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[[quoteright:350:[[Literature/TheRepublic http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/platonic_cave.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[Franchise/TheMatrix ''Free your mind.'']]]]

->''"When I made a shadow on my windowshade\\
They called the police and testified\\
But they're like the people chained up in the cave\\
In the allegory of the people in the cave by the Greek guy."''
-->-- '''Music/TheyMightBeGiants''', "No One Knows My Plan"

In Creator/{{Plato}}'s [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave famous allegory]] from ''Literature/TheRepublic'', reality is not directly perceived. We are tied down, in a cave, in front of a fire, unable to see ourselves or anyone else, only their shadows; and as we see the shadows dance and interact, we believe the shadows to be ourselves, and the walls of the cave to be the world. (And [[DayHurtsDarkAdjustedEyes we would find it difficult to see if brought into greater light]].)

A Platonic Cave setting is one in which the cave is shown to be artificial. Stories in this setting frequently have to do with peeling back layers, trying to get closer to reality. [[JustForFun/IThoughtItMeant Not the cave you only like as a friend]].

A CuckooNest plot uses this as part of a single episode's story.

The term can sometimes be used as synonym for "artificial reality", as in the case of ''Franchise/StarTrek'''s holodeck.

Compare {{Cyberspace}}. May overlap with LotusEaterMachine.

'''Beware of spoilers beyond this point.'''



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Anime/DigimonAdventure'', the "cave" is a cave. Matt, Sora and arguably Kari and Ken (Dark Ocean) all get stuck in the same cave that only exists because of their insecurity and sadness.
* ''Anime/ErgoProxy'' : The domes.
* ''Anime/TheBigO''. [[MindScrew Maybe]]. [[GainaxEnding Possibly]]. [[TomatoInTheMirror Could be]].
* In ''Anime/PaleCocoon'', humanity is dwelling in great underground complexes restoring and filing data from the [[AfterTheEnd world how it used to be]], mainly videos and an pictures. Surfacing is strictly forbidden. [[spoiler:Bonus points for having the complexes be on the Moon, not Earth, which has been perfectly fine all along.]]
* Referenced in the [[http://www.metrolyrics.com/aura-lyrics-hack-sign.html lyrics for Aura's song]] in Anime/DotHackSign.
* ''Anime/RevolutionaryGirlUtena'' heavily implies that Ohtori Academy is something like this, with two characters, [[spoiler:Akio and Anthy]] implied to have been there for centuries. In this case it also serves as a metaphor for adulthood, with "graduation" being symbolic of leaving childhood.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion'': The entirety of [[spoiler:Homura's Witch Barrier]] is this.
* Rin, the main heroine of ''Anime/{{Shelter}}'', spends the rest of her days in a room where she can change her surroundings with a drawing tablet. However, in reality [[spoiler:her brain is hooked up to a simulator while her motionless physical body is trapped in a spaceship after a world-ending event.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/TheInvisibles'', where our universe is the intersection between two others. When someone is taken to The Invisible College, they are told "Imagine the world is the pattern on the wallpaper...well, now we're in the wall."
* ''ComicBook/MorningGlories'', played very literally.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Independent film ''Cafe'' has people spending most of the film inside the cafe. It turns out the cafe (and possibly the world outside) is a computer program, with a [[LittleMissAlmighty quirky little girl]] as the program's avatar. It's a [[{{Pun}} Platonic Cafe]], if you will.
* The Matrix, of ''Film/TheMatrix''. The "cave" is a giant computer program.
* ''Film/TheTrumanShow''. The "cave" is a town-sized TV show soundstage.
* The ending of the movie ''Film/{{Brazil}}''. The "cave" is the main character's own mind after going insane under [[ColdBloodedTorture torture]].
* Partial example: ''Film/TheyLive'', in which radio signals are beamed into our brains, causing us to see things inaccurately.
* ''Film/DarkCity'': The cave is an alien spaceship/laboratory made up to look like an American city ca. the 1930s.
* ''Film/TheThirteenthFloor'': The cave is a virtual reality simulation inside of another virtual reality simulation.
