You woke up this morning feeling fine, but something seemed just a bit out of kilter. No matter. You hunted for your shoes but they weren’t where you thought you left them. Eventually you found them, but hey, is that how you laced them?
Off to the store. Whatever it was that you wanted, you can’t find it. In frustration, you find a stock person who tells you that they never carried that item. You feel a bit of a chill, but it passes. Surely they were mistaken.
It’s time for the news. Someone shot up a McDonald’s, a factory, a playground. Surely it can’t be right! It’s a work of fiction. People don’t do things like that, do they? They’re ironing their daughters breasts with hot rocks . . . ?
It gets worse as we get older. It isn’t Alzheimer’s disease, it’s culture shock. We remember nicer times, pastoral times when there were gentle breezes and sunshine and tsunamis didn’t kill huge masses of people. Gasoline was thirty cents per gallon and when you got in a fender-bender all that came of it, really, was a scratch on the bumper.
Or, during the night while you slept you slipped from one universe to another. You don’t remember those neighbors – when did they move in? And were the streets always so cracked and full of potholes? It’s almost like a post-apocalyptic movie. You can’t really put your finger on it, but countless little changes over the years have led to changes in people, places, things, and are those things you remember about history accurate, or have you been sliding from one alternate universe to another constantly?
Remember that close call you had when you were sixteen? How in the world did you avoid being killed in that accident? Or was that really you? You know, it could be that of the countless possible worlds, you just happen to be the one of you that survived while all the others were killed, maimed, or never existed at all.
And do you remember that . . . that . . . no, for some reason, you can’t remember that, whatever it was that you were so sure was real. What was it? What was it that a moment ago seemed so important but is now lost forever? Where did it go and was it ever real?
If you write down events from your day before you go to sleep tonight, will it be the same note in the morning? Are these questions beginning to sound just a bit eerie? It all makes one think, doesn’t it?
You don’t want to be paranoid, don’t want to consider schizophrenia, and it’s so easy to dismiss these things and just forget about them and go on feeling secure and grounded in reality. But then you read about the nature of reality and the paranoia sets in once more. Things are only real when they are observed? Is that true? If a tree falls in the forest and kills the person standing under it do they both cease to exist?
I recently attempted to console a poster online who related a story of a black thing that he saw in the corner of his vision. When he turned toward it, it immediately receded into the distance. He is absolutely certain that he saw it and no question of the integrity of his eyes or his brain is acceptable to him. Another poster defended him saying that if it were his eyes then it would happen more than once. A black thing, perhaps something from another dimension, leaping away when one tries to look at it. Great stuff! This is straight from Riverworld or some other fantasy or science fiction nightmare.
It is so difficult to find reason in the world when we can be so easily fooled by our minds. For every scientist striving to unlock the puzzles of the universe, there are a dozen people who let their imaginations roam a little too far and what they imagine becomes real – if not for themselves, then for the people they relate them to.
When pressed on his use of quantum physics in his talks and books, Deepak Chopra was forced to admit that he didn’t really mean quantum physics, he used the word to refer to something else. He did not seem to be able to actually describe what else it was that he was talking about.
There’s a close affinity between the purveyors of New Age pseudoscience and the apologists for religion. They all misuse science to give shaky credence to their claims. And when they contrive a forced explanation based on little but their own imaginations it becomes reality so far as they are concerned. Do they believe it themselves? I think they probably do. It seems reasonable to them because they don’t have either the science or the math to work out the problems with their positions. And it seems reasonable to their followers because they don’t have the math, either.
It’s a neat trick. As I began this essay, I played upon doubts that anyone could have or that anyone could believe and I’d bet that it sparked some panicked thought in a few who were wondering if I might just be right. After all, there’s a multiverse hypothesis, the observation hypothesis I mentioned and a lot of people take these things seriously. I have yet to hear of a demonstration of that refrigerator de-materializing when the observer leaves the room, only to re-materialize when they return, or a tree that will not leave a trace on a sound recorder when there are no sentient beings to hear it as it falls.
Now, where did I leave my shoes?