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Why there's no such thing as objective reality | Greg Anderson

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Why there's no such thing as objective reality | Greg Anderson

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In the grand scheme of history, modern reality is a bizarre exception when compared to the worlds of ancient, precolonial and Indigenous civilizations, where myths ruled and gods roamed, says historian Greg Anderson. So why do Westerners today think they're right about reality and everybody else is wrong? Anderson tears into the fabric of objective reality to reveal the many universes that lie beyond -- and encourages a healthy reimagining of what other possible ways of being human could look like.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You're welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

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Truth vs Reality: How we evolved to survive, not to see what’s really there | Donald Hoffman

Truth vs Reality: How we evolved to survive, not to see what’s really there
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Galileo was quite controversial, in part, because he argued that Earth moved around the sun, despite people's senses deluding them that the world was static. Evolution may have primed us to see the world in terms of payoffs rather than absolute reality — this has actually helped us survive. Those who win payoffs are more likely to pass on their genes, which encode these strategies to get to the next level of life. It's important to listen to people's objections because they may bring something to your attention outside your ken. Learn from them to make your ideas sharper.
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DONALD HOFFMAN:

Donald Hoffman is professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. His writing has appeared in Scientific American and Edge, and his work has been featured in the Atlantic, Wired, and Quanta. He resides in Irvine, California.
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TRANSCRIPT:

DONALD HOFFMAN: Galileo was quite controversial, of course, in his time, because he was claiming that something that we all could see with our own eyes wasn't true. We could all see that the earth doesn't move and that the sun, and moon, and stars go around the earth. And we believed that as a race for about 2,000 years. And Galileo was saying that your eyes are lying to you. The earth actually moves and it's not the center of the universe.

And he was put under house arrest for it. And we don't like to be told that our senses aren't telling us the truth. And then Galileo took it another step. He said, it's not just that our senses are lying about movement of the earth, he said that he thought that tastes, odors, colors, and so on reside in consciousness. Hence, if the living creature were removed, all these properties, these qualities, would be utterly annihilated. That's almost a direct quote in the translation.

So he was saying that our senses are also making up the tastes, odors, and colors that we experience. They're not properties of an objective reality. They're actually properties of our senses that they're fabricating. And by objective reality in this case, I'm going to use that term in a very specific way. By objective reality, I mean what most physicists would mean. And that is that something is objectively real if it would continue to exist even if there were no creatures to perceive it. So the standard story, for example, is that the moon existed before there was any life on Earth and, perhaps, before there was any life in the universe. But it still existed.

Its existence does not depend on the perceptions of any creatures. And so that's the sense in which I'll talk about objective reality. And what Galileo was saying was that colors, odors, tastes, and so on are not real in that sense of objective reality. They are real in a different sense. They're real experiences. And so I'll talk about real experiences. So your headache is a real experience, even though it could not exist without you perceiving it. So it exists in a different way than the objective reality that physicists talk about.

So Galileo was quite brave and quite out of the box in his thinking by saying not only the earth in his movement, but even colors, tastes, and odors are our perceptual constructions. But he wouldn't go the next step. He wouldn't say that shapes, and mass, and velocities of objects, and space, and time themselves are our constructions. He thought that those were objectively real. So the shape of the moon, the position of the moon, is an objectively real thing, including its mass and its velocities. So, this is a distinction that was later called the primary and secondary qualities of distinction by John Locke. Primary qualities are things like position, mass, shape, and so forth. These are presumed to exist even if no creature observes them. Whereas colors, and odors, and tastes are secondary qualities that are sort of mostly the contribution of our senses.

And in brief, what I'm saying is we need to take the next step beyond what Galileo said. It's not just tastes, odors, and colors that are the fabrications of our senses and are not objectively real. It's, rather, that space-time itself and everything within space-time-- objects, the sun, the moon, the electrons, quarks, their shapes, if objects have shapes, their masses, their velocities-- all of these physical properties are also our constructions. And I've come to that conclusion. It was a bit of a shock to me. We always as...

