Monday, March 1, 2021

Diary, “Get over it dude, why u so obsessed with Hoffman’s Case Against Reality?”

(Answering the question of why, with a summary.)

The Case Against Reality book with an agent, ©Peter Miesler

Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-gravity Review is intended to offer solid information, food for thought, and hopeful inspiration for students concerned with American’s descent into delusional thinking.  It is set up to be easily skimmed, contains copious references to expert sources and reporting, along with a few promising gems.  

I've been challenged with the question: "Why am I so "obsessed" with Hoffman’s Case Against Reality?"

Overnight hoar frost#1, ©Peter Miesler

It’s a fair enough question.  Why have I spent a half year thinking about it, then nearly another half year and thousands of words dissecting Donald Hoffman’s book, The Case Against Reality, why evolution hid the truth from our eyes

I’ll tell you why,  

* It started with Donald Hoffman boasting that he’s doing serious solid science that is relevant to our daily lives.  When all he’s doing is sophisticated mathematical games, computer modeling, philosophizing, wrapped in just-so storytelling.  But, none of it deserves being called serious science! 

* Getting further into the book, I found my Down to Earth sensibilities and my respect for physical sciences increasingly offended by this man’s glib disregard for natural facts as scientists have refined them.

* His dismissal of physical sciences and the physicalist paradigm were as laughable, as they were irritatingly disingenuous.  

* His notion that the perceiver composes the perceived, is childish.  

After all, doesn’t light need to reflect off an object before we can perceive it?  The perceiver composes an impression of the perceived.  How does Hoffman justify such gross omissions of physical fact?

* His constant reliance on computer game analogies to answer questions - is reminiscent of an evangelical’s dependence on their own Bible to make their case, such debate tactics are not acceptable for a scientist.

* His constant conflation of Objective Reality and Physical Reality, needs a spotlight.  

“Objective” being a product of our minds doing their best to keep subjective human biases out of their observation and learning process.  

Thus, science’s dependence on process and measurements; physical evidence and repeatability; facts at hand driving understanding; a community of experts always looking over each other’s shoulders; constructively learning from mistakes; demand for honesty at all levels of communication; and so on.

* His tendency to imply that Evolution has agency reveals a limited appreciation for actual “wet” evolution unfolding one day at a time, over the course of deep time.  

* In fact, turns out the only thing Hoffman knows about Evolution, is Evolutionary Game Theory.  Realizing that, made Hoffman’s simplistic sweeping pronouncements regarding Evolution that much more galling.

* Then, his quantum level rhetorical fancy dancing that disingenuously conflates conclusions from atom smasher experiments with our macroscopic day to day reality, was like listening to nails being scrapped across a chalkboard.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Philo+Sophia, Love of Wisdom, A Student Resource

©2020 Peter Miesler

We’ll finish my Hoffman's, Case Against Reality, review project, 'Playing Basketball in Zerogravity' with a look at the serious side of philosophy.  It seems only fair considering some of my wise ass remarks in previous segments.

I’ll admit to having issues with the showboats who demonstrate little respect for honesty, and constructive learning.  As for serious philosophy, that I can relate to on a personal homegrown level.  

That’s why I’m grateful to Lausten over at CFI for sharing a genuinely insightful talk by Richard Carrier, explaining what philosophy was, is and isn’t.  I’ve rerun it a couple times and it keeps improving.  It's a wonderfully fitting closing segment for this review, and I hope Skepticon doesn’t mind me sharing some of Carrier's posters. 

For the complete set see,



Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Critical Thinking Skills - In Defense of Reality - A Student Resource

©2019 Peter Miesler

Considering my Case For Reality project is all about striving to develop a valuable resource for students who want to defend serious fact-based science against frauds using pseudo-science masquerading as fact - a formal consideration of Critical Thinking & Reading Skills is a must.

The way towards success is by studying and learning to recognize the patterns of deceptive rhetoric.  That way you become prepared for those tricks and find yourself ready poised with effective responses.  

Don't ignore the lies, use those lies to your advantage.  Namely by intelligently and confidently coming right back with the counter-story, the one that explains the facts in a way that makes clear why said claim is a fraud, and why the facts make more sense anyways.  Remember there's always an audience to consider, so try making a teaching moment out of every interaction.

Replace misinformation with honest information and evidence along with a narrative of the story behind the science, enabling people to form a better understanding.  Easier said than done, but unless we are changing minds we are losing.  

Consider the philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu, which besides being about the mental discipline of a warrior, is a philosophy about winning by yielding to an opponent's force, instead of trying to oppose force with force.

Rather than playing by the contrarian script, why not develop some intellectual rhetorical jiu-jitsu skills.

