Usually the question “what is reality” is saved for entertainment— it’s the stuff of sci-fi movies— because if your friend cornered you and pressed you on it, you’d probably just want to slap them. Mostly because of just how frustrating it can be to rip and replace your entire perception of what’s real. That said, it’s the sort of insanely big question that the very smartest, most ambitious people have asked through generations. Just last month, Elon Musk made the argument that we’re all probably characters in some advanced civilization’s video game.
It might not surprise you to know that there’s actual science focused on how to crack this huge question. This episode’s guest, cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman, has not only been researching it, he’s had some recent breakthroughs that could change absolutely everything we perceive about reality. Don is a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine and he makes a very compelling case supported by lots of research and testing that the entire perception we have for reality is nothing like what we think it is.