Among the most persistent fallacies, and one that is probably unavoidable even for the most trained scientists and philosophers, is that of naïve realism. This is the view that there are simply objects “out there” in the world which can be readily identified on the basis of sensory perception or some other conventional experiential means, and that every experiencer or observer is a perceiving subject capable of identifying those objects “as they are” by simply experiencing them with the senses and interpreting them with the mind.

This viewpoint, while probably based on the need to filter out large portions of the world in order to simply survive for any length of time as an organism in this very dangerous and ultimately deadly biosphere, is nonetheless at odds with the results of the careful observations of scientists in the modern era, the conjectures of some of the world’s preeminent philosophers past and present, and (if one trusts them) the private experiences of mystics and shamans the world over. Even though it is certainly convenient, and quite possibly inevitable, for us to believe our experiences reproduce the world to our consciousness as it really is, this does not mean that our experiences actually do reproduce the world to our consciousness as it really is.

Realism is only naïve when it posits that experiences of the world necessarily disclose the way the world really is. A non-naïve realism would instead posit that, while experiences of the world are necessarily filtered through the minds and bodies of the individuals having those experiences, these experiences nonetheless indirectly reflect a real world made up of real objects and real occurrences which can be inferred from these experiences. However, it is necessary to posit that these experiences do not simply reproduce the world to our consciousness as it really is, as it is quite clear that our brains filter out a significant amount of information in processing even the most basic inputs from the world outside us and our “internal” world of concepts and images.