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Do we see reality as it is? | Donald Hoffman

Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman is trying to answer a big question: Do we experience the world as it really is ... or as we need it to be? In this ever so slightly mind-blowing talk, he ponders how our minds construct reality for us.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
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What ancient civilizations teach us about reality | Greg Anderson | TEDxOhioStateUniversity

The talk proposes that humans have always lived in a “pluriverse” of many different real worlds, not just in a universe of one. It also considers how this proposal might change the way we think about the human past, present, and the future. Greg loves to share his fascination with the many different worlds that humans have inhabited. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at
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Quantum Wave Functions: What's Actually Waving?

The most mysterious aspect of quantum mechanics is the wave function. What does it have to do with probability and statistics? Let's find out. Also, check out Brilliant for 20%:
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Donald Hoffman: Reality Does NOT Exist!

#Neuroscience #Consciousness #DonaldHoffman
Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman asks us the biggest question: do we experience the world as it really is ... or is reality an illusion? In this mind-blowing chat, he ponders how our minds construct reality for us. In his research to uncover the underlying secrets of human perception, Donald Hoffman has discovered important clues pointing to the subjective nature of reality.

Rather than as a set of absolute physical principles, reality is best understood as a set of phenomena our brain constructs to guide our behavior. To put it simply: we actively create everything we see, and there is no aspect of reality that does not depend on consciousness.

We think we perceive reality as it generally is, with maybe some slight distortions. But models based on Darwin's theory of natural selection suggest that our intuition is wrong.
Donald Hoffman and I discuss the fascinating notion that humans evolved to have the equivalent of a desktop interface that hides the real truth from us so that we can have agency. We discuss the nature of consciousness, free will, space-time, Nima Arkani-Hamed's ideas and more!

Hoffman is a faculty member at UC Irvine and a recipient of the Troland Award of the US National Academy of Sciences.




His Book: The Case Against Reality [ ]
His TED Talk:

00:00:00 Intro
00:07:57 Science through the senses and impact of Galileo.
00:18:34 The philosophy of George Berkely. Is it all in the mind?
00:21:18 The grand questions and theories of consciousness.
00:30:10 What is panpsychism?
00:31:18 Math, physics, and consciousness. Do we have a model of reality?
00:39:33 The Interface Theory of Perception
00:44:57 What is the evolutionary purpose of the perception of music?
00:48:21 How do we get along in the real world if our perceptions are flawed?
00:51:21 Galileo's VR HMD circa 1620.
00:52:28 Is consciousness a unique filter into reality?
00:57:29 Can computers be conscious?
01:03:20 What is the role of attention in consciousness?
01:06:00 Are certain experiences, like war and drugs, a one-way street, from which there is 'no going back'?
01:08:43 What advice would you give your younger self?

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Aliens built the pyramids and other absurdities of pseudo-archaeology | Sarah Kurnick

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Aliens have invaded ancient history: they've cropped up in humanity's past through popular television and movies, displacing facts with absurd yet commonplace beliefs like aliens built the pyramids. Archaeologist Sarah Kurnick illustrates why these misconceptions perpetuate racist and xenophobic notions of history and culture -- and demonstrates how you can help debunk these dangerous, outlandish myths.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You're welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

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Jane Anderson: Future risks and opportunities for HIV services

Speaking at The King's Fund on 25 April 2017, Professor Jane Anderson, Visiting Fellow at The King's Fund, shares findings from our report on The future of HIV services in England.

Margaret Atwood sees many possible futures | More with Anna Maria Tremonti

Margaret Atwood has crafted her fair share of doomsday scenarios. And a lot of those have been inspired by real-life events, from the totalitarian regimes abroad that shaped her world as a child to the suspension of civil liberties at home in Canada, under the War Measures Act. Along the way, she has lost loved ones — including most recently her life partner and fellow writer, Graeme Gibson, who suffered from dementia. But in the face of all that, Margaret Atwood is still standing strong. With a crackling sense of humour and endless curiosity (“it gets me in so much trouble”) the internationally renowned writer seamlessly weaves between realities she’s lived in the last 80 years and possibilities yet to come in this conversation with Anna Maria Tremonti. And while she won’t make official predictions in the face of many possible futures, she will (almost gleefully) read palms. Just wait till you hear what she sees in Anna Maria’s.

