Hoffman starts chapter nine by repeating his drill:
DH: “Our sense forage for fitness, not truth. They dispatch news about fitness payoffs: how to find them, get them, and keep them.
Keep in mind, this according to a theorem that plays out in an idealized mathematical universe of Hoffman’s design. Not in our real universe ! ! !
DH: “Despite their focus on fitness our senses confront a tsunami of information. …” (¶1-2)
All that Hoffman reduces to simplistic four-square games with ill defined terms such as “fitness” - “truth” - “hawk” - “dove” - terms that are fundamentally meaningless when it comes to actual evolution on Earth with it’s constant tsunami of information coming at us.
A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, chapter 9, Scrutiny,
You Get What You Need, in Both LIfe and Business
As I’ve worked on this project searching out respectable information and following leads. I’ve been amazed by how much presence Hoffman’s Case Against Reality has attainted on the internet. He truly is a marketing genius.
Seems that many people think this Case Against Reality is fascinating. Time is doomed. Man, how cool is that?!
Me, I’m left wondering, what drives such a desire for this sort of vacuous escapism?
DH: “For those readers interested in marketing and business, this idea applies to visual advertising. The goal of successful advertising is not merely, and sometimes not even, to present important facts. It is to craft visual message that rivets the foraging eye of the typical shopper. …” (¶12)
Here Professor Hoffman speaks volumes about his focus, bias and the filter through which he sees the world. Consumer Marketing.
Watch as you go through this chapter, (I hope you have your copy, because I’m fast forwarding through most of it, because it’s irrelevant to his Case Against Reality) Hoffman uses Darwinian Evolution to explain various aspects of advertising strategies to attract attention.
Nothing wrong with that, where he gets dicey is applying advertising lessons to speculations about Evolution over deep time - without ever actually knowing anything about ‘wet’ evolution - as opposed to digitized evolutionary models.
What Hoffman keeps going on about is nothing but computer game simulations, all the way down. Why should we be impressed?
DH: “Managing the power of pop out is critical to success in advertising. …” (¶16)
From there it’s on to window displays and distractions, focusing attention, iPod ad campaign, how we group information and take shortcuts.
Lot of paragraphs on grouping, and data compression. Along with an occasional gem.
DH: “Attention is yanked by exogenous cues, but it can be bridled to track endogenous goals. …” (¶27)
Then tigers and apples are brought in to underscore the importance of relatively accurate perception of the fitness-points we are after.
From there on to a few specific change-blindness trials.
At ¶37 evolution gets invoked for a moment. Then it’s back to modern times.
DH: “We can exploit these ancient strategies to design modern marketing. Suppose you sell soap in an orange bottle …” (¶38)
DH: “The logic of evolution suggest a better strategy. It takes time to verify that what you see …
If you take too much time on verification, you may fail to act in time to catch a meal, or to avoid becoming one. So natural selection favors shortcuts: anything remotely like an eye wins attention, if only briefly.” (¶42)
There are many ways to describe the same situation. Some more helpful than others.
DH: “This opens a world of possibilities, now largely untapped, for disruptive innovations in marketing and advertising. …” (¶44)
What this has to do with Evolution on Earth and the fact of atoms and physical reality - is never made clear.
I’m sharing these gems because I want to underscore Hoffman’s expertise and passion for advertising.
DH: “These are examples of “supernormal stimuli,” Evolution shapes the perceptions of an organism of track fitness - not truth - as cheaply as possible given the demands of its niche. …” (¶46)
DH: “The implications for marketing are clear. …” (¶47)
DH: “Standard account of attention assume that objective reality consists of cats, cars, and other physical objects in space and time, and that attention directs us to look at, and to accurately perceive, these preexisting objects This assumption is false. Cats and cars are messages about fitness in the sensory interface of Homo sapiens. …” (¶61)
Repeating it doesn’t make it so! Besides this is philosophy and storytelling, not natural science!
Hoffman never tells us about how conscious agents could enable evolution?
Or, how could we be here without evolution?
Or, how could evolution have happened without atoms being real stuff?
Newton’s laws were not nullified by Einstein’s more detailed understanding and quantum physics!
Likewise, anything new and surprising we may learn down within the quantum realm, will exist within the already well understood confines of the physical reality Einstein and Newton (and pals) deciphered and enunciated for us long ago.
Hoffman is pulling your leg, he is an agent of confusion and self-promotion.
DH: “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.
Hoffman is simply playing an age old philosophical game that will never be resolved. His version is dressed up in sciencie garb, but never reaches beyond. Just another dog chasing tail argument.
DH: “I love the sun and don’t want to part with my neurons. But I don’t believe the sun existed before there were creatures to perceive it, or that my neurons exist if unperceived. Star and neurons are just icons in the spacetime desktop of my perceptual interface.” (¶63-64)
What a vast wasteland of empty existence Hoffman invites us into.
Basically, Hoffman assures us, that a post card pretending to be our pageant of life on Earth, pops into existence for our benefit? And we’re supposed to be satisfied with that?
What’s wrong with recognizing physicality for what it is?
