Mind Meld 105 | Piercing the Veil of Reality with Dr. Donald Hoffman

For rewards and podcast extras, become a patron

Dr. Donald Hoffman returns to decode the koan of reality!

Don Hoffman is a Professor of Cognitive Science at UC Irvine. His chief areas of inquiry include perception, the illusory nature of reality, free will and the development of a scientific model for consciousness.


This mind meld is sponsored by SHEATH underwear, get 25% your order by using the coupon code third eye drops at checkout!

The thought has crossed everyone’s mind– Is it possible that reality is nothing like how we perceive it? 

It turns out that notion is more than a shower thought or stoner ontology, it’s science.

More specifically, it’s a theory being worked out by Dr. Donald Hoffman of UC Irvine. According to Hoffman and his team, reality is built by consciousness, not material. Hoffman contends that reality is actually network of “conscious agents” and that the world, as we perceive it, is just that; only a perception.

So take a look at the first object that catches your eye (or yourself in the mirror for that matter if you really want to navigate the rabbit hole). According to Hoffman and his team, that thing isn’t that thing at all. It’s but a data set, a representation that makes sense to us with utility for our survival. Think of it like a more evolved version of a computer desktop, material icons to react to, eat, avoid, sniff, rub, whatever…

I promise this will make more sense as the episode progresses.

As intellectually sexy and disruptive as all of this is, it helps tremendously that we’re not talking about some kook with dubious credentials. Dr. Hoffman is brilliant and highly accomplished. Currently, he’s a professor of cognitive science at UC Irvine, he has a book coming out called The Case Against Reality, a through-provoking TED talk. He’s also been on the show before (without a doubt his crowning achievement).   

Recommended primers

Musings in this mind meld 

  • The mind body problem – how do we get consciousness from unconscious ingredients?
  • Give reverence to our best scientific and philosophical systems, but don’t be afraid to tear them down

  • Why we’ve never stopped searching for the philosopher’s stone, we’ve just updated our language

  • If reality isn’t real, can science actually prove anything?

  • If an object isn’t really an object, what is it?

  • Is there error correcting code in the fabric of reality?

  • Don’t take the icon literally

  • Go into silence without training wheels

  • What is a conscious agent and do they actually have freewill?

  • Is it possible to do proofs about god?
  • Don’s upcoming webinar series for SAND

Featured art by Mike McKenney



Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.