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More with Anna Maria Tremonti takes you deep into conversation — and to some unexpected places — with high-profile guests like Catherine O'Hara, David Suzuki, Malcolm Gladwell and Samantha Bee. Each episode will leave you feeling like you’ve spent an evening with smart friends who make you think differently about the world, and maybe even yourself.


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How the coronavirus pandemic is changing the world | Fareed Zakaria

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The coronavirus pandemic is more global, dramatic and unusual than any crisis we've seen in a long time, says journalist Fareed Zakaria. Listen as he shares his perspective on how we can recover from the economic fallout, why certain countries were able to avoid major outbreaks and what this might mean for the balance of global power. (This virtual conversation is part of the TED Connects series, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers. Recorded April 9, 2020)

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You're welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know. For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), submit a Media Request here:

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Commission Meeting - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regarding Amendments to the Fireworks Regulations

CPSC Commissioners hear oral comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) regarding amendments to the fireworks regulations.

Identity politics and the Marxist lie of white privilege

I was in Vancouver Friday November 3rd talking at an event sponsored by the very active University of British Columbia Free Speech Club (start one on your campus -- if you're a student, that is :)).

I wanted to delve more deeply into the ideology on the radical side of the leftist spectrum, and to specifically address the idea of white privilege. Hopefully that's what I did.

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Psychosis: Making and Inhabiting a Different Reality

Professor Fletcher discusses the topic of psychosis. It has many causes and manifestations and it poses major challenges to our understanding.

A lecture by Paul Fletcher, Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience at University of Cambridge, 19 February 2019



One of the most mysterious experiences that we come across in psychiatry is ‘Psychosis’, which refers to a loss of contact with reality. It has many causes and manifestations and it poses major challenges to our understanding.

Professor Fletcher proposes that it can be understood in terms of the normal functioning of the mind, which seeks to construct a working model of reality even though it has very little direct contact with that reality.

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What is Real? | Adam Becker | Talks at Google

Adam Becker, PhD is an astrophysicist and science writer. His new book What Is Real? explores the history of quantum foundations and the questions that remain to be answered.

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The people who caused the climate crisis aren't the ones who will solve it | Angela Mahecha Adrar

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

Corporations and big business have wrecked the environment, but disadvantaged communities living in sacrifice zones -- urban areas heavily polluted and poisoned by industry -- are paying the price, says climate justice leader Angela Mahecha Adrar. Explaining why racial and economic justice must be at the center of climate action, she takes us to the frontline communities that are leading the world to clean, innovative and just climate solutions -- like Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad, a local farm co-op in Washington that's disrupting the multibillion-dollar berry business.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You're welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

Become a TED Member:
Follow TED on Twitter:
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TED's videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy ( For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at
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The neural circuitry of sex and violence, Prof. David Anderson

27 May 2016, SwissTech Convention Center, Lausanne, Switzerland

Website: thebrainforum.org

Animals often have to make rapid decisions between different, competing behaviours, such as fighting, mating, or freezing. These decisions are controlled by sensory cues, the animal's internal state and its previous history. In humans, these innate behaviours are associated with emotion states such as fear, anger and love. Prof. Anderson and his team are studying the control of aggression vs. mating, in both mice and fruit flies, as a model for understanding how internal states, such as arousal or other so-called emotion primitives, influence decisions between innate behaviours. This talk focuses on how aggression circuits are organised in the brain, and their relationship to circuits that control mating behaviour. Studies have revealed that mice and flies contain modules (relatively small groups of neurons) that control both aggression and mating, suggesting that this is an evolutionarily ancient circuit motif. The role of these modules, and their relationship to decision-making and internal brain states, is discussed. The long-term objective of these studies is to provide insights into the brain mechanisms that link emotion and decision-making, and their evolutionary origins.

