[ Thompson is one of the “adjustment bureau” members working for “the chairman”]
[ after locking up David Norris in an empty studio ]
– Thompson: Frustrating, isn’t it? My name is Thompson.
– David Norris: Whatever happened to free will?
– Thompson: We actually tried free will before. After taking you from hunting and gathering to the height of the Roman empire, we stepped back to see how you’d do on your own. You gave us the dark ages for five centuries until finally we decided we should come back in. The Chairman thought that maybe we just needed to do a better job with teaching you how to ride a bike before taking the training wheels off again. So we gave you raised hopes, enlightment, scientific revolution.
For six hundred years we taught you to control your impulses with reason. Then in nineteen ten, we stepped back. Within fifty years you’d brought us world war one, the depression, fascism, the holocaust and capped it off by bringing the entire planet to the brink of destruction in the Cuba missile crisis.
At that point the decision was taken to step back in again before you did something that even we couldn’t fix.
You don’t have free will, David. You have the appearance of free will.
– David Norris: You expect me to believe that. I make decisions everyday.
– Thompson: You have free will over which tooth paste you use, or which beverage to order at lunch. But humanity just isn’t mature enough to control the important things.
– David Norris: So you handle the important things? Well, the last time I checked the world’s a pretty screwed up place.
– Thompson: It’s still here. If we’d left things in your hands it wouldn’t be.