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Consensus Reality, Quantum Physics and Magick

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posted on Feb, 21 2009 @ 12:00 AM
I am hoping to start a conversation about "Concensus Reality" but first off, educational material.
Source:Concensus Reality @

Consensus reality (rarely or mistakenly called "consensual reality") is an approach to answering the question 'What is real?', a profound philosophical question, with answers dating back to prehistory; it is almost invariably used to refer to human consensus reality, though there have been mentions of feline and canine consensus reality. It gives a practical answer - reality is either what exists, or what we can agree by consensus seems to exist; the process has been (perhaps loosely and a bit imprecisely) characterised as "[w]hen enough people think something is true, it... takes on a life of its own." The term is usually used disparagingly as by implication it may mean little more than "what a group or culture chooses to believe," and may bear little or no relationship to any "true reality", and, indeed, challenges the notion of "true reality". For example, Steven Yates has characterised the idea that the United States Federal Reserve Notes (not "backed" by anything) are "really worth a dollar" as "part of what we might call our consensus-reality... not... real reality."

The difficulty with the question stems from the concern that human beings do not in fact fully understand or agree upon the nature of knowledge or knowing, and therefore (it is often argued) it is not possible to be certain beyond doubt what is real. Accordingly, this line of logic concludes, we cannot in fact be sure beyond doubt about the nature of reality. We can, however, seek to obtain some form of consensus, with others, of what is real. We can use this to practically guide us, either on the assumption it seems to approximate some kind of valid reality, or simply because it is more "practical" than perceived alternatives. Consensus reality therefore refers to the agreed-upon concepts of reality which people in the world, or a culture or group, believe are real (or treat as real), usually based upon their common experiences as they believe them to be; anyone who does not agree with these is sometimes stated to be "in effect... living in a different world."

Throughout history this has also raised a social question: What shall we make of those who do not agree with consensus realities of others, or of the society they live in? Children have sometimes been described or viewed as "inexperience[d] with consensus reality," although with the expectation that they will come into line with it as they mature. However, the answer is more problematic as regards such people as have been characterised as eccentrics, mentally ill, divinely inspired or enlightened, or evil or demonic in nature. Alternatively, differing viewpoints may simply be put to some kind of "objective" (though the nature of "objectivity" goes to the heart of the relevant questions) test. Reality enforcement is a term used[citation needed] for the coercive enforcement of the culturally accepted reality, upon non-conforming individuals. It has varied from indifference, to incarceration, to death.

General discussion
In considering the nature of reality, two broad approaches exist: the realist approach, in which there is a single objective overall space-time reality believed to exist irrespective of the perceptions of any given individual, and the idealistic approach, in which it is considered that an individual can verify little except his own experience of the world, and can never directly know the truth of the world separate from that.

Consensus reality may be understood by studying socially constructed reality, a subject within the sociology of knowledge. (Read page three of The Social Construction of Reality by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann.)

Consider this example: reality for people who believe in God is different from reality for those who believe that science and mathematics are sufficient for explaining life, the universe and everything. In societies where God-centered religions are dominant, that understanding would be the consensus reality, while the religious worldview would remain the nonconsensus (or alternative) reality in a predominantly secular society where the consensus reality is grounded in science alone.

In this way, different individuals and communities have fundamentally different world views,with fundamentally different comprehensions of the world around them, and of the constructs within which they live. Thus, in terms of consensus reality, a society that is (for example) completely secular and one which believes every eventuality is subject to metaphysical influence will have very different consensus realities, and their entire beliefs on issues from science to slavery through to human sacrifice may differ in direct consequence because of the differences in the perceived nature of the world they live in.

[Consensus reality in science and philosophy

Materialists, however, may not accept the idea of there being different possible realities for different people, rather than different beliefs about one reality. So for them only the first usage of the term reality would make sense. To them, someone believing otherwise, where the facts have been properly established, might be considered delusional.

Objectivists, though not necessarily materialists, also reject the notion of subjective reality; they hold that while each individual may indeed have their own perception of reality, that perception has no effect on what reality actually is; in fact, if the perception of reality differs significantly from the actual reality, serious negative consequences are bound to follow.

Some idealists, subjective idealists hold the view that there isn't one particular way things are, but rather that each person's personal reality is unique. Such idealists have the world view which says that we each create our own reality, and while most people may be in general agreement (consensus) about what reality is like, they might live in a different (or nonconsensus) reality. This paradigm may be related to the Buddhist concept of emptiness or Shunyata.

posted on Feb, 21 2009 @ 12:01 AM

Social consequences of consensus reality issues

Views on the term "consensus reality"
The connotation of the term "consensus reality" is usually disparaging: it is usually employed by idealist, surrealist and other anti-realist theorists opposing or hostile to this "reality," with the implication that this consensus reality is, to a greater or lesser extent, created by those who experience it. (The phrase "consensus reality" may be used more loosely to refer to any generally accepted set of beliefs.) However, there are those who use the term approvingly for the practical benefits of all agreeing on a common set of assumptions or experiences.

