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#178- The Reality Illusion A Conversation with Donald Hoffman and Annaka Harris

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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11 December 2019 15:26
 

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast Sam and Annaka Harris speak with Donald Hoffman about his book The Case Against Reality. They discuss how evolution has failed to select for true perceptions of the world, his “interface theory” of perception, the primacy of math and logic, how space and time cannot be fundamental, the threat of epistemological skepticism, causality as a useful fiction, the hard problem of consciousness, agency, free will, panpsychism, a mathematics of conscious agents, philosophical idealism, death, psychedelics, the relationship between consciousness and mathematics, and many other topics.

#178- The Reality Illusion A Conversation with Donald Hoffman and Annaka Harris


This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
 
Traces Elk
 
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12 December 2019 02:19
 
Nhoj Morley - 11 December 2019 03:26 PM

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast Sam and Annaka Harris speak with Donald Hoffman about his book The Case Against Reality. They discuss how evolution has failed to select for true perceptions of the world, his “interface theory” of perception, the primacy of math and logic, how space and time cannot be fundamental, the threat of epistemological skepticism, causality as a useful fiction, the hard problem of consciousness, agency, free will, panpsychism, a mathematics of conscious agents, philosophical idealism, death, psychedelics, the relationship between consciousness and mathematics, and many other topics.

#178- The Reality Illusion A Conversation with Donald Hoffman and Annaka Harris

When are “true perceptions of the world” not necessary to satisfy the demands of this cartoon ideology? You have to delve into “true perceptions” and epistemology, which employs more than a few otherwise-unemployable hacks. You guessed the answer: It’s when the selection jury’s still out. The cartoon edition of selection only explains stuff that happened up until the present, and does not predict the future. I don’t have to listen to crap like this to know it will shoot me a dose of not-even-wrong bullshit.

If you want to know what kind of “epistemological skepticism” shitbirds like this are on the lookout for, look no more. Made-up shit decrees neither reality nor illusion, which is tautologically related to reality. Harris spends a lot of effort pandering, does he not?

[ Edited: 12 December 2019 03:47 by Traces Elk]
 
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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12 December 2019 19:35
 

So we can conduct experiments and create tools and explain things mathematically that are not apparent to us naturally - but all of this is some symbolic representation of reality? 
To me it seems that no matter how much we learn about reality - this ideology always puts us at some distance from the true nature of things.  Like we can learn everything there is to know about the icons on the computer desktop, but have no idea of the processes behind them - and we never can?

 
Traces Elk
 
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12 December 2019 20:09
 
DEGENERATEON - 12 December 2019 07:35 PM

So we can conduct experiments and create tools and explain things mathematically that are not apparent to us naturally - but all of this is some symbolic representation of reality? 
To me it seems that no matter how much we learn about reality - this ideology always puts us at some distance from the true nature of things.  Like we can learn everything there is to know about the icons on the computer desktop, but have no idea of the processes behind them - and we never can?

So nice to see another opinion based on the way “it seems” to the writer. What point are you trying to make? If I were to hazard a guess, you’re stuck seeking some god’s-eye view which defines “reality”, which sounds so much like a centuries-old philosophical trope (what you refer to as “the true nature of things”). If that’s the case, it’s just encrypted theology. If that’s not the case, and your next best option is still seeking a center on what humans can discover and deduce, that’s humanism, which I treat as a substitute religion. I have no use for god or religion, so when I see what looks to me like an attempt to smuggle it in to what is nothing but a philosophical argument, I stop listening.

You could always make more of an effort to articulate your point. And why did you stick a “question” character at the end of your comment? What question are you asking? The best techniques we’ve come up with for investigating this world are experimentation and reproducible observation. High-energy physics has been our best attempt to understand the deepest aspects of the physical cosmology in which we find ourselves, but we run up against the limitations of technology and speculate about what we’d discover in experiments we can’t perform, yet, if ever. The clock is ticking for the persistence of a society that can organize experiments in high energy physics, and physics is not going to give us all the data we need in order to figure out how to preserve it. Depressingly for some, everything else is worse.

 
 
Traces Elk
 
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12 December 2019 20:21
 

They discuss how evolution has failed to select for true perceptions of the world, his “interface theory” of perception, the primacy of math and logic, how space and time cannot be fundamental, the threat of epistemological skepticism, causality as a useful fiction, the hard problem of consciousness, agency, free will, panpsychism, a mathematics of conscious agents, philosophical idealism, death, psychedelics, the relationship between consciousness and mathematics, and many other topics.

