How do we know that our world is real?

We don’t,  but this world seems to be my most persistent illusion ~ hence it is worth exploring.

Nonetheless, it does not merit to be taken too seriously. One counterargument many people offer is that consequences are more “severe” in the real world. It wouldn’t be hard to engineer a video game with severe consequences — it is trivial to program a defibrillator to function when a person “dies” in an action video game. Just accept the “force feedback” wheels as a more complex proof-of-concept.

Life must seem very severe to an average citizen of North Korea,  but that is every bit as engineered as the easier life afforded by the “developed” world, which is essentially arbitraging inadequately priced natural resources for the past two centuries.  Imagine you’re in an island, and you’re cutting down all the trees for energy, and using the clean pond of fresh water also as a toilet & dumping ground. The world is essentially such a closed system, and if we priced these goods adequately our GDP might just go POOF!

But let’s go back to the answer: This world seems to be my most persistent illusion ~ hence it is worth exploring..

Distraction 1: Ergo, It is worth doing science – even if science is not objectively objective, whatever that means, I’ll take airplanes, imatinib, electricity, and wifi as sufficient proof of worth.  If philosophers are merely making sociological observations regarding the practice of science, well, that’s a sad state of affairs (I’d really like to come back to this topic with a book level answer, although I have my suspicion that it is no more worthy of debate than convincing literal minded folk that water cannot really turn into wine and so on. The rigor might be wasted.)

Distraction 2: There is an also argument to be made within the above answer, for playing video games guilt free.

Reality Distortion


One thought on “How do we know that our world is real?

  1. Governments sometimes auction off ports for 49 years. Have you ever asked yourself why 49 years?

    Firstly, governments do not want to transfer full ownership rights for political reasons. Secondly, the businesses do not care about what happens after 50 years. For them, projected cash flows become exponentially less important as one moves farther into the future. (Example: The current value of the seventh year’s cash flow is found by dividing the projected number by (1+d)^(7) where d stands for the discount factor corresponding to the particular investment.)

    So even if a catastrophe is guaranteed to happen in a hundred years, none of the businesses will give a damn. If you want them to care, you need to decrease interest rates substantially so that the future “matters” more. (Lower interest rates will in general lead to lower discount factors.)

    How can you achieve very low interest rates for a sustained period of time without generating inflation? My first guess is that such a state of affairs can be achieved only if the economic growth has already halted.

    Of course, all these things need to take place on a global scale. That means you will inevitably run into classical coordination problems. Moreover you will need to ensure absolute political stability on a global scale before even hoping to accomplish this dream. (Uncertain political environments are always priced into the interest rates.)

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