Holy Shit! Did Scientists Just Prove that we all Live in a Fake Reality!

Vern Scott
9 min readDec 15, 2022

There are a series of Scientific American (and other) articles leading up to the recent seminal, Nobel-Prize winning conclusions of Closer, Aspect, and Zeilinger, proving that the Universe is “not locally real”. This, taken together with other scientific assertions that we “very likely live in a simulation” has got my head spinning, yet I will get ahold of myself and try to relate (in layperson’s terms, while resisting most attempts at humor) what all this means.

Images from NASA’s James Webb of deep space (which I frankly find sexier than the photos of Closer, Aspect, and Zeilinger). Is all this a bunch of smoke and mirrors designed by the Creator(s) to feign a true reality?

Explanation of the Nobel-Prize winning work of Closer, Aspect, and Zeilinger:

Ever since the ground-breaking work of early Quantum Physicists Born, DeBroglie, Heisenberg, Dirac, Schrodinger, and Bohr in the 1920s, there has been an uncomfortable feeling that electrons and photons are playing tricks on us. Even Albert Einstein (who came up with a comfortably great “Theory of General Relativity”, explaining the behavior of things at the realm of the very large) was uncomfortable with quantum (which explains the behavior of things that are extremely small). He once famously remarked to a friend “do you really believe that the moon isn’t there when you’re not looking at it?” (a sort of “Schrodinger’s Cat” implication of Quantum). I took a semester of quantum mechanics in college, and learned the hard way what Physicist Richard Feynman said “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics”. Yet against this backdrop, experiments in quantum physics have proven reliable time after time. Of course the most famous example is Schrodinger’s Cat, whose fate (alive or dead) is wired to the state of an electron (or any other tiny particle). The cat is in “quantum superposition” (according to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) of alive and dead simultaneously, until the observer’s snapshot perception (which in effect interacts or “entangles” with the cat) forces one state or the other. (fs.blog,n.d.)

The work of Closer, Aspect, and Zeilinger, is hereby shortened to be “Violations of Bell’s Inequalities” (Physicist John Stewart Bell having laid the foundation for these experiments in the 60s). Their experiments are follow-ups to what was called the “EPR Paradox” (named after quantum doubts originally expressed by Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen in the 30s). Their work is explained in Scientific American by a thought-experiment, involving two observers, Alice and Bob, who are somehow positioned at opposite ends of the Solar System measuring two “entangled particles” (ie two electrons that were created from the same source, let’s say an explosion of some sort). Quantum physics says it is impossible to know anything about these electrons prior to measurement, yet when Alice measures the “spin” of her electron to be “up”, she also knows that Bob’s will measure “down” (such is the nature of quantum entanglement). If the experiment if repeated many times, the same result always applies, virtually eliminating the possibility of chance. Quantum physicists for many years were dismissive of this eerie thought-experiment and its implications on our reality (similar to Bohr’s “quantum collapse” dismissal of a “Many Worlds” quantum reality…more on that later). Simply put, Closer, Aspect, and Zeilinger followed up upon Bell’s attempts to prove that no matter the distance, these two entangled particles always “knew” the other’s state. The very weird implication was that quantum mechanics was the “reality”, our perceptions illusions (or more accurately “projections”). In other words, spacetime is related to our anthropomorphic bias, quantum entanglement “real” and our perceptions “unreal”. To be frank, this work implies that particles in our universe appear according to our personalized “snapshot” perceptions, which are thus somewhat “fake”, distorted, and different for different observers. (Garisto,2022)

Closer, Aspect, and Zeilinger-Nobel Prize winning bearers of unsettling news that everything we know is fake?

The Implications of “Violations of Bell’s Inequalities”, “Many Worlds”, and “Fine Tuned Universe”:

Of course, the implications of all this is that we may live in a fake reality of sorts. Each of us may experience a unique reality, as our senses are constantly “sampling” the state of particles, which are in a cloud of various states until we “commit” them. Further, these particles may well be in many realities all at once, as “vibrating strings” that span all these realities (I suppose that referring to different “realities”, “universes”, or “existences” are interchangeable in this sense, the point being that they are separate, and do not coexist according to our perceptions). As such, an electron that represents part of my cat in my reality, may represent a dog in your reality, and a Zlorgl in an Alien’s reality. But to take a step back, let us ask “what exactly is one’s reality?”, which increasingly seems not only a) It depends on your point of view but b) It may well be part of a simulation, as what we know of the particles in our reality is consistent with an electronic game of some sort, complete with many different simultaneous outcomes for the many different characters. Further reinforcement for a simulated reality comes from the “Fine Tuned Universe” theory (that many measurables in our Universe appear to be “just right” for human habitation, ie the relative abundance of carbon which is apparently just-right for our survival). An interesting thought about a simulated universe is that the Speed of Light is actually the dependent variable (the “clock speed” of the Creator’s computer), since the other values (let’s say distances between objects) are easily number crunched but “speed of light” must remain constant (and cannot be exceeded) for the simulator’s “computer” to work. But before you say “Well, I don’t like these explanations of reality”, consider the following: (Khan,2021),(Siegel,2019)

