Saturday, November 28, 2020

Prof Hoffman #10b - Community - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (2/3)

Case Against Reality:  “I have touted the virtue of precision in a theory of consciousness. …”    (Chapter ten, ¶39)

Citizenschallenge:  Precisely modeling one’s idea is one thing, accurately reflecting Earth, evolution, human nature, is another.  

Hoffman’s Case Against Reality is a philosophical/religious thesis, removed from actual nature and physical reality.  Hoffmanian Conscious Agents offer nothing to observe, and nothing that can ever be tested, beyond computer games.  

The book was a disappointment with little to enhance current neurological, physical, or psychological understanding.  It is marketable intellectual entertainment for the sci-fi, woo loving crowd.  

To me, it's a splendid example of the sort of fame and fortune seeking hubristic follies that helped create today’s willfully ignorant populous, which in turn enabled the current political degeneration, along with all its horrendous cascading consequences of late.

I’m trying hard to enunciate my thoughts in as coherent and concise a manner as I can.  This is because I want to be one of the many many ‘Children Of The Intellectual Enlightenment' who are needed to stand up for rational sober science; people willing to advocate for respect of the reality of our three dimensions and time; for the fact that matter is substantial and can be measured with astounding accuracy and repeatedly, etc., etc.  That serious good-faith science deserves to be respected and trusted.  

I’m just an attentive life long spectator, self-schooled and nearing my end, knowing a fraction of what serious students know.  Where are you??   This is my workbook and you are welcome to use any of it, respecting original sources.  I'm hoping some might find a little inspiration.  

Engage to do something to confront the creeping disconnect from Physical Reality and contempt for science that’s infecting so many people out there.  

Show ‘em you have Soul, the kind that emerges out of grasping deep time and Earth’s Evolution through the lens of science.  


Donald Hoffman tells us

Conscious realism is a non-physicalist monism.” 

 Lets unpack that:

In ontology and the philosophy of mind, a non-physical entity is a spirit or being that exists outside physical reality. Their existence divides the philosophical school of physicalism from the schools of idealism and dualism; with the latter schools holding that they can exist and the former holding that they cannot. If one posits that non-physical entities can exist, there exist further debates as to their inherent natures and their position relative to physical entities. [WIKI]   It get's over complicated, see here.

In other words, by his own definitions Hoffman’s “Case Against Reality” is a non-physical “reality”.  Namely, an abstract meta-physical idea and beyond the reach of empirical science.

Hoffman claims his mathematical rigor makes it science.  But, he forgets that serious science (as opposed to science fiction) also requires observation, measurement, evidence and facts.  

Rigorous mathematics without such physical touchstones, amounts to a self-indulgent head-game, one that has more in common with religious desires, than natural sciences.

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

chapter 10b, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents

DH:  “Conscious realism is not panpsychism.  (¶32)

Regarding Panpsychism,

Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. …

And whilst physicalism offers a simple and unified vision of the world, this is arguably at the cost of being unable to give a satisfactory account of the emergence of human and animal consciousness. 

It occurs to me, that fundamentally what all this is about, is us humans choosing to feel unhappy and cheated because we haven’t figured out everything yet.  

Perhaps understandable given our human gluttony for nonstop bigger and better - but that doesn’t make it a wise choice.  

A simple guy like me wonders why other’s find it so difficult to live with a bit of mystery while focusing on appreciating the complexities we’ve come to understand.

Why is not knowing every last detail presented as some crisis?  It seems contrived.  

We’ve discovered so much about this planet, its biosphere, it’s creatures and ourselves, so fast, most people don’t have a clue about a fraction of the fascinating evolutionary stories that scientists have learned about, and how they directly reflect on who and what we are today.  That's the stuff worth studying.  

What terrifies me is how many couldn’t care less about their own home planet, or how it came into being.  Deep time is filled with scientific wonders enough for all the mystical experiences one I could wish for.  While remaining within the bounds of understood physical facts.  

Why not slow down to absorb the amazing knowledge we’ve gained this past century, instead of constantly outrunning our headlights?

Biology is all about increasing complexity and efficiency, given good conditions and time, emergent properties are inevitable!  No way to get around it.   

