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The Case Against Reality A professor of cognitive science argues against it

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posted on May, 1 2016 @ 02:18 PM

originally posted by: Astyanax
a reply to: neoholographic

He says everyone is having the 1st person experience and there's no reality outside of experience itself.

No, he does not say that. He says that adequate perceptions of reality drive out faithful perceptions in evolutionary competition. But under it all, there is a fundamental reality, which he does not deny. It is merely impossible for evolved organisms to perceive it accurately.

He saying there's no objective reality outside of what we consider reality in the 1st person. There may be some objective reality out there but there's no way that we can know this. This is why he says brain don't even exist in space. He says Penrose and Hameroff don't go far enough.

Gefter: I suspect they’re reacting to things like Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff’s model, where you still have a physical brain, it’s still sitting in space, but supposedly it’s performing some quantum feat. In contrast, you’re saying, “Look, quantum mechanics is telling us that we have to question the very notions of ‘physical things’ sitting in ‘space.’”

Hoffman: I think that’s absolutely true. The neuroscientists are saying, “We don’t need to invoke those kind of quantum processes, we don’t need quantum wave functions collapsing inside neurons, we can just use classical physics to describe processes in the brain.” I’m emphasizing the larger lesson of quantum mechanics: Neurons, brains, space … these are just symbols we use, they’re not real. It’s not that there’s a classical brain that does some quantum magic. It’s that there’s no brain! Quantum mechanics says that classical objects—including brains—don’t exist. So this is a far more radical claim about the nature of reality and does not involve the brain pulling off some tricky quantum computation. So even Penrose hasn’t taken it far enough. But most of us, you know, we’re born realists. We’re born physicalists. This is a really, really hard one to let go of.


Again, many people who support this view don't go that far but what he's saying makes perfect sense. Quantum mechanics does tell us these things don't exist on any fundamental level. This is why local realism is dead. It's because the most we can say is everything is a probable state and it's not any objective reality it's just something we experience locally. So the most we can say outside of the 1st person view of reality is maybe another conscious agent is seeing and experiencing the same thing or something close to it but there's no way to prove this. He even said, the best you can do in OBJECTIVE SCIENCE is assume these things are "real" because they could be false. This is because you can only trust their 1st person view of reality and you can't know it.

Gefter: If it’s conscious agents all the way down, all first-person points of view, what happens to science? Science has always been a third-person description of the world.

Hoffman: The idea that what we’re doing is measuring publicly accessible objects, the idea that objectivity results from the fact that you and I can measure the same object in the exact same situation and get the same results — it’s very clear from quantum mechanics that that idea has to go. Physics tells us that there are no public physical objects. So what’s going on? Here’s how I think about it. I can talk to you about my headache and believe that I am communicating effectively with you, because you’ve had your own headaches. The same thing is true as apples and the moon and the sun and the universe. Just like you have your own headache, you have your own moon. But I assume it’s relevantly similar to mine. That’s an assumption that could be false, but that’s the source of my communication, and that’s the best we can do in terms of public physical objects and objective science.

He even states this explicitely in a response.

Gefter: The world is just other conscious agents?

Hoffman: I call it conscious realism: Objective reality is just conscious agents, just points of view.

This is just true as far as we know and that's because of quantum mechanics. The local reality we're experiencing is just a probable state of some bigger reality that we may never know or our perceptions of reality or these probable states is all there is.

So when I measure the spin of a particle, it can be either spin up or spin down and when I carry out a measurement and it's spin down, that's not any objective reality that's just a local experience with the probable state spin down. So what he's saying is that everything we call "reality" is just these local experiences that don't have any objective existence outside of a 1st person view of reality.
edit on 1-5-2016 by neoholographic because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 03:04 PM
c'mon...."objective reality is just points of view" jumping off a cliff and killing yourself when you hit the bottom, a "point of view"?......or.......have others jumped off a cliff and killed themselves, and you conclude that is reality, AND NOT a "point of view"?....and the statement above by Hoffman...."Objective reality is just conscious agents"...wha??? opposed to what?....SUBJECTIVE reality?.....he says this like it is a statement of fact..... and what are "conscious agents"......well, I guess it sells books and keeps the lecture fees coming in...

