The Illusion of Control: Intellectual Discussion

(Merozey) #1

Today I wanted to share something with you that has been on my mind, it doesn’t really collide with hacking or infosec in general, but still it is fairly relevant. And yes, this topic has definitely been pulled from Mr. Robot as Elliott has talked about all the time, and it’s been on my mind lately, so why not discuss it with you guys too.




So the dilemma here really is the fact that we as humans believe and perceive that we have control of our lives, careers, relationships friendships and so on. And that when we fail in our endeavors, it’s a part of the process, in which it makes us feel at ease knowing that we can recover from that occurrence, and we’ll be fine. Which is where i’d say the illusion of having control comes in, because what if we exactly didn’t have control in the first place, and could of continued with our ‘path’, and yet failed, hence the illusion of control.

Then, I would also counter-argue that perspective, saying that the illusion of us having control is the definition of human imperfection, that we’re never supposed to have control, and that’s what makes us unique, and the entire process of achieving our goal worth the fight.

Elliott’s view:

Elliott’s view is that, we are being controlled by this 1% that he talked about in Season 1. But, what if that’s false, and they only have an impact on the flow of economy, and the media/advertisements have an impact on our perception. And we can decide the rest, so to say.

I hope you have some interesting responses.

(oaktree) #2

Your path is set. Where you’ll end up is set. Every time you make a decision or “change your mind,” that was already going to happen.

(Merozey) #3

so you believe everything is planned out? every single thought you conduct, every decision every time you miss the bus, every time you’re late for work class, every time you’re in a fight sorrow. when you buy new clothes foods?

to me that seems naive and unrealistic.

but we all have our own opinions.,

(oaktree) #4

It’s not planned out, but it was going to happen. Thing about it retrospectively. What happened was going to happen – whether you expected it or not.

(The C# Dude) #5

If I remember correctly, I heard of a study about that topic. Some scientists asked people to choose between two options. When they chose between them, they laid in an MRT (magnetic resonance tomography), which measured their brain activity. In the recordings of the MRT, the scientists could see, that everytime the people made a decision the brain already had made a decision 5 (!) seconds before the people knew it; so decisions are predestined. I think you don’t decide free.

I have the same oppinion as @oaktree and had it already before I heard of this study.

(Merozey) #6

yeah in that correlation possibly. But I mean more in terms of 10 years ahead of your life, 4 years that kind of stuff. Small things as you just mentioned with the study, where the brain makes a decision 5 seconds before we know it, that seems like a possibility, but anything beyond that doesnt.


The study does not show that decisions are predestined, it means that our subconscious mind has already processed the information before our conscious mind has realized that decision. As for “destiny”, it’s a pretty debatable topic. Given a specific set of factors, things will always happen in the exact same manner, “same experiment, same result”, if you will. Do our minds work the same way?

Also, does this mean that since the beginning of the universe and every single factor “set” at that point would have contributed to every single possible state of the (our) universe? Every birth and death of a star and every single scenario which has lead our solar system and Earth to form and every single decision made by every single organism which has lead up until the present day. Who knows? Perhaps if scientists discover multiverses, it might shed some light.

But back on topic, yes, there have been some controversial discussions about this “illusion of freedom”. There are some examples which are, I guess more prominent, such as advertisement and consumerism where people are subconsciously(?) and psychologically(?) manipulated.

(The C# Dude) #8

It was more meant to show, that we think we decide free, but that our brain already chose an option before. This is a good example of what I think the free will depends on: It depends just on events happened before. An example for better illustration:

Of course this example sounds weird, but I think it underlines the determinism, in which I believe :wink:.

(Merozey) #9

I completely agree with your pointers. Very valid.

(oaktree) #10

Well think about our weird universal constants (e, pi, k, G,c, etc.). It’s possible that our universe follows a mathematical rhythm.


We’re always controlled. By ourselves. Debt. Everything. As humans- we have multiple illusions. Of anonymity, of love, of control as you were saying, and perhaps of life. Those are always the scariest. Why? They base our decisions. They lead us to make certain decisions. Those decisions many times lead into other aspects of control. For example, you receive a card saying you’ve won a prize. Most people would reject it, but some would somehow be under the idea of the illusion of luck. And I’m not saying luck isn’t or is real. But they think that they one out of luck. Which is an illusion. Little do they know that they’ve been scammed out of all their life savings onnce having followed everything on the card to get “their prize”. That leads to even more control- debt.

(pico) #12

I think it is. If you look at it from the point of view of the Theory of Chaos. At the end the world is dynamic and non-linear despite of our efforts to linearise everything. We do that because we do not know yet how to deal with reality :slight_smile:

Look at the logistic map (, such a simple equation produces very complex behaviours. The universe is driven by a bunch of simple rules… but we do not know them… yet :slight_smile:


The material world is limited and can therefore be described by math.
The spiritual world / mind however that is something we will find out after dead.

(Merozey) #14

Yeah, that is true, however I dont see how a mathematical rhythm can collide with human behaviour and thoughts, emotions and so on. If the Universe foillows a rhythm, then there’s an algortihm. And algortithms are designed to do just one job, and that doesnt include emotions, because that is beyond it’s control.

An example would be algortihms that are deployed in the financial world. A lot of them have been in use, and they are controlling the flow of money, hence the reason why its so hard to win in the lottery because of an algortihm. it’s designed to do just one job.


Both of these are intangible concepts but they are both tied to the physical realm. Emotions are all controlled through consequences of hormones within the brain. Thoughts and the “mind” are the intangible however neither can exist without the brain and vice versa (cough Matrix cough). Think of these two like time and space. Space is the physical and time is the conceptual. Neither can exist without the other, hence why people call it space time. Or, an even better example, like the hardware and the software of computers.


“I think therefore I am”, is the only thing we know for certain.
There is no ‘proof’ for the brain being the only cause of awareness.
There never can be proof, because the only way to find out is in death.
Science does have the principle of probability, but strictly speaking neither your or my theory can be proven in a scientific experiment.

(Monkey Wrench) #17

My 2.5 cents…

Control doesn’t exist, only limitations and chances imposed on the future - which create an illusion of control.

Different systems* impose various limitations, but in the end, they don’t control. They steer.
Chances are binary - either it will be, or it won’t. So everything has a 50/50 chance.
Future - the only time which matters. Past cannot be unwritten, and the now is already the past.

In the end, the only thing which matters is what you do. Upon your actions you will judge yourself. Everything else is relative.

'* - everything is a system. Consider it a fractal in chaos-speak.


Buddhist saying:
‘You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your actions’

Speaking of Buddhism, if you leave the Budha and reincarnation stuff out, you have one of the most (the only) intelligent religions on earth.

(Merozey) #19

Buddhism is not technically a religions since it does not have a God, nor a Saint. Buddhism is considered more as a life style.


And as @unh0lys0da mentioned it is pretty intelligent. I wonder if there would be a way of (if even possible) mixing it with a normal lifestyle.