We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Free will isn't a thing. It's a token in an account. "Did he do it of his own free will?" isn't asking a metaphysical question.
Thinking it has a metaphysical meaning is a mistake. It's a term invented for situations that interested the speakers in normal life, not a philosophical coinage. In philosophy, it's language gone on holiday, driven by an impoverished picture in the philosopher's mind.
There's a reason philosophers don't consider interesting situations with their terms - the boredom keeps you from recalling how the term is actually used in real life, so you can concentrate on the philosopher's illusion.
Is this really a ball of wax? I don't strictly see all of it, just the front surface. Where, in real life, there are lots of ways to tell. It smells like polyester or not, or something like that.
By the same token, if you do believe in free will, how do you know that this belief was chosen of your own free will.
Which makes the last paragraph a head-scratcher:
I have come to the conclusion that a large fraction of people are cognitively unable to question the existence of free will, and there is no argument that can change their mind.
Well, of course you can't change their mind, dummy, they were pre-ordained to believe in free will. If you had an argument that could change their mind about the existence of free will, would that not itself be evidence of the existence of free will?
Not to mention which, the argument that we can't have free will because the particles from which we are made don't have free will is a simple compositional fallacy any high-schooler should know is wrong. My dog is indisputably alive but if I were to take a sharp knife and divide him into his constituent parts, I would find that no one part of him is alive. Does this mean I am mistaken in believing that my dog is alive?
Chesterton says it well: "G.K. Chesterton says that whenever you ask skeptics to believe anything, whether it be a legend of a hero, or a ghost story, or a transfiguration on a mountain, they reply that they are not going to be “taken in.” But what does that mean? As usual, Chesterton gives a surprising and incisive answer: “To refuse to be taken in is to refuse to see the inside of anything... The skeptic is left in this position in regard to everything. You show him a great palace and tell him that inside it are great councils and splendid judgments of State. But he never sees the councils or hears the judgments, for the simple reason that he will not be 'taken in' to see or hear them. You show him a mighty cathedral and tell him that inside it are ceremonies that exalt the spirit and music that makes it mad with frantic goodness; but he never hears the service or the music, simply because he will not be 'taken in' to hear them. He has an abiding horror of the inside of everything, for to him the inside of everything is a trap, with jaws of steel. He would rather be outside everything than inside Heaven...”"
Some will not leave their "truth in all things" of science, no matter what twisted conclusions they have to arrive at to "explain" the scientifically inexplicable.
Our will is certainly not completely free. Determinists can find, by experiment and argument, many human decisions that are not decisions at all, but unthinking, automatic response. It may even be that most of our actions are unfree.
However, the simplest argument is that we are all aware of places where our actions are less free, compelled by forces internal or external. Therefore there are actions which are more free.
Assistant Village Idiot
Pure sophistry. Choice is the foundation of mind. In fact, it's the spawning of existence, the ultimate protest of nothing.