was only wondering why we (unlike the flock of starlings) get an (arguably illusory) sense of coherent self to accompany the process. When I say why, I don't mean how, because there's little doubt it has evolved to happen in some way or other. Put it this way, if the agent isn't actually doing anything other than being under the illusion that it is, then it's using up valuable resources while doing that. Everything could be happening (in, say, a p-zombie) using less resources.


There is no agent that is doing nothing and no wasted resources. The brain is doing the word to good effect. Mistaking the model for an agent is a a rather small error with negligible functional effect and no additional resource is required. I think a "P-Zombie" tha actually could function as a "conscious human" would require a detailed model of itself as a subjective agent (for planning, communication and effective social interaction, would in effect be a conscious human. The only thing I can think would make a difference would be extra information that it was a P-Zombie. What would be the difference? What would extra resource be spent on? By definition there is no functional difference at all. You can't tell it's a P-Zombie, and there is no reason to suppose that it could tell either.
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Re: Free Will

#4528  Postby GrahamH » Nov 28, 2016 12:31 pm

archibald wrote:One idea I have is that attributing agency to other things (as a means of improving predictions about them) is evolutionally helpful and it has just backfired onto us.

But that's surely backwards. Maybe it's more likely going in the other direction, that we feel like we're agents and project that outwards.

Just ruminating.



I sort of agree, but why do you think it "backfired"? I think it's something that enabled social interaction and extended to self-modelling / self-prediction that enabled very complex planning. It's the basis of this "free will" thing, knowing what we will do before we do it and what action to take to influence others in particular ways. Tats allows for discriminating planned from reactive actions and hence "free will".
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Re: Free Will

#4529  Postby GrahamH » Nov 28, 2016 12:32 pm

Have you read Graziano?
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Re: Free Will

#4530  Postby archibald » Nov 28, 2016 12:34 pm

GrahamH wrote:I sort of agree, but why do you think it "backfired"? I think it's something that enabled social interaction and extended to self-modelling / self-prediction that enabled very complex planning. It's the basis of this "free will" thing, knowing what we will do before we do it and what action to take to influence others in particular ways. Tats allows for discriminating planned from reactive actions and hence "free will".


Yes, but, again, why do 'I' need to consciously know about any of this?

ETA: the reason I think it might have backfired is because I can't see the purpose of it.

Or maybe....

Consciousness emerges (we don't need to know exactly why at this point) when a system reaches a certain (complicated) state. Then the system is lumbered with it, and has to do something to cope. The something being confabulation.

There is a sense in which the inner voices a schizophrenic 'hears' are real and are him (or her) just as much as yours are you and you believe your thoughts are you. And he or she has great difficulty thinking otherwise (unless some sort of medication quells/filters them, which is to say stops them reaching consciousness, as may be the case for non-schizophrenics, who also have the inner thoughts, but non-consciously). Which I suppose is an interesting example of the process not working. Maybe. I'm just ruminating. Passing the time.
Last edited by archibald on Nov 28, 2016 1:23 pm, edited 15 times in total.
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Re: Free Will

#4531  Postby archibald » Nov 28, 2016 12:35 pm

GrahamH wrote:Have you read Graziano?


Not yet. :)

But I'm always open to new book recommendations.
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Re: Free Will

#4532  Postby GrahamH » Nov 28, 2016 1:41 pm

archibald wrote:
GrahamH wrote:I sort of agree, but why do you think it "backfired"? I think it's something that enabled social interaction and extended to self-modelling / self-prediction that enabled very complex planning. It's the basis of this "free will" thing, knowing what we will do before we do it and what action to take to influence others in particular ways. That allows for discriminating planned from reactive actions and hence "free will".


Yes, but, again, why do 'I' need to consciously know about any of this?


Turn the question around. Why does your brain need to track and anticipate itself? What if working that out is making an "I", a subject-eye view" of things? "you" exist because working you out is a useful modelling function without frills.

archibald wrote:ETA: the reason I think it might have backfired is because I can't see the purpose of it.