Social aspects of consensus reality
Singers, painters, writers, theorists and other individuals employing a number of means of action have attempted to oppose or undermine consensus reality while others have declared that they are "ignoring" it. For example, Salvador Dalí intended by his paranoiac-critical method to "systematize confusion thanks to a paranoia and active process of thought and so assist in discrediting completely the world of reality".

Reality enforcement
The theory of reality enforcement holds that belief in consensus reality (the "reality" of "reality enforcement" is used in this sense) — on which the apparent persistence of consensus reality's existence may depend — is "enforced" through various means applied against those who challenge it, including involuntary commitment.[citation needed] Thus, believers in reality enforcement are typically sympathetic to anti-psychiatry. While mental health codes in some United States states specify that a diminished "capacity to recognize reality" (taken from some definitions of psychosis) is part of the standard for mental illness, "there is controversy over what is considered out of touch with reality." Richard Rogers and Daniel W. Shuman, in their book Conducting Insanity Evaluations have, however, said that the standard "refers to the intactness of the individual's perception of external stimulae" and equated it with "reality testing,"(p.85) a definition that goes right to the heart of the argument. The validity of this as a standard in general has also been questioned. Kevin J. Maroney has called the unwillingness of his parents to be overly harsh in breaking down the "walls" of his Asperger's Syndrome an unwillingness to engage in "reality enforcement." Some have expressed concerns on computer forums about psychiatric medication being used for "social control" and "reality enforcement".

Reality enforcement has also been used to apply to the promotion of consensus reality, such as in education. (The term "reality enforcement" has apparently been also used in looser senses, such as a moment in which one is suddenly "jolted back" to "reality", negative social sanctions applied to those who transgress gender norms, the correction of factual errors in print or speech or vigilance applied to the "authenticity" of a fictional world.) Reality enforcement has been characterised as a possible aspect of psychiatry or approach to or method of psychiatric practice, though its efficacy in promoting realism (in the particular case of genetic counseling) has been questioned.

The theory of reality enforcement is opposed by those called "reality enforcers" (or, more precisely, "enforcers of consensus reality") by the supporters of the theory, who have been called "biased" and having a "skewed view of reality;" the term "reality enforcers" has also been used more loosely to describe those who "shore up" a "dominant paradigm" in which general belief is wavering. (Sometimes the term "reality enforcement police" is used interchangeably.) The so-called "reality enforcers" occasionally use the phrase in order to ridicule those who believe in the theory, or, more loosely what they see as farfetched or conspiracy theories generally. (It should be noted Alan C. Walter uses the phrase "reality enforcers" in a highly idiosyncratic way having nothing to do with the theory of reality enforcement.) These "reality enforcers" appeal to an objectivist theory of reality, rejecting multiple subjective realities which could diverge considerably, which contradicts the theory of "reality enforcement".

In a more general sense, "reality enforcement" is used to mean an (often violent or forceful) ending of a "fantasy" in the person, persons or group on whom it is enacted, or the assertion, using force, of some "reality" to those who are not aware of it, or are in denial about it.

Consensus reality and reality enforcement in fiction and literature
Norman O. Brown's book Love's Body discusses reality enforcement.
Dr. Louis Sass' book Madness and Modernism argues for some supranormal cognitive aspects to schizophrenia, and against the view that it is a purely degenerative disorder.

[edit on 21-2-2009 by Watcher-In-The-Shadows]

posted on Feb, 21 2009 @ 12:02 AM

Novels and short fiction
  • Various dystopian novels, such as Nineteen Eighty-Four, and its concept of groupthink, feature a highly controlled consensus reality.
  • The works of Philip K. Dick often involve shifts in or deviations from consensus reality.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, Gods and such entities exist because of sufficient belief in them, without which they fade away.
  • Kim Newman's novel Jago focuses on the consequences of a breakdown in consensus reality.
  • The works of Robert Anton Wilson usually discuss consensus reality.
  • Karl Schroeder's novel Lady of Mazes posits a society with technologically-enforced separate realities; the protagonist can switch between them, and rebuilds a shared consensus reality.
  • Neil Gaiman features consensus reality in much of his work, including Sandman, Neverwhere, and American Gods.
  • Nancy Kress's short story The Flowers of Aulit Prison and the related Probability Space series deal with a species whose consensus reality is propagated and enforced biologically.
    Consensual reality is a recurring theme in the short-story book "Dreams Underfoot" by Charles de Lint.
  • Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks contains a group of solipsist characters who believe there is no existing reality outside their own minds. Every person and every thing they meet/perceive are figments of their imaginations designed by their deeper thought processes to either help or challenge them. As a group they enjoy some form of consensus reality in that they all believe the same thing, only differing over which person is the originator of their own perceived reality.
  • Solaris by Stanislaw Lem is also a good example of consensus reality in film and literature.

