The Consensus Reality Spectrum
I have recently been on a quest to learn more about the greater “landscape” of realities and have actually had some rewarding successes. I call them all realities, because the definition of the word “real” is entirely arbitrary and subjective; hence, everything may be considered a reality. During a recent lucid dream, I had a revelation. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem as substantial of an idea now as it did then, but here is the gist of it:
The only significant difference between a dream state and what we think of as our “normal physical reality” is the level of consensus that is applied to it.
When we dream or fantasize, our minds are fully in control of creating the reality that we take part in. In our physical world, however, this is clearly not the case. We can’t just make the sky red, fly, or defy the laws of physics. However, there is incontrovertible evidence that we can mold our reality, as demonstrated by:
- The power of the placebo. For example, placebo was shown to be effective as active treatment in patients with mild neurological deficits, producing an improvement of about 50%, according to a study by the Bayer Pharmaceutical Research Center.
- The power of positive intent. For example, positive emotions have been shown to increase openness to new experiences, according to a study done by the Journal of Consumer Research.
- The observer effect. For example, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science conducted a highly controlled experiment demonstrating how a beam of electrons is affected by the act of being observed.
And, as if to put the final nail in the materialistic determinism coffin, scientists at the prestigious IQOQI institute in Vienna, demonstrated to a certainty of 1 part in 1E80 that objective reality does not exist.
So why does physical reality seem so real? It is because it is designed that way. We are much more likely to learn when we believe in well-grounded cause and effect. Seriously, when was the last time you actually consciously learned something from a dream? (Subconsciously, that is a different story.) In order for us to get something useful out of this physical-matter-reality learning lab, we must believe it is somehow more real than what we can conjure up in our minds. But, again, all that means is that our experience is relatively consistent with that of our free-willed friends and colleagues. She sees a blue car, you see a blue car, you both describe it the same way, it therefore seems real and objective. Others have referred to this as a consensus reality, a descriptor that fits well.
It is not unlike a large-scale computer game. In a FPS (first person shooter), only you are experiencing the sim. In an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game), everyone experiences the same sim. However, if you think about it, there is no reason why the game can’t present different aspects of the sim to different players based on their attributes or skills. In fact, this is exactly what some games do.
So, one can imagine a spectrum of “consensus influence”, with various realities placed somewhere on that spectrum. At the far left, is solipsism – realities that belong to a singular conscious entity. We may give this a consensus factor of 0, since there is none. At the other end of the spectrum is our physical matter reality, what most of us call “the real world.” We can’t give it a consensus factor of 100, because of the observer effect. 100 would have to be reserved for the concept of a fully deterministic reality, a concept which, like the concept of infinity, only exists in theory. So our physical matter reality (PMR) is 99.99-something.
Everything else falls in between.
Many researchers have experienced realities at various points on this spectrum. Individual OBEs that have closely locked into PMR are at the high-consensus end of the scale. OBEs that are more fluid are somewhere in the middle. Mutual lucid dreaming can be considered a consensus of two and is therefore somewhere toward the low-consensus side of the spectrum.
I believe that this may be a useful model for those psychonauts, astral travelers, and quantum physicists among us.