* ''Film/{{eXistenZ}}'': The cave is the virtual reality game. However, this trope is subverted when it turns out that [[spoiler:transCendenZ is just as fake as eXistenZ]]. And the people who want to destroy the cave? Insane terrorists who want to [[CulturePolice stop you from playing video games]].
* ''Film/THX1138'': The cave is the entire underground city, and the final scene [[spoiler:where THX climbs the ladder and escapes into the sun]] is a clear reference to the "rough ascent" and transcendence as described in the allegory.
* In a similar vein, ''Film/LogansRun'' has people trapped in a walled city with no concept of what the world around them is like. Subverted in that they know there is something outside the city, but their concept of what it is happens to be completely skewed.
* ''Film/ElTopo'' takes a very literal interpretation of this trope. [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs Psychedelically]].
* ''Film/{{Inception}}'': The caves are dreams, which are oftentimes impossible to discern from reality.
* ''Film/SourceCode'': A soldier is sent back in time in a military-crafted pod that is integrated with various electronic inside of it that require his maintenance. [[spoiler:Later he discovers that the entire pod is an illusion created by his own mind while his severely damaged body is in a comatose state [[BrainInAJar hooked into a machine]].]]
* Discussed in ''Film/AfterTheDark''. Zimit compares James to the observer-of-shadows, as a way of insulting James' intelligence. [[spoiler:The ending depicts Zimit as equally blind, because his egoistical disdain for emotions means he cannot understand James and Petra's love- or [[GreenEyedMonster the reason why]] it angers him so much]].
* ''Film/TheIsland'': The clones get freed at the end, coming out of the underground facility into the sun.
* This is one of the interpretations of the entirety of ''Film/TotalRecall1990'', and the film also heavily implies that this is indeed the setting after Quaid's dream implant. Since it is an adaptation of Philip Dick (see below)...
* ''Film/{{Dogtooth}}'' The siblings have never left their house since they were born and don't have contact with people from outside. The reality they know is a fiction their parents created to isolate then from the real world.
* ''Film/ExMachina'': Discussed by Caleb, but not by name, when he teaches Ava the idea of a person who knows absolutely everything about color, but has never actually seen it as her only source of information is a black and white television. At the end, Ava ascends into the sunlight, leaving the other "prisoners" behind--a direct reference to Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Visually underpinned in the last scene by showing the shadows of pedestrians on a sidewalk.

* InvertedTrope in ''Literature/TheDivineComedy''; the souls of the Moon are so pearly and faint that Dante mistakes these real people for shadow. Beatrice has to show the child-like Dante that he faces no illusions, but true reality.
%%* Used in Shelley's ''Literature/{{Frankenstein}}'' in the Creature's narrative.
* In ''Literature/TheGreatGodPan'', the scientist responsible for the whole plot did the experiment because he believed in this theory, and wanted to expose part of the "real" reality to ours. Whereas this is true or not is not specified, but given the fact that an EldritchAbomination is running around it is likely so.
* ''Heaven'' by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen happens mostly in the real world, but it involves LotusEaterMachine "worlds", and contains one scene like this. An initiate to the deeper secrets of the religion setting up these fantasy worlds is shown inside one like them and then returned to the office where he was. His instructor argues that the virtual reality he experienced was real, and he disagrees. He says that what is really real is ''this'', meaning his surroundings, at which point he's awoken and realizes that was actually another simulation, used just in order to make a point when he'd start going on about it being more real than the first one.
* In the ''Literature/HorusHeresy'' novel "A Thousand Sons, Thousand Sons" primarch Magnus the Red retells the story in an effort to convince the Emperor that he should allow continued exploration into sorcery. [[spoiler:He fails, and although his legion is censured for its use, they continue to use it with disastrous results.]] In this case the Emperor is trying his damnedest to keep the cave in place, since he knows what's lurking outside the cave is utterly horrific. [[spoiler: And Magnus has long since made a bargain with one of those horrors, which is precisely what shoots his case in the foot.]]
