Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am? Scientists and Writers Answer Little Kidsâ€™ Big Questions about How Life Works | Brain Pickings
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Illusionist Derren Brown, who has previously weighed in on the psychology of gullibility, answers 5-year-old Evieâ€™s question about how we can be sure that life isnâ€™t just a dream, touching on the limits of our perception of â€śrealityâ€ť:
Often we have dreams and they feel so real that we might wonder whether weâ€™re dreaming right now too. It feels like youâ€™re wide awake now, but doesnâ€™t it feel like youâ€™re wide awake in dreams too? How on Earth can you tell the difference? Maybe youâ€™ll wake up in a moment and realize you werenâ€™t reading this book â€” because it never existed!
Well, at least you know youâ€™re probably real. Because even if you were having a dream right now, there would have to be a you somewhere who was having that dream about yourself. But before your head starts spinning too fast, hereâ€™s the important thought. We only ever really know about the stuff we see and hear and feel, and thatâ€™s only a tiny part of whatâ€™s around us. (For example, you canâ€™t see whatâ€™s happening in the next room, or in someone elseâ€™s head.) We can only guess at whatâ€™s real from the little bit we know about â€” and often we get it very wrong. â€¦ So even though youâ€™re probably not dreaming, itâ€™s worth remembering that youâ€™re only aware of a small part of whatâ€™s real, too.
(Meanwhile, itâ€™s been argued elsewhere that the probability that you are dreaming right this moment is 1 in 10.)
I'm not dreaming now.Â