Reality – what does that word mean to you? Does it refer to your everydayexistence? Is it something which is tangible and to be experienced? Or is reality something else entirely? Is it a virtual construct of our overly excited monkey minds? Let’s find out shall we, in our video which asks four questions that will make you question reality. Number 4: Who are you? The field of neuroscience has been described as the last frontier in science, and although it is still in its infancy, we are beginning to understand more about the human brain than ever before. But when humanity unravels the complex processes behind consciousness, decision making and behaviours, what does this mean for our sense of self? Beneath every single thought you’ve ever had, every single dream you’ve experienced, every action you’ve ever performed, there is a chemical process responsible for it.
But regardless of which has the most influence, when we further understand how and why these factors affect the human mind we’ll reach a crucial moment in history. Because then, we can begin controlling our brains to a more advanced degree than we do today, and when this happens, does the idea of a personality go straight out the window? After all, couldn’t we simply manipulate the mind of an anxious person to create a more affable, comedic personality type? What about that jerkoff neighbour who never says hello when you pass him in the street? Surely he could be fixed to make him a tad jollier? And what would it mean to be fixed? What are the most desirable personality types? A workaholic isn’t always a good thing. Being forthright isn’t always a bad thing. Without sadness, we’d lose many great works of art. Without psychopaths where would the horror movie industry be? Which personality types are the right ones? Obviously, if we could choose, we’d want to do away with the most destructivepeersonalities, and this means we could end up ridding the world of dangerous criminals, or at least reducing their numbers.
But how far do you go with this? Where is the cut-off point between a good personality and a bad personality? And who gets to decide? But to return to the initial question of the reality of the human self, we have to ask a question which seems less hypothetical by the day. If our brains can be so easily manipulated, as we’ve seen it can be through electric pulses and chemical treatments, then who is the true you? Behind all these chemicals and your genetically inherited makeup, what is your real personality type? Is there even such a thing as a real you? When you consider the fact that 95% of human decisions are made subconsciously, and the rest are so clearly affected by exterior forces, the idea of free will becomes a little less believable. As does the notion that you, me, your aunt Sally and your best friend Steve possesses anything close to what could be called a definitive, individual personality. So the question who we really are inside may not have a fixed answer. Number 3: Why is my reality the right reality? As well as forming a personality type out of a random assortment of chemicals, the human brain is also capable of creating its own subjective social realities, by perceiving events and individuals in a way which pleases it the most.
This is why some people dislike certain religious groups, and others think they’re hunky dory. It’s why some are in favour of gay marriage, and others believe it causes hurricanes. Humans create their own social realities every single day thanks to some influential psychological quirks known as cognitive biases. Cognitive biases can make you warp facts and twist knowledge into your own version of reality, and there are many stark examples of this to be found in everyday life. The framing effect describes how humans react to certain choices when presented with either a loss or a gain, and more often than not humans are drawn more to a riskier option if a negative frame is presented, with positive frames causing you to avoid risk. This was demonstrated in the recent EU Referendum in the United Kingdom, where the Leave vote won by 52% to 48% with a campaign based almost entirely on fear.
This is despite the fact that the Leave campaign was seen as risky, with no real plan in place regarding how the UK would operate post-Brexit. The positive benefits of leaving the EU were mentioned by those in favour of leaving, but they took a back seat to claims that jobs, power and money would be lost if Britain did not depart the European Union. This campaign won, albeit by a slim margin, yet such a closely run result clearly demonstrates how some people can view the same concept under similar circumstances, and still come out with entirely different viewpoints. Obviously, you have to take a person’s life experiences, circle of friends and media influence into account. But each of these comes with inbuilt biases too; including cognitive bias, which makes you seek out information to back up your current opinions, and illusory correlation, which makes humans perceive a relationship between two unrelated events.
There’s that gay hurricane thing again. And even though some things are easy to prove and disprove, other situations are a little more complex. Today you’ve got people arguing whether the gender pay gap exists, whether there are too many welfare spongers, and whether micro-aggressions are the worst form of racism ever. Who is to say which reality is the truth? Is this even measurable? Can anyone objectively analyse someone else’s social reality? Or do we all live in our own permanent social reality, one which is impenetrable to anyone but ourselves? Number 2: How the heck am I alive? This next entry is a little lighter than the rest because my brain is tired and I’m trying to figure out how biased and racist all my relatives were over Christmas.
