Saturday, October 31, 2020

Prof Hoffman #7 - Virtuality - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - Inflating a Holoworld

In chapter 7 of Case Against Reality, Hoffman’s “spacetime is doomed” mantra starts sounding like a hypnotist's spell, as reality fades from view.  Here we read more fascinating stories that reveal slivers of actual physics, but then contain too many important omissions to be of any constructive help.  

One way Hoffman misrepresents facts and twists conclusions is by anthropomorphizing the results and implications of quantum experiments and theory, all the while ignoring the profound difference between quantum scale experiments, and our macroscopic physical reality. 

Or, for that matter, you’ll not hear Hoffman acknowledge the profound difference between his mathematical models of idealized universes and our actual ever evolving universal physical reality.  

Of course bias comes into it.

some have the luxury of sitting back and dreaming,

Others best take reality as a given and stay focused,

and get on with it.

As a simple hands on working man, trying to follow through on Hoffman’s trains of logic leaves me overwhelmed time after time.  I don’t kid myself, with my middling layperson understanding of physics, I’m in no position to offer lectures or corrections to Hoffman’s details, nor is that my intent.  

Heck, I’ve had to do a lot of searching and additional reading these past weeks and again wrestling with this chapter, trying to grasp the various philosophical strands running through it and trying to wrap my head around the heady pipe dreams of these creative theorists.

My intention is to get through Hoffman’s book then to offer a saner down to Earth alternative.  An evolutionary perspective of our Earth and our human relationship with this physical reality we are embedded within.  Sans the religious baggage Hoffman’s theorem carries, stay tuned for more on that. 

I compensate for my mediocre mind by doing homework and knowing how to check out claims and weigh evidence.  For this chapter I’ve blown my deadline and spend a good deal of time learning more about what knowledgeable authorities have to explain.  I’ll be sharing highlights throughout this review.


A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

chapter 7, Virtuality - Inflating a Holoworld

DH:  “… But here, where I don’t expect it, science injects a profound mystery: we still don’t understand “now” and “there”.  That is, we don’t understand time and space - length, width, and depth - which we take for granted, which are woven into the very fabric of our daily perceptions, and which we assume are a true and reliable guide to physical reality.”   (¶2)

The Quantum Mechanical model of an atom

What do atoms look like? Why?

Jul 31, 2020  -  Arvin Ash

Our spacetime is not doomed, no matter what impression breathless writers fill books and magazines with, no matter how smart the scientist’s mind, or how grandiose and self-certain their pronouncements are.  

Use your critical thinking skills.  

 (most recent edit: 20-10-29 11:11PM)

For instance, check out this behemoth, built to micrometer precision, and operating with nanosecond coordination, along miles worth of tracks and hundreds of miles worth of wires and tubes.  It's phenomenal, beyond comprehension.  

Me, I remember first announcements about plans to build CERN, then news conferences over the years, then over decades, as the project developed.  I couldn’t believe it.  Never thought they’d pull it off.  I look at the images and still can’t wrap my mind around the LHC actually operating as designed, and it’s succeeding in accomplishing its tasks.  No matter how I try processing the available information about that machine, hard as I might, still can’t grasp how it can operate successfully.  But, there it is.  Functioning as planned, just the same.  That’s truth and I can’t ignore it, no matter how I 'feel' about it. 

Constructing the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

TunnelTalk  -  Dec 11, 2014

Where's Waldo?

This machine would be a complete failure if not for the exquisite and utter rigidity of macroscopic understanding of time and space - length, width, and depth and how to measure them!  

Implying otherwise seems to me, somehow dirty, intellectually dishonest, predatory of a sort, taking advantage of the innocents.  

Honestly presenting scientific evidence is the foundation of sane functioning science, as well as society!

What we do understand, many physicist now tell us, is that spacetime is doomed.  Space and time figure centrally in our daily perceptions.  But even their sophisticated union into spacetime forged by Einstein, cannot be part of the objects it contains, will disappear in that true description.”   (¶3)

True? Like what we know about physics isn't 'true'!?  

Incidentally, many physicists would disagree with Hoffman's opinion.

Time, Space Obsolete in New View of Universe

By K.C. COLE  -  NOV. 16, 1999

Los Angeles Times Science Writer 

“… The inherently uncertain behavior of subatomic particles affects only things as small as atoms, not everyday objects like chairs; the warping of space and time shapes the orbits of planets, but is too diluted to make itself felt on the scale of our own backyards.