DH:  “But as we shift our gaze again, from a chimp to a cat, then to a mouse, an ant, a bacterium, virus, rock, molecules, atom, and quark, each a successive icon that appears in our interface tells us less and less about the efflorescence of conscious behind the icon - again “behind” in the same sense that a file lies “behind” it’s desktop icon …”   (¶36)

Hoffman’s writes of scientific exactitude.  Let’s consider his “icons.”  

An “icon” is an image representing something else.  Which is fine for the optical reflection in that mirror, it contains no substance of said person.  

When looking at a real person, a more helpful term would be “facade.”  Their exterior appearance, since the substance is within the person you are looking at, and not somewhere else, as with a reflection.

Efflorescence” is out of place for a different reason.  

Efflorescence is a French term meaning "to flower out.”  It’s used to describe the migration of salts to the surface of a porous material, where it forms a coating. 

It undercuts Hoffman’s notion of outside Conscious Agents, since the term acknowledges that what we see on the surface comes from the substance inside of said object, or creature.    

DH:  “… With our ant, our icon reveals so little that even Goodall could not, we suspect, probe its conscious world. …”   (¶36)

Why Jane Goodall a gorilla expert?  Why not E.O. Wilson?  I know he’d be able to share some amazing insights into that ant’s conscious world.

This brings up another weakness in Hoffman’s all pervading Conscious Agents.  What about learning and accumulating knowledge?  Where does that get stored?

How would these Hoffmanian Conscious Agents manifest learning, experiences, or memory?  Do they take up residence in a host?  Where, how, can we observe them in order to do the science?

How do they stop and go, to interact with living brains?

DH:  “(regarding physicalism)  We have been taken in.  

Taken in by sober rigorous open science? 

This is why I’m angry at Hoffman and his cynical disingenuous game and the lazy uppity audience that demands such intellectual entertainment and pipe-dreams and mistake them for reality, rather than focusing on the realities of our Earth.

If he wants to write science fiction, who cares?  I don’t.  

But, to so cavalierly dismiss, nay shit on, physicalism, emergent properties and serious natural sciences, along with the reality of Evolution, that I take umbrage at.  

I’m convinced such artfully contrived, ego driven, insults against sober constructive science must be confronted.  

Where's the people who agree?                                                          


DH:  “We have mistaken the limits of our interface for an insight into reality.  We have finite capacities of perception and memory.  But we are embedded in an infinite network of conscious agents whose complexity exceeds our finite capacities.  So our interface must ignore all but a sliver of the complexity.”   (¶37)

Seems like another case of looking through the wrong end of the microscope.

Learning what to ignore?  Seriously?  Where is the intuitive logic in that?  

Survival is a matter of weighing evidence and learning the respective importance of what you observe.  Focusing on most important things first.  

It’s a matter of winnowing for the grain and allowing the chaff to fall away in the breeze.

Another helpful analogy, when losing control of your vehicle on a snowy forested road, never ever let your eyes fixate on that tree you know you must avoid.  Or you’re going to hit it.  

In the same vein I’ve heard a fun story about Niels Bohr, that underscores a similar message.  Long story short, the Nobel Laureate once conjectured about western duels and why the first person to draw inevitably losses in an equally matched duel.  During a duel, the intentional act of drawing and shooting is slower to carry out than the “quick draw” response to the other gun being drawn.   

Thanks to our acute sense of time and focus on what’s important.  Reflexes beat the coming threat, no time for sweating the small stuff.  

For that sliver, it must deploy its capacities judiciously … Hence our decline of insights as we shift our gaze from human to ant to quark.  Our decline of insight should not be mistaken for an insight in decline - a progressive poverty inherent in objective realty.  

“A progressive poverty inherent in objective realty” - to me, this sounds like madness.  

There may be a progressive poverty in the receiver’s knowledge, understanding, awareness, interest.  There is no poverty in the physical magnificence and ingenuity of Earth’s creatures, great and small.  

The decline is in our interface, in our perception.  

But, we externalize it; we pin it on reality.  

Then we reject from this erroneous reifications an ontology of physicalism.   (¶37)

Physicalism, gravity, atoms, molecules, structures, substances, “laws of nature” these are not “reified!”  Atoms, molecules don’t wink on and off, you need to go down to unimaginable Planck scales for such tricks.

No amount of wishful thinking changes that underlying truth.

Physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on the physical. … Of course, physicalists don't deny that the world might contain many items that at first glance don't seem physical — items of a biological, or psychological, or moral, or social nature. But they insist nevertheless that at the end of the day such items are either physical or supervene on the physical.  (


DH:  “Conscious realism pins the decline where it belongs - on our interface, not on an unconscious objective realty. …     ”   (¶38)

“Unconscious objective realty” - The building blocks of nature may be unconscious, but accumulating complexity breeds emergent properties, such as biology.  

Accumulating biological complexity breeds the emergence of consciousness in accordance with said creature’s abilities and environment.  

A certain kind of awareness was needed within the first complex living organism that figured out now to colonize into cell structures over three billion years ago.  

Consciousness, awareness, is a spectrum and not a particular quality.

Hoffman rejects that, instead conjuring Conscious Realism which is described as a non-physicalist monism which holds that consciousness is the primary reality and the physical world emerges from consciousness.  

In other words, Hoffman has left science and crossed over into the realm of religion, using mathematical theorems and their proofs as his vehicle.

DH:  “The face I see in a mirror, being an icon, is not itself conscious experience.  But behind the icon flourishes, I know firsthand, a living world of conscious experiences. …”   (¶38)

Actually professor Hoffman, the face in the mirror is photon’s bouncing off a silvered surface!  Yes, that image is an icon of a person.  An icon being a representation of something else.

However, when we perceive a real person, or creature, that would be a ”facade” we’re perceiving through our particular perceptual-lens.  

DH:  “I have touted the virtue of precision in a theory of consciousness. …”    (¶39)

Precisely modeling one’s idea is one thing, accurately reflecting nature is another.  

Hoffman’s Case Against Reality is a philosophical/religious thesis, removed from nature.  

Nothing to observe; nothing that can ever be tested; nothing to enhance current neurological, physics, or psychological understanding.   

“It’s time to add some precision to the theory of conscious agents.  Let’s leave the mathematical definition of a conscious agent to the appendix.  But behind the mathematical definition are simple intuitions.”   (¶39)

Next paragraph is about two conscious agents and a gambling game. 

DH:  To bet wisely, you must know the menu options. …   (¶41)

“A conscious agent needs a menu of actions, and a menu of the experiences that may follow.  

In mathematics, such a menu is called measurable space

It is the minimal structure you need to discuss probabilities such as the probability that Seabiscuit will win.  So the menu of actions and experiences of a conscious agent are measurable spaces.  That’s it nothing else.

This is the minimal structure required to allow the theory of conscious agents to be testable by experiments.  If we could not describe probabilities of experiences and actions, we could not make empirical predictions from the theory.  We could not do science.”   (¶42)

Perhaps it’s mathematical science, but it’s surely not natural sciences.  Getting dinner isn’t as simple as betting on a horse, binary games, or pulling up a menu.

DH:  “A conscious agent is dynamic: 

       it perceives, 


                     and acts. 

When a conscious agent perceives, 

                            its experiences often changes; 

                                   when it decides; 

                                          its actions often changes; 

                                                 earn it acts, 

                                                        the experiences of the agents often change. 

Dynamics is conditional change. … Each new experience invites a new plan of action.  

In mathspeak, such a conditional change is a Markovian kernel.  

The dynamics of a conscious agent - perceive, decide, and act - is, in each case, a Markovian kernel.  

Again, that’s it.”   (¶43)

Early on in this book I started felling a religious undercurrent within Hoffman’s words.  Now I looked up Markovian Kernels to get a better idea about what they are supposed be - lo and behold, look at what I found: 

Advanced Data Analysis from an Elementary Point of View

by Cosma Rohilla Shalizi

Markov Processes - Chapter 9

“There are two routes to the Markov property. One is the path followed by Markov himself, of desiring to weaken the assumption of strict statistical independence between variables to mere conditional independence. 

In fact, Markov specifically wanted to show that independence was not a necessary condition for the law of large numbers to hold, because his arch-enemy claimed that it was, and used that as grounds for believing in free will and Christianity.  …”

I don’t pretend to understand the math, but I do comprehend the above sentence,  at Hoffman’s level, philosophical math has become more religion than natural sciences. 

In sum, a conscious agent has experiences and actions, which are menus (measurable space).  It perceives, decides, and acts, which are conditional changes (Markovian kernels).  And it counts how many experiences it has had.  