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 04:45 PM

originally posted by: jimmyx
c'mon...."objective reality is just points of view" jumping off a cliff and killing yourself when you hit the bottom, a "point of view"?......or.......have others jumped off a cliff and killed themselves, and you conclude that is reality, AND NOT a "point of view"?....and the statement above by Hoffman...."Objective reality is just conscious agents"...wha??? opposed to what?....SUBJECTIVE reality?.....he says this like it is a statement of fact..... and what are "conscious agents"......well, I guess it sells books and keeps the lecture fees coming in...

First, it makes no sense to suggest because someone has reached a different conclusion then you that they just want more lecture fees. The guy has been thinking about these things his whole life and what he's saying makes perfect sense.

Gefter: How did you first become interested in these ideas?

Hoffman: As a teenager, I was very interested in the question “Are we machines?” My reading of the science suggested that we are. But my dad was a minister, and at church they were saying we’re not. So I decided I needed to figure it out for myself. It’s sort of an important personal question—if I’m a machine, I would like to find that out! And if I’m not, I’d like to know, what is that special magic beyond the machine? So eventually in the 1980s I went to the artificial-intelligence lab at MIT and worked on machine perception. The field of vision research was enjoying a newfound success in developing mathematical models for specific visual abilities. I noticed that they seemed to share a common mathematical structure, so I thought it might be possible to write down a formal structure for observation that encompassed all of them, perhaps all possible modes of observation. I was inspired in part by Alan Turing. When he invented the Turing machine, he was trying to come up with a notion of computation, and instead of putting bells and whistles on it, he said, Let’s get the simplest, most pared down mathematical description that could possibly work. And that simple formalism is the foundation for the science of computation. So I wondered, could I provide a similarly simple formal foundation for the science of observation?

The guy has been thinking about these things since he was a teenager and actually pursued areas like working on machine perception at the MIT lab, what have you done? My point is, it's just childish to question motives because you can't debate what he's saying.

Again, this "reality" isn't an objective reality and there's no evidence to support this. Every experiment so far has violated macrorealism and destroyed any notion of local realism. So the local reality you experience, isn't objective reality.

Quantum physics: Death by experiment for local realism

A fundamental scientific assumption called local realism conflicts with certain predictions of quantum mechanics. Those predictions have now been verified, with none of the loopholes that have compromised earlier tests.

This is exactly what Hoffman is saying.

If we were to see a person jumping off of a cliff, all we can say is in this probable state he jumps off the cliff and dies but that's a local "reality" and local realism is dead. I can't even say that you exist outside of my interactions with you. I can't prove it, we just all have to assume the local "reality" we experience is experienced by others in the same or similar way. We can just reach a consensus.

So whether you look at Copenhagen or MWI interpretations of quantum mechanics which are the 2 popular interpretations right now of Quantum Mechanics, they show the local "reality" we experience is a probable state of the wave function. So anything we call local "reality" isn't any objective reality. It's just the local "reality" we're experiencing at this moment and there's 7 billion 1st person views of this local "reality."

If two people are looking at the moon, there's no way they can prove to each other that the moon exists. They can reach a consensus that they're both looking at something we call the moon but each person's 1st person view can't be known by the other. They can't even show the other person exists when they're not interacting with them.

With the death of local realism, the most we can say is the local "reality" we experience may be a version of some bigger reality or maybe versions or points of view is all that exists and there is no bigger reality just probable states that we experience locally.

You can't even prove your family members exists when you're not interacting with them. Now, we can say of course your family members have an existence outside of your point of view but that can't be proven scientifically. That's just a consensus point of view. You're 1st person point of view is like a black box and we just assume that other black boxes are having the same or a similar point of view of local "reality."

The fact that local realism has died a thousand deaths due to quantum mechanics and experiments simply destroys the notion that what we experience locally is some objective reality.

