What is Real

Question of the Day April 29, 2011 ~ What is real?

What do you think is “real”? Why?

For me, it seems that there are two entirely different and “real” definitions of what is “real”.

Each of us has a personal experience, and that experience is subjectively real to us. It is our “reality”.

At another level it seems that we all exist in an objective reality.
It seems that we can agree on many of the macroscopic properties of that reality. We agree about the reality of things like cars, buses, houses, people, rivers, oceans, trees etc.
In this objective sense of reality, science has been giving us ever deeper and more interrelated understandings of how big things relate to each other and to the many levels of smaller things that make them up.
Up until just a couple of decades ago it was possible for a single human being to know all that we had discovered and scientifically verified about what was real, but now that is not possible. The sum of human knowledge is now growing faster than any single human mind can learn, and is growing close to as fast as 20 separate human minds can learn.

It seems to me, that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know, and the less confident I become about much of what I thought I knew.

It seems that for the most part, what we mistake for knowledge is but a simple model of something that is far more complex – perhaps infinitely more complex.

We have no choice but to use our models (or models of models), as they are all we have. We do have choice about how we view them, and the level of confidence we give each one.

What seems to work, is to use the best model we can for each aspect of each situation that we are able to distinguish, and to stay open to the possibility that it may be less than accurate in some key aspect.

It also seems that most of us get our initial models of what is real from the culture we happen to be born into. And it is only by questioning every aspect of that initial model that we are able to build better models of what is “real”.

So “what is real”?
I don’t know!
And I suspect it is far stranger, deeper and more complex than anyone suspects or is capable of suspecting.

[followed by]

Hi Christine

I can think of much worse models to use.

It seems to me that I feel the greatest sense of value when I am being a contribution to others, irrespective of any other direct benefit to myself. I guess love or “nudging toward the light” is as good a name as any for the dynamic.


[followed by] Updated 1st May


I disagree with most of your first point, but align well with your others.

Sanity is much over-rated 😉

For me, consensus has its place in politics, not in determining one’s model of reality.  We need to learn to trust ourselves, and be a minority of one if necessary.   I’ve gotten quite used to that over the decades.
[followed by]

Mostly due to a flap of skin under my tongue, I managed to avoid most of the consensus reality thing (very few could understand what I said, so most people paid me little or no attention, so I was free of social pressures to consensus).

I see it in others, and I see shadows of it in myself, and at the same time, I have never had any difficulty in holding opinions different from others around me.

I have no memory of ever being any different way.
I do not recall ever being persuaded by consensus that what I understood to be so was not so. I am and always have been open to the possibility that I may have been wrong, and am open to re-running any test; and I am also happy to trust my own percepts and concepts over those of others.

I acknowledge the role of culture in transmission of language and all the implicit concepts that come with it, and to me that is very different from consensus.

Hope this explains a bit better.

[followed by]


I do not deny that language based shaping (as you call it) is there.

What I deny is that this effect is caused by consensus.

Consensus to me is defined as the conscious agreement of individuals.

What you describe is far below the level of conscious for most people at the time that it happens.

It is, therefore, by the understanding I have, not a form of consensus – it is something else entirely – a meme based effect.

It is the context of being associated with language that creates this.
As we (for the most part) share the same physical context, then we end up with the same conceptual and subconscious language based context.
This commonality is not produced by consensus. Rather it is produced by a process of evolution involving replicating memes.

Certainly many of the concepts we learn as children (most of which most of us carry through adulthood unchallenged and unexamined) are “shaped” by the social context we happen to get born into and raised in.

If one is prepared to challenge and examine everything, then one can move past these cultural biases, and past the limitations of our senses, and start to explore the infinitude beyond with more “objective” contexts.

The reality one encounters on such a journey is often very different from the one that most people walking around one in an unchallenged mindset experience.

So my challenge to your “first” paragraph remains.

[followed by] updated 6th May 2011

Hi Amber,

That is not at all what I meant.

I do not claim any absolute knowledge of what is “real”.

I do have quite a bit of experience in determining what is not “real”.

So what is “real” must (logically) be a subset of the infinite set of the “not yet proven unreal” – but I make no claim to exactly what that is.

I certainly have many things that I use as operant truths – things which seem to work in practice each time I use them. And I am very clear on the distinction between that and any sort of “absolute truth”.

It only takes one negative experience to demonstrate that an operant truth is not an absolute truth.

My reference was more to the fact that our conscious awareness is but the small tip of the huge “iceberg” of mental activity.

For all of us, what we are aware of is but a tiny fraction of what is actually going on in our heads.

For most of us, most of the things we accept as operant truths we have accepted without conscious review. They simply came as part of the package of being born into whatever “culture” or “cultural milieu” we happened to be born into.

Some few of us spend a lot of time, going back and consciously reviewing assumptions, and it is not possible for any mind to review all of the assumptions within itself (we are simply far too complex for that) – so the reality is that we all have a great many unchallenged assumptions (mostly of “cultural” origin) within us.

I suspect this will always be the case, should any of us be so fortunate as to live a billion years.

So it is only in this sense, the sense that for all of us, most of what goes on within our heads happens at the subconscious level, that I was referring to.

Most of us use language long before we become aware of the deeper levels of meaning available in language. I suspect that those depths may potentially be infinite. Sometimes that makes communication rather difficulty, as one has to navigate not simply the words, but the depths of meanings that come with them.

[followed by]

Hi Judi, OM, Victoria, et al

The distinction between experience and reality is interesting.

It is far deeper than perception.

There is a lot that happens between perception and conscious experience.

I recall an experience many years ago, when I went to visit some “hippy” friends, and they made me some faerie soup. I saw faeries that night. I recall looking at a painting of an old two story house, and seeing faeries at the windows, then I saw one peek out from behind the garden shed and duck back again when it saw me looking at it. This experience continued for several hours.

My conscious awareness felt sort of clouded. The percepts were clear, but it was like my awareness was moving through a deep fog, almost like a bog. Awareness was slow to respond, but did respond, and the percepts kept coming.

Later I found out that the faerie soup was made from those really colourful mushrooms that grow in faerie rings under pine trees.

Haven’t had any more of it since, and once was quite instructive enough.

It seems what happened was that the normal boundaries between the conscious and the subconscious mind were weakened by the presence of various alkaloids present in the mushrooms.

It seems entirely probable that many individuals have the presence of such alkaloids in sufficient concentration to have similar effects as part of their normal metabolic activity.

For most of us though, we need to visit “faerie rings” and eat the forbidden mushrooms, if we are to get to see faeries (or similar entities of the imagination), in our day to day lives.

I seem to disagree with OM on the subject of memes, and again it may be a matter of interpetation of words.

In my understanding, our entire awareness is built upon language. We are communicating in language at present, and our normal mode of being is largely language based (some images, but mostly language).

Certainly, there is a great deal that is subtle in the context of words, and the deeper levels of meaning and relationship that we form between words and concepts and percepts. Much of this happens at the subconscious level for most of us.

Certainly, much of the information transmitted in words is below the level of conscious awareness.

Certainly this subconscious relationship strongly influences our interpretation of words, and our relationship between the patterns of photons that hit our retinas, and the images we as aware beings finally get to see, when the subconscious levels of brain finish the processing that they do to provide us with what we see.

That chain between what the eye sees and what the awareness sees can be quite long, and is never less than two steps of input to model, and output of that model as input to another model; and can easily go to 4 or five stages of models daisy chained together.

“Leakage” between these models, and our other levels of “imagination” can give shared experiences of the reality of external beings, because of the strength of the cultural images (stories) involved.

I have certainly experienced seeing such things. Of that I have zero doubt.

I have great doubt that those things actually existed in any sort of reality outside of the cultural stories embedded in the neural pathways of my brain.