A Big Bang of sorts, universal expansion, condensation of material that evolved into atoms and molecules, photons, along with a host of other interesting entities.
Then billions of years worth of galaxy and star formations.
Exploding stars that seeded the universe with a variety of heavier atoms, produced from the original hydrogen and helium building blocks that permeated the early universe.
Generations upon generations of dust getting collected and then reprocessed into new clouds and stars, then exploding in novas that spread a new generation of reprocessed star dust and heavier elements, and over again.
Then solar systems and planets. A billion tosses of the dice.
Then there was one place with just the right stuff, and it became more.
Not only did life happen, but it hung on. Then, circumstance lined up, good luck, bad luck, good luck, things evolved. Simple cells that spent over a billion years figuring it out (while reprocessing some of Earth’s elements) and doing fine.
Circumstance continued to conspire, by and by, conditions became more nurturing to those simple cells. The environment having changed and enriched in many ways over the eons, invited something big to happen and it did. It exploded into life most exuberant and imaginative.
Time worked to sort out the rest. Evolution is accumulated change over time. It really is that simple. That natural.
I possess a visceral awareness that within my blood and genes, I have little snippets that are the direct ancestors of molecular snippets millions and yes, billions of years ago. These snippets figured out this and that trick to accomplish one particular essential task task or another.
Mindscape 88 | Neil Shubin on Evolution, Genes, and Dramatic Transitions
Sean Carroll - March 16, 2020
“What good is half a wing?” That’s the rhetorical question often asked by people who have trouble accepting Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Of course it’s a very answerable question, but figuring out what exactly the answer is leads us to some fascinating biology. Neil Shubin should know: he is the co-discoverer of Tiktaalik Roseae, an ancient species of fish that was in the process of learning to walk and breathe on land. We talk about how these major transitions happen — typically when evolution finds a way to re-purpose existing organs into new roles — and how we can learn about them by studying living creatures and the information contained in their genomes.
Neil Shubin received his Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University. He is currently the the Robert Bensley Distinguished Service Professor and Associate Dean of Biological Sciences at the University of Chicago. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical society. His first book, Your Inner Fish, was chosen by the National Academy of Sciences as the best science book of 2009, and was subsequently made into a TV special. His new book is Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA.
Our bodies possess many, many strands that have been getting handed down for hundreds of millions and billions of years. Now that’s something to spend a little time pondering and glorying in!
DH: “The reason that my perceptions can’t show me the truth, can’t show me the sun-in-itself, is that the sun-in-itself is shrouded by a cloud of fitness pay-offs.
This cloud determines my fate and the kismet of my genes. …” (¶66)
This is more like religion and philosophy, it’s certainly not scientific, nor honest. Then as if on cue “Kismet” comes along, l look it up:
Kismet means fate or destiny. In Islam, kismet refers to the will of Allah. But it is popularly used to refer to something that one believes was “meant to be”—or the reason why such a thing happened.
As for that cloud. What cloud is Hoffman referring to? Perhaps:
The Cloud of Unknowing an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer in the late Middle Ages.
The underlying message of this work suggests that the way to know God is to abandon consideration of God's particular activities and attributes, and be courageous enough to surrender one's mind and ego to the realm of "unknowing", at which point one may begin to glimpse the nature of God. ;-)
DH: “Our perceptions of objects in space-time are not objective reality - the thing-in-itself - nor do they describe it.
Does this mean that objective reality is forever beyond the reach of science? Not necessarily.” (¶67)
So glib. No, understanding isn’t beyond our abilities, but it does require some homework. Here’s an introduction to one aspect
Mindscape 117 | Sean B. Carroll on Randomness and the Course of Evolution
Sean Carroll - Oct 5, 2020
Evolution is a messy business, involving as it does selection pressures, mutations, genetic drift, and the effects of random external interventions. So in the end, how much of it is predictable, and how much is in the hands of chance? Today we’re thrilled to have as a guest my evil (but more respectable, by most measures) twin, the biologist Sean B. Carroll. Sean is both a leader of the modern evo-devo revolution, and a wonderful and diverse writer. We talk about the importance of randomness and unpredictability in life, from the evolution of species to the daily routine of every individual.
Sean B. Carroll received a Ph.D. in immunology from Tufts University. He is currently the Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair of Biology at the University of Maryland, Vice-President for Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Executive Director of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and Professor Emeritus of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin. His new book, A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You, explores the role of chance in the development of life.
Please recall, when we stop to consider “Objective Reality” it becomes obvious that it’s something our mind tries to create for us - it is not the “Physical Reality” that simply IS. The stuff that our senses perceive.
Think the perceiver and the perceived.
Time to discuss my bias and ramble a little bit.
As a high school freshman I learned about climate science and it made every bit of sense in the world, to me.
It was clear cut geophysics and what outstanding questions remained, belonged firmly in the “chump change” department.
Small details that made little difference to the overall fossil fuels burning & CO2 v. consequences conundrum.
I graduated high school in 1973 a bright eyed enthusiastic energetic kid who loved learning about Earth and Evolution via science and wasn’t afraid of a hard day’s work.
