Monday, October 18, 2010

Reality is a Majority Vote

"Have you ever felt like you're the only sane person in the world," I asked her right out of the wild blue yonder. "Like everyone else is crazy?"

There are questions and there are surprises. She was surprised. We were just colleagues, acquaintances sitting in the same car because circumstance put us there - not choice. It's understandable.

"Um," she hesitated. "Never thought about it. Don't think so."

"Oh," I said. That's a personal watchword of mine. Oh. It's brief. It's meaningless. It feels round in my mouth. It means I have a lot of things to say which I don't think I should be saying. Oh reminds me to kill conversations when they stray out of the comfort of banality and start liaising with socially unacceptable weirdness.

Do you know that we have no direct access to reality? Our senses - our sight, hearing, our faculties of smell, taste and touch - gather data about reality. Not of reality, mind you. About reality. Then, with the help of all these information, we reconstruct an approximation of reality in our brains. Look around you right now - it's all a reproduction. The closer this model resembles the real world, the saner we are measurably. The reverse is true. Our personal subjective realities are just interpretations.

"Have you ever thought that you're the only sane person in the world - and everyone else is mad?"
I asked a lot of people this question, usually at random. Always, I got reports that the world is well and level. The world, diagnostically, is overwhelmingly healthy in mind and spirit.

I ask because every single day, every hour within those days, down to every last second within those hours; I am haunted by this uncanny sensation I can't shake off that every single person on Earth - except me - is insane.

It's driving me nuts.

13 comments:

sin said...

My answer is no. I don't think i'm the only sane person in the world. As the matter of fact, i don't even think i'm 100% sane.
I am one of those good examples of people that can suddenly turn insane by cracking stupid and embarassing jokes at the wrong time, place and situation.

At least, this is my interpretation.

fingerscrossed said...

I often think that everyone's crazy...

but everyone has their own level of insanity...

Some people are mildly insane... some are dangerously insane... Some are insanely insane...

Maybe you're the mild one...

Lukey Luke Phang! said...

and what does sane or insane means? is there any guideline to that? even if there is (eg bible, quran, philosophical writings), how do we know which is correct?

the problem is everything is so subjective. what is sane to you might not be sane to me and vice versa. and when it comes to matter like this, how are gonna know who is right and who is wrong? you have your reasons and i have mine.

there's a reason why people think the world is healthy when its not. it's our own way of coping. it gives us a sense of hope and courage to live on.

just my 2 cents

lovealynna said...

This is gonna sound so self-important that it'll probably create a whole new meaning to self-important but...

I used to entertain the thought that maybe other people, the world, the universe as I know it were just figments of my imagination, and that one day I might wake up to some whole new... existence that would be completely different. So it's not that I'd think they were insane; instead I'd wonder if other people really... existed... and if they would actually be alive in the world if I wasn't.

This was probably before I hit my teens. And then I'm guessing I realised that whether or not the world was real, I'd still have to wake up to it the next morning and deal with whatever comes. So I let that idea go; the world has no time for such self-importance.

... Yeah.

fingerscrossed said...

lovealynna, you reminded me of Keanu Reeve's The Matrix

Zzzyun said...

hmm i think reality is up to your own interpretation. everyone's perception of reality is different.

but looks like u are watching too much 'inception-like' stuff?

lovealynna said...

fingerscrossed: Right now, I think I'd wanna mess with Morpheus and down both of those pills. ;)

k0k s3n w4i said...

sin: not the kind of insanity i'm talking about. i feel that everyone is delusional to a culturally acceptable degree and display a sort of looseness of association. i often listen to people talk while they repeatedly make me want to reach out for their shoulders and give them a good shake yelling, "have you no insight? the thing you just said makes no fucking sense!"

fingercrossed: personally, i usually think of myself as the only sane man. i believe in nothing without proof. i do nothing without reason.

Lukey Luke Phang!: actually, we do have a guideline: it's called ICD-10 and DSM-IV. and if we interpret reality from objective data and methods, i.e. science, we'd get a reliably good handle on reality. because once everything's broken down to numbers, you bypass all the limitations of human senses and the brain.

lovealynna: that sounds very much like the phenomenon of derealisation. you know how sometimes babies and young kids will close their eyes or look away if they are scared by something? they think that so long as they can't see it, it doesn't exist. our perception of reality, our recognition of the self changes as we grow up.

Zzzyun: nope, everyone's perception of reality is very similar - with some minor differences. i feel that the reality i experience is different in a major way in comparison to everyone else's. anyhow, i get this way as a direct result of talking to people - not because of any movies.

ap said...

hi, i often feel like lord of the world because of the effects of ugh epistemology- i am the fabricator of all reality known to mankind- well i only know what i know so all reality known to me enwraps all reality known to mankind, right- so i must be a superpower mindforce of sorts, the chosen one, to inhabit reality. this makes my mind take quite a spin, the sane people are the ones who don't wonder as i do...

k0k s3n w4i said...

ap: hey, s'been awhile since you last commented. i'm interested in epistemology myself, especially after reading neal stephenson's anathem (which talks about weaponised epistemology, if you can believe it). however, i experience the opposite of what you feel. my personal reality is so infinitesimally small compared to all the knowledge in the universe that sometimes, my self would vanish.

lovealynna said...

SW, I still close my eyes and wish things away, which is why my date must have been annoyed when I hid behind his shoulder during Buried, haha. Your perception of your own personal reality is so.. humbling. The opposite of mine. Hehe.

Lukey Luke Phang! said...

DSM IV? the book that says who's crazy or not? on my opinion, practically everyone can fit in some categories in the book. and who determines who's crazy or not? a bunch of psychiatrist who sits down every year and votes? and who gives the psychiatrist the authority to determine who's normal and who's not? does their trainings give them the authority? or their intellectual? or the law? everything is so subjective

k0k s3n w4i said...

lovealynna: humbling? hello? i think that everyone in the world is batshit insane except me. paragon of humility i am not.

Lukey Luke Phang!: to be fair, you asked: "is there any guideline to that?" I merely pointed out to you that there are actual, official guidelines. at no point did i assert that these guidelines are infallible. like i already said, our best handle on reality is science, which breaks reality down into objective information which is difficult to misinterpret. i am not concerned with inerrancy. i am concerned with the best possible method of testing reality, one which consistently produced results.