Reality is Not What it Seems
Bill Cottringer

Every once in a while, I stumble upon a book that helps me reconcile harsh polarities into a bigger, better, and more useful truth, usually emerging from somewhere in-between the given opposite possibilities. Such is the case with the quantum gravity researcher, Carlo Rovelli’s book, in Reality is Not What it Seems.

One of the great truths I learned from the many useful and practical bits of information from physics research to psychology application, is clarification of an earlier monumental personal “benefit” of completing a Ph.D. research and dissertation project (the “why”” of it all), which will only appear after one finishes it. Such an effort follows the primary purpose we all have in our lives—to courageously pursue knowledge and virtue out of acknowledging the influences of our vast ignorance and lesser selves.

In physics this is revealing the reality of quantum gravity from merging/blending general relativity and quantum mechanics theories (physics being the inductive reasoning end of philosophical deduction to arrive at the truth). In psychology, this is arriving at “coopetition” as a sensible compromise to the traditional win-lose, competitive mentality of success vs. the newer win-win, cooperation mode of success, as the primary drive of all things.

The scientific method being using to help turn ignorance about the problems and cure of serious social problems such as the marginalization of youth in our society or the violence epidemic, into knowledge. This follows the earlier Darwinian theory about the survival of the fittest—in today’s world only those who become masters of managing information, and the 3 C’s of compromise, cooperation, and collaboration will succeed in further personal growth and development and help the world do that too. Scientific research will seal the deal on this information management mastery and life will never be able to take that away or be the same afterwards.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom that have bearing on the formidable challenges facing us today, I think:

1. Nothing is reversable (heating a pot of water can never result in it cooling down, but only changing the hotter water into steam). We cannot undue criminality, violence, hate, distrust, or marginalization, only work to discover a new creative compromise to move forward as the best solution to each of the opposite polarity’s problems. This is the only way we can heal the harsh social and political divide in our country, as each of the extreme Republican and Democratic agendas with too much airtime both result in some harmful, unproductive form of unfairness, injustice, and mediocrity. That’s why we have elections as a system of checks and balances to prevent this feared outcome.

2. For free will to be truly free, choice options would have to be infinite, but everything we know to be true about reality today, is that infinity doesn’t exist. Nothing is forever indivisible or expandable. This is because real time and space do not really exist, apart from the sense we intuit of observing things passing by. But sometimes intuition can be fooling. In this sense time and space are not the container in which things happen, but a result of the interactions between all the Yin-Yang opposites of physical and perceived reality—positive vs. negative, in vs. out, large vs, small, good vs. bad, Republican vs. Democrat, individuals vs. systems, etc.

3. Time and space do have a finite end point, which is signified by the three constants of physics—the speed of light, the minimum number of actions possible, and their minimum size in reduction. Time and space are no longer considered constants because they are not real in a physical sense. They cannot be measured directly (only their indicators) like the other three established constants.

4. The age-old arguments of destiny vs. free will or nurture vs. nature are false dichotomies. They coexist at the same time just as two different sides of the same coin, like the reversibility of a child’s perception, allowing him or her to visualize stair steps going up and down at the same time, of seeing both the foreground and background of a figure-ground image. Destiny can be likened to the finite limit of only six possible faces on a single die, whereas free will as to which particular one of those six faces of the die will show up when cast. The challenge of using free will is to eliminate all the many possible obstacles to the desired outcome like in a craps shoot. The same is true with our choices in believing things and acting on those beliefs.

5. This sense of time is heat generated thermal time, sensed from the fast and slow interactions between things, especially us as observers and that which we are observing in any given situation. “Heat” is caused by the unresolved three primary conflicts that constantly challenge us, between: (a) us and others (b) us and life, and (c) us vs. ourselves. The only progress is to cool these “hot” interactions down with a viable “cooler” resolution, through compromise, collaboration and cooperation.

6. There is no actual beginning point or ending point in anything, only the outcome of each current interaction. This is why mindfulness of the present moment—over remembering the “past” which is already gone and the “future” that never really exists (try collecting off a sign saying “Free Beer Tomorrow”)—is so relevant and important to the noble pursuit of knowledge and virtue. The only thing that matters now is what is happening now, in this case the reader’s reaction to the ideas of this article.

7. The so-called eternal now moment is merely the back-and-forth movement of nothing to something to nothing to something, again. This may be the meaning of the Lord God’s assertion in Revelation 22:13 as “I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the ending, or the final reduction of the infinite to the finite.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, but still practices sport psychology, business success coaching, photography, and writing, living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Because Organization. Bill is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Critical Thinking (Authorsden); Thoughts on Happiness, Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.). Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away and Christian Psychology for Everyday Use (Covenant Books, Inc.). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206)-914-1863 or