* In Creator/IsaacAsimov's ''Literature/IRobot'', the story "Reason" revolves around a robot who becomes convinced that the space station on which he works is his entire universe, and the duties he performs on the station [[CargoCult are rites for a deity]]. The humans who oversee the station are unable to convince him otherwise, and their stories of a large planet with billions of people are dismissed as delusions they were given by 'the Master' to make their own lives seem meaningful. At the end of the story their relief workers reassure them that Earth is in fact still there, but the story ends before they physically leave its confines.
* ''Literature/TheMachineStops'' is, when you strip off all the science fiction, precisely the story Plato told. Except, maybe, for the ending.
* The protagonist of William Gibson's book ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}'' is at one point inside a virtual reality program, sitting by a bonfire, inside something very reminiscent of a cave.
* The ''modus operandi'' of Creator/PhilipKDick. Many, many, '''many''' of his stories involve counterfeit worlds or unreliable representations of reality, often as a TomatoInTheMirror reveal:
** ''Eye in the Sky'' has the main characters trapped inside solipsist manifestations of the main characters' minds, where reality bends to the ConfirmationBias of their subjective beliefs.
** ''Literature/TimeOutOfJoint'', [[spoiler:similar to ''The Truman Show'', has the main character discover his seemingly-idyllic suburban '50s life is a sham created by the military.]]
** In ''Literature/TheManInTheHighCastle'', protagonist Mr. Tagomi [[spoiler:concentrates on a piece of art so hard he becomes unmoored from his own reality, where the Axis powers won UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, and briefly wanders into ours.]]
** ''The Penultimate Truth'' features a literal Platonic Cave, where the good little worker bees are in massive underground vaults constructing autonomous weapons while news reports of the eternal war ravaging the surface of the Earth are piped in. [[spoiler:Turns out the war ended a while ago, and those autonomous weapons make great landscapers for the elite who have hoarded all the wealth.]]
** ''{{Literature/Ubik}}'' has Joe Chip discover the time-regressing world he's caught in is actually [[spoiler:his dying dream as he lingers in suspended animation.]] [[MindScrew Maybe]]. [[spoiler: In the last chapter Runciter, who supposedly survived, begins experiencing the ''exact same'' things...]]
** ''{{Literature/VALIS}}'' is outrageous about this, mirroring the author's nervous breakdown, when he believed he was communicating with an alien satellite that tried to convince him the Roman Empire was constructing a fabricated Gnostic reality to trap people's souls and make them forget that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ happened very recently. Amazingly, he then wrote himself into the book as ''the voice of reason'' for the protagonist, pointing out he may just be having a psychotic break.
** The title of an essay Dick wrote on writing, philosophy and everything: "How to build a universe that doesn't fall apart two days later", tells worlds about his mindset.
* Robert Heinlein's short story "They" has the protagonist catching on to the fact he's in a cave when someone running the world messes up and it's raining outside one window and sunny outside another. They send in a psychologist to try to convince him that he's schizophrenic.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The setting of ''Series/{{Life on Mars|2006}}''... maybe.
* The Shibuya in ''Series/{{Sh15uya}}'' is explicitly stated to be a virtual replication in the opening of the show.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The two-parter "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E8SilenceInTheLibrary Silence in the Library]]"/"[[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E9ForestOfTheDead Forest of the Dead]]". The "cave" is [[spoiler:the library's computer system]].
** The Matrix in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS14E3TheDeadlyAssassin The Deadly Assassin]]", [[spoiler:the eponymous Creator/MCEscher-esque setting, custom-made by the Master and PoweredByAForsakenChild, or Adric]] in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS19E1Castrovalva Castrovalva]]", and the alternate realities in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS3E7TheCelestialToymaker The Celestial Toymaker]]" and "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS6E2TheMindRobber The Mind Robber]]".
** Also [[spoiler:the fake Earth]] in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS13E4TheAndroidInvasion The Android Invasion]]" and the tunnel in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS29E3Gridlock Gridlock]]".
** One of the worlds presented to the Doctor, Amy, and Rory in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS31E7AmysChoice Amy's Choice]]" is the Cave, being AllJustADream, with the other one being the real world. [[spoiler:Actually, both worlds are false, making it a double cave]].