Role-playing games
  • The Planescape: Torment computer role-playing game (CRPG) takes place in a cosmology (Planescape) consisting of certain planes of existence where sufficient belief can cause something to simply pop into reality, even move territory from one dimension to another.
  • The Mage: The Ascension RPG takes place in a cosmology where, in modern times, mages must work against the consensus reality which dictates that magic cannot work and must cope with the results of the reality enforcing force called paradox, which results if they "break the rules".
    In the world of d20 Modern, specifically in the Shadow Chasers and Urban Arcana settings, various creatures that are perceived to be fictional exist, but are viewed as mundane creatures due to the average persons view of reality.
  • The Six-Guns and Sorcery supplement to the Castle Falkenstein RPG includes a small section on American legendary figures (e.g., Paul Bunyan) who gain supernaturally-powered physical reality as the European immigrant population increases. This is a variant on the pervasive belief-in-gods-creates-them meme mentioned in connection with the Discworld novel above.
  • In the current version of the Forgotten Realms Universe, Gods of the realm of Toril must rely on their followers' faith to sustain them. This rule was enforced by Lord Ao the Overgod after the Time of Troubles to ensure that Deities could not ignore their worshippers. This can be considered a form of Consensus Reality, as without the faith of others, a God would cease to exist altogether.

  • The film The Matrix shows something similar to reality enforcement; Agent Smith could be called a "reality enforcer".
  • The film Dark City has a very similar theme to The Matrix, and deals with mistaken reality
  • Consensus reality is a recurring theme in the movies of David Cronenberg (Videodrome, Existenz).
  • The protagonist adjusts consensus reality in Serial Experiments Lain, a 1998 anime series.

I guess I can best be classified as a "Idealist" as far as my views that we do live in a "Concensus Reality" in a very real way. I think that our shared beliefs collectively shape reality in a very real way. We each have the ability in some small degree but when you start getting into multiple individuals that is a much stronger force than any one person's.
I think Quantum Physics reflects this. Speaking specifically the collapse of a wave function when it is being observed seems to be saying, if you ask me, we have a very real effect at the very foundations of what we call reality which I think points to translating into the larger scheme of reality.
What say you?

posted on Feb, 22 2009 @ 06:32 AM
Two flags and not a comment made.......................

posted on Feb, 22 2009 @ 08:44 AM
Hmmm... I think I could get behind the idea of consensus reality. My only problem with it is that there should be no surprises if consensus reality exists. I mean if most people are expecting things to go normally then there really shouldn't be anything para-normal. I guess it can vary on what the size of the system is. Like if I were to focus on just myself, then I should never trip right? So unless there is someone who is expecting me to trip (I mean falling down to all you gutter-minds out there), I shouldn't be falling. Maybe I am just not understanding what is being said in consensus reality.

posted on Feb, 22 2009 @ 09:01 AM
reply to post by Shrugger

It is worth noting that our minds aren't really tidy places *conflicting emotions, and thoughts and even sometimes beliefs etc and then there is the subconcious* and of course magify that untidiness with the millions of other minds out there and this "lack of tidiness" accounts for the chaos of life into the wider world. Should what I believe to be true be right.

Hope that helps.

posted on Feb, 22 2009 @ 09:22 AM
I really like this OP, it stretches my brain.

It seems to me that on a societal level we certainly have some degree of Consensus Reality, for example this whole economy drama. It is, to an extent, driven by fear and fed by pundits/prognosticators because we can't fully understand it ourselves and so we rely on them to analyze it, break it down to a version we can generally comprehend and give us direction on how to fix it.

From a broad cultural standpoint, there is so much input (information/choices), it's easier to look to the prevailing thought on what has merit than to decide on your own - whether it's political theory or pop-culture. People are so busy with their own personal decisions and day to day reality, they rely on group think to steer their thoughts on broader issues. Scary.

Though I'm not sure where Magick comes into it.

[edit on 22-2-2009 by Sergeant Stiletto]

posted on Feb, 22 2009 @ 10:32 AM
reply to post by Sergeant Stiletto

Thank you very much for your interest. Let's see if I can clarify. It is early though.

Though I'm not sure where Magick comes into it.

