### Donald Hoffman

Donald Hoffman is an American cognitive scientist and author, renowned for his groundbreaking work in the field of consciousness and perception. Born on December 29, 1955, he has significantly contributed to the understanding of visual perception, evolutionary psychology, and the nature of reality. Hoffman received his Ph.D. from MIT in Computational Psychology and joined the University of California, Irvine, where he became a full professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences. Hoffman's most influential work is the theory of "Conscious Realism," suggesting that reality as we perceive it is a construct of our sensory inputs and brain processes, rather than an objective truth. His research proposes that natural selection favors perceptions that enhance reproductive success, not necessarily those that portray an accurate reality. A prolific writer, Hoffman has published numerous scientific papers and books, including "Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See" and "The Case Against Reality." His ideas have sparked significant debate and discussion in the scientific community, influencing both cognitive science and philosophy. Hoffman's contributions extend beyond academia through his popular TED Talks and public lectures, making complex concepts in cognitive science accessible to a broader audience.

## Books Mentioned on Jordan B. Peterson Podcast #387 - Dr. Donald Hoffman

## Is Reality an Illusion? | Dr. Donald Hoffman | EP 387

In recent years, physicists have been searching for structures beyond SpaceTime, beyond the framework of interpretation that has been accepted as truth for so long. This search has led to a reevaluation of what we know as reality and how we perceive it. Dr. Donald Hoffman, a cognitive neuroscientist and author, has been at the forefront of this research, exploring the relationship between Darwinian concepts of truth and the more Newtonian, objective materialist concepts.

Dr. Hoffman's research has shown that on Darwinian principles, the chance of perceiving reality as it truly is, is essentially zero. While many believe that evolution shapes our sensory systems to see reality as it is, at least in some aspects, Dr. Hoffman's research has found that this is not the case. Evolutionary game theory has provided the tools to test Darwin's theory with mathematical precision, and the results have been surprising. Fitness payoff functions, which guide the evolution of our sensory systems, must preserve information about the structure of the world in order for us to see the truth, but the probability of a generically chosen payoff function preserving this information is essentially zero.

### Key Takeaways

- Our perception of reality is not necessarily an accurate representation of the world around us.
- Evolution shapes our sensory systems to guide adaptive behavior, but not necessarily to see the truth.
- Fitness payoff functions must preserve information about the structure of the world for us to see the truth, but the probability of a generically chosen payoff function doing so is essentially zero.

## Reality and Perception

Dr. Donald Hoffman, an author and cognitive neuroscientist, has researched the nature of reality and perception. He believes that evolution shapes sensory systems to guide adaptive behavior, which keeps organisms alive long enough to reproduce. However, he also argues that the chance that humans see reality as it is, based on Darwinian principles, is essentially zero.

Hoffman and his graduate students used the tools of evolutionary game theory to analyze fitness payoff functions, which guide the evolution of sensory systems. These functions depend on the state of the world, its structure, the organism's state, and its action. The question is whether the function preserves information about the structure of the world.

To be a homomorphism, a structure-preserving map, the function must take things in a certain order in the world into that same order onto the states of the payoffs. For a payoff function to preserve a structure like a metric or a total order, it must satisfy certain equations. Hoffman found that the probability that a generically chosen payoff function would preserve a total order or a metric or any other structure is almost zero.

Hoffman's theory suggests that consciousness might be best understood as a vast probability space within which we orient ourselves. This means that what we perceive as reality is not necessarily the objective truth. Instead, our perception of reality is shaped by our sensory systems and the fitness payoff functions that guide them. Therefore, we should be cautious when interpreting our perceptions as the truth.

## Darwinian Concepts of Truth

Dr. Donald Hoffman, a cognitive neuroscientist, has conducted research on the relationship between Darwinian concepts of truth and the concepts of truth put forth by Newtonian objective materialists. According to Darwinian scholars, sensory systems are shaped by evolution to guide adaptive behavior, which helps organisms survive long enough to reproduce. However, many also believe that evolution shapes us to see reality as it is, at least to some extent, as seeing aspects of reality as it is can make an organism more fit and more likely to reproduce.

Dr. Hoffman and his graduate students used the tools of evolutionary game theory to test this hypothesis. They found that the chance of seeing reality as it is on Darwinian principles is essentially zero. This is because every fitness payoff function that could exist is on equal footing on current evolutionary theory, and there is nothing in Darwin's theory that says these are the fitness payoff functions and this is their structure.

To preserve a structure like a metric or a total order, a payoff function must satisfy certain equations. Dr. Hoffman and his team analyzed these equations and discovered that the chance of a generically chosen payoff function preserving a total order or a metric is essentially zero. Therefore, the chance that we see reality as it is on Darwinian principles is also essentially zero.

This result is surprising because many people assume that seeing the truth will make an organism more fit. However, evolution tries to do things on the cheap and quickly, so there are selection pressures to do things cheaply. Therefore, it is not surprising that many sensory systems do not see all of the truth.

In conclusion, Dr. Hoffman's research suggests that the chance of seeing reality as it is on Darwinian principles is essentially zero. This challenges the assumption that seeing the truth will make an organism more fit and raises questions about the relationship between perception and survival.

## Evolutionary Game Theory

Evolutionary game theory is a mathematical theory that aims to test Darwin's ideas with mathematical precision. The theory suggests that Evolution shapes sensory systems to guide adaptive behavior, which keeps organisms alive long enough to reproduce. However, many also believe that Evolution shapes us to see reality as it is, at least some aspects of reality that we need for survival.

Fitness payoff functions in evolutionary theory guide the selections and evolution of sensory systems. These functions are functions of the world that depend on the state of the world and its structure, the organism's state, and its action. The question is whether these functions preserve information about the structure of the world.