But have you ever considered the astonishing reality of how you exist through everyday life? How complex it is. How you’ve even survived the last 24 hours, let alone made it to whatever age you are now? Let’s start with the past five minutes. If you went to take a whiz, you could’ve slipped and cracked your skull upon on a wet floor. Ten minutes ago you could’ve plugged in a toaster, only to be killed by the faulty wiring some poor Chinese kid botched because his lunch break was about to start.
And how the bejesus did any of you survive the commute this morning? Think about your route to work people. If you’re a driver you’ve just hurtled down the highway in a two-tonne metal can filled with explosive liquid, entrusting your life to all the people who designed and built the vehicle you were in, the road you drove on and the stop signs directing traffic. You also had to trust yourself not to have a lapse in concentration or a mental breakdown while in control of your vehicle, while also relying on thousands of other psychotic, hairless over-caffeinated apes in motorised bomb-carts to do the same. This pyramid of responsibility underpins our entire reality. Every day we place our lives into the hands of thousands of others who have enabled not only the existence of our world today, but also the worlds which kept our parents, grandparents and ancestors safe too.
If Mitochondrial Eve had decided it was a good idea to poke a prehistoric bear with a stick just for fun one afternoon, your bloodline and that of everyone today could’ve been snuffed out before humanity even left the caves. If you sit back and look at all the things that could’ve gone wrong in human history, it makes no sense that you, I or anyone gets to experience reality today.
The sheer number of minute decisions taken to get you here is astonishing, and that’s before we even consider all the random occurrences and the junk going on in your body which needs to work right just to keep you in good working order. Ah well, it’s a good job that none of this is real, probably. Number 1: Is this all a game? Elon Musk knows a thing or two about technology, at least I hope he does; has anyone actually looked inside a Space-X rocket or a Tesla car? There could be just a bunch of cats taped together in there for all we know.
But let’s assume for a moment that Elon does know what he’s talking about and that he understands the potential for technology to change and manipulate our lives. Does this mean he might be right when he says humanity almost certainly lives inside a simulation? Are we the playthings of a superior race? Have they seen and influenced all the weird stuff I’ve been doing when I thought nobody was watching? This theory originated in the first millennium, with ancient Indian and Chinese philosophies first posing the question. However, interest in the idea of simulated existence has increased recently, due to the progress humanity has made in the field of virtual reality.
Just a few decades ago we were taking control of a yellow, pixelated ball to escape the attentions of equally pixelated multi-coloured ghosts. But today, we’re on the cusp of creating fully-immersible three-dimensional environments, so is it really so hard to believe that one-day virtual reality could become indistinguishable from real life? The technology either does or will shortly exist that can create images with a higher resolution than the human eye, audio with more depth than our ears can comprehend, and sensations which feel as though you’re actually putting your hand into a moist bowl of tapioca pudding.
So if we continue on this technological trajectory, will we one day create a virtual reality so believable, that someone could be born inside it with a conscious mind, and remain unaware of true reality throughout their entire lives? Musk believes so, as he feels that because humanity has the potential to one day create advanced simulations, it is therefore almost inconceivable that we ourselves are not living inside a reality created by a superior race because it’s highly unlikely that we were the first to achieve this. In fact, he pegs our chances of being at the top of this virtual reality food-chain at one in billions, and I do not like those odds at all.
This theory is now a genuine field of scientific inquiry, and the US Department of Energy’s Fermilab has undertaken a number of experiments whose results have been so far inconclusive. But while some proponents of simulated existence are worrying that we could be approaching the point where our simulation is turned off, due to our current technological advancements, Elon Musk is a little more blasé about the situation. He’s discussed this topic at length, so much so that Musk and his brother have agreed that whenever they’re in a hot tub together, they will not talk about simulation theory, because in his words, “it really kills the magic”. Wow. I guess now we know why Elon wants a self-driving car; it’s so he can feel up his siblings in the back seat.
And that’s our list. Has this video collapsed your brain into a pile of useless goop? Are you now so entrenched in misanthropic existentialism that you just want to stay inside and forget the world exists? Super. While you’re doing that please watch our recent video on the most shocking acts of mother nature. There’s a monkey war and everything..
As found on Youtube