I posit that perhaps reality is shaped by our beliefs on what reality is. The "observer effect" in physics speaks to me that somehow our minds have an impact at the very fundimental level of reality which seems to me would translate into larger reality.
Which is where what we term "magick" comes into it.

[edit on 22-2-2009 by Watcher-In-The-Shadows]

posted on Mar, 1 2009 @ 10:16 PM
How come to this conclusion is rather simple, matter is made out of energy, what is thoughts but electrical impulses within our brain. And energy can be affected by energy, thusly making matter somewhat malliable to our thoughts and beliefs at the quantum level thusly translating into the larger things they make up.
And this backed up by quantum physics and the high strangeness there in, specifically the "Observer Effect" shown in the double slit experiment.

posted on Mar, 1 2009 @ 10:32 PM
How would there be a beginning to consensus reality? So it's consensus reality instead of the big bang? The implications of this theory (which i think are relatively widespread) go a long ways down! Nice to see it put like this for a change.

posted on Mar, 1 2009 @ 10:56 PM
Great thread. S&F.

I'm still assimilating the information, and I'll report back asap.

Thanks for bringing topic to light!

posted on Mar, 1 2009 @ 11:01 PM
I believe (eh?) that reality is the only thing which is absolute. Not that we know for sure what it is, but, hey, who does ?

Perception, on the other hand, is relative...
We are all "preprogrammed" to see it from the certain point. This relatively stable POV varies from species to species, for some more drastically then others (depends on the environment, I guess) and I believe that there is a possibility of the general consensus on the planetary level.
"Perception is the assemblage point of the energy within man's cocoon of awareness"

posted on Mar, 1 2009 @ 11:05 PM
Did the Israel/Gaza fiasco lend credence to this theory for anyone? It certainly did for me! It's still a guessing game if you leave the accepted thought is the downside. Lots of o "perfectly logical" guessworks going on about the nature of reality when people have already figured out in their heads they create reality. I swear what i'm saying makes sense over here lol.

posted on Mar, 2 2009 @ 12:33 AM
reply to post by heyo

Well, I think this speaks more about the nature of reality as opposed to it's beginnings. I think it's altogether possible that the universe has no distinct beginning and thusly no end and we being creatures with a beginning and a end expect the universe/reality to be as such. And it seems to me the "big bang theory" has more than a little hot air and a lot of baseless asusmption backing it up, but I digress.

The best analogy I can think of for the purposes of illustrating my particular viewpoint on this is that most people view reality as stone, hard and unchanging, pretty much saying "This is how it is and there aint no change to it, but perhaps you can chip something out of it.". Where as I think the evidence points to reality being more like molding clay and our minds being the hands that mold it. And of course clay existed before mankind had the will and ability to shape it.

Could be an artifact of perception since we are inevitably tied to it. But still I think it warrents some pondering. Will we ever really be able to tell either way? I am not soo sure we ever will, but not for lack of trying.

I really hope this helps. If I messed up conveying something feel free to ask for clarification as this particular idea I think is very plausable as well as fascinates me.

[edit on 2-3-2009 by Watcher-In-The-Shadows]

posted on Mar, 2 2009 @ 12:33 AM
reply to post by GENERAL EYES

Thank you. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on the subject.

posted on Mar, 2 2009 @ 02:24 AM
Here's a thought.
Why is it we can "feel" when someone is watching us? Even when there is no plausable way we should know? Why is it that those that expect negativity most often get it and vice versa?

posted on Mar, 2 2009 @ 03:28 AM
From an early age I have had "paranormal" experiences. Reality is, as they say, the lie commonly agreed to. There is much more going on in this universe than people could imagine.

I have always suspected that the world as we see it is a construct of our collective faith, and the conscious will of things that came before us. We are occupants of the reality that has been generally shaped by others, but our own faith and will can construct and modify this reality to the extent of our mental strength and faith.

Telekinesis, clairvoyance, telepathy, remote viewing, miracles, faith healing, prayer, divination, prophecy... all explainable if you believe that the mind is substance, and that our "reality" is shaped by it.

posted on Mar, 2 2009 @ 03:34 AM
reply to post by username371

Thank you for contributing your thoughts and please correct me if I misunderstand.
But I am not so sure it's constructed by us so much as it is molded, or perhaps twisted is a better word, by us. It did existed before we did after all.

posted on Mar, 2 2009 @ 11:10 PM
Anyone have any further thoughts?

posted on Mar, 2 2009 @ 11:26 PM
This thread is echoing a lot of thoughts that i could never put into words. Ever hear of "he didn't want it bad enough?" I try to remembger my state of mind before successes and failures and i'm trying to pick up the patterns if there are any. Seems like there are.

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