Perception-based thinking

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Perception-based thinking (PBT) is a worldview which holds that how people perceive reality is more important than reality itself, or even is reality.


PBT generally focuses around one or more political narratives being promoted by authoritarian leaders. In service of their narratives, such leaders will encourage their followers to employ distorted meanings for certain words:

  • "truth" means the promoted narrative (PN)
  • "smart" means mindlessly but enthusiastically repeating or advocating the PN
  • "independent" means reasserting the PN in the face of competing narratives
  • "fact" means any premise of the PN, especially if it is fallacious


The closest thing we can find to a reality-based argument behind this apparently absurd, 1984-ish belief seems to be the following train of logic:

  • In the modern world, where ideas can travel around the world in seconds and influence millions or billions of people, vast power lies in the ability to affect what people think reality is.
  • Since control of knowledge is control of action, this effectively leads to a great deal of control over how people will act, effectively using deception to delegating your work to them without their informed consent.
  • Therefore: This influence or control is consequently more powerful or important than the ability to effect changes directly.
  • Therefore: Contradicting the promoted narrative (PN) is foolish, because you will be going against the established powers that control what the majority believe, while repeating it as truth will be more rewarding.
  • Therefore: Anything that disputes the PN might as well be disregarded or dismissed, and the PN might as well be accepted as truth.


As a philosophy of governance, however, it runs into the problem that objective reality will proceed regardless of what the public believes it will do. If a policy reliably leads to poverty and economic instability, for example, it will do so regardless of whether the public can be led to perceive that everything is okay.


  • CWRE: less rigorous, more illustrative version