The matrix is all around you. It’s your current worldview — everything you think you know.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We all live in the matrices of our current worldviews. We all approximate our own truth. No human fully comprehends what is going on in this universe.
However, when people become too certain in their beliefs, bad things often result. When people become overly certain, they become willing to kill and commit other atrocities to defend their beliefs.
Thus, one of our purposes at HighExistence is to consistently challenge the beliefs of the human species — to show all of you that you shouldn’t be so certain. For the world is an endlessly complex and mysterious place…
The freethinker understands this. The freethinker seeks consistently to expand and refine their worldview, knowing that there is always room for more knowledge and perspective.
One great way to expand your worldview — to unplug from the matrix of your current belief system — is to contemplate thought experiments.
That’s why I’ve assembled this collection of reality-cracking paradoxes and puzzles. My sincere hope is that this series of thought experiments will compel you to be a freethinker — to admit that there are oceans of things you do not know and to continue learning for the rest of your days. Good luck.
“I don’t believe anything, but I have many suspicions.”
— Robert Anton Wilson
15 Mind-Bending Thought Experiments
#1: We Can’t All Be Right
Many of us believe “I’m right.”
There’s no way we could all possibly be right. There’s no way even most of us are right. But we’re almost always convinced: “I have the right perspective”.
There are some things we can be pretty sure about. I know I’m typing on my laptop. I’m facing a window and I know it’s sunny outside. I know I like barbecue sauce.
But my interpretations of social situations often turn out wrong…
One morning at work my supervisor quickly told me they had feedback for me later in our afternoon meeting. I stressed out all day worried about what I had done wrong. It turned out they wanted to emphasize something I had done well.
I was so anxious about something completely in my imagination. I had an incorrect expectation about what the word “feedback” meant. I let my imagination run wild with this expectation, and cause me distress over something that didn’t exist.
We have a lot of ideas that we think are right. We’re certain that if we accomplish this goal, we’ll be super happy! We know this social problem is caused by that issue, and so we need to pass this legislation to solve things. We believe this happens after we die…
In all these cases, we really don’t know. We might have a good guess. And sure, we all guess right now and then.
But the world is infinitely complex. Our intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge have limitations. There are so many things we can’t know.
I bet a lot of the time, you think you’re right. Reflect on that. How much unexamined loyalty do you have in your own perspectives?
Know that everyone who disagrees with you rests with a similar level of self-assuredness.
Experiment with thinking about how ludicrous it is that almost everybody believes they’re right. We can’t all be right. But most of the time, we manage to believe we are.
#2: WWAT? What Would Aliens Think?
What would an alien think?
Question all your personal habits, all your culture’s values and activities, from that perspective.
Of course, intelligent extraterrestrials would most likely have their own biased perspective just like you do. It’s not that the alien’s perspective is totally objective and perfect. The point isn’t to get a perfect view of ourselves.
The point of this thought experiment is just to see ourselves as an outsider. Are the things we do with our life worthwhile when viewed from afar? Aren’t a lot of our activities and choices kind of weird? What are we like when considered through the lens of something literally alien to us?
When I ask myself this question I find that a lot of the stuff we do is weird as fuck.
Why do we keep the toothbrush right next to the place where we shit? I mean, you put that thing in your mouth!
Why do I make a weird voice when I talk to my dog? What would an alien think if it saw a subway full of humans all staring at their phones?
If an alien with no knowledge of humans saw one of us surfing, how would it explain the activity? What would the alien think of that human’s motivation to surf? Why is the human doing that?
What would aliens think?