About speaker
Prof. David J. Anderson is the Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Over the last 15 years, Prof. Anderson’s research focuses to the study of neural circuits that control emotional behaviours in animal models. He has been at the forefront of developing and applying new technologies for neural circuit manipulation, such as optogenetics and pharmacogenetics, to the study of emotional behaviours such as fear, anxiety and aggression, in both mice and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

About chair
Prof. Isabelle Mansuy is Professor in Neuroepigenetics at the Medical Faculty of the University Zürich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETHZ). Her research examines the epigenetic basis of complex brain functions and the heritability of acquired traits across generations in mammals. It focuses on the mechanisms underlying the expression and the inheritance of the effects of environmental factors such as traumatic stress in early life, on behavior and physiology, and their link with diseases in humans.

About The Brain Forum
Researchers, engineers, healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs, industrialists, investors, funding agencies and policy makers meet at The Brain Forum 2016, to advance our understanding of how the brain works and to accelerate the application of this knowledge in society and the economy.

Embracing Uncertainty: The Missing Piece of Success | Scott Gingrich | TEDxQueensU

Why is it that humans have such a severe aversion to uncertainty? Intertwining research with a powerful personal story, Scott Gingrich suggests an answer, as well as a strategy to embrace – rather than fear – uncertainty. Scott grew up in Grimsby, a small town in the Niagara Region. He completed his Bachelor of Commerce at Queen’s University, where he focused on sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Upon graduating in 2020, Scott took part in the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI), an incubator program where students and recent graduates receive training and mentorship to launch their own business venture. During this program, Scott and his co-founders launched Promovere, an HR software that leverages a virtual marketplace and machine learning to increase employee engagement, retention, and growth. Scott continues to work on the venture, which recently placed as a finalist in several prominent pitch competitions, including the Queen’s Entrepreneur Competition and the Western Ivey Business Plan Competition. Scott is also a Teaching Assistant for several marketing and entrepreneurship courses. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, skiing, photography, and cooking. Scott can be reached at scott.gingrich@queensu.ca or This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Value: What and How? | Robert LeFevre

Robert LeFevre's commentaries have made their mark in the history of libertarian ideas for their clarity, eloquence, and pedagogical value. Drawing on great thoughts from all ages, and specifically influenced by Rothbardian political economy, LeFevre asks and answers fundamental questions about the relationship between man, property, society, and the state. Special thanks to Mr. Ross Anderson for his donation of these recordings to the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Playlist link for complete commentary series:

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Robert LeFevre (1911-1986) was a businessman and radio personality, and the founder of the Freedom School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, whose purpose was to educate people from all walks of life in the libertarian intellectual tradition. Before it closed in 1968, it had featured among its rotating faculty Rose Wilder Lane, Milton Friedman, F.A. Harper, Frank Chodorov, Leonard Read, Gordon Tullock, G. Warren Nutter, Bruno Leoni, James J. Martin, and even Ludwig von Mises.

Links to selected online writings by Robert LeFevre:

The Nature of Man and His Government


Who Was the Original Aunt Jemima and What Did She Do?


The Philosophy of Ownership


This Bread Is Mine


The Birth of a Man


Self-Ownership


Ownership of Land


Autarchy Versus Anarchy


A Way to Be Free


The Free Man's Almanac


Sprading, Liberty and the Great Libertarians


Tiger in the Land


The Abstract Concept of Human Liberty


Aggression Is Wrong


Abstain From Beans


The 'Conservative Movement'


Related online resources:

Robert LeFevre: Manners and Morality


The Freedom School with Robert LeFevre


Roy A. Childs Jr.: A Tribute to Bob LeFevre


Robert LeFevre (1911-1986)


The Wisdom of LeFevre


Robert LeFevre papers, 1946-1981


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DISCLAIMER: This audio presentation is owned by the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is protected under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

This YouTube channel is in no way endorsed by or affiliated with the Mises Institute, any of its scholars or staff members.

Objective Reviews: Do They Exist?

Do objective reviews exist?

Every day I read reviews for books, TV shows, movies, games, and other products.

And I'm always left wondering: is there an objective way to review these kinds of things?

I think there's a more central question to ask: Is there an objective way to critique art? Is there a singular standard by which we can judge what is good and what is bad?

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Lecture by Aijaz Ahmad: The Languages of a Union

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