Where the large-scale fabric of space-time gets tangled in the inner lives of atoms, however, chaos erupts; space and time fail to make sense. And increasingly, physicists find themselves face to face with situations where quantum mechanics and the extreme warping of space-time collide. …”


How is spacetime doomed?  Hoffman never explains.  But it sounds sexy, and bold, and provocative, so off we go.

Hold on a moment - here are some objective insightful explanations to what’s going on here.

Sean Carroll: Experimental Validation of Quantum Mechanics Interpretations and Emergent Spacetime

Lex Fridman  -  Dec 10, 2019

The Biggest Ideas in the Universe | 6. Spacetime

Apr 28, 2020 - Sean Carroll - YouTube Video - 1:03:00min


DH:  “Replacing the theory of spacetime with something more fundamental is an exciting challenge for creative theorists, and has the potential to transform our vision of the world - perhaps telling us, for the first time, what physics is really about.”   (¶4)

What a poverty of imagination to be dissatisfied with all we have already discovered about physics.


Quantum physics didn’t replace the Laws of Newton, likewise no future mathematical findings, (which will always remain theoretical, in any event), will replace any of the hard won knowledge that we possess today.  

Why not spend some time allowing this 'understood reality' to soak in?

“Potential to transform our vision of the world?”  What that’s supposed to mean?  Or look like?  Hoffman never shares. 

Here’s a reminder of what reality is made out of:

Mysteries of Modern Physics by Sean Carroll

Jan 29, 2020  -  Darwin College Lecture Series

Sean Carroll,  10:45

. . .  these are the particles that make up you and this table and me and this laptop and really everything that you have ever seen with your eyes touched with your fingers smelled with your nose in your life. 

Furthermore we know how they interact with each other and even better than that, the most impressive fact is that there will not be a discovery tomorrow or next century or a million years from now which says, you know what, there was another particle or another force that we didn't know about, but now we realize plays a crucial role in our everyday life. 

As far as our everyday life is concerned, by which I really mean what you can see with your eyes touch with your hands etc., we’re done finding the underlying ingredients. That is an enormous achievement in human history one that does not get enough credit, because of course as soon as we do it we go on to the next thing.  

Physics is not done.  I'm not saying that physics is done, but physics has understood certain things and those things include everything you encounter in your everyday life - unless you're a professional experimental physicist or unless you're looking of course outside our everyday life at the universe and other places where we don't know what’s going on. … 


DH:  “I will briefly discuss the standard theories of perception and then proposed a new slant on our perception of spacetime and objects.  The new perspective is motivated by ITP and the holographic principle - the momentous discovery … that the amount of data you can store in a region of space depends on the area surrounding the region. …  ”   (¶6)

Hoffman goes on,

DH:  “We see objects in three dimensions not because we reconstruct objective reality, but because this is the format of a compression algorithm that evolution happened to build on us. … We live and move and have our being not in an objective reality of space-time and objects, but in a data structure with a format of spacetime and objects, which happen to evolve in Homo sapiens to represent fitness payoff in a manner that is frugal and useful. …”   (¶10)

Sometimes, it just is what it is.  Humans have always had this three dimensional stage called Earth to navigate through, as it sustained us.  Our eyes evolved, as did all our other senses, to move within that 3D landscape.  Just as the sun moves through the sky, and the days keep rushing by, as time moves relentlessly forward.  

Explainer: How our eyes make sense of light

By Bethany Brookshire and Tina Hesman Saey

Science News for Students  -  July 16, 2020


The Evolution of Vision - Professor William Ayliffe

Dec 14, 2012  -  Gresham College

Did the eye evolve and, if so, how?  Creationists and evolutionary biologists have argued over this controversy since Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859.  About 830 million years ago, in the Cambrian period, an explosion of the number of species occurred, and the possession of vision was a major survival advantage.


DH:  “Replacing the theory of spacetime with something more fundamental is an exciting challenge for creative theorists, and has the potential to transform our vision of the world - perhaps telling us, for the first time, what physics is really about.”   (¶4)

Now we are getting to the heart of it.  It’s an exciting challenge that can’t be resisted.  Sort of like food eating contests.

The WOW is too irresistible.  Does it offer anything practical besides careers, and college departments, and lecture circuits, and more promise for the too much is never enough quantum computer generation?

Seems to me, from the outside looking in, that in this realm of human endeavor to dream is the most important thing, nothing else actually matters to them.  They’re empty without the quest for bigger and for some elusive “truths” humanity has missed up to now.  One more breakthrough, a few more grants, it’s going to be huge folks.

All the while it’s increasingly obvious that we are bringing our own civilization to the brink of its own doom.  For that, there’s no grants, no excited stories, no curiousity to understand why.  Why is that?

