The Case Against Reality
About the Course
Ever since Darwin, we have simply accepted the idea that natural selection makes us stronger, smarter and more accurately aware of the world. But what if instead, we have been evolving away from the truth? In this course, eminent cognitive and evolutionary psychologist Professor Donald Hoffman explains how our evolution has blinded us to reality, and explores the idea that what we see is simply a virtual interface that allows us to navigate, but never actually see, the world. He compares the objects we see around us to the file icons on our computer desktops: while shaped like a small blue folder on our screens, the files themselves are in fact made of a series of ones and zeros. In a similar way, Hoffman argues, evolution has shaped our perceptions into simplistic illusions to help us navigate the world around us.
By the end of the course, you will have learned:
- an overview of the mathematics of evolution
- fitness as an evolutionary concept
- the fitness payoff function
- the difference between objective reality and the virtual interface Hoffman claims we experience
- Hawking’s law of maximum information storage
- the significance of split-brain experiments
As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, suggested further readings to stimulate a deeper exploration of the topic and discussion boards to have your say.
IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.
About the Instructor
“Everything you experience by sight is your construction.”
Donald Hoffman is an American cognitive psychologist working at the University of California, Irvine. He is making waves with a new theory suggesting that, instead of presenting reality as it "really is", our perception is like a desktop interface enabling us to use reality effectively. Donald’s latest book, The Case Against Reality, was published in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Physics World Book of the Year 2019. It fleshes out the notion that we do not perceive reality objectively, and argues for a mathematical, rather than spatio-temporal, model of reality.
“One of the deepest and most original thinkers of his generation” – Steven Pinker
Part One: Evolution and RealityWhy might our perception be flawed? How could we be sure that it is? Hoffman argues that evolution has lead to systematic failings in the way we see the world.
Part Two: Consciousness and RealityWhat is the relationship between our biology and our experience? Hoffman explores a novel solution to the hard problem of consciousness.