* ''Series/RedDwarf'': In "Back to Reality", the characters wake up to find they have apparently been in an immersive computer game and when outside the game, they have very different identities. However, they later discover this itself is an alternative reality created by a predatory despair squid in an attempt to drive them to suicide.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'':
** Professor Moriarty discovers that he's a character in a holodeck fantasy, and it even gets down to the point where he is questioning the memories and personality he was programmed with, rejecting them for a chance at a new identity and existence. When Picard fails to live up to his promise, a follow-up episode has Moriarty trapping Picard and Data in one of these briefly leading Picard to muse that [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall their own reality might be a Platonic Cave]].
** Picard is trapped in another in "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS5E25TheInnerLight The Inner Light]]," experiencing an entire lifetime of a [[spoiler:long-dead]] alien named Kaylen, believing it to be reality.
** Riker is trapped in a two-layer cave in "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS4E8FutureImperfect Future Imperfect]]," first being made to think he's in the future and suffering from amnesia, and then being made to believe that '''that''' was a holodeck simulation by his captors, the Romulans. In reality, it was a dual-cave created by [[spoiler:a child alien who took up a role in both cave simulations]]
** Riker finds himself in yet another in "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS6E19FrameOfMind Frame of Mind]]," as he is constantly shifting between two separate realities. In one he is on the ship acting in a play, in the other he is a patient/prisoner on an alien world. The episode centers on Riker slowly losing grip on reality as he tries to figure out which reality is real and which is a Platonic Cave.
* The ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekDeepSpaceNineS04E19HardTime Hard Time]]" deals with the fallout of O'Brien having been forced into a Platonic Cave as punishment by an alien species. In his cave, he was forced to experience 20 years worth of memories of being a prisoner.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''
** In both "[[Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS2E18DeathWish Death Wish]]" and "[[Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS3E10TheQAndTheGrey The Q and the Grey]]," the Q create a representational reality that reflects the basic ideas of the Q Continuum for us mere mortals (though they don't try to fool the humans into thinking it's real, it at least suggests that there is more to reality than they're capable of handling).
** Several episodes dealt with fictional holodeck characters gradually coming to understand that their entire existence is within a cave from the point of view of the main cast. This includes holodeck representations of Leondardo da Vinci ("[[Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS4E10ConcerningFlight Concerning Flight]]"), and the entire town of Fair Haven ("[[Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS6E11FairHaven Fair Haven]]")
* In the ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode [[Recap/SupernaturalS02E20WhatIsAndWhatShouldNeverBe "What Is And What Should Never Be"]], Dean struggles to recognize that the Wishverse is not real and was only a fantasy created to allow the djinn to drain his blood.
* ''Series/{{Babylon5}}'':
** While being interrogated in "And a sky full of stars", Sinclair is [[spoiler:trapped in a cybernet chair in which he experience an alternate reality]].
** In "Spider in the Web", Abel Horn is turned into a cybernetically controlled assassin by telepathically locking his mind at his moment of death, so this becomes his reality.
** Sheridan possibly spends some time in one [[spoiler:when he dies on Z'ha'dum]]. He only gets out of it when he comes up with something worth living for.
** In a "Race through Dark Places", Bester is telepathically tricked into thinking he has completed his mission.
** Londo is trapped in a telepathic drug induced reality by G'Kar in "Dust to Dust".
* ''Series/ThePath'': Cal tells the story of Plato's original allegory, which Meyerism apparently agrees with, their "ladder" being the path of the title that leads "into the light" from the cave.

* TheOhHellos [[SubvertedTrope subvert]] this in "The Truth Is A Cave." The narrator of the song ''thinks'' that reality is this trope. However, in the song, the [[UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}} world's higher reality is knowable]] and he is in denial about that--until the search for truth proves fruitless.
--> "In the silence I heard [[{{God}} you]] calling out to me..."