Whether it makes any down to earth sense, comes secondarily.  It’s the story and the pop it offers.  Oh, and the careers it creates.

DH:  “We see objects in three dimensions not because we reconstruct objective reality, but because this is the format of a compression algorithm that evolution happened to build on us. … We live and move and have our being not in an objective reality of space-time and objects, but in a data structure with a format of spacetime and objects, which happen to evolve in Homo sapiens to represent fitness payoff in a manner that is frugal and useful. …”   (¶10)

That’s the language of the matrix movie.  We don’t live inside a Hollywood movie, nor inside a computer, we are creatures within a macroscopic physical reality that evolved through eons.  

Evolution of the Eye by Dan E. Nilsson\

Feb 7, 2019 - Darwin College Lecture Series

Dan-E. Nilsson is a professor of functional zoology at Lund University in Sweden. He is a fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and several other academic societies. He is the head of The Lund Vision Group, which is an internationally leading centre for comparative vision research. He has co-authored the popular textbook Animal Eyes published by Oxford University Press.


DH:  “Let’s turn to error correction …”   (¶12)

Down the rabbit hole,

DH:  “… We should expect that natural selection has built redundancy into our perceptual interface, that it has shaped our desktop of spacetime and our icons of physical objects to be redundant codes for fitness payoffs that permit detections and correction of errors.”   (¶14)

That biology utilizes redundancy is true enough.  But the resemblance ends there.  Hoffman is looking through the wrong end of the microscope, yet again.  You can’t learn about evolution through a manmade computer game, nor through contrived and restrained mathematical theorems and models of evolution running in an idealized universe, whatever that is - and then make bold pronouncements about our actual reality.

DH:  “It is counter intuitive, and belies our assumption that 3D space is an objective reality that our senses reconstruct. …”   (¶15)

Wish I could get some constructive response from Hoffman, one thing I'd like know: Why do philosopher's find it that way?  

Our individual "Mindscapes" are trapped within their own egocentric isolation be it philosophical; theistic; or a blend - self admitted, or not.  This creates limits to what we can know.  

Hoffman is too comfortable in the conviction that he can summarize it all within a neat nutshell - never noticing how silly he is against the backdrop of the real world and evolution unfolding in front of us.  

Actually, that's not true.  I can't imagine he doesn't appreciate how foolish all his gibber-jabber is, but it's his career.  He is fulfilling our culture demand that the man success by becoming rich and famous.  He's sharp enough to appreciate that provocative flimflam works way better in our society than the boring substantive stuff.  No doubt that's what today's audience wants, intellectual candy.  As my mom would say, 'one hand washes the other.'  (20-10-29 11:00PM)

Experiencing actual reality, and nature, spending time it, absorbing it, doesn't seem a big priority - yet I believe it's essential.  Especially, if one is going to pontificate on the end of spacetime and things as we know them.  One should at least know a little about Earth's amazing story and who you really are, from a deep time perspective, that is.

Reading up on reviews of C.A.R. both the paper and book have received - Hoffman is given far more credit for being provocative, than for making any sense.  I find that wildly crazy, but it does reflect our society's collective failure these past decades.  

Reality, homework, worrying about Earth, thinking about "environmentalism" & human trends, the future, that was all so boring, irritating - Get with it, party and consume to your hearts content, so we lived out our time in a what-if make-believe haze of over consumption and existential confusion. Now our kids are left to deal with the collapse. 

I've also learned that Hoffman's Fitness Beats Truth theorem and Interface Theory of Perception thesis isn't at all original.  There's a long provenance with surprisingly theistic origins.  But we'll get into that at a later date.

DH:  “… But, it makes sense if you assume that our sense report fitness and need redundancy - such as an extra dimension of space - to ensure that their reports aren’t crippled by noise.”   (¶15)

Extra dimensions?  How about wondering about the extra dimension of our senses, that we use to possess and report on a lot more than simply “fitness”?  

Our neural network processes data and make the reports to our mind.  Hoffman is gratuitously over complicating and confusing reality in order to make room for his theorem.  

Of course fitness is central!  Finding, recognizing, achieving payoffs, likewise.  There are strategies, and redundancies, memory and error correction.  But it’s not describable via simplistic contrived computer game analogies and poorly defined terms. (I know, this is turning into a bit of a mantra in itself, but than Hoffman's repetitions forces my hand.)

All this can be described in a much more down to Earth pragmatic manner that is more in touch with the actual reality of Evolution and our daily experiences.  

