halfacanuck

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September 21, 2004

Reality may be fake, bloggers warn

By Ross Thomas

In what major bloggers see as a defining moment for bottom-up journalism, major bloggers warned yesterday that the universe itself may be a clever forgery.

The controversy began in a late-night entry on PhiloBlog.com, where a poster identified only as "Duckhead" challenged the notion that any kind of objective reality exists at all.

"What is reality anyway?" the entry read in part. "Reality is what is filtered through our senses. Maybe what you see as red, I see as blue. Maybe what tastes like Mountain Dew to me tastes like Pespi to you."

Within minutes over two dozen major bloggers had picked up on the post, including Jason Kottke of Kottke.org and Rob Malda (aka CmdrTaco) of Slashdot.

"This makes a lot of sense to me," wrote Kottke. "The nonexistence of absolute truth may very well explain us to ourselves."

Citing the works of deconstructionist philosophers such as Jacques Derrida and Barbara Johnson, Kottke revealed further flaws in the assumption of an empirically verifiable reality.

"Everything we experience is, ultimately, a construction of our minds," he wrote, "and thus the universe and everything in it is also a construction."

But Malda took a more practical approach in his post, listing phenomena only comprehensible if Duckhead's theory is true.

"I understand everything now," wrote Malda. "I've always been baffled by the existence of such things as genocide, child abuse, Freddie Prinz Jr. and Glitter: The Mariah Carey Story, but if it's right that these things are just figments of our -- possibly demented -- imaginations, everything becomes clear."

Less than an hour after major bloggers latched onto the story it appeared on Matt Drudge's The Drudge Report, and from there it was soon picked up by mainstream media outlets, including CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN.

Empiricists were scrambling this morning to counter the claims made by Duckhead.

"Come on. Empiricism is the foundation of all modern civilization," said renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. "Everything we know about the world around us demonstrates that our reality is more or less aligned with that of others. Unless you're psychotic or Rush Limbaugh or something."

In a rare show of unity theologians joined scientists in denouncing the blog post.

"God created the universe for us to enjoy," said Dr Marcus Hennman, associate professor of philosophy and philosophical theology at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, CA. "Scripture teaches over and over that the physical world, flawed as it may be, is very much objectively real."

But such statements did not calm the storm currently swirling through the blogosphere.

By noon EST today many major bloggers, including Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit.com, were calling into question God's prior knowledge of the true nature of the reality.

"We have to ask: 'What did God know, and when did he know it?'" Reynolds wrote. "If it's true that God made us in such a way that the vast majority of people are living a gigantic illusion then I think he has no other options but to step down."

"That's if God himself isn't a fraudulent construction of our psyches," he added.

God did not immediately return prayerful requests for comment.

But, noted Reynolds, "whatever happens in the days and weeks to follow, this is a defining moment for bottom-up journalism."

13 Comments:

At September 21, 2004 at 2:43 p.m. , Blogger roy said...

There are many levels to this satire of yours, but one thing is certain: it is no less absurd than what's been going on.

 
At September 21, 2004 at 3:24 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Argh! You and your satire! What makes it worse is that you integrate it so well into the real stuff. Wait, there's real stuff in this post, isn't there???
You make me question what I read.
I like that.
But darn you and your satire!

 
At September 21, 2004 at 3:48 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That kicking Republican from the convention was heard to say, at the time, "Thus I refute you, blogger Duckhead!"

The woman he kicked is considering suing him, indicating her agreement that the world, indeed, is real, and so is the bruise.

Unexplained in all this is the element of time, since the kicking incident occurred prior to the Duckhead posting, at least as the world appears to have experienced the passage of 'time' in this case.

Ed Drone (as fake as any world)

 
At September 21, 2004 at 4:26 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha. "God did not immediately return prayerful requests for comment."
I love it.

 
At September 21, 2004 at 5:38 p.m. , Blogger Ross Thomas said...

Thanks all for the various comments (be sure to check out Roy's blog, it's awesome).

Also, thanks to Ed Drone for sharing his drugs with us.

 
At September 21, 2004 at 10:16 p.m. , Blogger Tom said...

Very, very nice.

"What did God know, and when did he know it?? Excellent stuff.

 
At September 21, 2004 at 11:36 p.m. , Blogger Ross Thomas said...

Thanks, Tom :). Incidentally, his blog is just about the most consistently funny thing you'll read. Ever. (At least, assuming I have the right guy...)

What's more, in a charitable yet almost certainly regrettable moment of folly Tom added me to his blogroll, which means every man Jack of you must, er, do something really nice for Tom. Or something.

 
At September 24, 2004 at 3:58 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm not a liberal, and I thought this was funny. See, some conservatives have a sense of humor.

God couldn't be reached for comment...outstanding.

 
At November 3, 2004 at 5:07 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just some thoughts on this comment. I tend to believe things
might fall somewhere between "everything" is a "thought"
or "everything" is concrete. Consider the fact that a
virtual experience (such as chatting online with a friend,
or some VR game on the interner) is no less real the next day
that anything else you may have experienced which was
tangible.You can't prove the next day what was virtual and
what was concrete. Something to think about....

 
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