Can we trust our senses to tell us the truth?
Challenging leading scientific theories that claim that our senses report back objective reality, cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman argues that while we should take our perceptions seriously, we should not take them literally. How can it be possible that the world we see is not objective reality? And how can our senses be useful if they are not communicating the truth? Hoffman grapples with these questions and more over the course of this eye-opening work.
Ever since Homo sapiens has walked the earth, natural selection has favored perception that hides the truth and guides us toward useful action, shaping our senses to keep us alive and reproducing. We observe a speeding car and do not walk in front of it; we see mold growing on bread and do not eat it. These impressions, though, are not objective reality. Just like a file icon on a desktop screen is a useful symbol rather than a genuine representation of what a computer file looks like, the objects we see every day are merely icons, allowing us to navigate the world safely and with ease.
The real-world implications for this discovery are huge. From examining why fashion designers create clothes that give the illusion of a more “attractive” body shape to studying how companies use color to elicit specific emotions in consumers, and even dismantling the very notion that spacetime is objective reality, The Case Against Reality dares us to question everything we thought we knew about the world we see.
About the Author
Donald Hoffman is professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. His writing has appeared in Scientific American and Edge, and his work has been featured in the Atlantic, Wired, and Quanta. He resides in Irvine, California.
A masterpiece of logic, rationality, science, and mathematics. Read this book carefully and you will forever change your understanding of reality, both that of the universe and your own self.
— Deepak Chopra, author of The Healing Self
Hoffman’s truly radical theory will force us to ponder reality in a completely different light. Handle with care. Your perception of the world around you is about to be dismantled!
— Chris Anderson, author of TED Talks
Think you know what’s really out there? Read this breathtaking, whistle-stop tour of a book that illuminates all the profound weirdness masked by our experience and assumptions.
— David Eagleman, best-selling author of The Brain and Incognito
A fresh view into who we truly are—one that transcends the perceptions that we accept as reality. Hoffman unapologetically takes us down a rabbit hole where we learn that all reality is virtual and that truth lies solely in you, the creator.
— Rudolph Tanzi, coauthor of Super Brain
Captivating and courageous…anyone who reads this book will likely never look at the world the same way again. Hoffman challenges us to rethink some of the most basic foundations of neuroscience and physics, which could prove to be exactly what we need to make progress on the most difficult questions we face about the nature of reality.
— Annaka Harris, author of Conscious
In the mood to have your mind blown? In this fascinating, deeply original, and wonderfully engaging book, Hoffman takes us on a tour of the uncharted territory where cognitive science, fundamental physics, and evolutionary biology meet— and where the nature of reality hangs in the balance. You’ll never look at the world— or, rather, your interface— the same way again.
— Amanda Gefter, author of Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn
Woody Allen once said, ‘I hate reality, but . . . where else can you get a good steak dinner?’ Hoffman turns that joke on its head: What we have always been after is the steak dinner; what we call reality is our best adapted strategy for getting it. Sink your teeth into that!
— Christopher A. Fuchs, professor of physics, University of Massachusetts Boston
This book is a must-read if you want to bring your understanding of ‘reality’ in sync with the way the World is. You are in for some major surprises and mind expanding. A good read that will set you thinking about yourself, others and the world.
— Jan Koenderink, author of Color for the Sciences