Stuff that extends beyond pure reason and the physical sciences

The Virtual World Model

New Model of Magic - The Virtual World Model

Frater U.'.D.'. did list the following models of magic:

In addition, there is a Virtual World Model of Magic. The first variations Virtual World Model emerged through pop-culture (Matrix hype etc). Today, in 2016 (17 years after The Matrix), several serious scientific hypothesizes argue that we are living in a virtual world. The Virtual World Model is compatible with the rigid materialistic views of the world. Warping it so that reality can be seen flexible. The Virtual World Model might also be seen as a re-combination of some previously listed Models but with more scientific terminology. Terms that are well defined, up-to-date and logical.

"We are no longer in the era of virtue, but virtuality." - Jean Baudrillard


The Virtual World Model

This is one of the newest model of magic. It came into existence first through pop-culture and then through scientific circles. We can find it worldwide in the entertainment culture as well as in many scientific and a few occult books. The basic premise is that this existence is either modeled inside your brain or some unknown computer.

The earliest film/mini-series of the Virtual World Model is called 'World on a Wire'. A Sci-fi film directed by the legendary Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1973. 'World on a Wire' was way ahead of it's time, back in the 70's. A time when computers were viewed as complicated calculators. Not as devices that could create anything of real substance. The Matrix (1999), ripped off the Virtual World Model and even some scenes straight from 'World on a Wire'' (without giving any credit). During that time, computers were getting much more advanced. Perfect timing made it easier to swallow the premise (suspension of belief).

Other movies: Lawnmower Man, Open Your Eyes, Vanilla Sky, Avalon


Johnstone's Paradox

In 1986, Ramsey Dukes' book, 'Words Made Flesh', got released. It presents "Johnstone's Paradox":

  1. Materialistic and rational reality can be described using finite set of instructions. Then modelled as information.
  2. If reality can be modelled this way, all possible permutations of a finite universe should occur. This happens - at the very least - because of limitless time.
  3. For every one original reality there will be many such sub-models, and they too will generate many sub-sub-models.
  4. The nature of complex systems means that it is almost impossible for any reality to reproduce itself exactly. There is greater likelihood that the submodels will be mutations of the original. Subjected to different structures and laws.
  5. The models severely outnumber the original reality, or realities. Thus, it is more likely that we are living in a universe modelled as information. It is most likely that this reality model is not identical to the original reality.
  6. Thus Johnstone’s Paradox: If reality is ultimately materialistic and rational, then it is highly unlikely we are living in a materialistic, rational universe.


Modern Version of Plato's 'Cave metaphor'

Excerpt From Thomas Metzinger's 'The Ego Tunnel' (2009): 

I claim that phenomenal 1st-person experience and the emergence of a conscious self are complex forms of virtual reality. A virtual reality is a possible reality. As anyone who has worn a head-mounted display or played modern video games knows, we can sometimes forget the “as if” completely—the possible can be experienced as the real. In a way, the conscious parts of our brains are like the body’s head-mounted display: They immerse the organisms in a simulated behavioral space.

Together, the embodied brain and the PSM, the phenomenal self-model, work much like a total flight simulator. Before we get to the little word “total,” let’s look at why a flight simulator is a good metaphor for the way our consciousness works. A flight simulator is, of course, a training device that helps pilots learn to control an airplane successfully. To achieve this, the simulation must be as accurate as possible in integrating two different sources of sensory information: vision and the pro-prioceptive sense of balance. During a simulated takeoff, for example, the pilot not only has to see the runway, but he also has to feel the acceleration of the “as if” plane—and in relation to his own body.

Advanced flight simulators have replaced the movable cockpit mock-up and computer screen with a head-mounted display; two slightly displaced monitors create three-dimensional surround graphics. A special programming technique called infinity optics allows the pilot to look at remote objects “through the windows” of the cockpit, even though the computer-generated images are only a few inches from his face. The mock-up’s movable platform has been replaced with seat shakers that simulate a range of realistic kinesthetic sensations, such as acceleration or turbulence. Moreover, so the pilot can learn to use on-board instruments and get to know how the aircraft will react to different operations, the simulations of visual and kinesthetic input are constantly updated at great speed and with maximum accuracy.

