by Ellen Lloyd
How much do we see of our reality?
When you read this, you're looking at your computer screen, mobile
phone or tablet.
You think that you see
everything there is to see.
But what if that's
not the case?
Is it possible we only see glimpses of reality?
A cognitive scientist has
put forward an intriguing theory suggesting that we live in a
conceptual prison and only see glimpses of reality.
This would mean that
reality as we perceive it may only be a tiny fraction of true
How Much of
Reality Do We Perceive?
There are some scientists, like Dr. Joe Dispenza, D.C who
your thoughts create your reality.
Dr. Dispenza who is a neuroscientist and author of several books
such as for example
Evolve Your Brain - The Science of Changing Your Mind
he during his research into spontaneous remissions, discovered and
continually sees, similarities in people who have experienced
so-called miraculous healings - showing that they have actually
changed their mind, which then changed their health. In other words,
what you think can affect your health.
Recent studies in neuroscience have shown we can change our brain
just by thinking.
The concept is interesting, but,
what happens of we do
not perceive all of our so-called reality?
Researchers at the
University of Amsterdam suggest that
what you see is not real - it's a
Uniformity Illusion - Central Stimuli Can Determine Peripheral
that even though our peripheral vision is less accurate and detailed
than what we see in the center of the visual field, we may not
notice a qualitative difference because our visual processing system
actually fills in some of what we "see" in the periphery.
"Our findings show
that, under the right circumstances, a large part of the
periphery may become a visual illusion," said psychology
researcher Marte Otten from the University of Amsterdam.
What is a Conceptual
Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman, University of California
has spent 30 years trying to unravel the mystery of our perception.
He is convinced that evolution and quantum mechanics conspire to
make objective reality an illusion.
Hoffman uses the
evolutionary game theory
show our perception of reality is flawed.
"Evolution has shaped
us with perceptions that allow us to survive. But part of that
involves hiding from us the stuff we don't need to know. And
that's pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be,"
"Evolution isn't about truth, it's about making kids. Every bit
of information that you process costs calories, meaning that's
more food you need to kill and eat.
So, an organism that
sees all of reality would never be more fit than one tuned only
to see what it needs to survive," he adds.
Hoffman says he became
interested in the subject
He wanted to find out if
humans are machines and eventually in the 1980s he went to the
artificial intelligence lab at MIT and worked on machine perception.
He has developed the theory of conscious agents to solve the
combination problem of consciousness, both for the combination of
subjects and of experiences, but Hoffman does not think we are
"The mystery of how
brain activity causes conscious experiences has not yet been
solved, and never will be solved, because brain activity
does not and cannot cause conscious
If we want to have a
scientific understanding of consciousness, and of the many
well-documented correlations between brain activity and
conscious experiences, then we cannot start with brain activity
or physical dynamics of any kind.
We must start with a
brand new, but rigorous, foundation.
I propose a new
foundation which models consciousness as interacting networks of
conscious agents," Hoffman said.
According to Hoffman
there's no reason to believe that the objects that we see have any
correspondence to things that exist outside our minds.
Our perceptual system
is our window on the world,
but it's also a conceptual prison.
Image credit: Glen Santayana
"The standard view of vision is that we're akin to cameras,
taking an image from light reflected off an object," he
"But billions of
neurons and trillions of synapses are involved between light
hitting the retina and the construction of the 3D objects that
"Our perceptual system is our window on the world, but it's also
a conceptual prison. It's difficult to conceive a reality
outside of space and time. But maths can open up a chink in the
walls of that prison.
I can't imagine a
multidimensional space, but I can deal with infinite dimensional
space in mathematical form," Hoffman explained.
Hoffman says there are
two inconsistencies in our perceptually-derived view of the Universe
that may offer clues into the structure of reality beneath.
The first: our
inability to explain conscious experience, for example, how
we get the sensation of what it is like to taste chocolate
from the physical material of neurons and chemical
interpretations of quantum mechanics in which
states of a particle
when unobserved - something that calls into question our
assumption of objects continuing to exist whether or not
anyone is looking at them.
Reality, according to
Hoffman, is a network of conscious agents and by studying the
dynamics of this network we can understand how its interactions
build up to the perception that we have of a physical world.
Intelligence - How We Create What We See
Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman's exploration of the
extraordinary creative genius of the mind's eye,
"has many virtues, of
which sheer intellectual excitement is the foremost"
Hoffman explains that far
from being a passive recorder of a preexisting world, the eye
actively constructs every aspect of our visual experience.
In an informal style
replete with illustrations, Hoffman presents the compelling
scientific evidence for vision's constructive powers, unveiling a
grammar of vision - a set of rules that govern our perception of
line, color, form, depth, and motion.
Hoffman also describes
the loss of these constructive powers in patients such as an artist
who can no longer see or dream in color and a man who sees his
father as an impostor.
Finally, Hoffman explores
the spinoffs of visual intelligence in the arts and technology, from
film special effects to virtual reality.
This is, in sum,
example of creative popular science".
With the help of
mathematics, a recognition of the existence of this perceptual
prison brings a freedom to form new theories about the world
Is Our Reality a
Computer Simulation Created by an Unknown Advanced Life-Form?
More and more scientists are seriously discussing the nature of our
Holographic Universe theory is
becoming very popular.
One scientists suggested our reality is a
hologram controlled by an evil genius.
Are our creators watching us right now?
A NASA JPL scientist said that
our creator is a cosmic computer programmer
and there are even
researchers who say they have found evidence our Universe is a
is a big 2D hologram
and we are an illusion.
All these theories are though-provoking and many studies must be
conducted before any conclusions can be reached. Perhaps it really
doesn't matter right now whether we call our world a conceptual
prison or a hologram.
What matters is that we
still cannot determine how much of reality we really perceive, and
many would say we cannot even define the term "reality"...