I have seen the idea behind this question before but I don’t think it was well formulated. Here is my attempt to ponder on reality based on Plato's “Myth of the Cave” and show how valid it still is.
According to remarkable thinkers such Buddha, Descartes, Einstein etc. reality is an illusion. What makes reality "real" it's persistence and consistency eg. "Day after day most people endure the same routine,they communicate approximately in the same way with roughly the same people, they look about the same as the day before and they engage in about the same routine and mundane situations and sensations day after day". This permanent coherence is what makes reality "real" for the human mind and different from for instance “lucid dreams”.
Thought experiment 1: Harry Potter’s Magic World
Let's presume that a bunch of “cruel” anthropologists have an advanced virtual reality gadget and they have raised a group of kids since babies 24x7 in and advanced version of the Harry Potter's magic world video game. They will be trained to use magic wands, fly on brooms, etc. (for them it would be as natural and ordinary that it would not be even cool). Since they have not known any other reality just like in the Myth of the Cave, that video game would be "their reality" besides their science cannot prove/disprove the true origin of the forces behind that "magic".
Would it be somehow possible for them to find out that they are living in an fantasy world? Would they even want to?
Thought experiment 2: Sid Meier’s AI Matrix Civilization
We are living in an 7000+ year strategy game that began before the invention of the wheel. This artificial machine has the ability to know future events (it records snapshots of the whole world including the memories of the users playing in it or it is perhaps a quantum computer therefore all our destiny is already written but we think we have “free will”). This machine is programmed to make people ignorant of its true nature as long as most of its users accept it is not fake. Once it reaches this state it will reset itself before bronze age as it has been doing it over and over again for billions of years getting better learning more and more with each iteration. It will allow magic, alchemy (turning lead into gold), miracles, holy figures, unicorns, mermaids, UFOs, paranormal activity as long as it does not give away its true nature with proof eg. “A remarkable psychic would never pass the scientific test” because it assumes humans would not want to live in a fake world. This AI knows how important for the human mind hope is and also knows how superstition and credibility work so it would try to find a balance.
Can the scientific method ever be valid enough to disprove the simulation hypothesis when that simulation can be intelligent? Is this even taken seriously? Is it safe to presume that the only thing that could make people suspect is a flaw in the matrix and even so it could be only a non-credible subjective experience no different from a paranoid delusion? Knowing that from a neuroscientific point of view the mind has difficulty to drastic changes eg “going to live in a different country to learn a very different culture and language at the age of 80” is it safe to assume that the desire to remain in the cave is in our nature and trying to be leave would be “crazy”?
References to authors asking those questions and personal opinions and above all new ideas would be appreciated.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein