The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes

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W. W. Norton & Company, Aug 13, 2019 - Science - 272 pages

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.


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The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Hoffman, a UC-Irvine cognitive science professor, devotes his intriguing but overreaching treatise to unveiling a series of interconnected, provocative hypotheses about how humans perceive the world ... Read full review


Sirens of the Gene
Capers of the Unseen
Fitness Beats Truth
The Bluff of a Desktop
Spacetime Is Doomed
Inflating a Holoworld
Mutations of an Interface
You Get What You Need in Both Life
The Network of Conscious Agents
The Right to Be Wrong

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About the author (2019)

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.

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