I wonder what it means to say my consciousness is separate from yours. After all, I can pick up a phone, or author a blog post, and tell you what is on my mind. And if I observe your situation, my empathy tells me roughly how you are feeling. I can't experience your situation exactly as you feel it, but as long as we can communicate I say we are part of a shared consciousness.

By analogy, I'm sure the various parts of one person's brain don't experience reality the same way as his other parts, yet we consider a brain the agent of one consciousness not several.

I was thinking about this recently as I contemplated the enormous coincidences in my life, and how they suggest that I'm living in some sort of a programmed reality that is far from random. It seems odd that at the age of six I would pick a career as a famous cartoonist and then thanks to a spectacular series of coincidences it actually transpires. And what are the odds that Dilbert and Dogbert would have no mouths then their creator loses the ability to speak to an exotic and reportedly incurable condition? And then, against all odds, he is alive at exactly the time in history that one surgeon in the world, who lives nearby, perfects a surgery to cure it. And it works.

Sure, I know life is full of coincidences. But mine seem off the chart. And this makes me feel I am living in some sort of programmed reality, or perhaps a Boltzmann Brain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain

The good news is that no matter what model of reality you pick, we're all part of a shared consciousness as long as we can communicate and empathize.

Have a great holiday if that applies to your country. I probably won't post again until Monday.

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Nov 25, 2008
I don't believe in this "Shared Consciousness" deal unless there's actual mind-melding telepathy going on. My consciousness is completely separate from yours. If I imagine what you're feeling, or empathizes with you, it's still 100% within my own consciousness.

Normal empathy is just like perception. Each of us has our own little perceived universe in our heads, but we don't share that perception with each other. I could tell you what I see, but you won't share my vision, you'll merely have your own (imperfect) copy in your head.

And if you're a Boltzmann Brain, you truly are your own universe, for the infinitesimal fraction of a second that you pop into existence, with false memories and experiences, before popping out again :)
Nov 25, 2008
I wonder if this explains why I see repeated numbers a lot. I mean a lot. I had to IM someone earlier, and the clock said 11:11. I wake up in the middle of the night and it could be 12:12 to 5:55 (if it 6:66, I know the source of the problem). I buy something and, with tax, it turns out to be $17.17. I swear I'm not looking for it, it just pops up. Is this some sort of shared consciousness of the world, a signal to which I am not yet familiar? I bring this up now and then in conversation, and I met one person who said she experiences the same thing. I've put the idea in other peoples' heads and they do not have it happen to them. WTF?
Nov 25, 2008
Hi Scott,

I liken all this philosophical disquisitions about the nature of reality and so to someone repairing a clock with a wrench. Our language and thinking is too defective for this purpose. We just can think in symbols to survive at our scale of the world.

As a teenage I used to have interesting thoughts but now I don't find this questions amusing anymore.

About your coincidences why don't you just try to calculate the true probabilities of those as accurately as you can?, might be interesting. Last: were those amazing coincidences what allowed you to be a cartoonist or rather to 'hit it big'?
Nov 25, 2008
You are suffering from ascertainment bias.

The vast majority of people who dream of being cartoonists or rock stars fail to become them. However, most rock stars (and presumably many cartoonists) did have aspirations of becoming such things.

So, given that there are cartoonists and rock stars, it's not surprising that some of them think it's an amazing coincidence (Providence!) that they are living their childhood dream.

This is not the same as coincidence, but I guess it's close.
Nov 25, 2008
So, three things spring to mind (my mind, not yours)

1. If you and I share a conscious then you owe me one hell-of-a big royalty cheque! (sorry for the spelling of cheque but I'm Canadian)

2. You didn't draw their mouths and you lost your speech...hmmm...If I was you I would start making my comics anatomically correct! I might be inclined to exaggerate somewhat for good measure! (so to speak)

3. I remember reading once about a certain type of ant colony that would create a living mesh around the queen during the reproduction cycle. These ants were able to keep the temperature at the center (where the queen resides) stable to within 1/100 of a degree by changing how tightly or loosely they crowded. Scientists could actually change the temperature of the surrounding area and the ants would compensate in order to keep the constant temperature. I'm not sure this has much relevance on your post but it always fascinated me that creatures that essentially work by a set of preset rules can come together to form a group consciousness that is actually more intelligent than their individual parts. Kind of like politicians I guess...

I always enjoy this blog! Thanks!
Nov 25, 2008
Enter the Matrix
Nov 25, 2008
does feeling the same thing indicate sharing consciousness? Are 2 cans of milk the same? Are 2 thunderstorms in different parts of the world same?
Nov 25, 2008
I think a tribute to your doctors and new found voice might be at hand. A week of Mouths for Dilbert and Dogbert. (Or Day) Whatever seeems appropriate.
Nov 25, 2008
Hmm. I've seen anatomical correctness on Dilbert or Dogbert either. Uh oh.
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Nov 25, 2008
Must be that darn Teela Brown gene.
Nov 25, 2008
Suddenly your posts show up in Google reader in bold which is disconcerting.
Looks like the same is true here on your actual page.
Feel like shouting this week?
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Nov 25, 2008
So, are you going to start drawing Dilbert with a mouth as you have now regained your voice?
Nov 25, 2008
Wow, you opened a can of worms with this one. As far as Boltzmann brains go... well, that degree of organization out of completely random fluctuations is obviously amazingly unlikely, but assuming an infinite universe and infinite time, yeah, it would happen at some point, and to the Boltzmann brain it would seem a lot more likely, since it happened. Unless, it created a theory of evolution to suggest the organization started on a small scale, and grew more and more complex till the Brain itself was born... oy. Can Occam's razor be applied to all of the history of the Earth, complete with evolution and crazy coincidences? I guess it would probably just choose the Boltzmann brain as the simplest way out, that you all are just figments of my imagination, and in a matter of moments, I won't exist any more anyway.

Screw Occam's razor, if I follow that theory and it's wrong, then I will die a quick, lonely death (self-fulfilling prophecy!) because I won't eat, drink, or socialize because suddenly I'll think I've seen "the bigger picture." It's useful to assume what I experience is real. This may be pre-programmed behavior, but I'm okay with that.

BTW, did you see this article? http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TRUMAN_SYNDROME?SITE=MAFIT&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

One more conspiracy theory about how you all are just there for show. Or I guess, how I'M here just for a show. But the story itself could be just a part of the plot to make me think I know better!

Anywho, I agree with you on the bigger point you make: to a certain degree, we all share a consciousness. And the larger consciousness is probably a good example of a Boltzmann brain. But I think I'll just keep calling it the internet. Or Denver. Or Earth. Or the Scott Adams Blog. Insert your own network here.
Nov 25, 2008
All lives are made up of amazing coincidences. Is it so odd that we catch glimpses of our own future or is it more likely that our memory is selective? The writings of Nostradamis make perfect sense after the fact, or is it more likely that we simply find coincidental matches in our whole system of infinite monkeys at typewriters? The biggest failure that people have is accepting their unhappiness rather than changing their situation to fit what makes them happy.
Don't be complacent and great things will happen.
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Nov 25, 2008
A very book fiction book about life, death, consciousness, faith, myth, language and everything in between: The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas.

Nov 25, 2008
Happy, erm, Tofurkey day to you, sir. I think there are just a few extraordinary people around who are gifted in a particular way. Obviously, I ain't one, and you are. Embrace it and enjoy it. I myself prefer being an unknown to all but a few people. I am sure I would prefer to be wealthier, but any more well known? Nope.
Nov 25, 2008
Sometimes things just happen (good and/or bad) and you wonder if there's a chess master moving us around on the larger board of the universe for one reason or another. Is life as random as some folks say, too deep to think about without lots more coffee.
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