The notion that “evolution” should “select” for “true perceptions” is also idiotic. If evolution were “directed”, then perhaps some divinity would be injected into the biological structures that “perceive”. These structures need only be good enough in whatever here and now they find themselves, and eventually things change enough so that stuff is no longer “useful”. When people start yammering about “useful fictions”, I reach for my pistol. It’s not that they’re referring to my cherished principles as fictions, but that they’re still stuck on “useful”. What an impoverished back-assward view of selection.

Nothing that evolves has a purpose. We identify function, and that function is only good enough and temporarily so in a particular context. Podcasts like that are entertainment, and aimed at a target audience, what I might call the “TED talks crowd”, which does not include me.

[ Edited: 12 December 2019 20:33 by Traces Elk]
 
 
EN
 
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EN
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12 December 2019 20:52
 
Traces Elk - 12 December 2019 08:21 PM

They discuss how evolution has failed to select for true perceptions of the world, his “interface theory” of perception, the primacy of math and logic, how space and time cannot be fundamental, the threat of epistemological skepticism, causality as a useful fiction, the hard problem of consciousness, agency, free will, panpsychism, a mathematics of conscious agents, philosophical idealism, death, psychedelics, the relationship between consciousness and mathematics, and many other topics.

The notion that “evolution” should “select” for “true perceptions” is also idiotic. If evolution were “directed”, then perhaps some divinity would be injected into the biological structures that “perceive”. These structures need only be good enough in whatever here and now they find themselves, and eventually things change enough so that stuff is no longer “useful”. When people start yammering about “useful fictions”, I reach for my pistol. It’s not that they’re referring to my cherished principles as fictions, but that they’re still stuck on “useful”. What an impoverished back-assward view of selection.

Nothing that evolves has a purpose. We identify function, and that function is only good enough and temporarily so in a particular context. Podcasts like that are entertainment, and aimed at a target audience, what I might call the “TED talks crowd”, whichdoes not includeizing me.

Yet, you listened to it. Criticizing it is your entertainment.  Perhaps, like the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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12 December 2019 20:52
 
Traces Elk - 12 December 2019 08:09 PM
DEGENERATEON - 12 December 2019 07:35 PM

So we can conduct experiments and create tools and explain things mathematically that are not apparent to us naturally - but all of this is some symbolic representation of reality? 
To me it seems that no matter how much we learn about reality - this ideology always puts us at some distance from the true nature of things.  Like we can learn everything there is to know about the icons on the computer desktop, but have no idea of the processes behind them - and we never can?

So nice to see another opinion based on the way “it seems” to the writer. What point are you trying to make? If I were to hazard a guess, you’re stuck seeking some god’s-eye view which defines “reality”, which sounds so much like a centuries-old philosophical trope (what you refer to as “the true nature of things”). If that’s the case, it’s just encrypted theology. If that’s not the case, and your next best option is still seeking a center on what humans can discover and deduce, that’s humanism, which I treat as a substitute religion. I have no use for god or religion, so when I see what looks to me like an attempt to smuggle it in to what is nothing but a philosophical argument, I stop listening.

You could always make more of an effort to articulate your point. And why did you stick a “question” character at the end of your comment? What question are you asking? The best techniques we’ve come up with for investigating this world are experimentation and reproducible observation. High-energy physics has been our best attempt to understand the deepest aspects of the physical cosmology in which we find ourselves, but we run up against the limitations of technology and speculate about what we’d discover in experiments we can’t perform, yet, if ever. The clock is ticking for the persistence of a society that can organize experiments in high energy physics, and physics is not going to give us all the data we need in order to figure out how to preserve it. Depressingly for some, everything else is worse.

I am not trying to smuggle god or religion in, i am an atheist.  I am questioning the guests view - basically how do we get out of this matrix perception of reality?  I don’t buy it.  Your notice of my effort is fair, I’m only making a comment on how the guests view “seems” to me.  It seems you agree that it’s bullshit.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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12 December 2019 23:38
 

All the temper tantrums aside, I thought it was a fun brain teaser. A non falsifiable, non predictive brain teaser with no real standard of evidence but I think it presents a few worthy questions.

