Turn me over, brothers, I am done enough on this side

“almost no chance…we’re living in ‘base reality.’ “

…but isn’t this just a slick way of permitting yourself the fallback position that a more traditional higher power may be in play?

You may scoff, but in 2003 the philosopher Nick Bostrom of Oxford University published a paper laying out reasons to think that we are pretty likely to be living in a simulation. And the simulation hypothesis has gained influential supporters. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and America’s de facto astronomer laureate, finds it plausible. The visionary tech entrepreneur Elon Musk says there’s almost no chance that we’re living in “base reality.” The New Yorker reported earlier this year that “two tech billionaires” — it didn’t say whether Musk is one of them — “have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.”


“Could we have the night canopy, please?” (still from the movie Slaughterhouse Five, 1972)

[Hamilton] answered: “Yes, yes. There’s one theory of the universe that I rather like — I accept it in an almost joking spirit — and that is that Planet Earth in our solar system is a kind of zoo for extraterrestrial beings who dwell out there somewhere. And this is the best, the most interesting experiment they could set up: to set up the evolution on Planet Earth going in such a way that it would produce these really interesting characters — humans who go around doing things — and they watch their experiment, interfering hardly at all so that almost everything we do comes out according to the laws of nature. But every now and then they see something which doesn’t look quite right — this zoo is going to kill itself off if they let you do this or that.” So, he continued, these extraterrestrials “insert a finger and just change some little thing. And maybe those are the miracles which the religious people like to so emphasize.” He reiterated: “I put it forward in an almost joking spirit. But I think it’s a kind of hypothesis that’s very, very hard to dismiss.”

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2 Responses »

  1. The lede of the NYT article should have been “Tech Billionaires believe the cheesiest Twilight Zone episode to be a documentary”. NdGT’s comment was that the argument was valid (he didn’t go so far as to say it was sound). At best this is an extension of a weak teleological argument, one that allows Musk et al to believe that they’re each the chosen one, clad in black leather, fung-foo’ing their way through to a deeper reality in balletic, bullet-time slo-mo.

    • So, I’ve got a question: does it mean I’m intellectually dishonest if I agree with your statement, yet go on to say I still hope they might in fact find a way to awaken us from this posited Matrix-style life-is-but-a-dream, into whatever hideous alien reality might wait behind the veil, simply in order to escape these kinds of faux-enlightenments showering down on us?

      I’m probably just not well-educated enough to get their super-deep thinking, though. For instance, I don’t even know the correct term for that eye disease that afflicts certain technocrats and causes them, when they look in the mirror, to see a guy crowned in laurel wreaths sitting on the philosopher-king’s throne, who then immediately morphs into a ninja silently slipping open shoji screens to fling a star right between some ignoramus’s eyes, before morphing again into a kind of shimmering mist that actually encompasses the Platonic ideal form of every single thing that has ever existed or will ever exist!

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