The most likely explanation to me seems to be a “leakage” between the normally distinct systems of day to day perception, and the many faerie stories I have heard and read (both in my youth and since).

So yes the experience is real, in that we experience it.

An no, it is not an external reality – but rather a breakdown of the normal barriers between reality and imagination.

For some of us, those barriers are not very high at the best of times. For others they are so high that the dosage of mushroom required to lower them is lethal. That seems to be why different individuals experience such vastly different responses to psychoactive drugs. The chemistry of the barriers is fascinating, but that is quite another story.

My brain seems to have quite low barriers in many areas, and quite high natural levels of some substances that are normally psychoactive for most people (but seemingly have no effect on me – as I seem to have grown up with them, and they are “normal” to me).

The other thing I need to be explicit about is the power of the associative abilities of the subconscious. The subconscious has vastly more information than the conscious, and sometimes it transmits intuitions derived from that information through to consciousness in the form of images or voices from mythology. While these things may not have any external reality to them in one sense, in another sense, they can convey a lot of information that is relevant to the current “real” circumstance at some level. So it pays not to dismiss them entirely, but rather to look for those deeper levels of relationship to reality contained within them.

[followed by]

Hi Judi

You are “spot on” with the distinction between subjective and objective reality.

Subjectively, from our own personal perspective, the reality of our experience is what we think it is (right up to the point that something we didn’t think of kills us).

Objectively, from an external perspective, it is easy to see that our senses often give us false information, and our brains often fail to accurately classify information that is captured (usually due to failure to accurately identify context).

Science does not prove stuff to be real (contrary to popular opinion).

Science can only demonstrate that a particular hypothesis (a theory about how something works) fails in some particular test.

Simply because some hypothesis passes thousands of tests does not prove it is true.

Passing many tests increases our confidence in using a particular theory, but that confidence can never be allowed to reach 100% – we must always retain an element of doubt, and a willingness to entertain evidence to the contrary.

In logic, failing to pass even one test necessarily proves an idea false, yet one can only be 100% confident of something when it has passed all possible tests, and nothing can ever do that.

So the scientist who really understands science and logic and philosophy, can never make a claim to any sort of absolute knowledge of what is so.

All we can do, is explain what experiments have demonstrated as highly unlikely to be so, and explain that at present we have this one, or more theories about what might be so that have failed to be falsified by all experiments tried to date. Knowledge of the nature of those experiments helps to increase our confidence in the surviving theories.

There are always many possible sources of error, including measurement error, in any particular experiment, so detailed explanation by the designer of the experiment of the sorts of errors they have allowed for, and the measures they have taken to give confidence that those types of errors were not present in this particular experiment, are all part of the “writing up” process of experimental design and reporting.

So for practical purposes, I am very confident of many things, and do not (on a daily basis) question them at all. Yet if hard pressed, I admit that I am 100% certain of only one thing – that I exist (“cogito ergo sum”).

It is possible that new information could show up that revealed some new source of error in an earlier experimental design, that would force us to reconsider as possible some hypothesis that had previously been ruled out as highly improbable. That doesn’t happen often, and sometimes it does.

So yes – we need to always be open to possibility, and it is powerful if we are also as aware as possible of as many experiments as possible, their design, and the implications of their results.

I am in a place, where almost nothing is 100% certain, and many things are only marginally more confident than random chance, and the vast majority is completely unknown.

The very small bit that I am confident of is but a tiny fraction of the vast amount that I know that I don’t know (without considering all that I don’t know, and don’t know that I don’t know), or have only the vaguest of ideas about.

Writing is so slow, that I could probably write for many years about that very small bit that I am confident about.

[followed by]

Hi Victoria

That instantaneous intuition (which can be so much more than simply danger/no danger), that many people don’t even notice, is there for all of us, and most are taught to ignore it very early in life.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an interesting book about it “Blink” a few years ago, though he does not make any attempt to explain what it is.