It starts with sharp Critical Thinking and Reading Skills, and for developing that we have clearly defined strategies.  Below I share from five sources;

Critical Reading and Reading Strategy

The Foundation For Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

The SQ3R Method of Studying

Francis Pleasant Robinson -

21 Century Middle School Guide Student’s Guide to Study Skills

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Matthew Schlesinger, is hungry for more (HSP) interface theory of perception.

We've come to the last paper mentioned in the list of learned responses Professor Hoffman shared with me via his “Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentaries, (HSP).  

The interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more: Commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, “The interface theory of perception”

©2019 Peter Miesler - bales of hay

Matthew Schlesinger, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

volume 22, pages 1548–1550(2015), September 18, 2015
(full article1400 words)


…  Is the theory convincing? I would have to say “almost”; although it certainly has many elements working in its favor, ultimately, I also found that some important questions were ignored or left unanswered,  … 

Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash (2014) have ventured into dangerous waters by articulating the idea that perceptual experience is not (necessarily) veridical. They provide support for their provocative claim in a variety of ways (some more convincing than others), …

Overall, I found the argument to be a superb opening shot in what may grow to become a rather contentious debate. …

We got phylogeny and ontogeny!

What a delight to discover that the interface theory of perception not only includes the evolutionary timescale, but also makes room for the developmental timescale. … 

At the very least, this feature means that there is a potential continuity across the two timescales, opening the door to a discussion of multitimescale interactions, including exotic subjects such as heterochrony and the Baldwin effect.


opening the door to a discussion of multi-time-scale interactions”  Say what?

I’ve written Professor Schlesinger a couple emails asking if he could explain the concept, and it’s place, in lay terms, but haven’t received a reply, so I’m left guessing.

I don’t recall anything in Hoffman’s book Case Against Reality referring to  ‘multi-time-scale perceptual interactions.’   When I look up the term, there’s all sorts of interesting stuff, such as “entangled time in flocking: multi-time-scale interactions,” among others.  But nothing related to multigenerational perception or Evolution.  

Genetic coding and interactions with changing environments comes to mind, but viewed through the lens of “perceptual interactions over multi-time-scales” seems a non sequitur.  Is it a fancy way of saying the mental processing of varying levels of memory and forethought capabilities?  Could be, but then, why not simply say so?  Who knows?

The thing I do know is that when claims and lofty rhetoric overwhelms my senses and leaves my head spinning, with nothing to build upon.  I pull back to what I do understand and that always takes me back to knowledge attained through Earth sciences and biology.  

The breath and depth of the current scientific understanding within a simple pragmatic physicalist* paradigm is awesome (*before all the over-wrought handwringing takes over).  Heck, it even invites mystical experiences far superior to what can be achieved sitting in a monastic cell.  

Get out into dark skies, sit on the edge of Earth, gazing at a crescent moon, with the sun over the horizon and some planets in view, imagining their orbits, looking beyond into the milky way, thinking about the Voyagers and other manmade spacecraft and all we've learned about those worlds.  The deeper your understanding becomes, the more vivid your mind's eye.

Achieving a momentarily visceral awareness of those objects in time and space, now that get's about as mystical as a human could hope for.  Or the other direction, inward voyages, into your own body that are possible given today's medical understanding and imaging capability.  All it takes is doing your homework and sincere curiosity.

If we're going to spend all day within our mindscapes, why not spend energy on those sorts of constructive down to Earth pursuits?  Thoughts and ideas that can lead to constructive outcomes. At least that's what I'll be arguing for in future installments.


The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, by David Quammen

Science writer David Quammen explains how recent discoveries in molecular biology can change our understanding of evolution and life’s history, with powerful implications for human health and even our own human nature. … 

The pioneering work of Carl Woese.   (Goodreads)


A New View of Evolution That Can’t Be Represented by a Tree

By Erika Check Hayden, New York Times Book Review, August 13, 2018

… Quammen’s sprawling history of evolutionary genetics ranges widely in its answer to that question. He synthesizes a large quantity of disparate material, circling repeatedly back to one scientist in particular: Carl Woese, whose work both fleshed out Darwin’s tree and laid the foundations for its uprooting.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Diary, write your Senators: "IMPEACH TRUMP !"

We interrupt our scheduled programming for this important PSA for American citizens:

We The People of the United States have two Senators representing each state.  Every Senator accepts emails, phone calls and letters.  They pay attention only when they get deluged with mail.  

If you believe Donald Trump betrayed his Oath of Office, isn't it your patriotic duty to let your Senators, Democratic and Republican, know how you feel?


©2020 Peter Miesler - wild fire smoke plume

This is an all hands on deck situation like America has never endured before.  You'll find the complete list of Senate contact information at the bottom of this post.  Along the way you'll find links to informative details.

