Get curated editors’ picks, peeks behind the scenes, film recommendations and more.
Many scientists believe that natural selection brought our perception of reality into clearer and deeper focus, reasoning that growing more attuned to the outside world gave our ancestors an evolutionary edge. Donald Hoffman, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Irvine, thinks that just the opposite is true. Because evolution selects for survival, not accuracy, he proposes that our conscious experience masks reality behind millennia of adaptions for ‘fitness payoffs’ – an argument supported by his work running evolutionary game-theory simulations. In this interview recorded at the HowTheLightGetsIn Festival from the Institute of Arts and Ideas in 2019, Hoffman explains why he believes that perception must necessarily hide reality for conscious agents to survive and reproduce. With that view serving as a springboard, the wide-ranging discussion also touches on Hoffman’s consciousness-centric framework for reality, and its potential implications for our everyday lives.
Video by The Institute of Arts and Ideas
History of ideas
How did ‘personal responsibility’ evolve into its opposite, ‘everyone for themselves’?
An artist grapples with the loss of his brother, and the problem of canine abduction
Sports and games
After a day’s toil in California’s fields, labourers let loose in street races
Thinkers and theories
Bigger isn’t better – the renegade ‘Buddhist economics’ of E F Schumacher
Sports and games
You’ve likely never heard of the only woman drafted into the NBA – and that’s fine by her
Consciousness and altered states
‘Meditation without meditating’ might be possible. Can it also be made ethical?
Information and communication
The modern world is littered with statistical noise. Here’s how to find the signal
Teaching and learning
The charity that teaches underprivileged kids to humanely hunt their next meal
Dance and theatre
Close-up on kabuki – the colourful ‘pure entertainment’ of Japan’s Edo period