Is this the real world – or is this just fantasy?


In the same week that the evil fantasist Charles Manson died, Kim Kardashian declared that she was the inventor of the selfie. Coincidence? Not at all. There’s clearly something going on here. There are no coincidences. There’s a message. It all connects. Why else would those two seemingly unrelated events happen so close together?

What I’ve just written is obviously false, of course. But we all do have a subjective take on reality, and picture it our own way when the evidence doesn’t suit us. None of us sees things exactly as they are, and the temptation to confabulate is always there. Manson read idiosyncratic racist meaning into the Beatle’s song Helter Skelter; Kim Kardashian ignored the whole history of photography and declared that she’d invented something that has been around since 1839.

Fortunately Charles Manson’s is an extreme case. Kardashian’s is pretty extreme in its distance from the truth too, but much less dangerous. Disconnection from reality comes in degrees. What’s really dangerous, though, and what both Manson and Kardashian share is an overconfidence in their own beliefs and an unwillingness to test them against evidence. Anyone who is unwilling to check their beliefs against the world is likely to become untethered from reality and end up in a fantasy land of their own creation.  Now who does that remind you of…