To me it seems to be an artifact of the way we store and retrieve information as interference patterns rather than sequentially as computers do.

In most circumstances it is very accurate. Therefore, most often I trust it. It has saved my life many times.

And, in some situations, it can be inaccurate, if the brain has a inappropriate context “dialed in”.

This “intuition” is sensitive to context of mind, but usually far more sensitive to context of situation (because the data stream from situation usually contains so much more information than the context of consciousness).

[followed by]

Hi Judi

I cannot quite go along with it as you have framed it.

I do not accept that anything that “can’t be measured or understood scientifically” can in any sense be real.

I can accept that we may not yet have tools capable of measuring, and therefore do not yet understand scientifically, some phenomenon, and all my experience would tend to give that a very low probability in the case of faeries.

One of the key things against it is the fact that in mythology, they are associated with faerie rings (mushroom rings – particularly of species high in psychotrophic drugs like psilocybin) – this fact strongly supports the first hypothesis I proposed – which I elaborate somewhat below.

What I think is the most likely explanation has some elements in common with “hallucination” but is not really hallucination in the sense of being totally fictitious.

From my own experience, what seems most likely is that it is a form of communication between the subconscious and conscious minds, that uses visual imagery (and possibly words).

The faeries in this sense would communicate or “show” things that the subconscious was aware of, but the conscious wasn’t; and could also possibly fill other needs (as in for friendship, etc). In this scenario, they are in one sense unreal, and in another sense, the information they convey, or the purpose they serve, is very real indeed.

This seems to be the explanation for most of the spirit-guide experiences of shamanic cultures.

The power of the subconscious is huge.

It is a very different sort of awareness to that the conscious, and it has some very powerful ways of distinguishing pattern.

It is a very powerful thing to have access to and use in conjunction with conscious awareness, and it has some limitations. One notable one is that it cannot deal with negatives.

[followed by]

Hi Gil

Sort of, but mostly I meant it in a much more mundane form.

If you try to tell your subconscious – “Don’t forget to get the groceries on the way home” – you are almost certain to forget – because it cannot comprehend “Don’t”.

A more powerful formulation of the same thing would be “Remember to get the groceries on the way home”.

The subconscious is very image oriented, and it is not possible to image “don’t”.

Try to image “don’t think of an elephant”.

Now try to image “think of a monkey”.

It is about how we frame our speech, both to ourselves and to others.

If we want to have effective results, we need to frame everything in terms of positives.

Use “remember” instead of “don’t forget”.

Use “slow down” instead of “don’t speed”.


[followed by]


I am not aware of any situation where multiple people who have not had the opportunity to agree beforehand have seen exactly the same faeries, and when interviewed separately afterwards, gave substantially the same description of what they saw.

If such a thing has been reliably documented I would love to read that documentation.

I have had several people claim such things.

In the one case where I have done the interviewing myself, there was no substantial agreement between their stories.

In my own personal situation, the only times I have seen such things are when mind altering chemicals have been involved, or when I have been seriously sleep deprived (which is internally generated mind altering chemicals).

I have done quite a bit of investigation, personally.

If you have reliable evidence to the contrary, please supply it – specific to date, time, place, people, etc.

Despite special effects and movies to the contrary, no such evidence has ever come to my attention, and I have spent several hundred hours looking.

If there is evidence, I want to see it, in detail.

[followed by]


In the flounder example, in fact they all did agree that there were no flounder.

That was OK, I was certain there were flounder. I had no practical doubt.

I persevered until the others were able to distinguish flounder.

There is certainly a sense in which the brain does filter out much of what is in our perceptions, and presents only what seems important to the conscious. But the subconscious gets to process all information.

We start with very simple distinctions, and then develop ever more complex distinctions, ever deeper in relatedness with other distinctions. This happens both consciously and subconsciously.

I have trained myself to access many levels of the subconscious, and am much more “in touch” with my intuitions than most scientists.

If there is something there to be seen, then I am quite likely to see it.