The human brain can be compared to a modern flight simulator in several respects. Like a flight simulator, it constructs and continuously updates an internal model of external reality by using a continuous stream of input supplied by the sensory organs and employing past experience as a filter. It integrates sensory-input channels into a global model of reality, and it does so in real time. However, there is a difference.

The global model of reality constructed by our brain is updated at such great speed and with such reliability that we generally do not experience it as a model. For us, phenomenal reality is not a simulational space constructed by our brains; in a direct and experientially untranscendable manner, it is the world we live in. Its virtuality is hidden, whereas a flight simulator is easily recognized as a flight simulator—its images always seem artificial. This is so because our brains continuously supply us with a much better reference model of the world than does the computer controlling the flight simulator. The images generated by our visual cortex are updated much faster and more accurately than the images appearing in a head-mounted display. The same is true for our pro-prioceptive and kinesthetic perceptions; the movements generated by a seat shaker can never be as accurate and as rich in detail as our own sensory perceptions.

Finally, the brain also differs from a flight simulator in that there is no user, no pilot who controls it. The brain is like a total flight simulator, a self-modeling airplane that, rather than being flown by a pilot, generates a complex internal image of itself within its own internal flight simulator. The image is transparent and thus cannot be recognized as an image by the system. Operating under the condition of a naive-realistic self-misunderstanding, the system interprets the control element in this image as a nonphysical object: The “pilot” is born into a virtual reality with no opportunity to discover this fact. The pilot is the Ego. The total flight simulator generates an Ego Tunnel but is completely lost in it.

Phenomenal Self Model

Brief overview about PSM

Virtual world of Dreams

"Dreams are conscious experiences because they can be described as the appearance of an integrated, global model of reality within a virtual window of presence. From a purely phenomenological perspective, dreams are simply the presence of a world. On the level of subjective experience, the dream world is experienced as representing the here and the now. And even though it is a model constructed by the dreaming brain, it is not recognized as a model but is experienced as reality itself. Put in philosophical terms, one can say that the reality model created by the dreaming brain is phenomenally transparent: the fact that it is a model is invisible to the experiential subject.

Of course, the same point can also be applied to waking consciousness: even in wakefulness, our experience of the external world is mediated by the sensory organs and by the brain processes underlying our conscious experiences (for details on the neural correlates of consciousness, or the NCC, see Metzinger. 2000). Since we never realize that the reality model experienced in wakefulness is, in fact, a model, ore have the impression of being in direct contact with external reality — we live our lives as naive realists In this very general sense, the conscious experience of dreaming is no different from waking consciousness."


"What exactly does this mean? First, it is plausible to assume that the episodically overshooting levels of cortical arousal that are associated with the emergence of lucidity lead to a sudden increase in the availability of internal self-related information and computational resources in the brain. Second, the generalized "dreamlike" or "unreal" quality of the dream world emerges at exactly the same moment that the all-pervading quality of naive realism — which also characterizes ordinary waking states — is finally lost. The simulational viz. misrepresentational character of the experiential process as such becomes globally available for both attentional processing and cognition. Because the dream state, among other things, is also an internal emulation of a behavioral space, this information now becomes available for the control of action as well: with the establishment of full-blown agency, the dreamer is no longer a passive observer but has the capacity to utilize the knowledge that all this is a dream, a global phenomenal simulation, in determining the course of his or her future actions. Computationally speaking, lucidity consists of the increased availability of self-related information. Our core claim, therefore, is that what changes in the transition from ordinary dreaming to lucid dreaming is, first of all, the content and the functional profile of the PSM. The shift in the PSM then enables the stabilization of the PMIR."

 - Thomas Metzinger, 'Dreams', 2007