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lifetime of experience as Kamin is being played out in only a
few minutes, as the Enterprise™s medical staff furiously labor to
end the attack.
The other details of this story are not important to our
investigation of consciousness, so we won™t give the away the
ending. Suffice it to say that it is haunting and memorable. In
1993, The Inner Light won a well-deserved Hugo Award for
best dramatic science fiction presentation.
At first glance, one might think that this story adds little to
our understanding of Information-Limited Subrealities. Picard
trapped as Kamin seems well within the principles laid out by
Descartes™ evil genius and the brain in the vat. Indeed, when
this episode first aired there was no special importance given to
it by philosophers or physicists. The reasons that make The
Inner Light relevant are subtle, yet of great importance.
First, a lesser point, the issue of believability. It is easy for
us to make the statement: “The brain in the vat experiences a
reality just like ours.” Further, we can verbally explain why this
statement is true and what consequences it has. This is an
intellectually sufficient description. However, humans are more
than intellectual creatures; we have emotions, attitudes, and
knowledge that are difficult or impossible to communicate to
others. Learning about the aurora borealis in a physics class is
one thing, having seen it with your own eyes in quite another.
The Inner Light allows us to understand the Information-
Limited Subreality in a personal way. We empathize with the
characters and relate their experiences to those in our own
lives. We gain an intimate knowledge that the inner reality is
indistinguishable from our own. We come to deeply understand
that what happened to Picard could happen to us.

The Principle of Relative Reduction
Now we come to the most important lesson from The Inner
Light, what will become a central concept in our understanding
of consciousness. While Picard is a starship commander, he is
Chapter 6: Information-Limited Subrealities 97

also a trained scientist. Not surprising, he carries his scientific
methods and attitudes into his life as Kamin. During his 30
years on Kataan, Kamin engages in a wide variety of scientific
research, such as microbiology, astronomy, and climatology, to
name just a few. He carries out these activities as he would in
his former reality, and the results are just as consistent and well
behaved. Kamin has as much ability to be a scientist as Jean-
Luc Picard.
The primary tool used by science is the method of
reduction, which Kamin instinctively uses to understand his
reality. Just as in his former life, he finds that everything he
observes can be divided into two categories, Information and
Elements-of-reality. While the Information he finds is not
especially interesting to us, the Elements-of-reality are critically
important. When Kamin examines his world he finds such
things as elementary particles, electric and magnetic fields, and
the dimensions of time and distance. He observes these things
to be irreducible, and therefore by definition, Elements-of-
reality. Of course, none of this seems strange or unusual to
Kamin; it is the same as he has always known.
But now we must look at this from the perspective of the
medical team working to free Picard from the nucleonic beam.
They can also use the method of reduction to examine the
situation. If they are clever enough, they may even be able to
tell what Picard is thinking, feeling, perceiving, and so on. But
from their vantage point, they will only observe Information,
nothing but the activity in the nucleonic beam and Picard™s
brain. Everything that Picard observes to be an Element-of-
reality, the medical team observes to be pure Information. And
the reason for this is simple, the medical team sees the situation
as it truly is, while Picard™s observations are compromised by
the Information-Limited Subreality.
This example leads us to an inescapable conclusion: the
method of reduction is relative. By this we mean that a
phenomenon can appear as Information to one observer, but as
The Inner Light Theory of Consciousness
98

an Element-of-reality to another observer. Further, each of
these observers is fully justified in their belief, having reached
their conclusion through the most stringent rules of the
scientific method, as well as basic common sense. We must
again emphasize that this result does not rely on any of the
observers being conscious. This same answer would be found,
for example, if the two observers were mindless computers,
programmed to observe their environment and classify entities
as Information or Elements-of-reality.
We will call this crucial finding the “Principle of Relative
Reduction,” and it is one of our major teachings:


Major Teaching #3:
The Principle of Relative Reduction
The inner observer of an Information-Limited Sub-
reality will perceive Elements-of-Reality, while the
outer observer will see these same things as nothing but
Information. This is a purely physical phenomenon,
something that we can examine and understand in the
finest detail.




Now, the applicability of this to the mind-body problem
could not be more striking. In the first half of this book we
painstakingly showed that the mind-body problem was a
paradox; the first-person perspective sees the mind as one or
more Elements-of-reality, while from the third-person vantage
the mind is pure Information. The Principle of Relative
Reduction describes in explicit scientific terms how this could
come about. This is the heart of The Inner Light Theory of
Consciousness.

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