Donald Hoffman “The Case Against Reality

In sciences the Occam’s razor (not to be confused with Achmed’s razor) has been applied to eliminate research not following the belief that everything is essentially physical, also minds.

But now, the world of theoretical physics is boiling. Quantum mechanics cannot be formulated without taking an “observer” into account. Entanglement of matter has been experimentally proven: there actually is what Einstein called “a spooky action at a distance”!

Biosciences have a difficult time too. Despite abundance of research “no one has produced any plausible explanation on how the experience of redness or red could arise from the actions of the brain” (Crick and Koch, 2003). Not to mention the fantastic feeling of smooth velvet, or taste of chocolate! Recent research points towards our mind being elsewhere than in the brain. Patiens with transplanted hearts get the memories and preferences of their donors!

Enters Donald! Ta-dah!

If we are not able to move forward in sciences assuming the physical world, let us take the other assumption: it is the conscious world that is real. After all, it is what we experience daily. We do not have access to the physical world other than through our mind so let us try to derive it from the mind, i.e. consciousness. No additional assumptions are taken by Donald, unlike e.g. Platon who believes that physical world is somehow similar to what we perceive with our senses (shadows on the wall).  

No shadows – just a computer desktop

Our experience of reality is like a desktop of a computer. The truth is irrelevant:  electric impulses which lie behind the file I am saving as an icon would only be a distraction. So is it with the “real world”. Human task in evolution has been to survive and to have kids. Our senses evolved to cope with information that makes us fit to the task: as much as that and as little as that. 

Fitness Beats Truth FBT

Hoffman shows not only anecdotal evidence for his theorem Fitness Beats Truth. He has also proved it mathematically and made simulations which confirm FTB. His research team creates “conscious agents” which decide and take actions. If they have access to “truth”, i.e. knowledge of all possible states, they loose to those conscious agents which only access the states with better payoffs – i.e. increase their chance of survival. No wonder the latter survive, not the former. We not only need no knowledge of the real world, it is an obstacle in our actions. 

Is there a moon when I do not look at it?

Wolfgang Pauli, a genius that Einstein hoped would carry on as his successor, expressed his disdain for those not getting the gist of quantum physics: “One should no more rack one’s brain about the problem of whether something one cannot know anything about exists all the same, than about the ancient question of how many angels are able to sit on the point of a needle. But it seems to me that Einstein’s questions are ultimately always of this kind.”

To be continued …