DH:  “Physicists have confirmed … But they have also confirmed that in fact this redundancy of space underwrites an error-correction code?”   (¶16)

Next, Hoffman is kind enough to let us know, that the greater community of experts have a different understanding.

DH:  “This picture is not endorsed by most vision scientists.  Instead, they assume that vision is veridical, that it reconstructs real objects in spacetime. …”   (¶18)

Gotta love the use of “assume.”  It’s only that every experience and every test or study (about anything physical) points to that being the case.  We live within three dimensional space and must learn to navigate though it.  That is no worse an "assumption" than saying gravity is an assumption.

This is theater, not constructive science education at work.

DH:  “… Here we don’t need hunches, we need a theorem.  And we have one.  The “Invention of Symmetry Theorem” …”   (¶22)

Not at all. If one wants to understand scientifically which perceptual strategies are in principle favored by natural selection, one cannot assume that one knows a priori what W is. One must instead pose the harder question: Is any perceptual strategy favored in almost all possible worlds W? This is a precise technical question, which precisely requires us not to bias the outcome by an a priori assumption about the nature of the world states of W. We discover that natural selection favors certain interface strategies tuned to fitness. We also discover the invention-of-symmetry theorem, (Does this have anything to do with Noether's theorem) which strictly limits what we can infer about W from the invariance properties of our perceptions and actions. Sometimes the progress of science reveals limits about what we can know or do, as in Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle or Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. The interface theory reveals that we know far less about reality as it is than we naively thought we knew.  (Hoffman, Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentaries,

What if it’s a totally irrelevant question?  Not to mention, impossibly framed.  The quality of one's answers is directly related to the quality of one's questions.

DH:  “… We can build a robot that sees symmetries we see.  But this grants us no insights into the structure of the world.”   (¶26)

Why wouldn’t it?  In the least, it demonstrates that a totally objective machine will also register the visual reality that we perceive.  That’s worth noting.

Something else worth noting, I looked up invention-of-symmetry theorem and found this, but don’t see how it relates to Hoffman’s invention of symmetry theorem:

The woman who invented abstract algebra

Mathematician Emmy Noether was a genius who laid the basis for a new approach to physics.
Katie Mack   -  October 19, 2015

“Einstein described the theorem as a piece of “penetrating mathematical thinking”. Yet it can be stated quite simply: whenever there is a symmetry of nature, some fundamental quantity is conserved.  Symmetry refers to when a physical process – or a mathematical description of one – stays the same when you change some aspect of the set-up.

For example, a perfect pendulum, swinging back and forth forever, is symmetric in time. Noether’s theorem, tells us that anything with time-translation symmetry conserves energy. So the pendulum loses no energy. Likewise, if a system has rotational symmetry, it works the same facing any direction and conserves angular momentum. This means that once an object is spinning, it will keep spinning. The stability we see in the orbits of the planets is a consequence of these symmetries working together: the conservation of both the energy and angular momentum of the bodies.”


If I were to think about visual symmetry evolutionarily, I'd suggest it’s a byproduct of biology.  Because any creature that wanted to move faster needed a symmetrical body plan for all sorts of bioengineering reasons. Evolution is constrained!

Demystification of animal symmetry: symmetry is a response to mechanical forces

Gábor Holló Biology Directvolume 12, Article number: 11 (May 17, 2017) 


DH:  “Planning and coordination are critical to our success.  But do they require a veridical representation of objective reality?  No, according to the FBT Theorem.  Indeed, online games such as Grand Theft Auto let players collaborate toward ignoble goals, …  ”   (¶28)

Here again is the evidence that Hoffman has mastered his computer realm so well that when he looks at organic reality, all his mind can process it through is yet more computer analogies.  

That’s not going to help with understanding evolution or our human condition!

DH:  “The arguments for veridical perception fail.  But it is still the standard theory in vision science. …”   (¶29)

They fail in Hoffman’s book because he says they fail.  He’s never established a legitimate justification for that stance.  

If you were to follow Hoffman’s train of logic, the various Bureaus of Weights and Standards would be getting ready to roll up shop.  But that ain’t happening!  (USA, International, etc.)

DH:  “Proponents of embodied cognition, …”   (¶30)

DH:  “Proponents of radical embodied cognition, …”   (¶31)

DH:  “ITP disagrees with the claim of standard and embodies theories that perception is veridical, but agree that perception and action are closely linked. …”   (¶32)

Before allowing yourself to be swayed by such fast talk, here’s an article about critical thinking skills.  Well worth processing:

Things to consider before you rewrite classical physics.


Typical mistakes.

The dimensions of the problem.

Speaking hypothetically.

In unity is strength.

