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mental processes fused the multitude of sensory data into the
thing we recognize as an apple. Everything that we are
conscious of has been created in this way. Our consciousness
exists in this inner reality, not the physical world. When we are
awake, the inner reality is constructed to mimic our external
surroundings. When we dream, the inner reality exists on its
own, without regard for anything outside of our brains. But
either way, all we can consciously experience is the subreality
created for us by our unconscious mental activity. The apple
in our dreams seems the same as the apple in our waking world.
And the reason why, it is the same, exactly the same.

What We See and Don™t See
Dreams are overwhelming evidence that our unconscious
mental activity can hold our conscious minds in an Information-
Limited Subreality. But is there evidence that this subreality
machine is also active when we are awake? The answer is yes;
experiments show that the world we are conscious of is far more
than can be explained by what enters our senses.
For instance, suppose you stand a few feet from the Mona
Lisa, close your left eye, and stare at a fixed point in the center
of the painting. Figure 7-1 illustrates the image that is detected
by your right eye, and sent along the optic nerve to your brain.
The gray filaments are regions where you are totally blind, a
result of blood vessels in the retina blocking the detection of
light. Likewise, the large rectangular region is where the optic
nerve connects with the retina, where humans are also sightless.
This is called the blind spot, and is really quite large, about the
size of an apple at arm™s length. As long as your eye remains
fixed on the center of the painting, these gray regions are totally
blocked from your gaze; you perceive nothing about the image
in these areas.
When you first looked at Fig. 7-1, you probably wondered
what the gray spider-like pattern represented. It probably struck
you as quite odd and perhaps even a little creepy, like
something out of a bad science fiction movie. It was totally
Chapter 7: The Subreality Machine in the Brain 107




FIGURE 7-1
Blind areas of the eye. This represents what is seen by the right
eye when standing a few feet from the Mona Lisa. The gray
areas are where the eye is totally blind, a result of blood vessels
and the optic nerve displaced sensory cells in the retina. The left
eye has a similar patten, flipped left-for-right. How is it possible
that humans are unfamiliar with these blind regions?

unfamiliar and foreign to your conscious experience. But how
could this possibly be? This pattern has been superimposed on
your visual field since you first opened your eyes as an infant.
Even as you read this book the pattern is present. It should be
more familiar to you than anything you have ever seen. How is
it possible that our conscious experience knows nothing of these
The Inner Light Theory of Consciousness
108

blind areas? How can we perceive a complete and unbroken
image when large portions of our visual field are blocked?
Experiments show that these blind areas are “filled in” by
the brain to match their surroundings. For instance, Fig. 7-2
provides an experiment to demonstrate the blind spots in your
own eyes. As indicated in the caption, when you gaze at the
cross with your right eye, the circle seems to disappear.
Likewise, when you look at the circle with your left eye, the
cross cannot be seen. In both cases, the missing object seems to
be replaced with the background grid pattern.
In other words, the image that we are conscious of seeing is
composed of two sections, (1) areas that our eyes can directly
observe, and (2) areas that have been filled in from neighboring
regions. When we look at the world we believe that we are
seeing a complete scene. It seems like a photograph, capturing
all that is within our visual field. However, the “filling in” of
the blind spot shows that at least some of what we see is being
created by our brain. Further, studies of a phenomenon known
as change blindness demonstrate that this is just the tip of the
iceberg. As strange as it may seem, there is compelling evidence
that much of what we seem to see is being generated from
within ourselves, and is not a representation of the physical
world.
In a typical change blindness experiment, a subject is asked
to look at an everyday picture displayed on a computer monitor.
For instance, it might show people eating in a restaurant, a
sports activity, or several boats on a lake. After a few seconds
the display is changed to a second picture, which is nearly
identical to the first. The difference between the two pictures
might be as subtle as changing the color of a chair or moving a
vase, or as extensive as removing an entire mountain range in
the background. The goal of the experiment is to have the
subject identify what parts of the picture have been changed.
The basic idea is that the subject will be able to detect changes
in the things he or she is conscious of. Likewise, if the subject
cannot discern when a particular thing is changed, we can infer
Chapter 7: The Subreality Machine in the Brain 109




FIGURE 7-2
Demonstration of the blind spot. Hold the above illustration at normal
reading distance and stare at the cross. As you close your left eye, the
circle will be within the blind spot of your right eye and disappear
from view. You may need to move the figure a few inches closer or
farther than your normal reading distance to see this effect. The blind
spot in your left eye can be demonstrated by staring at the circle and
closing your right eye, making the cross disappear.


that they are not conscious of that particular thing. In most
experiments, the two pictures are alternately displayed for a few
seconds each, until the subject can identify the changing item.
Actual change blindness experiments are slightly more
complicated than this explanation because the human visual
system is extremely sensitive to transients. This is the technical
name given to the temporary disruption caused when something
is changed. For instance, imagine throwing a rock into a lake.
The surface of the water is smooth before penetration, and is
also smooth a short time after. However, the actual event is
marked by waves and turbulence that takes a few seconds to
subside. A similar process occurs in our visual systems when
something is changed within our field of view. We have all had
the experience of looking in one direction when suddenly we
detect that something has changed off to the side. We don™t
know what it is, only that something is different from it was the
instant before. In other words, we are not aware of the object
itself, only the disruption caused by its insertion or removal.
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110




FIGURE 7-3a
Change blindness images. The images in (a) and (b) are alternately
displayed on a computer monitor for three seconds each. To mask
the visual transients, a white screen is displayed between the two
images for one-tenth of a second. Subjects typically require five
exchanges before realizing that the background is changing.