Such as: 77days of Trump fomenting sedition;  The Myth of Voter Fraud;  Creating a Worst Case Pandemic;  Out and Out Criminality;  Senator's Addresses.  Make your voice heard!   Even to those Trumpist Republicans who are hopelessly lost in their totalitarian delusions.  

If we want to be more than an impotent spectator to history, participate, contact your Senators, tell them why you believe Trump must be impeached - send them a clear, succinct message, the American people will not tolerate criminality and totalitarian thinking in their presidents.

Let’s acknowledge our bias.  We believe in American pluralism and democracy.  We accept the Statue of Liberty’s promise of a civil nation of immigrants; and a government, of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Never perfect, but striving to do better.

{My question is, why isn't the Democratic Party (and social media) pounding on their drums and engaging their grassroots into such substantive constructive action?  

Flood Republican Senator's with pleas to wake up from the fraud.  Unless we can learn from our mistakes we are lost.  Democracy depends on an informed and engaged electorate.  If we aren't changing minds, we are losing.}


Background information:

77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Zygmunt Pizlo, Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash (2014)

 Zygmunt Pizlo:  “I am an “expert” on 3D shape perception, so I will confine my comments about veridicality to shape. Unlike Hoffman et al., I do not have the temerity required to discuss veridicality in vision in general, as well as in smell, taste, touch and hearing in such varied species as humans, bees, and spiders.”

“… Any contemporary use of a Motor Theory of Perception, and this includes Hoffman et al.’s explanation of 3D shape perception, can be viewed as a legacy of psychology’s Dark Age called “Radical Behaviorism”. This is precisely what Hoffman et al. are offering us. As for me, “no, thank you very much.”

©2019 Peter Miesler - Durango Bluegrass Meltdown Greenroom

Zygmunt Pizlo’s paper does a wonderfully concise job of bringing Hoffman’s “veridicality” challenge back down to Earth and our three dimensional world.  This paper was 1200 words long and I whittled to 500 some odd.  Please visit the complete article for all the details. 

Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash (2014)

  • Zygmunt Pizlo, September 18, 2015 

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

volume 22, pages 1546–1547 (2015)


The perception of a 3D shape must be excluded from Hoffman et al.’s “interface theory” primarily because shape is characterized by its symmetries. When these symmetries are used as a priori constraints, 3D shapes are always recovered from 2D retinal images veridically. 

These facts make it clear that 3D shape perception is completely different from, as well as more important than, all other perceptions because the veridicality of our perception of 3D shapes (and 3D scenes) accounts for our successful adaptation to the natural environment.

… when we talk about veridical 3D perception, we are referring to our natural visual space, that is, a space with natural, symmetrical objects residing, as they naturally do, on a common ground because of gravity. 

The concept of an “empty” visual space, used in laboratories, that contains only a few isolated points of light in total darkness, or a few objects floating in the air, no matter how attractive mathematically, is actually empty from an empirical, as well as from a computational, point of view. …

Monday, February 8, 2021

McLaughlin + Green, Are Hoffman’s Icons Sense Data?

Brian McLaughlin and E.J. Green: "We contend that, contrary to what Hoffman et al. claim, the perceptual icons posited by interface theory seem best taken to be sense data."

 "The brain, of course, is a complex middle-sized physical object. As such, HSP must hold that it does not exist. But if the brain does not exist, then where are visual computations carried out? HSP offer no answer to this question.”

"… We can’t justifiably appeal to evidence obtained from particle accelerators, for instance, without presupposing that there are particle accelerators."

"... We part company with HSP, however, when they tell us: “the language of space-time and physical objects is the wrong language for describing the true structure of the objective world.”
©2020 Peter Miesler - Kokopelli out standing in his field.

I’m grateful to Brian P. McLaughlin and E.J. Green for taking a closer look at Hoffman’s “Icons” in a way no one else has.  They’ve done an excellent job of detailing the logical and scientific fallacies within Hoffman's "icons" notion.  

Are icons sense data?

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, September 18, 2015

volume 22, pages 1541–1545 (2015)

(Original article 4000 words)


We argue that Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash (Psychon Bull Rev, this issue) have not made the case that "the language of space-time and physical objects is the wrong language for describing the true structure of the objective world." 

Further, we contend that, contrary to what Hoffman et al. claim, the perceptual icons posited by interface theory seem best taken to be sense data.

As Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash (2014(hereafter, HSP) point out, Palmer expresses the orthodox view in vision theory when he states:

Evolutionarily speaking, visual perception is useful only if it is reasonably accurate…Indeed, vision is useful precisely because it is so accurate. By and large, what you see is what you get. When this is true, we have what is called veridical perception. (1999, 6)