How would a dimensionless Hoffmanian Conscious Agent, perceive, process and store it’s data? 

That’s the entire definition of a conscious agent.  It is, a mathematician would assure you, a simple bit of math.”   (¶44)

Still, lets not forget, it’s never been observed because it only exists within computers.

DH:  “But, you might object, ‘this math can also describe mechanical agents that are unconscious.  So it says nothing about consciousness.

This objection is a simple mistake.  … Measurable spaces can describe unconscious events, such as a flips of a coin. But they can also describe conscious events, such as experiences of taste and color.  Probabilities and Markovian kernels can describe blind chance and unconscious decisions, but also free will and conscious deliberation.”    (¶45, 46)

DH:  “The definition of a conscious agent is just math.  Math is not the territory.

The “Map v Territory Problem” deserves more than a moment’s lip service.  

Just as mathematical model of weather is not, and cannot create, blizzards and droughts, so also the mathematical model of conscious agents is not, and cannot create, consciousness.  

So with this proviso, I offer a bold thesis, The Conscious Agent Thesis: every aspect of consciousness can be modeled by conscious agents.”   (¶47)

Bold thesis, I’ll say, damning physicalism with something that’s never been observed. 

DH:  “The definition of conscious agent is precise, and this thesis is bold - not because I know it is right, but because I want to discover where, precisely, it may be wrong and if possible, to repair the defect.  

This is standard procedure in science: present a clear theory, paint a big target, and hope that a gifted colleagues will try, by logic and experiment, to shoot it down.  Where a shot hits the mark, try to improve the theory.”   (¶48)

Nice introduction, but what do we get?

DH:  “A theory must suffer the slings and arrows of opponents . . .”   

Here are some virtues of conscious agents.  They are computationally universal: networks of conscious agents can perform any cognitive 

or perceptual task, including 



                     problem solving, and 

                            object recognition.

Several such networks have been constructed, and offer an alternative to traditional neural networks.(21)  …”   (¶49)  

Here again, we need to be clear, Hoffman is discussing theoretical jazz: Eigenforms, Interfaces and Holographic Encoding.  

Hoffman’s neural networks are not biological, they are digital systems that only very roughly model the neurons in a brain.  They have little to do with understanding actual living biological neural networks, or the rules they live by.  Especially not when employed with the intention of folding god into science.

Hoffman up’s his bet by invoking a fundamental universal consciousness, aka God.  

There’s nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I’m convinced a vague sense of something bigger behind all we’ve learned is an all too natural and human response to the incredible complexities we’ve discovered.  But, don’t call it science!  

Appreciate it for what it is, spiritual, metaphysical, soothing to your spirit and sense of self and place in the world, but don’t call it science!  

Both sensibilities can be honored, but lets keep a healthy perspective of the divide between them.

DH:  “Conscious agents offer a promising new framework for the construction of theories in cognitive neuro-science.  This framework does not assume that biological neurons and their networks are the building blocks of cognition.  Instead it takes consciousness as a fundamental and then has the task of showing how spacetime, matter, and neurology can emerge as components of the perceptual interface of certain conscious agents.”   (¶49)

Rather than one universal conscious agent, he’s imagining an infinite number of Hoffmanian Conscious Agents, God’s little helpers.  

Oh and just as with god, there’s no physical evidence, lot of suppositions born within the hearts of longing humans and their never ending desire for simple satisfying answers, along with a constant demand for novelty, something bigger and better and more fascinating than what we already know.

DH:  “Conscious agents can combine to form new conscious agents, and these new agents can again combine to form yet higher agents, ad infinitum. …”  (¶50)

DH:  “The decisions of a conscious agent have a contribution by that agent at its own level, plus contributions from the decisions of the agent in its instantiation.  The decision of an agent at its own level may correspond to Daniel Kahneman’s “System 2” decisions, which are explicit and effortful, and the decisions further down in it’s instantiation may  correspond to Kahneman’s “system 1” decisions, which appear more emotional, attitudinal, and automatic…”   (¶51)

All this, coming out of non-dimensional Hoffmanian Conscious Agents?

