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How We Imagine Reality

“The learned ignore the evidence of their senses

to preserve the coherence of the ideas of their imagination.”

~ Adam Smith, 1723-1790 Father of Economics and Capitalism

True-False .... Fact-Fiction .... Right-Wrong .... Real-Fake ....

Why do we still even talk about these?

Doesn't someone already have the answers?

Can't everyone do this... isn't it just common sense?

It turns out, despite almost everyone being able to walk, talk, go to work, eat breakfast, buy, sell, watch entertainment, and generally live competently, knowing Fact from Fiction is hard. It's not something anyone does well naturally, and it takes a lot of work to achieve once, let alone regularly.

Why? What gives?

Work on this continues because, despite people generally being able to survive day to day, we not only haven't agreed on many answers to individual questions of Fact and Fiction, we haven't agreed on how to even arrive at those answers, or manage their distribution and use by individuals.

Don't get me wrong, we have the means.

Rather, what we still need is:

  1. Clear and consistent definitions, particularly for Fact and Fiction, including the value and utility of both

  2. To solidify a process for knowing the difference between Fact and Fiction consistently

  3. To create more clear and appropriate space for Fiction and creativity, apart from space for Facts, so Fact and Fiction can both provide their value to humanity with far less confusion, and

  4. To provide people and institutions with simple tools to interact with both effectively

This is an attempt to start a simple, helpful summary.

(Note: The purpose is to help you understand the ideas we call "Fact" and "Fiction", how everyone uses and confuses them, and the processes / tools you can use to improve your ability to use both beneficially. While I make my best attempt to make this easy to understand and accessible, none of it will make much sense if you aren't interested in it making sense. If this is not your interest or intent, you may just want to skip it.)

What we Imagine as Real, and Imagine as Not Real

When we talk about Fact vs Fiction, Real vs Not, Right vs Wrong we usually talk about them in a universal or objective sense.

For Example:

  • It's a "Fact" that Washington DC is the Capital of the United States.

  • Basketballs are "Real".

  • 2 + 2= 7 is "Wrong".

  • Captain America is "Fictional'.

The things we imagine as Right, Real, True, and Facts are what we imagine actually exist, and exist consistently in the way that we imagine them.

All of our actions, decisions, and feelings are a result of the things we imagine to the true.

For example:

You hear a knock at your door. There are an infinite number of things that you can imagine to be on the other side of that door.

  • A bear

  • Your mother

  • A neighbor looking to borrow sugar

  • The FBI

  • A TV show with a $1 million dollar check for you

  • Aliens

  • The Mayor

  • Abraham Lincoln's ghost

The potential list is infinite.

However, we don't imagine an infinite number of things. If we did, you'd never complete a single choice.

We just imagine what we expect to be true, and then act and feel accordingly. In fact, everything we imagine, we imagine as true. It's impossible for us to imagine something that isn't true.

For example: Magic

  • When a magician does a magic trick, it fills us with wonder and excitement because we don't know how it's done, and so imagine that the 'magic' being displayed is real.

  • As soon as we know how the trick is done, we cannot imagine it without filling in the gap to show that magic isn't necessary for it to work.

In the same way HOW we imagine something fully determines HOW we react, with our behavior and emotions. So fundamentally, all decisions, actions, and feelings are based on the information we choose to imagine at the time.

This is true not just for people, but all biological creatures and technological agents. And what decision, action, and feeling results follows the same set of simple rules.

It's why "persuasive fiction" is far more compelling that facts.

We react to what we imagine.

This is why "Informational Well-being" is what we've decided to call the half of well-being associated with thoughts, feelings, and behavior/choice.

The information / data that we use, the way we structure it, and the way we use it directly controls:

  • What we think

  • How we feel

  • How we behave

  • What we choose

If you can manage the information, you can manage the rest.


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