Maybe the key lies in things we can't see.

Hard science and soft science.

Know the territory before embarking on uncharted paths.

Innovators should examine their motives.


Empty theorizing.

The loneliness of the unheralded genius.


DH:  “ITP makes a counterintuitive claim about causality: the appearance of causal interactions between physical objects in spacetime is a fiction - as useful fiction - but a fiction nonetheless. …  spacetime is simply a species-specific desktop.  and physical objects are icons on the desktop. …”   (¶33)

What’s that even mean!  When in our day to days aren’t we involved in a causal interaction with objects.  There’s nothing fictional about spacetime, okay when you get down into the atomic realm it gets weird.  Still, our ability to understand it, or not, isn’t relevant to the underlying realty.  Not unless you’re playing metaphysical games.  

DH:  “(repeats above sentence) - has interesting support from quantum computations that lack causal order. …  ”   (¶34)

DH:  “The interface” theory predicts that physical causality is a fiction. …   (¶35)

DH:  “The fictive nature of physical causality makes it tricky to construct the elusive Theory Of Everything … We will also find that networks of neurons are among the limits for error-correcting coders.”   (¶36)

DH:  “In ITP we can visualize the link between perceptions and action in a simple diagram.”   (¶)

Don't forget this isn't about actual reality, 

it's about Hoffman's preferred algorithms and theorem 

and navigating his 'idealized' digital reality.  

- Products of Hoffman's own "Mindscape" -

Quite different from navigating the real world!

DH:  “The PDA loop is shaped by an essential feature of evolution - the fitness payoff functions. … Natural selection favors agents with PDA loops properly tuned to fitness.  For such an agent, its “perceive” arrow sends it messages about fitness, and its experience represent these messages about fitness. … It guides actions that clean enough fitness points to survive enough to rear offspring.”  (¶38)

Flimflam.  There’s a lot more going on than Hoffman is aware of.  Want to learn about natural selection, at least go to folks who study it.

Towards a mechanistic foundation of evolutionary theory

Michael Doebeli, Yaroslav Ispolatov, and Burt Simon

Published online Feb 15. 2017 - eLife Sciences

doi: 10.7554/eLife.23804

Most evolutionary thinking is based on the notion of fitness and related ideas such as fitness landscapes and evolutionary optima. Nevertheless, it is often unclear what fitness actually is, and its meaning often depends on the context. 

Here we argue that fitness should not be a basal ingredient in verbal or mathematical descriptions of evolution. 

Instead, we propose that evolutionary birth-death processes, in which individuals give birth and die at ever-changing rates, should be the basis of evolutionary theory, because such processes capture the fundamental events that generate evolutionary dynamics. …


The Evolution of Host Specialization: Are Trade-Offs Overrated?

James D. Fry - The American NaturalistVolume 148

University Chicago Press Journals

…  Search costs and other factors may oppose the evolution of specialization, but introducing trade-offs into a model does not result in a quantum jump in the strength of selection favoring specialization, and thus in the likelihood of specialization evolving, compared to the situation in which alleles that affect fitness on one host are neutral on others. 

There is therefore no justification for focusing on the qualitative presence or absence of trade-offs as the critical issue in predicting or explaining the evolution of specialization. Furthermore, the quantitative genetic data, rather than give little information on why specialization evolves, indicate that the potential for selection to favor specialization exists in many phytophagous populations.


DH:  “But in all solutions, the repertoire of experiences and actions is small compared to the complexity of the relevant fitness payoffs.  All messages about fitness that an agent perceives must compress information about fitness into a manageable size and useful format, without losing critical information.  And messages should allow an agent to find and correct errors.”   (¶41)

DH:  “This illustrates that there are multiple solution to the problem of compressing and correcting fitness messages.  We expect that natural selection has shaped a variety of solutions tailored to the vagaries of fitness and that a single organism may embody multiple solutions for its different fitness needs. …”   (¶43)

Hoffman forgets to mention, all of that is within a model universe, constructed according to his parameters.  Assuming they represent the actual physical entity is assuming too much.

Hoffman is a spokesman for a world of academia where the mathematical challenges have become objects in and of themselves.  Careers are at stake.  

Compressing evolution down to a computer game format, may help give us hints about this and that aspect, but overall it will do nothing but mislead us about the rich folds within folds of cumulative harmonic poetry that is Evolution cascading down the stream of time.

DH:  “We can see error correction in real time in the visual example shown in Fig.11.  On the left are two black disks with white cutouts . . .”   (¶44)

Then we’re back in the land of visual illusions that are a well understood byproducts of our visual system and neurons composing our perceived images from the flood of incoming information.  