DH:  “Combining agents into more complex agents can proceed ad infinitum, but unpacking agent into systems of simpler agents cannot.  There is a bottom . . . Here, at the foundation of (Hoffmanian) agents, we can hope to connect with the foundations of spacetime, with physics at the Planck scale, and discern just how agent boot up a spacetime desktop.”   (¶52)  

Discern the boot strapping up from the Planck scale to the desktop of spacetime? 

Delusions of grandeur come to mind.  As does, hubris runamok.  This seems more about feeding our vanity than anything.  

Want to learn about nature or the reality we live within, study “wet” evolution.  Rather than realms that are only open to philosophers and dreamers with their ad hoc mathematical inventions.  Incidentally,

The Planck length is 1.6x10-35 metres. (= 0.000000000000000000000000000000000016 meters.) 

For some perspective an atom (at about one ångström = 1x10-10), is already about 100,000 times smaller than can be seen with your unaided eye.  A lousy proton is about 100 million trillion times larger than the Planck length.


DH:  “The interface theory of perception contend that there is a screen - an interface - between us and objective reality.  Can we hope to pierce the screen and see objective reality?  Conscious realism says yes: we have met reality and it is like us.  We are conscious agents, and so is objective reality. …”    (¶53)  

I’m getting tired of hearing my own thoughts, so will turn to Patrick Alexander who’s January 4, 2020 critique resonated with me. "Review of The Case Against Reality".

One of the hidden assumptions here is that there is a representation of reality that is simply true in itself. We should think seriously about that assumption, instead of just gliding over it as Hoffman does. 

Hoffman repeatedly brings up the computer desktop as an analogy. The icon representing a file doesn’t have the same properties as the file itself. Ah, but what are the properties of the file itself? Hoffman never gives a clear answer. 

In the book, at one point he says that the icon is there to “spare you tiresome details on transistors, voltages, magnetic fields, logic gates, binary codes, and gigabytes of software”. 

There are several different levels of abstraction, coming from different interpretive frameworks, lumped together in that list! And it is not exhaustive. …

Hoffman refers to the real nature of the file, in contrast to the icon, as “transistors and software”, and says that the icon might be fine for your average user who just wants to click on something and have the file open, but would not suffice for the programmer trying to design user interfaces. 

So, we don’t know what the properties of the file are, and on the other side of the analogy we never really learn from Hoffman what the true structure of reality is. 

The answer he gives on the last point is that consciousness is the true structure of reality. This is kind of a perfectly wrong answer–it pops in without any positive argument in its favor, it undermines everything that came before, and it doesn’t clarify anything. 

I’m left without any coherent idea of what Hoffman is trying to say. 

Perhaps there is some set of mental contortions that would get me there, but the only reason to pursue it at this point would be the sunk cost fallacy. 

My effort hasn’t paid off yet, but maybe this time! OK, so let’s just leave that aside. Instead, let’s think about what a representation is. …

(I encourage you to read the entire review)


DH:  “I am proposing a new ontology, and with it a new notion of objective reality in which (Hoffmanian) conscious agents, with their experiences and structure, are central.”   (¶55)

Conscious realism says that, despite our limits of imagination, a science of objective reality, of conscious agents and their interactions, is indeed possible. …”   (¶56)

Huge Reynolds also nails it.

A review of The Case Against Reality: How Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes by Donald D Hoffman - Hugh D Reynolds  -  Aug 8, 2019

“… Even as the very fabric of reality is being torn into tatters by Hoffman, he’s sure that consumerist fashions will continue to flourish.”

“… The view is that it is our observation of, and interaction with the universe, that makes stuff exist. Information processes, rather than particles and space–time structures, are fundamental. While the audacity of such theories is recognized throughout the book, opposing positions aren’t.”

“… Read as a primer on the foundations of physics, these chapters are rewarding. Where I began to struggle was in understanding how that physics marries up with Hoffman’s work in cognitive science. It feels like Hoffman is pushing an analogy into an unjustified sameness. …”

“Hoffman wants it both ways: drawing heavily on physics to undermine perceived reality, he rejects physicalism – the view that, at root, everything is physical. In its place he posits a radical proposal: consciousness itself is fundamental, something that “just is”, rather than something that needs explaining in terms of other things. 