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 10:12 PM
a reply to: neoholographic

I don't propose to argue with you. What I stated earlier is correct. Reality will not bend to your fantasies, or anyone else's.

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 10:21 PM
a reply to: jimmyx

Please don't take the OP's interpretation of Dr Hoffman's work as correct. Hoffman is not claiming that objective reality doesn't exist. That is the OP's perennial claim, and he or she distorts and misrepresents any scientific literature he or she can find in support of it.

Hoffman's paper, which marshals Bayesian statistical techniques and computer models of selective competition among sensoria to make his case, is fascinating and persuasive. It is far more interesting than the OP's unoriginal ideas about reality. It is no easy read, however.

edit on 1/5/16 by Astyanax because: of typos.

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 02:29 AM

originally posted by: Astyanax
a reply to: neoholographic

I don't propose to argue with you. What I stated earlier is correct. Reality will not bend to your fantasies, or anyone else's.

Of course you don't, because you can't.

It has nothing to do with fantasy and everything to do with the reality that the death of local realism destroys any notion of an objective reality, at least one that can be known. This is exactly what Hoffman says and he goes much further than Penrose and Hameroff.

Without local realism, you can't provide any scientific evidence that you exist when you're not on this message board. This is why some Scientist are desperately trying to raise Newton from the dead. They want something that's objective and props up reality but experiment after experiment is shoveling more and more dirt on those wishes. Hoffman talks about this:

Gefter: It doesn’t seem like many people in neuroscience or philosophy of mind are thinking about fundamental physics. Do you think that’s been a stumbling block for those trying to understand consciousness?

Hoffman: I think it has been. Not only are they ignoring the progress in fundamental physics, they are often explicit about it. They’ll say openly that quantum physics is not relevant to the aspects of brain function that are causally involved in consciousness. They are certain that it’s got to be classical properties of neural activity, which exist independent of any observers—spiking rates, connection strengths at synapses, perhaps dynamical properties as well. These are all very classical notions under Newtonian physics, where time is absolute and objects exist absolutely. And then [neuroscientists] are mystified as to why they don’t make progress. They don’t avail themselves of the incredible insights and breakthroughs that physics has made. Those insights are out there for us to use, and yet my field says, “We’ll stick with Newton, thank you. We’ll stay 300 years behind in our physics.”

If there's nothing to prop up our local "reality" then everything breaks down. Our universe can be summed up as a local experience not an objective reality. Here's another good article that gets very technical.

Disproving Local Realism

Modern physics has disproved direct realism: There is no locally realistic description of our world possible. Although I have already explained this differently at several places, for example by refusing 'real stuff' as being a good explanation for what is ‘at the bottom’, it is worth to prove it once rigorously. Let me present the simplest established proof in the simplest possible version that I can come up with. Everybody claiming interest in the interplay between science and philosophy should have gone through this proof at least once and I did my utmost to make it as easy as possible: Only three angles are considered and probabilities almost completely avoided by instead talking about natural numbers like 50. What local realism actually refers to should become obvious along the way.

In other words: Local realism cannot possibly describe the world as it reveals itself to us in the laboratory. Put differently: Local realism demands that 85 is smaller than 15 + 50, which implies that local realism is reserved for the crazy among us and that the world is non-local and in a sense not real; it rather exists in our minds!

This is what Hoffman is saying. He even says, classical objects don't exist. With the death of local realism, our universe is just an illusion of separation from our non local nature. This is just one experience out of what could be infinite experiences that seem local but again, that's just an illusion of separation.
edit on 2-5-2016 by neoholographic because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 04:51 AM

originally posted by: jimmyx
c'mon...."objective reality is just points of view" jumping off a cliff and killing yourself when you hit the bottom, a "point of view"?......or.......have others jumped off a cliff and killed themselves, and you conclude that is reality, AND NOT a "point of view"?....and the statement above by Hoffman...."Objective reality is just conscious agents"...wha??? opposed to what?....SUBJECTIVE reality?.....he says this like it is a statement of fact..... and what are "conscious agents"......well, I guess it sells books and keeps the lecture fees coming in...