There’s little mystery there, nor will you find any secret to unlocking a new and 'truer' reality within your visual system and mind.  

Pathways: From the eye to the brain

by Nathan Collins - Stanford Bio-X 

Stanford Medicine Magazine - August, 2017


The Optic Nerve And Its Visual Link To The Brain


DH:  “But now you do something radical: you entangle these lines to form a single object - a cube - and, in the process, you create a new dimension of depth.”   (¶54)

We don’t create any new 'dimension' within our minds!  We construct a mental perception.

That’s the way our brains have been conditioned to percept visual inputs.  And why?  Because we've exist within a 3D physical reality that is speeding through time for thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, billions of years unfolding one day at a time.  Now that's some heady reality and knowledge to process.  Super duper math seems like cross-word puzzle distraction next to that.  Well at least in my humble opinion.   ;-)

Hoffman refuses to appreciate the difference between perceiving and physical reality.  It’s disconcerting and baffling.

DH:  “In quanta theory work by … indicates that spacetime is woven together from threads of entanglement. …”   (¶55)

That’s all fine and good, but does it impact our living realm one way or the other? 

“Theories that have no experimentally observable consequences are philosophy, not science.”  Professor Donald Simanek

I’m all about here and now and our human desire to understand, not about fantasizing about rearranging our age old reality for kicks.  If you’re curious about the latest ideas and the progress of long running disciplined efforts for ever deeper understanding here’s a more solid introduction. 

The Biggest Ideas in the Universe | 8. Entanglement

May 12, 2020 - Sean Carroll

Adam Becker, "The Trouble with Quantum Physics, and Why It Matters”

Apr 14, 2020  -  Harvard Science Book Talks and Research Lectures

Episode 36: David Albert on Quantum Measurement and the Problems with Many-Worlds


DH:  “Another way you inflate two dimension into three is shown in figure #14. …”   (¶56)

So what?  If it interests you, check out those three talks, your mind will be grateful.*

DH:  “What do we learn from these examples of lines, squares, cubes, and spheres?  According to standard vision science, they show us how the visual system reconstructs the true shapes of real objects in an objective spacetime.

According to ITP, they show us something entirely different - how the visual system decodes messages about fitness.  There is no objective spacetime and no preexisting objects in spacetime whose true properties we try to recover.  Instead spacetime and objects are simply a coding system for messages about fitness. …”   (¶59-60)

But does any of it explain anything we don’t understand?  What advantage would Hoffman’s complications offer us for dealing with our day to days?  

Perhaps it’s merely a contrived folly?

DH:  “In short, we do not recover the true shape in three dimensions of a preexisting object - there is no such object.  Instead, we recover a message about fitness that happens to use shapes in three dimensions as a coding language.”   (¶63)

And yet, Evolution happens.  

I came across a good critique of Hoffman’s conjectures, I recommend Paul's entire review.

When evolution is not evolution

Paul P Mealing - November 13, 2016 - Journeyman Philosopher 

Review of Donald Hoffman’s academic paper titled Objects of Consciousness.

(Finishes with this.)

The point is that the authors obviously don’t ‘cling to macrophysical causation’, which I would contend creates a problem when discussing evolutionary theory. 

The point is that according to every discussion on biological evolution I’ve read, extant species are consequentially dependent on earlier species, which means there is a causal chain going back to the first eukaryota. 

If this causal chain is a ‘useful fiction’ then it is hard to see how any theory of evolution that excludes it could be called evolutionary. 

With or without this useful fiction, the authors ‘new theory’ turns evolution on its head, with conscious agents taking precedence over physical objects, including species, all of which are impermanent. 

In spite of this ontological difficulty, the authors believe that when they ‘project’ their ‘new theory’ onto the ‘species-specific interface’ of impermanent spacetime (which doesn’t exist unperceived), the old ‘standard theory of evolution’ will be found.”


DH:  “In sum, spacetime is not an ancient theater erected long before any stirrings of life.  It is a data structure that we create now to track and capture fitness payoffs. … The shape of a pear is a code that describes fitness payoffs and suggests actions I might take to ingest them.  Its distance codes my energy costs to reach it and snatch it.


Why Do We Teach 'Old Physics?' Because It Works!