If someone I trust keeps pointing at something, then I will keep trying different approaches until I distinguish what is there to be distinguished.

I have developed quite a collection of approaches, from many different disciplines.

Once I distinguish something of importance, I am unlikely to give up.

I give http://www.solnx.org as an example.

[followed by]

Hi christine, Victoria, OM, Gil, Thomas et al

Lots of things to clarify here.

For me, faerie has a very definite meaning – it is a small winged humanoid. I strongly suspect that all such perceptions are the creation of the mind, rather than there being such a small winged humanoid being present in a material form that might be recorded by a camera and weighed on a scale.

As to perceptions, certainly, the average untrained observer tends to be very poor at remembering exactly what they saw.

As to differences in perceptions, certainly, there are many ways in which our perceptual equipment differs. Our primary sense organs have much variability, our primary processing centers in the brain can be very variable, and our secondary processing centers are subject to very strong cultural influences.

I know that my eyes are quite atypical. I have red vision only over a very small area (about the size of a 10c piece held at arms length) outside of that I am red-green colour blind. So what I see when I look directly at something is very different from what is seen slightly off my direct gaze, and very different again from the “grey scale” peripheral vision. My wife cannot understand why I get so annoyed when she puts something back just a few inches away from where it ought to be. She has no experience of being blind except in the direct gaze. If something isn’t exactly where I expect it, and it isn’t obvious in my wider vision, then I must start a systematic search – which almost always works, but consumes a lot of time.

I am frequently the one to find the things that Ailsa misplaces, because of the systematic and thorough search habits I have had to develop to find anything. And sometimes I resent the time it takes.

When I did the colour blindness test for my skippers ticket (because boats use red and green for navigating lights at night, it is very important) the examiners were surprised that I could see both sets of numbers and letters on each page. They asked which is stronger, and all I could say was that they were both about the same intensity. Eventually they were satisfied that I could in fact easily distinguish red and green, and I got the impression that they had not met anyone else like me.

As to intuitions, the power of storage and retrieval of information in holographic form (as interference patterns) is quite amazing. It does not require whole body distribution, whole brain is quite sufficient.

The ability of this form of storage and retrieval to instantly search all stored information and to instantly return recalled items based on similarity, and to continue to “daisy chain” associations of similarity, is, in my understanding, at the core of human creativity.

Our ability to create ever wider contexts of association allows the holographic associative powers of brain to work across all of the perceptions of our lives, with each new context we create.

Thus while the process is physically confined to the brain, it is related to all that exists around us by virtue of the fact that it has access to all of the raw subconscious percepts of our lifetime of experience, plus all of the processed perceptions and abstractions of our conscious awareness.

Thus it is both constrained (physically to the brain) and related to everything (through perceptions and memories).

The left/right brain specialisation seems to be real in some people, and not so real in others. Some people seem to have processing distributed widely across the brain for many processes.

Re chemicals and filters, yes certainly, the chemicals are removing filters, and often those filters are the filters between the conscious and subconscious processes.

The subconscious deals mostly in percepts, and relationships between percepts.

The subconscious seems to make little or no distinction between cultural stories and actual percepts. They are all just data in the holographic mass of information. Multiple subconscious processing centers seem to be chaining holographic associations at around 14/second. Normally all that stuff is filtered out of direct conscious awareness, but when under the influence of some drugs, it leaks through.

So it is in this sense that I entirely agree with you OM, the drugs are lowering filters, but not necessarily (or even often) filters to “objective reality” but rather filters to our own subconscious processing (the submerged mass of our personal mental icebergs).

[followed by]More on QM

Hi OM et al

I am extremely reluctant to go to QM because it requires so much discussion of definitions before we can begin any sort of meaningful discussion, failure to do this will mean talking straight past each other most of the time.
We already talk straight past each other much of the time when talking about much more “common sense” realms, so hence my reluctance to approach QM in this forum.

