Important Note on the Human Imagination

In no way does the Society for Reality-Based Thinking suggest that the human imagination should be shut down or discouraged.  Indeed, it is in the human imagination that we are able to decouple ourselves from real problems in order to imagine new ways—ways that don’t exist yet (and that are yet unreal)—to solve them.

You cannot produce or even point to one single unreal thing in all the cosmos, but you can imagine thousands of them!  The imagination works by decoupling ourselves from reality so as to envision things in new ways that may or may not be possible in reality.  This exercise is crucial to the human race, but when the exercise is over, one needs to get recoupled with reality! Otherwise, all manner of bad things start happening!  Suppose that someone imagined that a certain poison were not toxic after all, and then got stuck in believing this unreality.  Or that a certain evil king had advertised that he was a good man, and that his subjects got caught up in imagining that, losing touch with the reality of his evil.

The problem is not with imagining things that are unreal, but with failing to recognize the difference between reality and unreality, and to come back to the “real world” in our thinking.  This coupling and decoupling are crucial skills for humanity, and our high aptitudes for them set us apart from all other known species.  Our great ability with imagination, however, comes at a cost, for we are apt to end up believing the wrong things if we are not careful.

This happens to us quite often—especially in the marketplace.  Unreal things are frequently put forth as realities to be believed, practiced, taught, or sold.  Programs, products, and promises that are based upon unrealities simply do not work as advertised.  The better we get at identifying and rejecting such things, and the faster we can do it, the more enjoyable and peaceful our lives will be!

The famous Latin warning for coping in the marketplace is caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware!”).  It has been observed for thousands of years that one needs to defend him- or herself from the scoundrels in the marketplace.  As it turns out, this warning should be taken one step deeper, to a broader fundamental:  caveat cogitans, which means Let the thinker beware!

Let us imagine away, therefore, but let us always beware to differentiate the real from the unreal!