There's a sucker born every minute.

-- unknown origin; P.T. Barnum never said it, but one of his competitors said he did, and suckers have fallen for it ever since

The first stop on our tour is a place called "naive realism." Naive realism is a way of looking at the world. Ways of looking at the world are sometimes dressed up with the word "philosophy," but I won't split a hair's difference.

True naive realists would never sum up or analyze their views, because they do not consider them views but the way things obviously are. However, I will do my best to illuminate them:

"I, the naive realist, am a human being. There is this one physical world, the space where everything exists and the time in which everything happens. There are many things in this physical world, each largely separate from the other and persisting over a span of time. Time is divided into 'now,' which is real and experienced, 'the past,' which once existed but now does not, and 'the future,' which does not exist yet but will.

"My senses give me direct knowledge of reality. If I see a chair, it is because there is a chair physically where and when I see it. There are exceptions, like when I am dreaming or watching a movie, but these are rare and obviously not real.

"I can know things through my senses, through thinking about things, and through communication with other people. Other people's beliefs may be correct or not, but beliefs of people I respect, and beliefs held commonly by most people in my society, are usually true."

Naive realism sounds reasonable enough, but it can lead to science, which as we shall see, contradicts naive realism on nearly every account.

Next: The Triumph of Naivété