The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes

The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes

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Challenging leading scientific theories that claim that our senses report back objective reality, cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman argues that while we should take our perceptions seriously, we should not take them literally. How can it be possible that the world we see is not objective reality? And how can our senses be useful if they are not communicating the truth? Hoffman grapples with these questions and more over the course of this eye-opening work.


Ever since Homo sapiens has walked the earth, natural selection has favored perception that hides the truth and guides us toward useful action, shaping our senses to keep us alive and reproducing. We observe a speeding car and do not walk in front of it; we see mold growing on bread and do not eat it. These impressions, though, are not objective reality. Just like a file icon on a desktop screen is a useful symbol rather than a genuine representation of what a computer file looks like, the objects we see every day are merely icons, allowing us to navigate the world safely and with ease.


The real-world implications for this discovery are huge. From examining why fashion designers create clothes that give the illusion of a more “attractive” body shape to studying how companies use color to elicit specific emotions in consumers, and even dismantling the very notion that spacetime is objective reality, The Case Against Reality dares us to question everything we thought we knew about the world we see.

Title:The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes
ISBN:9780393254693
Format Type:

    The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes Reviews

  • BlackOxford

    You Can’t Get There From Here Reality has no intrinsic properties. Reality exists but existence is not a property. Hoffman’s thesis is that human beings, in fact all life, have evolved such that ...

  • Ryan Boissonneault

    Despite centuries of unrelenting scientific progress, the problem of consciousness remains unsolved. How subjective experience can arise from the electrochemical irritation of nervous tissue remains o...

  • Tom Quinn

    What we find here is a bit like H.P. Lovecraft minus the more horrible of the cosmic horror. Heres the gist: we filter reality. Knowing what exists independent of our senses is impossible, and I'm nev...

  • Chad Gayle

    The starting premise here is that evolution has shaped not only our senses but how we interpret the data we gather from our senses. Not a great leap, especially given what's happened in perceptual sci...

  • Brian Clegg

    It's not exactly news that our perception of the world around us can be a misleading confection of the brain, rather than a precise picture of reality - everything from optical illusions to the appare...

  • Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

    It's social constructionism taken to its logical conclusion via evolutionary theory (which is normally anathema to constructivists). The interest here is in finding an attempt to reconcile constructiv...

  • Aerin

    So, this book took me off guard a bit, because I was expecting it to focus on how limited our senses and cognitive processes are. Just because we see color doesn’t mean there’s not a whole range o...

  • Muwaffaq

    I would like to give this book 3 different ratings - 3 stars 4 stars and 5 stars. As a novel concept and really original thought experiment it is definitely 5 stars. For interest and some other relate...

  • Andrew Kitzmiller

    I understand the argument that we do not perceive reality completely, but the leap to conscious realism seemed unwarranted and unconvincing. ...

  • inf

    I am sympathetic to the author’s general thesis, hence this book was disappointing not because of its conclusions (to which many reviewers objected) but because it did a poor job of making its case ...