Chad Orzel - April 8, 2016 - Science at Forbes 


The Never-Ending Conundrums of Classical Physics

Lee Phillips, 8/4/2014, arstechnica



We conflate spacetime and construct objects with carefully crafted shapes.  But then we add a flourish.  We paint these shapes with colors and textures.  Why?  Because colors and textures code critical data on fitness, as we will explore in the next chapter.”   (¶66-67)

Says the creative theorist, yet Earth is!  She has a story Hoffman really ought to familiarize himself with:

The History of Earth - Full Documentary HD


It will continue to be slow going, but I’ll keep plugging away at his chapters as I can and share the results of my homework assignment.  Then, when that’s done, we can see where my acquired understanding from all this work, will help me take my story.


Overview of Critical Thinking

Defense Acquisition University

What is Critical Thinking 

Critical thinking consists of three steps:

  • 1. Becoming aware that assumptions exist
  • 2. Making assumptions explicit
  • 3. Assessing their accuracy
    • Do these assumptions make sense?
    • Do these assumptions fit reality as we understand and live it?
    • Under what conditions do these assumptions seem to hold true? Under what conditions do they seem false?

Misconceptions about critical thinking

  • It is wholly a negative process-it tears down ideas and puts nothing in their place (rather it is a positive process to put things in a more realistic perspective)
  • It will lead to relativistic freeze-the inability to make commitments to people, ideas, structures. (rather commitments are informed ones.)
  • It seems to involve traumatic change-one is expected to abandon old assumptions continually. (rather: Some beliefs stay the same-they are simply more informed)
  • It is dispassionate and cold. (rather: it is highly emotive and liberating to be free of past assumptions and the anxiety of self-scrutiny)


Public notice to W.W.Norton Co and Donald Hoffman:

Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity, 

a critical review:

The Case Against Reality : 

Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes

By Donald Hoffman

Published August 13th 2019 

Publisher: W.W. Norton Company

ISBN13: 9780393254693

©all rights reserved

I hereby claim FairUse on the grounds that Donald Hoffman’s “The Case Against Reality” is part of an ongoing public dialogue which Hoffman explicitly encourages others to join.  He invited critique and I accept his challenge. 

I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, Evolutionary perspective on our “human mind” -“physical reality” interface.  

To do Hoffman’s arguments justice I’m compelled to reprint quite a few of them as I go through his book and I appreciate both W.W. Norton Company and Donald Hoffman’s understanding, and I hope for their consent.


Peter Miesler

aka citizenschallenge

email:  citizenschallenge at gmail



Cc’s Students’ Study Guide for The Case Against Reality

A critical review of, The Case Against Reality:  Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes, by Donald Hoffman, ©2019, W.W.Norton Company

I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, 
Evolutionary perspective on our Human Mind ~ Physical Reality interface.


(Titles are linked)

(1.01)  The Prelude, Prof Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity

(1.02)  Chapter 10a, Community: Network of Conscious Agents (1/3)

(1.03)  Chapter 10b, Community: Network of Conscious Agents (2/3)

(1.04)  Chapter 10c, Community: Network of Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

(1.05)  Chapter 1, Mystery: The Scalpel That Split Consciousness

(1.06)  Chapter 2, Beauty: Siren of the Gene

(1.07)  Chapter 3, Reality: Capers of the Unseen Sun

(1.08)  Chapter 4, Sensory: Fitness beats Truth

(1.09)  Chapter 5, Illusory: The Bluff of the Desktop

(1.10)  Chapter 6, Gravity: Spacetime is Doomed

(1.11)  Chapter 7, Virtuality: Inflating a Holoworld

(1.12)  Chapter 8, Polychromy: Mutations of an Interface

(1.13)  Chapter 9, Scrutiny: You Get What You Need, in Both Life and Business

(1.14)  Appendix,  Precisely: The Right to Be (Foolish)


Hoffman/Prakash’s Objects of ConsciousnessObjections and Replies

Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014

(2.01)  4/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness,  (conclusion)

(2.02)  1/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (1-12)

(2.03)  2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

(2.04)  3/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (18-21)


(3.01)  Diary - But, wait!  There's more.  Ten Learned Responses:

Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentaries, by Donald D. Hoffman, Manish Singh & Chetan Prakash" 

Psychonomic Bulletin & Reviewvolume 22, pages1551–1576(2015)


We propose that selection favors nonveridical perceptions that are tuned to fitness. Current textbooks assert, to the contrary, that perception is useful because, in the normal case, it is veridical. Intuition, both lay and expert, clearly sides with the textbooks. We thus expected that some commentators would reject our proposal and provide counterarguments that could stimulate a productive debate. … (HSP)


(3.02)  Barton Anderson - Where does fitness fit in theories of perception? 


(3.03)  Jonathan Cohen - Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception. 


(3.04)  Shimon Edelman - Varieties of perceptual truth and their possible evolutionary roots. 