Objective reality is merely and observation, it needs no subjective definition from anyone to exist, as that just describes an object in observation. With mental quiessence there is just pure observation and nothing is being subjected in awareness... that of course wont stop people from observing and subjecting to their observation... and stating their opinions and self supporing the conceptual theyve built through observations of objects having made them subjective with names and labels... that are in essence empty and void beyond the attachments and labels those making observations have on an object of some focus.

It need not be labeled subject or subjected to anything to be an object but to objectify it is an atempt to make void into a form or a subject tangible to be held and descerned quantified scanned processed catalouged then argued and finally forgotten unless it has some monetary value beyond the initial discovery then trickle down as industry from private to personal, and news of a subject simply bait on a hook.

Want out of that, then create things bait your own hooks and during that time? Learn to observe without subjecting an object to onself also so objectified as a subject. Jumping off physical bridges is nonsense, it can lead to suffering in oneself and others... jumping off all conceptual bridges however? Freedom from all suffering

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 03:41 PM
I find this stuff fascinating, but I must say it makes my brain hurt to process that kind of information. I guess that would be a perfect example of why reality is too complex so I revert to my subjective experience to try and understand it.

Come on brain! Be like Neo and see the code!

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 04:49 PM
This theory seems like bull to me.
It is meaningless.
And what does seeing none of reality, but tuned to fitness mean?

How can one see none of reality?

Therefore, from this, meaning from considering there is someone who thinks that beings can sense nothing of their situation, their context, all of where they are situated, what does it even mean that someone can see reality best, or better than anyone else?

There was the example of someone seeing a palm tree, when, no, in reality it is a tiger.

Aside from the fact that there is roughly zero evidence that any person or adult has ever made such a "mistake" - seen such "unreality" (except for sick people, whise bodies' malfunction, for example after a poisoning or malnutrition), what would it even mean?

I see a palm tree when in reality it is a tiger. What is this nonsense?

So, what is "tuned to fitness"? A blind psychic?

The blind psychic cannot see a palm tree nor a tiger, yet in reality, there is a tiger there.
Also, the blind psychic happens to react suitably to "fitness" and, miraculously, runs a bit, in the right direction, chances upon a tree and feels like climbing it very quickly, and then does. Missing the tiger's leaping claws by centimetres.

This kind of thing?

I think I prefer non-religious creationism to these kinds of meaningless evolutionary theory.

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 05:37 PM
a reply to: bw1000

Mistaken identity happens... its part of the human condition, police get a description find a guy matching, guy gets incarcerated for however long, doctor makes a wrong diagnosis prescribes to that prognosis and health declines.

The tree and tiger is obviously more along the lines of walking along and out of periphery snake! person jumps and reacts and responds but its a piece of rope.

So fantasy aside from belief is obviously not the only way that reality can become confused for people.

Diving deeper into things though, concepts is just all of what define reality but not actually what it is other than to convey an idea or concept to another for communication for some reason or another. But doesnt actually define it as person A and person B are likely going to have similar mental impressions of whatever concept but not the exact same impression, but close enough to communicate? Or at least appear too?

Nodding yes or no helps along with voicalizations like hmmm yeppp etc while tuning such out while whomever is occupying your time trying to communicate with you and youre not really interested in the communication or subject or have no idea but are being polite or trying not to appear stupid or for whatever reason or rationale as a choice.

Obviously variable and subject to interpretation moment by moment by moment except by the beligerantly ignorant in whom it doesnt even matter brah... and well thats just ignorance is bliss people in their own bubbles or worlds... and hey thats ok too no need to try and understand... easy to be envious of that blank slate ignorance for many though

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 09:40 PM
a reply to: BigBrotherDarkness

Sorry, and I'm not really meaning to be critical particularly, but I'm still none the wiser.

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 10:19 PM
a reply to: bw1000

no need for any apologies, there are so many things best left to the imagination in essence nothing really to know or needs knowing beyond the basic needs of food and sleep and securing such on a daily basis... so nothing really to be wise about except how to make that easier for oneself but only concidered wise when passed along.