Since our goal is to determine what we are consciously
aware of, change blindness experiments must include a way to
eliminate the ability of the visual system to detect transients.
Fortunately, this is quite simple. In one technique, the pictures
are changed when the subjects blink their eyes, or when they
move their eyes from one location to another. In another
method, a brief flash of light is inserted between the two
pictures. Either way, the transient caused by the changing
picture is hidden by a disruption of the entire visual field.
Figures 7-3a&b show typical pictures from a change
blindness experiment. This is quite an extreme case, where
Chapter 7: The Subreality Machine in the Brain 111




FIGURE 7-3b


almost one-quarter of the total image is changed between the
two pictures. During testing, each of these images is alternately
displayed on a computer monitor for three seconds, with a pure
white image displayed between them for one-tenth of a second.
The images are full color, good quality, and displayed on a large
monitor. The question is, how long does it take subjects to
realize that the background of the picture is changing?
Our subjective impression is that vision provides us an
accurate and full representation of the physical world. We
believe that there is a rigid one-to-one correspondence between
what we see and what really exists. Accordingly, it seems that
we would immediately notice such large changes as in these
pictures. But this is not the case. It typically takes subjects five
exchanges before they realize that the background of the picture
is changing. For an average of fifteen seconds, the subjects
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112

look at the alternating pictures and perceive a single scene.
When finally found, the changes seem obvious, and the subjects
are dismayed that it took them so long.
The results of change blindness experiments are surprising,
to say the least. While it is easy to detect changes in the key
elements of a picture, it is very difficult to detect when
secondary aspects are changed. For instance, suppose the
picture is of a couple eating lunch in a restaurant. The key
elements are the man, woman, table, and perhaps the plates of
food. These are the objects that define what the scene is about,
the central features of the picture™s meaning to us. As we would
expect, subjects can immediately notice when these main
portions of the picture are changed. However, secondary
aspects of the picture, such as the paintings on the walls and the
other diners in the background, can be dramatically changed
without the subject noticing. Even if these secondary aspects
are quite obvious in the image, subjects can require minutes of
observation to detect when they are being changed.
When we are awake and looking around, our attention
directs us to a few key elements in the visual field. However,
we are also conscious of seeing secondary features in the visual
field, a background that is of lessor importance. As disturbing
as it may seem, these perceived secondary features have little or
no connection to the external physical world; they are being
generated from within ourselves.

Evidence from the Three Realities
In short, the argument is laid out like this. We know that
our brains contain the machinery required to place our
conscious activity in an Information-Limited Subreality. This
is proven by our ability to dream. The assertion being made is
that this same machinery is also activated when we are awake,
and that we can be conscious of nothing but this inner reality.
As evidence, experiments show that much of what we
subjectively experience when we are awake does not come from
the external world. For instance, we “see” regions in the visual
Chapter 7: The Subreality Machine in the Brain 113

field where our eyes are completely blind, and make up
secondary features in visual scenes. This is strong evidence that
at least some aspects of the “subreality machine” are active
when we are awake.
But there is a far more compelling argument that the
subreality machine is fully switched on whenever we are
conscious. This can be shown by examining the structure of the
three different realities that humans deal with.
The first of these realities is the physical universe. This
consists of all the things that scientists study, such as force
fields, particles, distance, time, plus all the entities that can be
created by combining them. This is the unfeeling and uncaring
world that activates our sense organs, such things as light
photons, sound waves, molecules of various chemicals, and
mechanical interactions.
The second reality we must consider is that of our dreams.
As we know, this reality is constructed by the unconscious
activity of the brain, and has little or no correspondence to the
structure of the physical universe. In fact, its characteristics are
nothing like those of the physical universe. Rather, its
Elements-of-reality are the entities that we discussed in Chapter
4, such as qualia, mental unity, semantic thought, present tense,
and free-will. This is the reality where we see an apple as red
and taste it as sweet, we feel love and anger, and experience our
thoughts as having meaning.
The third reality to be examined is that of our normal
waking consciousness, the reality you are experiencing at this
very moment. The question is, where is this third reality coming
from? Is it being generated by the subreality machine, or does
it correspond to the external physical universe? The answer to
this could not be more clear. The reality of our waking
consciousness is virtually identical to the reality of our dreams,
but is totally dissimilar to that of the physical world. In other
words, reality three is the same as reality two, but completely
different from reality one. The conclusion seems inescapable;
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114

the subreality machine within us creates not only our dreams,
but all of our conscious reality. This is our fifth major teaching:


Major Teaching #5:
The Origin of our Conscious Experience
All of our conscious experience is created by the
subreality machine contained within our brains. When
we are awake, this inner reality is constructed to mimic
our external surroundings. When we dream, this inner
reality exists on its own, without regard for anything
outside of ourselves.



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