SYNOPSIS

 

Seeing Reality As It Is examines the question – If there is only one reality, why can't we agree on what it is? As an introduction to the author's concept, consider that normal and colorblind people have different perceptions of the same reality. Those differences are reflected in beliefs they form about clothing and other color-related experiences. Clearly, genetic differences in their color receptors result in different beliefs about their common reality. Consider now that natural selection provided us with genetic adaptations that increase the likelihood of our survival. Those genetic adaptations can include courage-enhancing biases, thought-altering neurochemicals, and variations in the way our neural circuits are configured. The author refers to the combined adaptations we inherit as our “genetic chaperones.” Our genetic chaperones influence our actions by biasing our perceptions and altering the way we process thinking. In essence, our chaperones cause us to perceive a survival-enhancing version of reality instead of perceiving reality as it is. Much as people who are unaware of their color blindness form faulty beliefs about what they see, we all form faulty beliefs when we are unaware that our genetic chaperones cause us to perceive a survival-enhancing version of reality instead of perceiving reality as it is. 

The first few chapters deal with the biases, brain circuits, and neurochemicals that are part of our genetic chaperones. Subsequent chapters deal with how our Stone Age ancestors formed our earliest belief systems, how beliefs evolve over centuries, and the process by which we acquire beliefs and transmit them to others. In examining the vulnerabilities of our belief systems and genetic chaperones, the final chapter analyzes how our Stone Age genetic chaperones are influencing current social polarization, how modern propagandists and others manipulate our thoughts and beliefs by hacking our genetic chaperones with the aid of computer data collection companies, and how religiosity appears to be a natural consequence of genetic chaperone-altered perceptions. The concluding section addresses how competing realities make it difficult for us to agree on what reality is.