What is “real” anyway? – An essay by Extropia DaSilva

Unfortunately, this is a very tricky question to answer because nobody has ever known objective reality. Our brains are not in direct contact with the world. They are enclosed and isolated from it in that black box known as the skull. So when we talk about reality in terms of what we can see, what we can feel, these things are the product of a model that exists only in our heads- a virtual reality, based on information gathered by our senses. And what medium carries this information? Electromagnetism.

Now, in some parts of the world, the Internet is transmitted over the air, wirelessly. With the right equipment, you can pluck the Net (and, therefore, SL) out of the ether. And as we have just seen, our eyes can also be regarded as instruments designed to tune in a particular wavelength of electromagnetism. We could therefore imagine that our eyes tune into a different wavelength: That which enables homes equipped with wireless Internet to tune in on SL. Furthermore, we can imagine that computers tune in on visible light, showing us what we call RL, only now we argue over how real these images are…

But really, such arguments make as much sense as arguing over which radio broadcast is real. It’s all just information interpreted by appropriately-tuned equipment. Now one might object to this description of the eye as an instrument comparable to a wireless receiver. If the eye is to be compared to anything, it must be a camera, objectively documenting reality? Partially, yes. But studies into how the brain turns the raw information gathered by our senses into the sensations of everyday experience forces a rethink into how ‘objective’ our model of reality is. Although we have the illusion of receiving high-resolution images from our eyes, what the optic nerve actually sends to the brain is just outlines and clues about points of interest in our visual field.

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