I’m not sure what field of specialization qualifies one to opine on the nature of objective reality but I’m fairly certain I’m not it. My general intuition is that our perceptions are better described as motivated and incomplete rather than fundamentally false. Not for any reason that I can prove but simply for the utility of the foundational assumption.

We infer from controlled study that we make certain specific errors but for this kind of inference to carry any weight we must assume that some combination of sensory data and deduction is informing us with some degree of truth.

Similarly I think we can reasonably hypothesize that specific errors have an evolutionary root and I think there are strong models for this. But again, any hypothesis needs its foundation to be coherent.

I’m intrigued enough to look into it further. I was not familiar with Hoffmans work previously.

 
Traces Elk
 
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13 December 2019 03:18
 
EN - 12 December 2019 08:52 PM
Traces Elk - 12 December 2019 08:21 PM

They discuss how evolution has failed to select for true perceptions of the world, his “interface theory” of perception, the primacy of math and logic, how space and time cannot be fundamental, the threat of epistemological skepticism, causality as a useful fiction, the hard problem of consciousness, agency, free will, panpsychism, a mathematics of conscious agents, philosophical idealism, death, psychedelics, the relationship between consciousness and mathematics, and many other topics.

The notion that “evolution” should “select” for “true perceptions” is also idiotic. If evolution were “directed”, then perhaps some divinity would be injected into the biological structures that “perceive”. These structures need only be good enough in whatever here and now they find themselves, and eventually things change enough so that stuff is no longer “useful”. When people start yammering about “useful fictions”, I reach for my pistol. It’s not that they’re referring to my cherished principles as fictions, but that they’re still stuck on “useful”. What an impoverished back-assward view of selection.

Nothing that evolves has a purpose. We identify function, and that function is only good enough and temporarily so in a particular context. Podcasts like that are entertainment, and aimed at a target audience, what I might call the “TED talks crowd”, whichdoes not includeizing me.

Yet, you listened to it. Criticizing it is your entertainment.  Perhaps, like the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

No, I didn’t listen to it. That would be an hour or so of my life that would be better spent making fun of whack jobs like them.

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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13 December 2019 03:27
 

Hoffman on the evolution of cognition is optimally not-even -wrong, meaning one probably can’t get more not-even-wrong than him.  This is demonstrable from his own example in his TED Talk.

Hoffman notes that the Australian brown beetle tried to mate with brown bottles instead of female beetles, once brown bottles entered its niche. Clearly these male beetles’ perceptions were false because it’s a bottle, not a female beetle.  Hoffman’s inference: this example shows how evolution produces perceptual systems that give false perceptions, not real ones.  It shows we have, like all creatures, evolved to create a “user-interface” that conceals reality from us—not, mind you, an ‘interface’ offering a fallible, perspectival sampling of reality but rather a simulated ‘map’ of “fitness payoffs” relying on false perceptions that conceal the real.
 
But how does his example of a falsely perceiving beetle show this, when this beetle with false perceptions can’t reproduce.  If a creature with false perceptions isn’t reproducing, how can one infer from this that evolution by natural selection could ever—much less only—only produce organisms with perceptual systems yielding only false perceptions?  Rather obviously this example shows it can’t.  As Hoffman himself notes, these beetles who perceived the world “falsely” nearly went extinct, which is precisely what would happen to any organism that behaved according to only false perceptions of its environment, i.e. to one that had a perceptual system that concealed reality from it, compelling it to act instead only on a solipsistic “user interface” of “fitness payoffs” with no real ‘connection’ to the real possibilities in its environment.  In short, how can beetles whose false perceptions induced behavior that nearly led to extinction offer a model for how false-perception systems in general evolved?

Again, it can’t, and instead of showing how evolution produced organisms with reality concealing user interfaces, Hoffman’s beetle example shows how this theory can’t be right, not that it is right—and for not seeing this, he is not-even-wrong.  In fact, I doubt one could concoct a more decisive example for how false perception is maladaptive and therefore would be selected against than one where organisms with false perceptions cannot reproduce…

If an evolutionary explanation based on an example of not reproducing isn’t optimally not-even-wrong, I don’t know what is.

[ Edited: 13 December 2019 03:38 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Traces Elk
 
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13 December 2019 03:30
 
DEGENERATEON - 12 December 2019 08:52 PM
Traces Elk - 12 December 2019 08:09 PM
DEGENERATEON - 12 December 2019 07:35 PM

So we can conduct experiments and create tools and explain things mathematically that are not apparent to us naturally - but all of this is some symbolic representation of reality? 
To me it seems that no matter how much we learn about reality - this ideology always puts us at some distance from the true nature of things.  Like we can learn everything there is to know about the icons on the computer desktop, but have no idea of the processes behind them - and we never can?

