It sounds like something you’d hear at a yoga retreat – or from someone who has fried their brain on LSD.
But the reality we all see might actually be an illusion, according to neuroscientist Donald Hoffman.
Hoffman believes that our brains hide the REAL reality from us because – put simply – it would blow our freaking minds.
Hoffman says that our brains have evolved to simplify things, much like a computer desktop makes it simple for us to visualise files in the form of little squares and rectangles.
In a TED talk, Hoffman illustrates his point by showing off a file on a computer desktop.
‘The icon is blue and rectangular and in the lower right corner of the desktop,’ he says.
‘Does that mean that the text file itself in the computer is blue, rectangular, and in the lower right-hand corner of the computer? Of course not.
‘Anyone who thought that misinterprets the purpose of the interface.
‘It’s not there to show you the reality of the computer. In fact, it’s there to hide that reality.’
‘That’s the key idea. Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive.
‘They guide adaptive behaviours. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don’t need to know.
‘And that’s pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be. If you had to spend all that time figuring it out, the tiger would eat you.’
‘According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.’