Book IV

Mere Reality

What kind of world do we live in? What is our place in that world? Building on the previous sequences’ examples of how evolutionary and cognitive models work, these six sequences explore the nature of mind and the character of physical law. In addition to applying and generalizing past lessons on scientific mysteries and parsimony, these essays raise new questions about the role science should play in individual rationality.

The World: An Introduction

Lawful Truth

  1. Universal Fire
  2. Universal Law
  3. Is Reality Ugly?
  4. Beautiful Probability
  5. Outside the Laboratory
  6. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Engines of Cognition
  7. Perpetual Motion Beliefs
  8. Searching for Bayes-Structure

Reductionism 101

  1. Dissolving the Question
  2. Wrong Questions
  3. Righting a Wrong Question
  4. Mind Projection Fallacy
  5. Probability is in the Mind
  6. The Quotation is Not the Referent
  7. Qualitatively Confused
  8. Think Like Reality
  9. Chaotic Inversion
  10. Reductionism
  11. Explaining vs. Explaining Away
  12. Fake Reductionism
  13. Savannah Poets

Joy in the Merely Real

  1. Joy in the Merely Real
  2. Joy in Discovery
  3. Bind Yourself to Reality
  4. If You Demand Magic, Magic Won’t Help
  5. Mundane Magic
  6. The Beauty of Settled Science
  7. Amazing Breakthrough Day: April 1st
  8. Is Humanism a Religion Substitute?
  9. Scarcity
  10. The Sacred Mundane
  11. To Spread Science, Keep It Secret
  12. Initiation Ceremony

Physicalism 201

  1. Hand vs. Fingers
  2. Angry Atoms
  3. Heat vs. Motion
  4. Brain Breakthrough! It’s Made of Neurons!
  5. When Anthropomorphism Became Stupid
  6. A Priori
  7. Reductive Reference
  8. Zombies! Zombies?
  9. Zombie Responses
  10. The Generalized Anti-Zombie Principle
  11. GAZP vs. GLUT
  12. Belief in the Implied Invisible
  13. Zombies: The Movie
  14. Excluding the Supernatural
  15. Psychic Powers

Quantum Physics and Many Worlds

  1. Quantum Explanations
  2. Configurations and Amplitude
  3. Joint Configurations
  4. Distinct Configurations
  5. Collapse Postulates
  6. Decoherence is Simple
  7. Decoherence is Falsifiable and Testable
  8. Privileging the Hypothesis
  9. Living in Many Worlds
  10. Quantum Non-Realism
  11. If Many-Worlds Had Come First
  12. Where Philosophy Meets Science
  13. Thou Art Physics
  14. Many Worlds, One Best Guess

Science and Rationality

  1. The Failures of Eld Science
  2. The Dilemma: Science or Bayes?
  3. Science Doesn’t Trust Your Rationality
  4. When Science Can’t Help
  5. Science Isn’t Strict Enough
  6. Do Scientists Already Know This Stuff?
  7. No Safe Defense, Not Even Science
  8. Changing the Definition of Science
  9. Faster Than Science
  10. Einstein’s Speed
  11. That Alien Message
  12. My Childhood Role Model
  13. Einstein’s Superpowers
  14. Class Project

Interlude: A Technical Explanation of Technical Explanation

An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes’s Theorem


The World: An Introduction