Eben Harrell rounds up recent research on unconscious thought:

Custers and Bargh acknowledge that their research undermines a fundamental principle used to promote human exceptionalism indeed, Bargh has in the past argued that his work undermines the existence of free will. But Custers also points out that his conclusions are not new: people have long sensed that they are influenced by forces beyond their immediate recognition be it Greek gods or Freud's unruly id. What's more, the unconscious will is vital for daily functioning and probably evolved before consciousness as a handy survival mechanism Bargh calls it "the evolutionary foundation upon which the scaffolding of consciousness is built." Life requires so many decisions, Bargh says, "that we would be swiftly overwhelmed if we did not have the automatic processes to deal with them."

This prompts Helen Smith to throw such scientific research into the rubbish bin:

Beware of studies that show free will to be more and more of an illusion, for as Glenn says, "This kind of thing is often pitched as a reason for regulation, since your free will is portrayed as illusory."

We've been over this territory before. Julian Sanchez ably explained awhile back why no amount of scientific research can prove that free will is an "illusion."

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