Or maybe....

Consciousness emerges (we don't need to know exactly why at this point) when a system reaches a certain (complicated) state. Then the system is lumbered with it, and has to do something to cope. The something being confabulation.


I don't think that makes sense. That would be a waste of resources and I don't see how something like that could evolve. The relationship between subjectivity and function is not trivial to grasp, but I think we should think first about function. If that seems to leave something extra that isn't necessary for function then that's probably our mistake in understanding. Understanding is functional, and reasonably something brains do. We need understanding of self, we don't need to literally be that self.
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Re: Free Will

#4533  Postby ughaibu » Nov 28, 2016 2:28 pm

GrahamH wrote:What about "realisable alternative"?
Realisability of any alternative is not testable.
If we do not have realisability, then we lose both inductive inference and experimental replicability. In short, you either accept that there are realisable alternatives or you reject the ability of human beings to conduct science.
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Re: Free Will

#4534  Postby Cito di Pense » Nov 28, 2016 2:35 pm

ughaibu wrote:
GrahamH wrote:What about "realisable alternative"?
Realisability of any alternative is not testable.
If we do not have realisability, then we lose both inductive inference and experimental replicability. In short, you either accept that there are realisable alternatives or you reject the ability of human beings to conduct science.


You really don't get 'experiments', do you? You can't choose whatever outcome you want for your experiment. You can only choose what hypothesis you test, and you certainly don't have the choice of testing whatever hypothesis you want hoping for replication.

Looks like you'd call flipping a coin an exercise in free will because you always get one of the two realizable outcomes.
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Re: Free Will

#4535  Postby GrahamH » Nov 28, 2016 3:06 pm

ughaibu wrote:
GrahamH wrote:What about "realisable alternative"?
Realisability of any alternative is not testable.
If we do not have realisability, then we lose both inductive inference and experimental replicability. In short, you either accept that there are realisable alternatives or you reject the ability of human beings to conduct science.


I think you are confusing things there. realisability in terms of what is possible is not disputed. It is physically and logically possible that you choose chicken or that you choose beef.
But if you choose chicken we can't know if, in that precise moment of decision, you could have chosen beef. We only know that beef was available and on other occasions you and others can choose beef, and on other occasions again chicken can be chosen.

There is no way to tell if, on any specific occasion of making a choice, you were free to chose something else, that you did not choose.

Since we can't tell for any single occasion we can't be sure we have that freedom on any occasion.
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Re: Free Will

#4536  Postby GrahamH » Nov 28, 2016 3:15 pm

ughaibu wrote:
GrahamH wrote:What about "realisable alternative"?
Realisability of any alternative is not testable.
If we do not have realisability, then we lose both inductive inference and experimental replicability. In short, you either accept that there are realisable alternatives or you reject the ability of human beings to conduct science.


As for science, you seem to have it backwards.
if prior conditions did not determine results, that is, that only one outcome is realisable for given experimental conditions (allowing a margin of error in those conditions), then science wouldn't work. That would lose us inductive inference and replicability

What was your reasoning?
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Re: Free Will

#4537  Postby ughaibu » Nov 28, 2016 11:04 pm

GrahamH wrote:What was your reasoning?
Of course not.
As any practicing experimental scientist will tell you, a claimed result is piss useless if it requires a procedure that cannot be repeated. In other words, experimental science requires the assumption that a researcher can repeat a given procedure.
THIS GUARANTEES THAT THERE IS A REALISABLE COURSE OF ACTION IN THE RESEARCHER'S FUTURE.
They will also tell you that a result has no significance unless it varies from the result produced by a control experiment, in short, experimental science requires the assumption that the researcher has available two incompatible future courses of action: to repeat the main procedure or to repeat the control.
THIS GUARANTEES THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST TWO REALISABLE ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION IN THE RESEARCHER'S FUTURE.

Make a fucking effort to interpret my posts as they are obviously intended, or was figuring this out really beyond the abilities of you and Cito?
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Re: Free Will

#4538  Postby Cito di Pense » Nov 29, 2016 5:20 am

ughaibu wrote:
GrahamH wrote:What was your reasoning?
Of course not.
As any practicing experimental scientist will tell you, a claimed result is piss useless if it requires a procedure that cannot be repeated. In other words, experimental science requires the assumption that a researcher can repeat a given procedure.
THIS GUARANTEES THAT THERE IS A REALISABLE COURSE OF ACTION IN THE RESEARCHER'S FUTURE.
They will also tell you that a result has no significance unless it varies from the result produced by a control experiment, in short, experimental science requires the assumption that the researcher has available two incompatible future courses of action: to repeat the main procedure or to repeat the control.
THIS GUARANTEES THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST TWO REALISABLE ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION IN THE RESEARCHER'S FUTURE.

Make a fucking effort to interpret my posts as they are obviously intended, or was figuring this out really beyond the abilities of you and Cito?


So now we're back to steering the automobile left or right at the intersection. Free will for the win. Nope. All you've demonstrated are realizable alternatives, and you can't figure out how your 'free will' works. There's no experiment you can do with that besides talking out of your arse. You realize that alternative excellently, free will always obvious after the fact.
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Re: Free Will

#4539  Postby GrahamH » Nov 29, 2016 7:57 am

ughaibu wrote:
GrahamH wrote:What was your reasoning?
Of course not.
As any practicing experimental scientist will tell you, a claimed result is piss useless if it requires a procedure that cannot be repeated. In other words, experimental science requires the assumption that a researcher can repeat a given procedure.
THIS GUARANTEES THAT THERE IS A REALISABLE COURSE OF ACTION IN THE RESEARCHER'S FUTURE.
They will also tell you that a result has no significance unless it varies from the result produced by a control experiment, in short, experimental science requires the assumption that the researcher has available two incompatible future courses of action: to repeat the main procedure or to repeat the control.
THIS GUARANTEES THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST TWO REALISABLE ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION IN THE RESEARCHER'S FUTURE.

Make a fucking effort to interpret my posts as they are obviously intended, or was figuring this out really beyond the abilities of you and Cito?


You seem to have a very peculiar view of this subject. You are turning to deterministic experiments to argue for free will?
Bizarre.

You think that repeatability says anything about realisable choice? Repeatability is the opposite of freedom.

Saying that many different things might happen in future, and we don't know which, does not show any choice (one of those events) was determined by free will.
Why do you think that?
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Re: Free Will

#4540  Postby Cito di Pense » Nov 29, 2016 8:20 am

GrahamH wrote:
ughaibu wrote:
GrahamH wrote:What was your reasoning?
Of course not.
As any practicing experimental scientist will tell you, a claimed result is piss useless if it requires a procedure that cannot be repeated. In other words, experimental science requires the assumption that a researcher can repeat a given procedure.
THIS GUARANTEES THAT THERE IS A REALISABLE COURSE OF ACTION IN THE RESEARCHER'S FUTURE.
They will also tell you that a result has no significance unless it varies from the result produced by a control experiment, in short, experimental science requires the assumption that the researcher has available two incompatible future courses of action: to repeat the main procedure or to repeat the control.
THIS GUARANTEES THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST TWO REALISABLE ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION IN THE RESEARCHER'S FUTURE.

Make a fucking effort to interpret my posts as they are obviously intended, or was figuring this out really beyond the abilities of you and Cito?


You seem to have a very peculiar view of this subject. You are turning to deterministic experiments to argue for free will?
Bizarre.

You think that repeatability says anything about realisable choice? Repeatability is the opposite of freedom.

Saying that many different things might happen in future, and we don't know which, does not show any choice (one of those events) was determined by free will.


It's absurd. We can't predict the future, ergo, free will. That's what you say when appreciating complexity and deterministic chaos is beyond you, and you can't even begin to take a shot at what the starting conditions entail. Instead, you say, without specifying initial conditions, that the outcome has to be the result of free will because not everything is possible. Fuck me, but that's rather dim-witted.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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