Donald D. Hoffman

The Case Against Reality
  • The Case Against Reality

  • SHORTLISTED FOR THE PHYSICS WORLD BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019

    'One of the deepest and most original thinkers of his generation of cognitive scientists. His startling argument has implications for philosophy, science, and how we understand the world around us' Steven Pinker

    'Is reality virtual? It's a question made even more interesting by this book' Barbara Kiser, Nature

    Do we see the world as it truly is? In The Case Against Reality, pioneering cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman says no? we see what we need in order to survive. Our visual perceptions are not a window onto reality, Hoffman shows us, but instead are interfaces constructed by natural selection. The objects we see around us are not unlike the file icons on our computer desktops: while shaped like a small folder on our screens, the files themselves are made of a series of ones and zeros - too complex for most of us to understand. In a similar way, Hoffman argues, evolution has shaped our perceptions into simplistic illusions to help us navigate the world around us. Yet now these illusions can be manipulated by advertising and design.

    Drawing on thirty years of Hoffman's own influential research, as well as evolutionary biology, game theory, neuroscience, and philosophy, The Case Against Reality makes the mind-bending yet utterly convincing case that the world is nothing like what we see through our eyes.

Donald D. Hoffman is Professor of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Visual Intelligence (Norton, 1998), as well as over one hundred scholarly articles on various aspects of human perception and cognition. He received a Distinguished Scientific Award of the American Psychological Association for early career research into visual perception; the Rustum Roy Award of the Chopra Foundation; and the Troland Research Award of the US National Academy of Sciences. His 2015 TED Talk 'Do we see reality as it is?' has had over 2.9 million views.