Stepping back up one level – to relativity (absolutivity), we have a clear example of one of the great communication problems.
We need a convention to clearly define when one is speaking literally and when one is speaking figuratively. They are very distinct modes of thought.
I spend much of my time designing and writing computer systems. In that mode of thinking I must be absolutely and rigorously logical. Every term has a precise meaning, and it means that and only that, nothing more nothing less. Every word used in writing a computer system has this sort of rigidity about it; and must do if the system is going to behave reliably.
The main system I work on has more words in it than the bible, with some very complex logic, and some highly complex levels of indirection (pointers to pointers to pointers), each pointer being context sensitive to a particular set of contexts.
It takes me an appreciable number of seconds to switch modes – between the strictly defined, logical, and necessarily consequential; to the more normal human mode of figurative speech.

For myself, when I am writing figuratively, I try to make it obvious by enclosing the figurative reference in quotes (especially when it is a mixed mode sentence).

Without such a clue, I tend to read stuff like this in the strict logical mode.

I do not see any way of getting the sort of gradations of matter of which you seem to be hinting.
What I see is that the “stuff” of the universe can exist as matter or as light. In either form it has a large number of possible ways of organising. As light it can take any of an infinite spectrum of energies. As matter it tends to fall into a much smaller range of possible modes – an infinite range seem theoretically possible, but most of those seem to have existence values that result in lifetimes that are less than nanoseconds.
So in practice, we have a much restricted range of matter that can exist, and it is already from the lightest possible end of the spectrum (unlike light).

So in this sense, no – I do not see any possibility for matter at different (frequencies).

There is the possibility of matter and light existing in modes that have different values of c (speed of light); but the equations seem to show that this spectrum would be quantised, and would not be able to interact as either light or matter, except with light or matter sharing the same value of c.

So we seem to be stuck with the light and matter we have, and any alternate c value systems sharing the same “space” will be stuck with their “c” value, and (in the absence of extremely high technology) never the twain shall meet (or infinite set of twains in this case).

There may be life forms that have evolved in “other matrices” and have learned to control technologies of which we are as yet completely ignorant, and such life forms would (to quote A C Clarke) be “indistinguishable from magic”. The only interpretation of the sighting of such organisms that makes any sense to me, is that such organisms wanted to be seen.
Ie it was the choice of the observed to be seen, not any property of the observer that allowed observation.
Such things do not meet the definition of faeries in my lexicon – they are ETs.

There may in fact be ETs that evolved outside of our universe, and have mastered technologies that allow them to come in and out of our universe, and it seems logical to assume that they would have originally evolved in some matrix in some “reality” even if our notions of space and time make no sense in that “reality”.
And again – I would not call such “faeries”.

[followed by]more on what is real – ET and life

Hi Thomas

I tend to agree with most of what you say, and it may just be possible that life is in fact extremely rare.

It seems to me that the really tricky part is finding a mechanism to power the first replicators until they evolve to the point of self sustaining replication.

On this planet it seems to have happened because of a collision that spawned a large moon. The 100m tides associated with the moon in the early years, would have created regular heating and cooling cycles (on a 6 hr cycle) that would have powered the early RNA replicators through some sort of PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) – via heating and cooling of a massive water body flowing over lava fields.
We are yet to observe any other planet with a moon that comes anywhere near meeting the necessary criteria.
So it seems entirely possible that life may be less common than many suspect.

It seems that the dinosaurs might have gotten close to technology prior to the Chicxulub event. There are many ways that life can fail to break the technology barrier.

As to traveling between universes, the energy requirements are prodigious, and would likely require tame black holes, and would consume suns at a prodigious rate.

There may be ETs, there may not be. I’d say it’s an unknown quantity.
I wouldn’t be surprised if one showed up.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t any.

[followed by]more on what is real – QM again

Hi Thomas

I don’t particularly care about Newton’s explanation, what I care about is his equations, and they still work.

Einstein showed that the equations were but a special case of a more general case. And his equations still work.