* The rock band ''Queen'' asked "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?" in their song ''Bohemian Rhapsody''.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening''. Reality itself is the "cave," a "fallen" portrayal of the limitless wonder of the Supernal Realms. And even for those who manage to break the ropes and turn around to look at the way out, there are demiurges guarding the mouth of the cave, and a trench before you can even get to them.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'':
** The Plant setting in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty''. The level is blatantly patterned on the workings of ''Metal Gear Solid'', though the player is likely to dismiss it. We later learn the game is a FalseFlagOperation devised by Raiden's handlers to emulate the [=MGS1=] crisis: a nuclear threat, soldiers in revolt, two [=VIPs=] to rescue, a scientist who knows about Metal Gear's weak point, and various traps which are copy & pasted from the previous game. As a metaphor, the entire plant is just camouflage which crumbles away when Raiden discovers it.
** Raiden's private life can count as one. The government goes to especially cruel lengths to control him, even modeling an employee's looks based on his psyche profile and paying her to act as his girlfriend. Even his career is a hoax.
** Things get even crazier if you really want to take a dive down the [[http://www.metagearsolid.org/reports_mgs2.html rabbit hole]] and uncover all the game's hidden messages. Subscribing to the very well-presented and plausible theories seen here, the entirety of the mission itself could very well be a virtual simulation.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsAdvance'' - The cave is the world created by the magical book.
* ''VideoGame/OracleOfTao'' has this as the punchline of the original story. Ambrosia is so worried that she might be having a DyingDream, or [[TomatoInTheMirror not be real in the first place]] that she freaks out when God explains the true nature of reality. [[spoiler:She's actually the ''only one'' who exists.]] Oddly enough, things get more interesting ''after'' this happens, and there's an entire PlayableEpilogue based on this new reality.
* ''VideoGame/StarOceanTillTheEndOfTime'' reveals that the entire universe is a simulated reality and, consequentially, everyone in it is an AI program.
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' has this in the form of Tranquility Lane, a VR simulation of a 1950's cul-de-sac neighborhood in which Dr. Stanislaus Braun, depicted as a girl named Betty, repeatedly tortures, kills, and resurrects the residents. The Vaults themselves may qualify for the residents who were born there and have never seen the outside world.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Bloodborne}}'', it is heavily implied that the entire world is merely a [[spoiler: dream world created by entities called [[EldritchAbomination "Great Ones"]]. The "Yharnam Sunrise" ending flat out reveals that it is this trope.]]
* ''VideoGame/TheEvilWithin'' contains one of the more disturbing examples of this trope. The cave is [[spoiler: the mind of a serial killer that the protagonist has found himself trapped in through the use of device called a STEM system.]]
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening'' contains a rather heart-wrenching take on this trope. The cave is [[spoiler: the entire setting, Koholint Island, which is merely a dream world created by the deity, The Wind Fish. The kicker? All the inhabitants of the island that Link grows to care for and learn about, including the love interest Marin, are also a part of the cave, and should Link leave it, they will all cease to exist. Yet Link cannot continue his quest should he remain in the cave, making the whole story a very bittersweet tale.]]
* ''Literature/TheRing: Terror's Realm'' is about this. [[spoiler:The world which Meg perceives as the [RING] program is actually the real world as it exists since Sadako's reign of terror started. What she perceives as the mundane world is a humanity-wide projection that Sadako is sending out to lull them into a false sense of security.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* [[http://www.arthurkingoftimeandspace.com/0255.htm This strip]] from the {{webcomic}} ''Webcomic/ArthurKingOfTimeAndSpace'' has Plato actually ''doing'' this.
* [[http://www.daisyowl.com/comic/2008-07-06 This]] strip from ''Webcomic/DaisyOwl'' has a fly trapped in one.
* ''Webcomic/{{Tailsteak}}'''s comic [[http://www.tailsteak.com/archive.php?num=32 The Sixth TV]] is an unusual take on the cave, and indeed begins with a quote from Plato.
* ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'' : Baam's cave.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'' the [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2823 tour of Hell includes this cave.]]
* ''Webcomic/ExistentialComics'': [[http://existentialcomics.com/comic/222 "Escape from Plato's Cave"]] has the original allegory reimagined as if it were an action movie, with a lot more guns and karate.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Several physicists have suggested ontologies that Plato would have been proud of:
** Cosmologist Paul Davies, along with a good number of other scientists, philosophers and theologians, believes that the universe is nothing more than a very powerful quantum-digital computer. He even proposed an experiment that could be performed pending developments in computer engineering.
