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Episode Info:

Donald Hoffman is a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Irvine. He has been studying visual perception for over 40 years. 

His research has led him to some intriguing and compelling theories about our ability (or inability) to see a true picture of reality and even about the nature of reality itself. His TED Talk “Do We See Reality As It Is” has garnered over 3 million total views on and YouTube.

In our conversation, we talk about two subjects I find endlessly fascinating and think about quite often: Perception and evolution. What does one have to do with the other, you might ask? 

In this episode, Don explains his controversial Interface Theory of Perception and brings forth compelling and rigorous scientific evidence to address this question and others, such as:

  •  Do we see a true picture of reality?
  • What is the nature of reality?
  • Do objects exist even when we're not looking?
  • What are the practical implications if his theory proves to be true?

We also touch on some of the arguments against his theory, which I found super interesting.

If you find this subject matter is too dense for you, don't worry -- we also talk about more intuitive topics like:

  • Meditation
  • The relationship between science and religion
  • What some Eastern religions have in common with his theory
  • The biological and evolutionary roots of anxiety. Why it's normal and why it was essential for our survival as a species
  • His hope for the future of science
  • What makes science such a powerful tool

(If you want to jump to this part of the conversation, start at around 43:50).

I think you are going to find this conversation fascinating and thought-provoking, just as I did. However, you may find that you end up with more questions than answers. Alas! Such is the nature of these deep topics. So, prepare your cognitive faculties and get ready for some head-spinning theories.

If you enjoyed this episode and want me to continue producing this kind of content, the best way to let me know is by subscribing to the podcast or leaving a review on iTunes. I appreciate your support!

If you have any suggestions for future guests or topics you’d like to hear covered, you can email


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