A generically chosen payoff function might not preserve a total order or a metric, and there is no information in the payoff function to shape sensory systems to see that truth. Every Fitness payoff function that one could imagine is on equal footing on current evolutionary theory from every other one.

To determine the probability that a generically chosen payoff function will preserve a structure like a metric or a total order, it must satisfy certain equations. Evolutionary theory is indifferent about the payoff functions and their structure. Therefore, all possible Fitness payoff functions need to be examined to determine what fraction of them would preserve a total order or a metric. The chance that we see reality as it is on Darwinian principles is essentially zero.

## Fitness Payoff Functions

Fitness payoff functions are used in evolutionary game theory to model the points that an organism can earn for being in certain states and taking certain actions. These functions guide the selection process and are dependent on the organism's state, action, and the structure of the world. The question is whether these functions preserve information about the structure of the world, which is necessary for sensory systems to see reality as it is.

Dr. Donald Hoffman, a cognitive neuroscientist, and his graduate students analyzed these fitness payoff functions and found that the chance of seeing reality as it is on Darwinian principles is essentially zero. This is because every fitness payoff function that could be imagined is on equal footing, and there is nothing in Darwin's theory that says which functions should be used or what their structure should be.

To determine the probability that a generically chosen payoff function will preserve a structure, such as a metric or total order, Dr. Hoffman and his team had to look at all possible functions. They found that for a payoff function to preserve a structure, it must satisfy certain equations. However, the probability that a generically chosen payoff function will be a homomorphism of a metric or total order is essentially zero.

Therefore, according to Dr. Hoffman's research, the chance of seeing reality as it is on Darwinian principles is almost non-existent. Evolution shapes sensory systems to guide adaptive behavior and keep organisms alive long enough to reproduce, but it does not necessarily shape us to see reality as it is.

## Preservation of Information in Evolution

Evolution shapes sensory systems to guide adaptive behavior, which includes keeping organisms alive long enough to reproduce. However, some scholars believe that evolution also shapes us to see reality as it is, at least in some aspects, to increase our chances of survival. Dr. Donald Hoffman, an author and cognitive neuroscientist, and his graduate students studied this idea using the tools of evolutionary game theory. They found that the chance of seeing reality as it is on Darwinian principles is essentially zero.

Fitness payoff functions guide the evolution of sensory systems. These functions are complex and depend on the state of the world, its structure, the organism's state, and its action. The question is, does this function preserve information about the structure of the world? If the function is a homomorphism, a structure-preserving map, it would take things in a certain order in the world and take them into the same order in the states of the payoffs. Dr. Hoffman and his team asked how many generically chosen payoff functions would preserve a total order or a metric or a measurable structure. They found that for a payoff function to preserve a structure, it must satisfy certain equations.

Evolutionary theory is indifferent about the structure of the payoff functions. There is nothing in Darwin's theory that says which structure the fitness payoff functions should have. Therefore, the chance of seeing reality as it is on Darwinian principles is essentially zero. This result is surprising and counterintuitive, but it is supported by mathematical precision.

## Theoretical Probability of Reality Perception

Dr. Donald Hoffman, a cognitive neuroscientist, has conducted research on the theory of perception. He explains that many scholars believe that evolution shapes sensory systems to guide adaptive behavior. However, he found that the chance of seeing reality as it is on Darwinian principles is essentially zero.

Evolutionary theory does not specify the structure of fitness payoff functions, which guide the evolution of sensory systems. To determine the probability that a generically chosen payoff function will preserve a structure such as a metric or a total order, Dr. Hoffman and his graduate students analyzed all possible Fitness payoff functions. They found that for a payoff function to preserve a structure, it must satisfy certain equations.

Dr. Hoffman's research suggests that consciousness might be best understood as a vast probability space within which we orient ourselves. He proposes that the structures entirely beyond spacetime, which physicists are currently searching for, might be related to this probability space.

In summary, the theoretical probability of reality perception is essentially zero on Darwinian principles. The structures beyond spacetime might be related to the vast probability space of consciousness.

## The Role of Consciousness in Reality Interpretation

According to Dr. Donald Hoffman, a cognitive neuroscientist and author, the chance that humans see reality as it is on Darwinian principles is essentially zero. Evolution shapes sensory systems to guide adaptive behavior, but it does not necessarily shape us to see reality as it is. Instead, our sensory systems are shaped to keep us alive long enough to reproduce. However, many believe that seeing aspects of reality as it is will make us more fit and more likely to reproduce.

Evolutionary game theory, which is a mathematical theory, can be used to test Darwin's ideas with mathematical precision. Dr. Hoffman and his graduate students analyzed the Fitness payoff functions, which are the points that organisms can get for being in certain states and taking certain actions. These Fitness payoffs are functions of the world and its structure, the organism's state, and its action.

The Fitness payoff function, which guides the evolution of our sensory systems, takes as its starting point the state of the world. The question is whether this function preserves information about the structure of the world. If the function is what mathematicians call a homomorphism, a structure-preserving map, then it would take things that are in a certain order in the world into that same order in the function.

The probability that a generically chosen payoff function will be a homomorphism of a metric or total order or partial order or a topology or measurable structure is low. For a payoff function to preserve a structure like a metric or a total order, it must satisfy certain equations.

Dr. Hoffman's theory suggests that Consciousness might be best understood as a vast probability space within which we orient ourselves. The role of Consciousness in reality interpretation is to guide us towards adaptive behavior, not necessarily to show us reality as it is. Therefore, our perception of reality is shaped by our sensory systems and the Fitness payoff functions that guide their evolution.