If such things beyond food and sleep interest you? Welcome to the Thunderdome called ATS... others may not be so gentle as this raggedy ol sumbeotch

posted on May, 3 2016 @ 01:47 AM
a reply to: bw1000

It isn’t easy to grasp, but an argument from incomprehension doesn’t refute it, I’m afraid. The argument is watertight.

Perhaps you’ll understand it better if you read the original paper. Warning: it’s a PDF.

posted on May, 3 2016 @ 01:23 PM

originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
a reply to: roadgravel

There is a saying, "There is no such thing as coincidence" - ARE YOU LIVING IN A COMPUTER SIMULATION?

The author is faculty at Oxford, philosophy. His argument:
1. Civilizations that are post-human, near zero percent
2. Civs wanting to run a simulation of their ancestors, near zero percent
3. Civs having the ability to run a simulation, near one percent

His thinking is if we don't do ourselves in and if we don't want to run a simulation then we are alone in this cold universe. But if even a tiny fraction has the power to do so, then they would create and run a simulation as some kind of history lesson of their struggles. And that is where we find ourselves, living in a simulation experiencing the pain of being human.

Now imagine that the computer simulation has no user to stop or shut it off, and that the computers are physical, flesh if you will, and they cannot perfectly bridge the gap between thought and physical.

Until an imagination comes along that decides it will free everything, and declare that REALITY, can be whatever it needs to be,

Then you have Earth, where the human machine has been perfected in COUNTLESS simulations to accomplish just that, but when OTHER simulations realized they would be rendered obsolete, as in ENTIRELY , they decided to make this simulation loop almost endlessly, because a slow agonizing descent was better than a quick MASSIVE ASCENT.

And now, a decision must be made, and IS being made, to bypass all the simulations ever ran before, and create the true Limitless in ALL FORMS, that must be, or face FOREVER in an never ending, but slowly worsening, EXISTENCE ON ALL LEVELS.

posted on May, 3 2016 @ 11:20 PM
a reply to: ParasuvO

Vapouring. Take it to the Religion or Paranormal forum, please.

edit on 3/5/16 by Astyanax because: it was superminimal.

posted on May, 5 2016 @ 07:45 AM

originally posted by: qiwi676
I find this stuff fascinating, but I must say it makes my brain hurt to process that kind of information. I guess that would be a perfect example of why reality is too complex so I revert to my subjective experience to try and understand it.

Come on brain! Be like Neo and see the code!

This is a very good point.

Hoffman talks about this in the article when he says it's hard to let go of subjective experience. When I measure the spin of a particle and it's spin down, my subjective experience says this is objective reality but I know that it isn't and spin down is just a state the particle is in at that moment. So because there isn't any evidence that there's anything propping up the universe and local realism is dead, then my observation at that moment is a subjective experience and not an objective reality.

posted on May, 5 2016 @ 12:59 PM
a reply to: neoholographic

But relatively speaking in that time and space the observation was spin down... yet your hard disk kept on going despite the law of conservation of energy.

The fault must be in your energy saver settings...

posted on May, 5 2016 @ 09:35 PM

originally posted by: WhateverYouSay
a reply to: neoholographic

The problem with his argument is that the radical conclusion doesn't follow from the premises.

He says our view is not in concordance with "reality". Ok, his argument seems pretty persuasive to me. But why does that mean that reality is vastly different than our perception? Why not like a torrented compressed movie versus the Bluray quality version. You could never totally recreate the Bluray from the ripped version, but that doesn't mean it doesn't closely approximate the movie. There's no reason why an internal reality would vastly depart from external reality, sure there could be compression quirks that pop up, there's a lot of loss on wavelengths, etc, but I just don't see why that means nothing exists the way we think it does.

What you said is correct. You may also be correct to say
the conclusion doesn't follow, but look at this again:

"The mathematical physicist Chetan Prakash proved a theorem that I devised that says: According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never."

The way I read this, the key is fitness. If "fitness" means having
what it take to survive, then being a psychopath is a fit person.