I’ve spent the last half century watching, trying to share, being dismissed, mocked, ridiculed because I was concerned and believed people should learn about climate science and evolution and take it seriously. The passing decades have proved our early understanding more correct than mistaken everywhere it matters.
All we needed to do,
was reduce consumption, seriously, and to learn to slow down our expectations. Learn to appreciate our Earth and her life story. Learn a little consideration for others, including our biosphere! Learn to want to give a little back. But, no one wanted to think about it.
Power Down! Take the science seriously and literally! Think about the lesson of stars; the hotter they burn, the faster they burn out. Think through the consequences, make moral decisions and realize they will impact the quality of your children’s lives.
Because it mattered! Learn how to do with less baby making and less consumption. It wasn’t that much to ask, especially considering the understood inevitable alternative. That was then.
Now here we are 2020.
Massive destructive fires and hurricanes and other vicious weather events on a global scale. A virus transformed into a power-political pawn for profiteering, that the Republican Party has been deliberately enflaming and encouraging to spread helter skelter. Thus ensuring maximum disruption and misery?
Civility is out the window, the lie has been normalized, standards of honesty have become a bullseye on a politician’s, as well as citizen’s, back.
Oh, but I digress,
… not really, it’s all of the same stew.
Don’t kid yourself, we are in the early days. The warming and disruption will be increasing relentlessly. Which, if you stop to think about it, will make everything else that much more difficult.
But instead of genuine down to Earth natural science education, and preparation, mentally as well as physically (economically, infrastructure wise, etc.), people like Hoffman focused on how to sell more stuff to people that already had too much.
Most unforgivable, all the while helping them forget about the Earth’s biosphere, our freak’n life support system, that we continue destroying fast as commerce will allow.
Not to mention ignoring the plight of so many other humans, who happened to be less fortunate than we, the lucky ones, with our economic machine that was sucking them dry, knowingly, or in blissful willful ignorance.
Why am I doing this? To give my rage a place to constructively vent. To appease my spirit. To help me live with myself. I want to say my piece while I still can. I want to be a witness.
What do I think I’m doing? I’m starting to pretend that I have a class of a few interested students that want to learn about the Right Wing art of deception and crazy-making for profit. To want be a witness.
This is my homework assignment book - I’m working on it as an example to help share, teach, perhaps inspire some others who might, in turn, be able to do better.
Who is this for?
Are you trying wrap you head around today’s free wheeling normalization of ruthless deception?
Want to better understand how words are used to confuse and stupefy?
Want to be able to develop rhetorical strategies to counter the crazy talk Republicans are confronting everyone with?
Awareness could enable a constructive way to confront Right Wing trash talk with fact based Rhetorical Jujutsu and learning moments.
Among other ideas. Well, that’s the hope. I don’t promise any quick answers, but I do promise you a hell of work book to skim through and find some gems that will help you on your particular journey.
The point is to start thinking about how you’ll confront Republican bullshit with knowledge, facts, and a foundation of science along with a bit of spiritual solidity under your ass.
I’m no scholar, just a guy who for whatever reason has loved and studied Earth and been paying attention his entire life, someone who has learned a thing or two that I’m trying to enunciate and share with those who might be able to use some of it as they develop their own better understanding of the power-political games being played against us science respecting types.
I believe if we aren’t changing minds, we are losing.
We need to be able to directly confront right wing extremism with a barrage of direct questions that will strike them in their tender places.
Find their vulnerabilities. Throw them for an emotional-intellectual loop that will give them pause. Help them re-process the lies they’ve been eating up like so many twinkies.
We’ve almost made it through Hoffman’s Case Against Reality. One more chapter, then an appendix to check out his math. Then on to bigger and better. Something more down to earth, with a bit of backbone and humanity and soul, while respecting reality and scientific understanding.
Thank you, Cc
Chapter 10 is going to be a challenge, it's a whack-a-mole mine field, as Hoffman pulls out all stops and attains new heights of fancy.
Still, I’ll keep plugging away and sharing the results of my homework assignment. Then, when that’s done, we’ll consider at a more rational, dare I say logical way of looking at our human condition.
Public notice to W.W.Norton Co and Donald Hoffman:
Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity,
a critical review:
Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes
By Donald Hoffman
Published August 13th 2019
Publisher: W.W. Norton Company
©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.
email: citizenschallenge at gmail
Cc’s Students’ Guide, a work in progress.
Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014
Student Resources - Background:
More to come . . .
Feel free to copy and share
Email: citizenschallenge gmail com
Students Introduction to Reality Based Brain/Consciousness Research
Consciousness: here, there and everywhere? Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch
The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, Dr. Christof Koch,
Allen Institute for Brain Science, Coding & Vision 101, 12-part undergraduate-level lecture series
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.
Agnes Szokolszky, Catherine Read, Zsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019
Eric P. Charles, 2017,
Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020
doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010120, March 21, 2018
Eve R. Schneider, Elena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016
Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000
Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:
Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.
By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75
H. Clark Barrett
by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017
The bottom line:
Mysteries of Modern Physics by Sean Carroll
Jan 29, 2020 - Darwin College Lecture Series
. . . 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. …