So nice to see another opinion based on the way “it seems” to the writer. What point are you trying to make? If I were to hazard a guess, you’re stuck seeking some god’s-eye view which defines “reality”, which sounds so much like a centuries-old philosophical trope (what you refer to as “the true nature of things”). If that’s the case, it’s just encrypted theology. If that’s not the case, and your next best option is still seeking a center on what humans can discover and deduce, that’s humanism, which I treat as a substitute religion. I have no use for god or religion, so when I see what looks to me like an attempt to smuggle it in to what is nothing but a philosophical argument, I stop listening.

You could always make more of an effort to articulate your point. And why did you stick a “question” character at the end of your comment? What question are you asking? The best techniques we’ve come up with for investigating this world are experimentation and reproducible observation. High-energy physics has been our best attempt to understand the deepest aspects of the physical cosmology in which we find ourselves, but we run up against the limitations of technology and speculate about what we’d discover in experiments we can’t perform, yet, if ever. The clock is ticking for the persistence of a society that can organize experiments in high energy physics, and physics is not going to give us all the data we need in order to figure out how to preserve it. Depressingly for some, everything else is worse.

I am not trying to smuggle god or religion in, i am an atheist.  I am questioning the guests view - basically how do we get out of this matrix perception of reality?  I don’t buy it.  Your notice of my effort is fair, I’m only making a comment on how the guests view “seems” to me.  It seems you agree that it’s bullshit.

Oh, yes, I do, and so perhaps I am mistaken that you were not mockingly referring to “the true nature of things”, which I regard as a nonsense phrase.  If you don’t make clear that you’re mocking the concept, how am I supposed to manage the ambiguities? Give you the benefit of the doubt? That’s not how scientific investigation succeeds. You used what I regard as a nonsense phrase without making clear that you were making fun of it. That’s philosophy, for you.

 
 
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13 December 2019 03:32
 
Brick Bungalow - 12 December 2019 11:38 PM

We infer from controlled study that we make certain specific errors

That should not discourage you, BB. That some people don’t accept it when their errors are pointed out is a problem that science is not yet prepared to address.

 
 
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13 December 2019 03:36
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 13 December 2019 03:27 AM

In short, how can beetles whose perceptions induced behavior that nearly led to extinction offer a model for how perceptual systems in general evolved?

If you try to understand the most elementary, rudimentary take on genetics, rather than pushing out a turd of a wild guess, wild even by your own standards, you’ll manage to twig that a beetle’s response is not cast in stone from generation to generation, and you won’t ask such blitheringly idiotic questions.

This forum is way too generous toward pure idiocy of the sort Hoffman is peddling (and pretty much always has been), and that has led to the impression gleaned by some that in the country of the bland, the one odd man is king.

[ Edited: 13 December 2019 03:43 by Traces Elk]
 
 
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13 December 2019 03:42
 

What joy, another one…

In any case, I can’t blame you for quoting prior to the edit that corrected a lack of clarity, but you can be blamed for being a dickhead—and a pretentious one at that.

In short, how can beetles whose false perceptions induced behavior that nearly led to extinction offer a model for how false-perception systems in general evolved?

 
Traces Elk
 
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13 December 2019 03:47
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 13 December 2019 03:42 AM

What joy, another one…

In any case, I can’t blame you for quoting prior to the edit that corrected a lack of clarity, but you can be blamed for being a dickhead—and a pretentious one at that.

In short, how can beetles whose false perceptions induced behavior that nearly led to extinction offer a model for how false-perception systems in general evolved?

There’s an in-group joke among scientists, AP, and it goes like this: “It’s not arrogant if you’re right.”

TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 13 December 2019 03:27 AM

If an evolutionary explanation based on an example of not reproducing isn’t optimally not-even-wrong, I don’t know what is.

It really is as if you’re insisting that no beetle in a generation that produces individuals with maladaptive responses produces offspring that lack the maladaptive response. Of course, if your parents did not have any children, neither will you. That’s another joke, son.

[ Edited: 13 December 2019 03:51 by Traces Elk]
 
 
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13 December 2019 03:57
 

Like I said, what joy…

 
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