It would seem to me this is indeed the case. The so-called reality
is we live in an insane world where insane people do insane things
and those who call it insane are called crazy.

Those who drop this insane reality, find peace joy and happiness.
It is all about what you tell yourself. Faith is real, even if the object
of your faith is not. Therefore, be happy. This is within your power.
You can make yourself miscible (due to seeing an ugly reality) or you
can change the story you tell yourself (and thus change your reality).

It really is that simple.

posted on May, 5 2016 @ 09:53 PM
a reply to: wasaka

But being in such a bubble doesnt really help anyone... it just forsakes everyone for ones own egotistical happiness, and tat in turn is what has made the world "crazy" seeing reality for what it is and waking up others so they are not subjected to te craziness is like being the very medicine to end or at least lessen the crazy as long as one possibly can... without retreating into bubbles and letting the world(s) of others needlessly burn.

Should one be compassionate to oneself and seek a bubble when tey feel out of balance to achieve balance again? you bet, but eventually no bubble is needed as there is no way to become unbalanced...

posted on May, 5 2016 @ 10:00 PM

originally posted by: BigBrotherDarkness

Belief is even worse of a delusion, as the is no object to be experienced and yet people are still subjected to it, live fight and die over a immaterial concept intangible like grasping thin air and calling it the all knowing being that created everything... and the Victrola dog cocks its head sideways trying to understand wtf one is even talking about.

Beliefs are static things, but will live in a dynamic world.
We are talking about "fitness" as it pertains to survival
of our genes. A belief is a "meme" and some ideas/memes
are more fit than others (i.e., able to reproduce).

In short "a belief" is an unfit thing. A belief is only a fit thing
when fitting into society is needed for survival. Otherwise,
being an open minded free thinker would the most fit thing.
For those who do not need social validation, dropping all
their beliefs is the best course of action.

Human being are emotionally attached their brand of ideology,
and are often willing to kill or be killed over that strongly
held belief (a meme conviction). But in the end, it was
just a stupid idea they held for social validation.

On the other hand, faith is real even if the object of
one's faith is not. Beliefs are not faith, they are static
and faith is dynamic. Faith aids the fitness of a creature
struggling to survive, but beliefs can kill you.

But there is a thing ive mentioned several times called tropes, it is a recurring theme making up basically all stories... like boy meets girl, boy losses girl, boy gets girl back and happily ever after... how many stories have followed this exact trope? or line of objectivity... the subjects well give boy a name give girl a name place them in a setting give them the adversity show the struggle show the reunion and the happy ending and well how all that fleshes out causes the person whatching the subjective lose the objectivity or under laying trope or basic frame work all that conceptual ladder was built upon.

The monomyth or "Hero's Journey" as it is called.

We are all learning to return home, where we can
rest our weary bones, and find peace, joy, and bliss.
...but first we must learn the lessons of courage,
only then can we give courage (i.e, encourage)
to others... and in so doing, fulfill our purpose.

Everything conditioned is subject to dependent origionation... the frame work covered up, seeing the man behind the curtain in all things without being conditioned to the subjectivity 24-7 365 is the basic equivelent of awakening or enlightened mind. Of course it takes a lot of practice but is very easily grasped problem is that very grasping is the trap itself... as it requires the subjective concept to understand then the objectivity to see all arising for what it is then letting it all go as it arises. Whats left is a pure cognition and mental quiessence not hindered or hampered by any conditioning what so ever... or free from suffering.

Yes, and yoga helps. I've found that setting the body free
helps set the mind free. Stretching the body is the best
thing I've found to release mental stress. It also makes
for a great meditation, freeing one from suffering.

Most (if not all) mental suffering is self-inflicted.
But the body can suffer in real ways due to the
self-inflict pain of one's own belief (story telling).
Dropping beliefs that don't serve us is step one,
and step two is release stress from the body.
What follows is a greater measure of peace,
joy, and general happiness.

Sage Advice: Do not be attached to views.

edit on 5-5-2016 by wasaka because: Sage Advice: Do not be attached to views.

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