This is a cunning move, but it fails to respect the peculiarity of platforms on which cognitive processes are performed. …”


DH:  “We can concretely imagine a space with at most three dimensions, …

The reason is, that’s all creatures have experienced during 600,000,000 years of existence unfolded within a three dimensional reality, one day at a time.  Excepting Time, further dimensions are the domain of mathematical formulas and the muses within our human minds.

but scientists routinely employ spaces with more dimensions, spaces that stump our imagination. …”

Yes, they stump our imagination.  Because they don’t exist within our realm!

Those extra dimensions only exist within theoretical computer models and the imagination of theorists, mathematical wizards and writers.

Not, within the realm of our macroscopic Earthly existence, were it’s still the same old three dimensions moving through time!  Same as it ever was and ever will be.

Furthermore, should extra dimensions exist down at the Planck scale, they’ve existed there since forever, and have long been lost in the sauce of our macroscopic spacetime reality. 

DH:  “ITP and conscious realism reframe the classic problem of the relation between the brain and conscious experience. …(¶56)

One more,

Book Review: The Case Against Reality by Donald Hoffman

Pumpjack - March 9, 2020  

… Hoffman began building a case about how objective reality doesn’t exist — the thrust of the book. …

(¶17) This is where he lost me. Interpretation of the data structure — and even quantifying that interaction — may require consciousness, but the objects do not. They exist for our interpretation to find and classify. A human, a gorilla, a fruit fly and a bacterium may all “code” the pear differently — but we arrive at that point in space time, possibly simultaneously, drawn by the thing we’re coding and our unique interfaces. 

Do we have a shared understating of reality? Of course not. Does it matter? Not at all. 

Does the pear cease to exist without our coding? Of course not. Only the pear as we THINK it exists ceases to exist. 

The power of words, even in the hands of a knowledgeable expert and talented enough writer, shrink from the task of capturing this complexity, 

but it’s the height of intellectual arrogance and narcissism to think that somehow human brains are required to create reality.

And in fact, he doesn’t even believe his own thesis.

“I love my cat and enjoy my car. But I don’t believe they exist if unperceived. Something exists. Whatever that something is, it triggers my sense to acquire a coded message about fitness in an idiom of cats, cars and burgers—the parlance of my interface. That vernacular is simply inappropriate to describe objective reality.”

“Something exists.” Those two words undercut EVERYTHING else he says, no matter the arcane terminology he uses. And he uses a lot.

When it’s all said and done, this book offers an interesting look at how we unscramble and use visual cues to navigate through the world but nothing new about reality or even consciousness. 

It should be clear to all of us that we see “reality” differently from each other, and differently from all perceiving things. It should also be clear that, even though that reality is hard to pin down, there is a “there” there. …


DH:  “… When we peer further into each neuron, and then into its chemistry and finally into its physics, crude insight lapses into none.

Of course, because at that point we’ve entered another reality and left ours far behind!  

Still it’s an ironic point for Hoffman to make, considering he’s the guy suggesting that answers are to be found down at the vanishing point of the Planck scale. 

A reminder about the Planck scale of reality, the Planck length is1.6 x 10-35meter.

The size of an atom is ~1 Ångström ( 1 x 10-10) and it’s about 100,000 times smaller than can be seen with your unaided eye, and it’s not even a third of the way to the Planck scale.


Chapter 10 has been a challenge and I’ve had to split it into three parts.  I admit for all the deep thinking I do about Earth’s evolutionary dance between biology and geology, I’ve only had a sporadic passing interest in philosophy, because it so often devolves into self-indulgent egotistical gobbledygook that's of zero value in our real day to days. 

This chapter forced me to spend time doing a lot of internet searching and reading and becoming at least superficially familiar with the ideas behind these varied notions.  The better I understand what’s being said, the less I’m unimpressed.

I’ve found that learning through science and observing nature is a much better guide to grasping reality, than all the lofty machinations human minds with too much time on their hands, and too little appreciation for Earth’s biosphere and creatures, are capable of.

I will keep plugging away at the Case Against Reality and share the results of my efforts.  When that’s done, we’ll consider a more rational down to Earth way of looking at our human condition, along with the physical reality we are embedded within, along with our brain and the consciousness we perceive it with.


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. … 

1 comment:

  1. For me, this quote sums up the theme, "Humans would do better to slow down and absorb what scientists have learned and stop pretending we can make it up as we go along!"