The Mind Projection Fallacy, or: Do You Exist Before I Look at You?

This is a fun piece from a while back. Have a look.

Mark T. Conard

In my humble opinion, one of the wackiest things about contemporary physics is the notion of indeterminacy, or the idea that (as a recent essay put it): “Reality Doesn’t Exist Until You Look at It.” This title is doubly silly, since it equates reality with what goes on at the subatomic level, and not with trees, dolphins, mountains, gerbils, Buicks, and non-fat yoghurt (the yoghurt definitely exists before you look at it, fyi). This was Schrödinger’s complaint with his famous cat thought-experiment (read here for the details).

For a long time I’d been naming this the “fallacy of deriving ontological conclusions from epistemological premises.” Ontology is the study of being; epistemology is the study of knowledge. So, in other words, one has premises concerning what one can or cannot know, and one derives a conclusion about the structure of reality from those premises. This is as illegitimate as…

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