QM has come along, and while I acknowledge the equations work, I don’t have a lot of time for many of the interpretations of what those equations mean.

I fully expect other equations to come along, showing our current understanding to be but a special case of something yet more general.
And I expect the existing equations will continue to work in the situations in which they do work.

So no – I don’t see Newton as dead wrong – I see that his equations worked.
Certainly much of his belief structure has been falsified, but then that is true of all religions, and yet most people still follow them. John Maynard Smith has a very good mathematical explanation for why that is so – which I understand well.

I don’t make any claim to know how the universe works.
I expect to be surprised.
I expect, that if I live a billion years, and keep on learning at the rate I have thus far, I will still be getting surprises at about the same rate in a billion years – infinity can do things like that.

The number of things that can destroy our technological civilisation is large enough to be quite scary.
I have documented some of them on one of my websites – http://www.fishnet.co.nz/v2020/issues.htm

I acknowledge all the numbers you quote – I have been aware of them for about 4 decades.

Have you ever done the numbers around the energies involved in shifting c values – the only “practical” way I yet know of achieving super-luminary travel speeds. I have absolutely no idea of the detail of how one might achieve it in practice, but the equations indicate it ought to be possible.

I do not have a “basis for understanding how the universe works” – all I have is evidence for what works and what doesn’t, and various theories that have not yet been falsified.

I have got quite used to being with “I don’t know” – when it comes to any claims about anything “fundamental”.

I acknowledge all the numbers you quote, and I still do not align with the meaning you derive from them. They don’t necessarily mean that.

[followed by]

Hi christine

I had about a year of headaches getting to grips with special and general relativity. With those two I feel completely comfortable.
In the Hafele–Keating experiment – none of the clocks are at rest, and some are subject to more or less acceleration than others.
All are spinning around the earth, which is spinning around the sun, which is spinning with a cluster of stars, which are spinning around our Milky way galaxy which is spinning in a cluster of galaxies, ….
Lots of accelerations going on.
Everything relative.
And the results of the test (and subsequent tests) match with Einstein’s predictions (within experimental error).

[followed by]

Hi OM and Thomas

We are getting into seriously speculative areas.

I find I can agree with each of you in some senses, and it seems I also disagree with many of the same statements I can agree with, in different senses, and what seems to be assumptions made about being.

I’ll start with a couple of QM questions and then deal with brain and consciousness – and all of it within the context that what I am saying is my best guess, being a mix of intuition, logic and information that I am aware of at this point in (I was going to say “time” but it would be wrong) my existence.

To start with time.
If we accept that time is local, and not universal (which is what relativity implies) then time travel becomes impossible, because there is no longer any such thing as universal time to travel through, there is only existence in the eternal present, with information flow given by timeless photons mediating communication between particles.

In this model, which is what Einsteins equations actually imply, there is no wave nature of light. Existence is more localised into “particles”, as distinct from being broadly distributed in “waves” (giving no more definite form to either concept – wave or particle, than that of localisation vs distribution).

Thus interference has quite a different aspect.

So yes Thomas, I agree (and did so explicitly) that Newtons conception of Eternal matter was false – now demonstrably so.
I also contend that the common conception of light as waves is false – demonstrably so. And it seems to me that most of your conceptions are based upon the wave model of light. It seems to me that you are prepared to bend all else about logic and awareness to hold on to a wave model of light, rather than to allow for the possibility that the wave model might have some serious flaws.

It seems to me that all of the problems with the interpretations of QM come from trying to hold on to a wave model of light, because it forces one to accept a level of non-locality which is not observed, so one is forced into a logical situation of doubting all observations.
For me, any model of thinking which ultimately requires us to dismiss all observations must fail the test of Ockham’s Razor.

So I use a different set of interpretations of the equations of QM. They are still seriously weird, but they do not have the logical requirement of ultimately abandoning all perceptions – they just allow them as limiting cases. They do not include modeling light as waves.

