Reality Bites by Leon Paterson
“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth.”
In this short article we will explore the very nature of reality. I will give a number of examples which demonstrate reality not as a fixed thing. But something that is changeable and measurable in different ways. However this is not science fiction or pseudo-science, but based on rigorous scientific testing. So sit tight and take the red pill as you discover the changing reality of your experience.
I recently watched an American self help guru make the claim that reality is delusional. In his example people are oriented towards a fear based fantasy when they use the expression “but what about the real world”. To them the real world is politicians ruining the planet, the planet struggling to breath, and war choking the middle east etc. Meanwhile the birds are chirping joyfully, the sky is calm and blue, and time is passing peacefully outside their window.
What this self help guru unknowingly stumbled upon, at the very basis of our reality, is our measuring of experience relatively not absolutely. This means we are always evaluating and making sense of our reality in relation to other things. So for example when I say this rock is hard. Well yes it’s hard compared to something soft like a pillow. But in relation to a diamond it’s not hard. So my measuring of hard is always dependent upon what I am measuring it against.
This knowledge is nothing new and was originally discovered by the brilliant studies conducted by Weber/Fechner known as the Weber Fechner law. In these experiments it was discovered that people’s measuring varied in proportion to the weight being measured. So when you hold 100g weights in each hand you are able to notice a difference of 5g added or taken away from each hand.
However if you hold 1 kilogram in each hand the minimum weight of difference you are able to notice is 50g. The 5g difference you were able to notice before (with 50g in each hand) is not detectable when you increase the weight in each hand to 1 kilogram. This shows how we can change the measuring tool we’re using, that we are in fact measuring relatively and not absolutely.
This law has been developed through the pioneering differential work by John McWhirter. Through his groundbreaking research development we now have the knowledge to understand how we measure things relatively and not absolutely in any situation. What makes John’s work stand out is the ease with which it can be demonstrated and understood in everyday examples.
Let’s take 2 people who are both receiving the same £2000 work bonus this year. One of them subject A is delighted with her bonus, the other subject B very disappointed. The one who is delighted didn’t receive any bonus last year. So this year’s bonus is £2000 more than she got last year. So she measures this as being £2000 more well off. The other received a £4000 bonus last year and so is measuring this as £2000 under last year. So although they both received the same amount, they are both measuring their bonus very differently.
As a second example let’s say a man takes a bunch of flowers home for his wife on 2 separate occasions. The first time he is greeted with kisses, love and affection. On the second occasion the flowers go out the window. At both times the variables have remained consistent. The man, the woman, the flowers have not changed.
However on the second occasion the wife suspected an extra marital affair, so the flowers meant guilt and betrayal. Whereas on the first occasion the flowers meant love and commitment. The variability in her response to the same stimulus (flowers), shows how we can respond to the same situation differently depending on how we’re set up to have that experience.
How we are set up to have an experience is important to understanding how we make sense of our reality. In the first example both subjects were set up very differently. They had different experiences and expectations based on the bonus they had received the previous year.
The second example shows how we can respond to the same situation differently depending on previous knowledge. So when we make judgements and evaluations it will always be based on how we are set up. And how we are set up is based upon our model of the world.
Put another way… how you’d like it, how you want it, how you expect life to go sets you up for the experience you will have. Our knowledge and understanding is the model that sets us up for future experiences. If all has gone to plan and our expectations are matched by results then it is a positive result. If the world is not how we expected it to be then it’s an upset. The more attention we are able to give and notice how we are setup for experiences, the more we are able to resource ourselves to manage life effectively.
So as we have seen reality is not a fixed thing. But a changing, evolving making sense of the world that allows us to adapt and respond appropriately. This sense of reality is stable but also changing and should be updated if we want to function well. The unique way we can change how we measure the same stimulus to mean different things is a brilliant adaptation that we as a species have mastered.
But if we as individuals do not take into consideration our changing sense of reality. We are doomed to be at the mercy of our expectations, without realising how much influence we can have on the nature of our reality.
Leon’s Website: www.changease.co.uk
Wikipedia Weber Fechner Law: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weber–Fechner_law
Encyclopedia Britannica Weber’s Law: www.britannica.com/science/Webers-law
Online Link: https://lib.dr.iastate.edu
Differential Information and the Emergence of Mind: Developing Bateson’s Ideas on Difference, Mind, and Epistemology
Online Link: http://bazhum.muzhp.pl/media//file