The Above may be fairly consistent with the broader notions of our Religious Beliefs:

Ok let’s say we all live in a kind of simulation (like “The Matrix”), and that the various photons (like the pixels on a computer screen) turn on or off for each of our conveniences (or more likely the outside viewer’s convenience). Just like the programming of a game, each character or prop (a mountain, car, weapon, etc) selectively turns “on” or “off” according to need. The purpose of the game is a kind of giant “morality play” (exercise in the character’s “free will”), while the game is somewhat “rigged” with “fate” (actually the programmer’s premises). This whole thing would be consistent with our notion of religion, if God were the programmer/user. There would also be a comfortable fit between Science and Religion, with Science trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of the game so as to predict its outcomes, while the Religious side would respect the game’s creator and seek to play by the game’s “rules” (which actually vary somewhat, are subject to change, or perhaps vary for a given avatar…oops!, person). That the various religions (politicians, etc) don’t agree may be explained by competing perceptions or realities. Maybe each competing religion has its own reality within which it is consistent (ha, yeah right?). There might even be stranger interpretations that we are a simulation within a simulation (and that somewhere in this hierarchy must be an absolute reality). However, there are challenges to all of these many competing and divergent realities: (Ananthaswarny,2020)

Even Neil deGrasse-Tyson entertains notions of a simulated reality. If he’s wrong, will his ass be deGrasse?

“If this is a fake reality, why is it so complex” and “Quantum only explains minor variations in outcomes”:

Two great challenges to all this are the above. First, many have wondered why our reality(ies) seem so needlessly complex (or complex beyond computational capabilities). Second, our varying perceptions of reality may vary only slightly, and hover around a sort of “baseline” reality that we all acknowledge. Question a) is rather open-ended, since the answer may depend upon our understanding of computational capabilities. With current notions of computational power, the complexities of a simulated universe would easily exceed even highly-advanced computers. However, quantum discoveries may imply that the various components of a given reality are “on standby” until forced to commit to values for efficiency (much like an animated game, where the characters/props only “come to life” as-needed). There is also the possibility that the creator’s computational capabilities are incomprehensibly great, or that the components of our reality are simpler than they seem. (Bibeau-Dilisle, Brassard,2021)

To the second point, it is very possible (or even likely) that all these realities are sensationalized as highly-divergent, science-fiction possibilities, when they may actually vary slightly from a “normal” reality accepted by 99.99% of us, 99.99% of the time (the other outlying realities accounting for the “abnormal”…of course I’m just playing a hunch about all this). The reinforcement for this theory is that even though the position (or any other measurable) of an electron is uncertain until measured, the electron does live within the realm of tiny variations of highly probable states (in other words, if it ain’t exactly where its supposed to be, its almost always pretty damn close). This means that instead of two highly divergent worlds where you get in a car wreck or don’t, while you’re future is changed completely by one outcome or the other, its probably more like a few of your electrons may rarely and momentarily in the “wrong” atomic orbital (with almost zero futuristic impact).

The Public Domain image that everyone uses when writing about Many Worlds or Schrodinger’s Cat. My cat wants all of you to know that he feels disrespected and is considering joining a more affirming reality.

With the potential of divergent simulated realities, what can we expect of the future? Possibly a future where scientists actually figure out the components of the game? It is presumed that if we do live in a simulation, the creators are trying awfully hard to make the components complex enough so that we never “figure it out”, otherwise the fun is over, no sport or spectacle? Of course, we could learn the components of the game and simply make the best of it (leveraging it for easy and high-paid jobs that allow those in the know to all marry movie stars?) Yet removing the mystery and karmic free-will may also take away any rage to live? (Imagine finding a “script” to the rest of your life…if it were mine I’d yell “rewrite!”, and if refused, “I’m calling my agent!”)

So you may want to consider all this before you pull your pants down on the subway train while saying “Hah! We all live in separate fake realities” and seek to escape into your own separate (and blameless) reality. Perhaps at this moment, only Donald Trump and Elon Musk subscribe to that reality?

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Vern Scott

Scott lives in the SF Bay Area and writes confidently about Engineering, History, Politics, and Health