I completely agree with Clemens, but we have differing interpretations – fundamentally different.
Certainly, the context of mind is critical to interpretation of all information.
Being able to relax the hold of the contexts that we are given by the culture of our birth and development enough to allow the intuitions of our own subconscious to leak through to our consciousness, and to be willing to trust them above all cultural “truths” (even when we are a minority of 1) is a rare skill.

I believe I understand the mechanics of the processes of mind that allow those intuitions to form.

Here is where I come back to OM’s comment – in which we hold diametrically opposed views.
OM is holding on to a cultural view of god consciousness. That consciousness is received from something outside, and the brain is simply a receiver/filter.
For me, all evidence clearly falsifies that model.
For me, all evidence is that the brain is the place where the consciousness arises.
Certainly awareness is linked to all that is via perceptions.
Certainly our subconscious “holographic” processing allows us to “see” and to “know” stuff without necessarily any logical idea of how or why we “see” or “know”.
Certainly the power of the mind has evolved over billions of years of biological evolution, and millions of years of cultural evolution, to allow the level of awareness that we are experiencing in word exchanges such as this to exist.

I do not deny connection to all that exists, or existence of all that exists; all I am saying is the the experience of awareness is generated by the interaction of brain with all of this.
Brain without experience is just matter.
Brain must have all the experience of culture and perceptions and intuitions and contemplation in order to develop to a state where it can be the vessel of experiencing the awareness that it holds, and the experience is very definitely centered in the brain – beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.
The brain is the generator, and it shares the generation with all of the rest of existence which has impacted the evolution of brain, and which continues to impact through perceptions.
We do not exist in isolation, and we do exist as individuals.
We are so much more than our conscious awareness, and we do have a conscious awareness (as well as a subconscious).

I am not denying the existence of anything demonstrable.
I refuse to waste too much time speculating about things that cannot be sensed in any way (and therefore, by definition, can have no influence upon us). If anything can have influence upon us, then we can develop extensions to our existing senses to allow us to monitor those influences and “see” what is there.
Certainly, sometimes our preconceptions blind us to possibilities.

And I have the very strong intuition that of those people contributing to this conversation, I am the one who is least limited by preconceptions (and I am aware of many levels of preconception operating in my awareness). That’s not any sort of boast, just an observation.
I acknowledge that everyone involved in this conversation is making valuable contributions.
I have learned from every one of the posts made – without exception.
For that I thank every one of you.
This is the most stimulating discussion I have been in for a long time. I have been asking myself some very deep questions indeed.

[followed by]more on what is real – QM yet again

Hi OM & Thomas et al,

The reason I did not want to come here is much the same reason that a recovering alcoholic doesn’t want to go into a bar.
I am an addict for discussions such as this.
I know from past experience that they can consumes days or weeks (even months), in which my mind delves so deeply into these concepts that I am functionally useless in my business.
I’ve been a bit that way the last few years.

Since the discussion has turned to turtles, let me put on my Wizzard hat.

I’m not going near any testimony of a 5 years old about an experience over 4 years prior – anyone experienced in child questioning knows that any child under 7 is highly suggestible, and false memories can be implanted very easily (without any intent to do so, but simply by using non-specific language in questioning).

In terms of Relatvity and QM. That QM infers non-locality is one possible interpretation, and not a required one. Ultimately, the equations of QM deal with probabilities of finding things in certain places within certain periods – nothing more or less.

Einstein’s writings on special and general relativity are an interesting read. He does make one postulate that is clearly false – that it is impossible to determine by simple experiment whether one is in a gravitational frame or an accelerating frame. That is clearly false – a simple twin-pendulum experiment will distinguish, between the two.

Had my few minutes – back to work.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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6 Responses to What is Real

  1. holessence says:

    Ted – first of all I really appreciate the definitions you give for the two different kinds of “real” — that was very helpful.

    Second of all I cracked up and oh-so-relate to your statement:

    “It seems to me, that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know, and the less confident I become about much of what I thought I knew.”


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