Wondering at Fungi Free Will

Another title I never imagined that I would use. A few scientists have been thinking that perhaps some things have consciousness, even cells themselves. We should not be entirely surprised, then, that the question has been raised whether or not fungi have free will.

Wait, what? Many people would consider that idea a mite goofy, but in the true spirit of science and inquiry, put presuppositions and assumptions on hold for a spell. Creation Science, Intelligent Design, plate tectonics, the flood that carved out the Channeled Scablands, and others were originally rejected.

It may seem strange for scientists to consider whether or not fungi have free will. The principle is that unusual things may be considered for study.
Orange Bracket Fungi, Flickr / Bernard Spragg NZ (public domain)
"Hey, look! Some mushrooms came up out of the ground after last night's heavy rain! I dare you to eat one!" Best not to do that.

Fungi come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. This means they are very common. It's natural to assume they don't have cognition, let alone, free will.

To consider the free will question, other questions should be asked and definitions must be nailed down. For example, do fungi show anything resembling self-awareness? Are they conscious in any way? Do they communicate? (In a way, yes.) And what does free will actually mean?

Theologians have cussed and discussed the nature of free will for ages, especially whether we have it. (A simple theological article is here.) It can not mean that people do whatever they want — human nature and nature itself dictate otherwise. When you study on it, fungi having free will can be an interesting subject. Difficult to empirically study and test, though.

Still, if a topic is unusual to the scientific community, maybe — just perhaps — it should be given fair consideration. Especially if whomever is proposing it has put some work into it. Even so, I'm not too keen on giving them huge amounts of tax money for research until there are compelling reasons and the groundwork has been put in place.

Nicholas P. Money has a bold hypothesis. Money, a professor of mycology at Miami University in Ohio, has argued in a peer-reviewed paper that fungi have minds. 

. . . 

. . . I also think that any case of an out-of-the-box theory being debated civilly is a phenomenon that should be encouraged, not discouraged — especially so when the theory runs against the grain of the old scientific-materialist paradigm. We should consider this kind of thing with an open mind, and expect to receive the same courtesy. 

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at Money’s argument. Why does he think that fungi think?

To read the entire article, see "Do Fungi Have Free-Will?" Remember how free will is limited by nature and human nature? This prescient 1979 movie clip fits. See it before wokeness makes it disappear forever: