The month of October stands in history as a month of strife. In 1903, the world's first Baseball World Series was played between the Pittsburg Pirates and the Boston Pilgrims. Sports almost always dominate competitive natures and are commonly used as a means of expressing that nature and aggression which afflicts humanity.
In 1683, a large collection of toads fell at a village in Norfolk. The citizens of the town feared witchcraft, swept all of the toads into a pile, and burned them to save themselves from evil. Frogs, I'm told, are completely cool. Screw the toads. At the end of the month, young Pagans began the Samhain ritual to mimic and appease the evil spirits that would return from the grave before the coming winter. Personally, if I were an evil spirit, I'd be kind of mad to see some guy dressed like me. It seems far too meta. As years passed, the ritual became adopted and transformed until, today, we know it as Halloween, a common excuse for many to act outside the reality of conventional sanity. The real struggle of which I speak, however, comes from the American political system and the debates/attacks that precede November's election. Many Americans glue themselves to their televisions to watch the presidential candidates battle on an epic stage. When everyone is focused on one scene...what slips behind the curtain?
The Republican Report on Reality
A recent addition to the political race comes from Maine, where Republicans accused Democrat Colleen Lachowicz of losing grip on reality. The accusation comes after the local Republican Party found Lachowicz online World of Warcraft character, Santiaga. The character, sporting a purple Mohawk and leveled to 85 (the highest the game allows), sparked immediate controversy as Republicans launched a website to show how much time and energy Lachowicz invested into an imaginary world. Clearly, you are unfit to make decisions if you enjoy a little bit of fantasy fun (I'm looking at you Clint Eastwood). The Republicans claim that "we need a senator who lives in our world, not Colleen's world".
With nearly two-thirds of the population playing online games, it seems rather odd to focus on this hobby as a political issue. Violent and colorful, games invite players into a fantasy for a break from the mundane. Some buy McDonald's in the Sims and some slay trolls. Lachowicz herself had only logged on for 30 minutes since her campaign became her focus. The need for an escape from the mundane only comes when there is actual mundanity. Reality can become leisurely and monotonous or exciting and various. The dichotomy of life comes from the way humanity lives. When man first accepted a consistent view on existence, his mind immediately wondered about the worlds and planes beyond his own. Religions, sciences, and myths sprang from this idea. Games, movies, books, and beliefs evolved from a need to understand something beyond what we see as real. Sometimes the need to understand or the curiosity that drives leads to an all encompassing struggle. From that struggle comes an idea: how do we know this is reality?
Why The Matrix is a Horror Movie
In 2003, an Oxford professor, with no proof really offered, claimed humanity might be living in a computer simulation. Essentially, he used his credentials to perform Inception and make you think you are in the Matrix (pop culture reference solely to keep you from falling asleep when I mention physics). To make a claim is one thing, but to prove it is entirely different. Neo had to have been incredibly astute to see something -that he spent his entire life perceiving- as horribly wrong. It was thought impossible to prove that reality was real since this idea began....well...
A team of German university physicists claim the easiest way to determine whether or not we exist in reality or some artificial program is to create an artificial program.
We want to make the Matrix.
It was bad enough that after we saw Terminator we allowed any robots to be created (although I love the idea of a robot speaking with an Austrian accent), but now we are creating the machines' weapons FOR them.
The goal, the team claims, is to observe physical restraints in a simulated environment in hopes of observing any discernible restraints in what we perceive to be reality. This also brings to mind the question of whether this has happened before. What if we exist in a simulation because those in the higher dimensions wondered if they were in a simulation? We could just be perpetuating this struggle to break free by enslaving versions of ourselves.
Their idea isn't entirely unique. Science has long understood that the laws of physics work more easily in higher dimensions. Fourth dimensional beings might laugh at the perplexities we spend our time trying to decipher. Those beings might also be in a simulation. This is why philosophy and physics are hard to mix. That same game that Colleen Lachowicz used to break from the reality might be a program within a simulation of reality. Her technology, her life, her politics could all be side effects of an experiment. The Republican Party that fought so hard against her could be missing the irony of claiming they need a senator who doesn't live in Colleen's world. This could be her world.
The Memes of Life
Escaping from reality might be a goal for some, but, as I've said before, the world around us is far more interesting than popular belief. If this life turned out to be merely a computer simulation, it'd be hard to not ponder why such eccentricities were allowed to exist.
A Florida man, Edward Archbold, recently entered into a competition to eat a variety of insects. Being the life of the party and firmly exemplifying the competitive nature of men, Archbold devoured dozens of giant cockroaches in order to win a python. The snake, however, was not the prize he was after. Archbold proudly proclaimed that it was the glory he sought in winning the competition. It was glory that he received.
Shortly after participating in the giant cockroach eating contest and signing for a superworm eating contest, Edward began vomiting and collapsed to the ground. He was pronounced dead. There is no official reason given for his death other than speculation that the cockroaches contained some form of bacterium or pathogen.
In a world with oddities such as these and other random happenstance, where do simulations come into play? Life is weird, and millions of people figure that out on a daily basis. The struggles the human mind begins to wrestle only show a small portion of the philosophical debates the universe throws at us. October treads through history with its moments of strife. There is a definite need for some people to make sense of the universe. Some things often don't make sense. October, for example, is named with the prefix of octo- meaning "eight". The last time in history October was the eighth month was the time of the Romans. It makes far more sense for us to simply rename the month, but, then again, what would life be like without its weirdness?
If you'd like read more on the study of simulated reality, feel free to go here.