**The Debate**

x: Yes, it exists. I’ve had experiences that have convinced me.

y: No, it doesn’t exist. We have no scientific evidence for its existence.

x: But we don’t know everything about reality yet.

y: As we learn more about reality, it will become apparent that there is nothing beyond the physical.

x: You can’t say that with absolute certainty.

y: No, not with absolute certainty, but with a high likelihood.

x: Well, what about the primacy of consciousness?

y: There’s no evidence that the primacy of consciousness is correct.

x: But neither is there evidence that the primacy of matter is correct.

y: Well, it seems to be, and there’s no evidence that it isn’t correct.

x: Yes, but…

y: …

**Probability**

Suppose I have a small black box and eight marbles of different colors. I randomly put some of the marbles in the box (or all, or none), and ask you to guess which ones (if any) are in the box. There are 256 combinations of marbles possible (including the “empty box” state). If you make a guess about the contents, the probability of you guessing right is 1/256.

Now someone (person X) might come along and say, “I am certain that the box contains a red marble, a blue one, and a black one”.

Someone else (person Y) might say to person X, “You have no evidence that the box contains that combination of marbles. In fact you have no evidence that it contains any marbles at all. So until there’s some evidence, I’m going to assume the box is empty.”

**Who’s Right?**

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Person X is wrong in claiming certainty. The probability of any combination of marbles in the box (the probability of the box being in any particular state) is always 1/256.

But person Y is wrong in assigning special status to the “empty box” state. The “empty box” state has the same probability as any other state. The probability that the box is empty is 1/256.

**Exponential Growth**

Before moving on, I want to mention the amazing property of exponential growth. In the example I gave, each of the eight marbles can either be in the box or not – 2 states. The number of possible states is therefore 2^8. (2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2) This is the number of states raised to the power of the number of objects.

As the number of marbles (or objects, or elements – whatever you want to call them) increases, the number of possible states increases dramatically:

8 marbles = 2^8 = 256 possible box states

16 marbles = 2^16 = 65,536 box states

30 marbles = 2^30 = 1,073,741,824 box states (that’s over 1 billion unique states)

Not only do the number of states grow dramatically, but the likelihood of guessing the state decreases dramatically: The odds of guessing the contents of the box correctly when 30 marbles are used are less than one in a billion.

**There is no Special State**

Using the eight marble example again, it’s important to stress that there is no statistically “special” state. The probability of the box containing all eight marbles is the same as the box containing between one and seven marbles which is the same as the box containing no marbles at all: 1/256. When pondering the unknown, all possibilities are equally unlikely. There is no special state when we’re dealing with the unknown.

We should keep all of this in mind not only when thinking about our interpretations of the psychedelic experience, but also when thinking about the nature of our everyday reality. The probability that anyone knows or understands “The Truth” - the probability that anyone's ideas conform to the "true" nature of reality - is very close to zero.