Reality Is Crowd-Sourced

Crowdsourcing is a sourcing model in which individuals or organizations obtain goods and services, including ideas and finances, from a large, relatively open and often rapidly-evolving group of internet users; it divides work between participants to achieve a cumulative result. The word crowdsourcing itself is a portmanteau of crowd and outsourcing, and was coined in 2005.  Wikipedia

Three Types of Reality

What is real? It seems like a question with an obvious answer. John Lennon said, “The more I see, the less I know for sure.” There are different realities or at least different ways of describing reality. First, there is subjective reality, which is the experience within each of our heads. There are as many subjective realities as there are people on the planet. We all see the world through different eyes.

Even events that are common to one or more of us, we experience slightly differently. We know our memories aren’t perfect. My wife and I argue all the time about what one of us said or didn’t say the day before. We each remember it completely differently. Our subjective realities are all we have. Neither of us can prove the other wrong.

We assume there is an objective reality. It’s one of the bases of the scientific method. We strive to design experiments that prove objective reality; that is a reality that is independent of the subject making the observation. An experiment should be able to be done by anyone, at any time, and come to the same result. This is based on the assumption there is a reality; that there is a common reality that is more real than our subjective experiences. And, that reality is the only one that counts. Objective reality is an assumption. We cannot prove it exists.

Whether objective reality exists or not, there is a third type of reality. Consensus reality is the reality we all agree on. We have agreements amongst ourselves that certain things did or did not happen. We use our common observations to agree on what historical events are real. We agree what things are possible and what things are impossible. I was having lunch with my friend Nico, and he commented that all things are possible referring to what humans can do. I said, “Well, it’s not possible for me to fly.” He gave me this quizzical look and asked: “Why not?” At the time I slightly questioned his sanity. I’ll come back to this later.

Referring to my example above about the arguments my wife and I have about what we said. We assume there is an objective reality where I said the thing we are arguing about me saying or I did not. It’s got to be one or the other. But, I’ll be damned if we can agree on what that objective reality is. We are each convinced that our subjective reality is the actual reality- the thing that really happened.

What Science Is Showing Us About Reality

Science is starting to blow my mind when it comes to looking at reality. The universe isn’t as simple as we once thought. Observers have an impact on experiments no matter how well the experiments are designed. Ironically, there are experiments that are now showing that. We are discovering the universe exists in a state of “superposition” where two things can simultaneously be true until an observer creates one reality or the other. Technology is allowing thought experiments (Schrodinger’s Cat) to be proven. See the Double Slit Experiment . We are finding until an observation is made, nothing really happens.

Maybe more mind-bending than the double-slit experiment, MIT Technology Review recently published an article with the provocative headline “There’s No Such Thing As Objective Reality“. Like most things concerning quantum mechanics, I cannot understand the science behind it. But, I think I understand the implications. Like Schrodinger’s Cat, this started as a thought experiment. The thought experiment was developed by Eugene Wigner in 1961 and demonstrated that Wigner and Wigner’s friend could experience two irreconcilable realities.

If this is possible, does it mean that objective reality doesn’t exist? Again, technology has allowed researchers to test this thought experiment. Researchers have designed and run an experiment that determined this is possible. They produced two irreconcilable outcomes. Here’s the money quote from the article:

“The scientific method relies on facts, established through repeated measurements and agreed upon universally, independently of who observed them,” say Proietti and co. And yet in the same paper, they undermine this idea, perhaps fatally.

Could this be the end of the scientific method? Can the scientific method be used to disprove the scientific method? The method we have created and that has served us so well is completely dependent on the idea that there is an objective reality. It gave us all the wonderful technology we have to today. We are completely dependent on reliable, predictable outcomes. However, when running the experiments that led to all of these great breakthroughs there has always been the problem that we have to experience this “objective reality” subjectively. Someone has to observe the results of the experiment. Scientists, developers, and researchers sweep aside the problem with the phrase “Shut up and calculate.” Now, we’re finding out there may not be an objective reality to experience.

How Flexible Is Reality?

It may be inevitable to come to the conclusion that objective reality is a myth. These quantum experiments are impossible for most of us to understand. They certainly aren’t things we experience in our daily lives. However, we experience cases where our subjective realities don’t line up. We disagree on what the objective reality is. Each of our subjective experiences is “real” to us. For the most part, we agree on reality. Again, what we agree on is what we call consensus reality. We rely on consensus reality. Anyone who disagrees with the consensus we call mentally ill. We chalk up the differences my wife and I have about what happened yesterday to faulty memory. We chalk up other variations to different perceptions or perspectives.

There are notable examples of how reality is malleable though. There is something known as the Mandela Effect named after Nelson Mandela. We agree, and history reflects, that Nelson Mandela died in December 2013. He was released from prison and became President of South Africa. There is a significant portion of the population who seem to recall that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s.  Do you remember the Berenstein Bears?  Or, do you remember the Berenstain Bears? The Mandela effect is so widespread there is a website documenting and collecting these memories that many people share that don’t line up with recorded history.

The Mandela effect refers to us misremembering history which calls me to question the objectivity of memory or even the past. But, what is more intriguing is how our minds might shape the future and the present. There was a time when the consensus was it was impossible for a human being to run a four-minute mile. And it was, right up until Roger Bannister did it in 1954.  Two months after Bannister broke the four-minute mile two runners did it in the same race. Today, a strong high school student can run a four-minute mile. The four-minute barrier was obliterated right after the first person did it, and we believed it was possible.

Lynne McTaggart, an author, has worked with scientists to do some fascinating experiments with group thought, getting people to set the intention to change large and small scale events in the world. In some experiments,  intentions have changed outcomes in laboratories. In other experiments, thoughts and intentions have lowered violence in certain regions.

Is Reality Crowd Sourced?

Back to where we started; what is reality? Is it our subjective experiences? That’s all any of us, individually, have. While my subjective experiences are important to me, I cannot make myself wealthy simply by believing I am wealthy. I cannot fly just by believing it. My subjective reality cannot be projected out into the universe making it true. Is the real reality what we all agree on- consensus reality? We’ve learned there either is no objective reality.  At the very least, it can be molded.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the reality we live in is crowd-sourced. Reality is not individual. But, it’s also not something completely independent of consciousness. Reality is formed by consciousness. We create it together through our thoughts and intentions.

I think we live in a universe that is much more magical and malleable than we have dared to imagine. Is it possible we’re all in a sort of lucid dream where we agree to a set of constructs and are only limited by what we all believe we can do? Back to my lunch with Nico, is he right? Is it possible that we could fly if enough of us believed it?

Beyond This Plane

My studies of the afterlife show this. It seems the greatest difference between the reality we live in and the afterlife “places” is in the afterlife our thoughts and intentions are either more powerful or the environment is more receptive to them. The physicality of that world bends to our will easier than here. In that existence, we think it and it happens. Here, at the very least, there is a lag. People have demonstrated that thoughts and intentions can mold our reality. The effects, however, tend to be subtle and take time. I do believe our thoughts and intentions have true power in this plane of existence; and I’m working on mine to create a better future. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” I’ve always taken this figuratively. Could He have meant it literally?

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