(3.05)  Jacob Feldman - Bayesian inference and “truth”: a comment on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash. 


(3.06)  Chris Fields -Reverse engineering the world: a commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, “The interface theory of perception”. 


(3.07)  Jan Koenderink - Esse est Percipi & Verum est Factum. 


(3.08)  Rainer Mausfeld - Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception. 


(3.09)  Brian P. McLaughlin and E. J. Green Are icons sense data


(3.10)  Zygmunt Pizlo - Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash. 


(3.11)  Matthew Schlesinger Interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more. 



Student Resources - Background info:

(4.01)  Rainer Mausfeld: ‘Truth’ has no role in explanatory accounts of perception.

(4.02)  Paul Mealing: considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness.”

(4.03)  The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One

(4.04)  Sabine Hossenfelder: in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality

(4.05)  "Emergence" - A Handy Summary and Resources

(4.06)  Physical Origins of Mind: Dr. SiegelAllen Institute Brain Science, Tononi, Koch.

(4.07)  Can you trust Frontiers in Psychology research papers?  Student Resource

(4.08)  Critical Thinking Skills - In Defense of Reality - A Student Resource

(4.09)  Philo+Sophia - Love of Wisdom - A Student Resource


(5.01)    Summary, 

explaining why I've pursued this project.


Dr. Mark Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, while incidentally highlighting why Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” are luftgeschäft. 

(6.01)  Dr. Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers' "Hard Problem" of Consciousness.

(6.02)  The Other Side of Mark Solms PhD, farmer, vintner, humanitarian.

(6.03)  Students’ Resource: A representative cross-section of Dr. Mark Solms' scientific publications.


My homemade philosophical underpinnings.

(7.01)    An Alternative Philosophical Perspective - “Earth Centrism

(7.02)   Appreciating the Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide

(7.03)   Being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution

(7.04)   It’s not a “Body-Mind problem” it’s an “Ego-God problem.”

Feel free to copy and share

Email: citizenschallenge  gmail  com


Students Introduction to Reality Based Brain/Consciousness Research

The Mind as a Complex Mathematical System with Emergent Properties, Daniel Siegel

A Scientific Explanation of the Human Mind | Daniel Siegel

Dan Siegel: The Neurological Basis of Behavior, Mind, Brain and Human Relationships, Part 1 to 3 

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

Consciousness: here, there and everywhere?  Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch

Video, Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, Dr. Christof Koch,

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Allen Brain Observatory: Visualizing the brain in action

Allen Cell Types Database: Understanding the fundamental building blocks of the brain

Allen Institute for Brain Science,  Coding & Vision 101, 12-part undergraduate-level lecture series

Brain Expansion Microscopy, Harvard Medical School,

Lattice light-sheet microscopy

Gut bacteria and mind control: to fix your brain, fix your gut!

New center advances biomedical and brain imagingUniversity of Delaware,

Stunning Brain Map Reveals Tiny Communication Network

Brain Research: New Discoveries and Breakthroughs at UC Davis


Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.


Ecological approaches to perceptual learning: learning to perceive and perceiving as learning

Agnes SzokolszkyCatherine ReadZsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019

The Essential Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Eric P. Charles, 2017,

The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens

Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020

The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates, March 21, 2018 

Evolutionary Specialization of Tactile Perception in Vertebrates

Eve R. SchneiderElena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016

Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000

The evolution of modern human brain shape

Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:

Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System

Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.

Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology

By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75

Ch.17. A Hierarchical Model of the Evolution of Human Brain Specializations

H. Clark Barrett

Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017


The bottom line:

Mysteries of Modern Physics by Sean Carroll

Jan 29, 2020  -  Darwin College Lecture Series

Sean Carroll,  10:45

. . .  these are the particles that make up you and this table and me and this laptop and really everything that you have ever seen with your eyes touched with your fingers smelled with your nose in your life. 

Furthermore we know how they interact with each other and even better than that, the most impressive fact is that there will not be a discovery tomorrow or next century or a million years from now which says you know what there was another particle or another force that we didn't know about but now we realize plays a crucial role in our everyday life. 

As far as our everyday life is concerned by which I really mean what you can see with your eyes touch with your hands etc we’redone finding the underlying ingredients. That is an enormous achievement in human history one that does not get enough credit, because of course as soon as we do it we go on to the next thing.  

Physics is not done.  I'm not saying that physics is done, but physics has understood certain things and those things include everything you encounter in your everyday life - unless you're a professional experimental physicist or unless you're looking of course outside our everyday life at the universe and other places where we don't know what’s going on. … 

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