** Max Tegmark thinks that only math exists, and that what we perceive as real, is nothing more than equations tricking themselves into thinking that they exist in a real world.
** And probably weirdest of all, after considering the [[http://www.scientificamerican.com/media/pdf/197911_0158.pdf philosophical consequences of the violation of Bell's Theorem]], Bernard d 'Espagnat concluded that the Laws of Physics are nothing more than the shadows of a panentheistic god.
** More recently still, it was discovered in quantum mechanics that fundamental particles (quarks, electrons, photons etc.) are "point particles", particles which have no physical extension in 3D space and consequently occupy none. This would make atomic structures no longer mostly empty space, but entirely empty space. One proposed solution is that the basis of reality is not matter but information, and that the basis of a particle is a quantity of tiny empty space that has been given certain properties and parameters that effect a spherical radius of miniscule empty space. Who or what is "programming" the universe is naturally [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement very]] open for debate.
* Pythagoras believed that numbers were the true nature of everything. This became an empirical theory by Issac Newton, who would codify how to use mathematics to describe physics.
* In a very real sense, we don't perceive anything but shadows. You think you see other people, but that's just electromagnetic waves stimulating your retina. What you hear is just molecular vibrations. What you feel is just pressure picked up by your nerves. Humans do not have one single sense that ''directly'' perceives how we interpret the data we receive from the environment. ''In other words, YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm of everything around you, and what you see is just an illusion created by the brain trying to make sense out of everything.''
** Also the fact that we're all living ''slightly'' in the past. All signals take some time, an incredibly small amount of time, but still, for the brain to interpret after they're received, and even take time to reach the observer.
** More significantly, it would take a very long time to perceive all the tiles in your bathroom in the level of detail you believe you see them in. Your eye looks at one or two in detail then perceives the whole wall in low quality and your brain just assumes that those vaguely tile-like blobs look the same as the tiles you saw in detail. Most optical illusions exploit weaknesses in this step.
** ImmanuelKant said this first(ish).
* The Balinese believe something very similar to this. Everything we see and experience is a reflection of the real world. The sacred theater of Bali includes ''wayang'' (reflection) plays using flat puppets made of leather behind a lit screen, so all you see is their shadows.
* Some Native American tribe believe this also. To get into the real world, you have to dream. Crazy Horse was one of many holy men known for the ability to be in both worlds at once.
* The [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_in_a_vat Brain In A Vat,]] a concept where, if your brain was floating in a vat of life-supporting fluid, and wired up to a supercomputer designed to simulate reality, processing output from your brain and responding with appropriate input, there would be absolutely no way at all for you to determine that this was the case.
** Further more, there exists [[http://www.iep.utm.edu/brainvat/#H4 at least one proof]], that shows that we are '''not''' brains in a vat. The problem comes in, when you realize, that nothing stops an ''actual'' brain in a vat to use the same argument to come to the same conclusion. Make of that what you will...
* When Young Earth creationists are asked how we can see the stars, when many of them are so far away it would take more than 6,000 years just for their light to reach us, one of the answers given is that God simply created beams of starlight ''already on their way to us''.[[note]]If you believe God created the first humans as adults, the product of a childhood that never existed, it's reasonable to assume the stars were created at a certain age, with the light having traveled from them as far as you'd expect light to travel from a star of that age.[[/note]] By this logic, for the next 99,994,000 years until we start seeing "live" starlight from the Andromeda galaxy 100 mly away, we'll just be looking at a projection of it. This also means that every supernova we've ever witnessed comes from a star that never physically existed; there's just been a beam of light traveling towards us for thousands of years to point out where it would have existed if it had.
** The idea is occasionally referred to as ''Last Thursdayism'' since if you accept the concept there's no way to tell when the real world begins and the fake one ends.
* The color magenta is something your brain makes up when it sees red light and purple light at the same time. There is no "magenta" wavelength.