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The Case Against Reality

Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes
Narrated by: Timothy Andrés Pabon
Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
4 out of 5 stars (56 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2019 by Donald Hoffman. (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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I expected to hear about guirks of human perception, but got so much more.

Yes, you’ll learn about what, how and why we perceive the world, but this book is so much more: „The Case Against Reality” goes into epistemological and onthological territory so deep and convincing, that I had to revise my views on myself and the world. Sometimes hard and complicated, it needs a lot of focus and attention on your part, but you’ll find out a great deal about evolution, quantum mechanics, the inner lives of famous thinkers and consciousness. No previous physics and philosophy training needed, although it casts a new light on the history of both. Oh, and Mr. Timothy Andrés Pabon does a great job interpreting it for audio. Truly amazing stuff.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Don't buy - visual examples missing, no pdf

The ideas Hoffman present in the book are expansive and very interesting.

However, contrary to the opening statement in the introduction, Audible doesn't have the downloadable pdf, nor can they get it.

The original publisher (Brilliance Audio via Tantor Media) says there is no accompanying pdf.

Further, Donald Hoffman doesn't respond on social media to requests for the download, although he's certainly busy making posts promoting the book.

I recommend purchasing the kindle or physical copy.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Take the red pill and be lost in the rabbit hole

Mysticism meets Science, Consciousness clashes with reality. I have not read a book that challenged my view of reality for a long time. There are lot of scientific facts that the author used to make his points and some places it was a little dry but i guess it is essential for the book. It is high time for the scientific world to look for a new approach to explain our reality or the lack of it. A must read for anyone who is interested in science, philosophy and psychology because this book actually brings elements from wide variety of disciplines to make a point which i think should not be ignored by anyone.Like any good book on science, it makes us think of more questions than it answers.

And behold there is a mathematical equation for a conscious agent !!!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Objective Reality May Be a Myth

So simple yet so profound. The author makes the case that what we call objective observation is in actual fact subjective. Each instance of measurement or observation creates it own subjective reality.

The theory goes like this. Imagine five people are looking at an apple. The apple can be said to exist objectively because it exists outside our personal experience. What the author explores is the possibility that each observation can be considered a separate personal experience and therefore subjective.

The premise is there is no such thing as an objective experience because each instance is processed subjectively, and collectively evolution has provided a distortion of reality that increases health and fitness at the cost of seeing a true representation of reality.

At first glance this may seem absurd. The book however, provides a convincing case, and we may need to accept that our senses may be catered to survivability and not to accuracy of what is real.

Recommended as an outside the box way of thinking.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Mind-bending but also lacking

Hoffman creates a compelling argument as to why he believes the world we perceive is almost certainly nothing like "objective reality" at all. Buckle your seatbelts because Kansas, as well as space and time itself, is going bye-bye.

His "fitness beats truth" theorem is interesting and seems to me to be almost certainly true. The first six chapters lay the groundwork for his ideas and can be sort of repetitive – you can get a basic understanding of these chapters from his appearance on the After On Podcast, also titled The Case Against Reality. His repetition of the "Desktop" metaphor to describe Interface Theory of Perception or ITP gets pretty old fast – we get it, you think our perception is like a desktop and what we see are like icons – but that's my biggest gripe.

Even if you're not convinced by his arguments, it's worth reading just to imagine the implications such an understanding of consciousness could have on the future of science, religion and the way we understand what it means to be human. An easy and fascinating afternoon read!

The performance of the book is lacking, however, AND THERE'S NO "accompanying PDF" which is mentioned many times in later chapters!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Hunches turn out to be real

I should have gone with my hunch. A book with a recommendation by Deepak Chopra. Usually that’s a deal breaker. It should have been. Lots of deepities. If I’m wrong I apologize. Couldn’t keep reading. Perhaps if I hear lots of support of it by a few well respected scientists, I’ll give it another try.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Pseudoscience

If you don’t care for pseudoscience, skip this one. It is vacuous statements dressed up in the language of physics and evolution.

13 of 23 people found this review helpful

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not an audiobook

there are so many visual components that you lose a huge, HUGE portion of the book by listening rather than reading. very disappointed.

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Blue email icon

Hoffman's analogy of the "blue email icon" changed my perspective when I first heard him talk about it on the You Are Not So Smart podcast. This book fleshes out that model, and it helps inch closer to an understanding of humanity's conception of the world. He brings in Chalmers, Dennett, Kahneman, and others, who have made huge strides in advancing our understanding of consciousness. But I was a bit surprised that he never mentioned a couple scientists who I think have ideas very similar to his...Lanza and Hofstadter. It seems as if humanity is reaching a precipice...an understanding that the world we see isn't really there. This book is for anyone who's intrigued by what that could mean.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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“The accompanying pdf”

I like this book but the author has many references that would probably make this book a good bit easier to understand, but I listen to E-books while running or driving so this is not preferable to me. I really like the concept of this book, and books in this category. The beginning was a bit slow and somewhat redundant but it laid the foundations for understanding of the rest of the book pretty well so it’s all good. The middle/end of the book was great though and made it all worth the read!

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  • Jadedragon
  • 09-19-19

mind blowing

This book gave me chills. I now see the world as an interface filled with icons that guide evolutionary fitness. The step into that reframed perspective was disturbingly easy. Amazing book.