I know this has been discussed before, but I have read Sam Harris' book Free Will and Michael Shermer's book The Believing Brain, and I must say that I agree with both authors. Studies show that our brains make a decision on an unconscious level three tenths of a second and sometimes more before we even consciously know we're going to act. To take a short quote from Shermer's book: "The neural activity that precedes the intention to act is inaccessible to our conscious mind, so we experience a sense of free will. But it is an illusion, caused by the fact that we cannot identify the cause of the awareness of our intention to act".
Three levels need to be considered: 1) the real world as it is; 2) physical observations of the real world; and 3) mathematical models and interpretations of the observations.
As you observe, the fact is there are several different models. Matrix mechanics, wave mechanics, and de Broglie-Bohm mechanics are mathematically equivalent. No experiment will be able to distinguish between them and select one over the others, although an experiment might eliminate them all.
The fact also is that one model is deterministic and the other two indeterministic. This suggests the distinction between determinism and indeterminism does not lie in observations themselves, but in models of observations. In other words the determinism is not observable, or as Heisenberg would have it, cannot be justified as a physical reality, it is merely an interpretation.
I was pretty much in agreement (though matrix mechanics is an extension of wave mechanics) until you said "cannot be justified as a physical reality". De Broglie-Bohm mechanics is entirely physical (in fact using all of the energy in the universe). Non-observable doesn't equal non-physical (being outside of physics). All three are within physics, and considered "part of physical reality", even though none of them are entirely observable.
But yes, when it comes to Quantum Interpretations it must be understood that this is distinct from the mathematics and experimentation of Quantum Mechanics - meaning they are interpretations of what we see and various mathematical results. This is why I prefer an interpretation that makes less assumptions (including assumptions about indeterminism/determinism) - ensemble.
We might be able to observe a wave function collapse, but depending on the interpretation there are various ideas (interpretation) surrounding what is actually happening.
They are not entirely observable because they are not all "physical." Many things are mathmaticly assumed. Being physical is a "touchy feely" thing. If it isn't demonstrable in some way then it is of no use to me. Einstein wannabe doesn't impress me. I don't think anyone here is an astro physicist or a cosmologist.
What does this have to do with "free will?" Not much, but the illusion of free will comes from a predetermined set of choices available to the individual. Every individual has a different set of these choices because we are not all the same, raised the same, experienced, the same, etc. Our societal programming makes us all different and the choices are not as large as some would think, but everything is not predetermined from a beginning. Argueing that it is so is pure insanity!
They are not entirely observable because they are not all "physical."
This is an assumption being made. Quantum Physics deals with "physics". Indeed, we don' even know what it means to "not be physical". The mathematics is addressing the "physics"
"...a predetermined set of choices available to the individual"
If causal only one of those options are viable choices based on that causality If acausal, such are entirely out of our control.
"Our societal programming makes us all different and the choices are not as large as some would think, but everything is not predetermined from a beginning. Argueing that it is so is pure insanity!"
If it's not then acausal events happen (indeterminism) and arguing they would have anything to do with us being able to "choose" is illogical (and excepting illogical ideas is, IMO, the real insanity).
Then you need to join Einstein and the others. Maybe even Neal Tyson. There is absolutely no way that I can believe that everything that happens is just going to happen that way regardless. You seem to make that claim and then back track into any other option that happens saying "oh, that was predetermined to happen anyway." It makes discussion pointless. It makes everything that happens in the world pointless.
I'm not a scientist, I try to be logical, I have no knowledge of the workings of quantum theory really, and I highly respect Einstein and Neal deGrass Tyson. I go with logic, reasoning, and evidence. What I am seeing here mostly in this discussion is hot air and some "reasoning" that appears to be over most of our heads.
I can't buy it.
It makes discussion pointless. It makes everything that happens in the world pointless.
This is an unsubstantiated claim, but even if it were the case it would be an argument from adverse consequences fallacy. But it isn't the case as "the point" of things comes about causally - and there is no reason to suggest otherwise.
Without ever touching quantum mechanics it's the logic that makes free will incoherent. X cannot both be the cause of Y and not the cause of Y, so if the universe is entirely causal, it follows logically that each event (that could not have been otherwise) stems back to a cause (that could not have been otherwise), which would stem back to another cause, etc. The only way to break such would be an event without a cause, and it's illogical to say such non-causal event could ever be willed (as to will is to cause).
I don't know if everything is going to happen regardless (it depends if there are only causal events or if some come about acausally) - but either way free will is logically impossible.
Is thought then an event without a cause, OR does though produce something that brings about a cause? I might think about cleaning out the shed, but nothing happens here until I actually do it.
Thought is both caused and causes other thoughts and actions. Any thought that comes about without a cause cannot come from a cause such as a person.
The lack of free will doesn't imply that thought and action doesn't happen, only that it's either causal in nature (which means the thought itself stems back to other causes, and the thought is also a cause of other events - e.g. cleaning the shed)...or it's acausal in nature (in which case that would be much more of a detriment to the person as they think about nonsensical garbage).
An acausal (uncaused) event has no spatial (location) or temporal (time) determinacy (causality). It simply "pops" into existence with no cause funneling it to a specific time or location.
Then if the universe was a bottle of beer our thoughts are sort of like the carbonation within the drink. If there is no carbonation the drink is not beer. Therefore, I have created "god" with my thoughts the same way his "holy book" said that he created all things.
Not sure what that has to do with "free will." My view is that free will is very much limited, moreso than anyone would think, but our actions are not carved into stone, or cement set and dried.
My only concern is in regards to people thinking they and others could have, of their own accord, done otherwise. It's this "free will" belief that leads people to thinking that people are "to blame" or "more deserving over others". There are a number of philosophical, ethical, political, economic, social, and criminal systems that get built around this false notion of free will. Also, the psychology people hold that creates much hatred and anger is based on them thinking someone should have or could have (of their own accord) done otherwise than they did.