If one is absolutely skeptical, then one cannot disprove the possibility that one came into existence right now, somehow imbued with all kinds of memories.

What is the name of this idea? I am pretty sure it is well-known.

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    I don't think this one has a specific name. The idea of Boltzman brains is related. See also omphalos hypothesis, which is what you describe but for the whole universe.
    – armand
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 0:35
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    Nothing Google can't handle. Who wants to know?
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 0:37
  • i don't think that is skeptical, it looks like memory brain problems/specific like amnesia or aphantasia, i head that one move had similar plot. Ye, this one en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anterograde_amnesia Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 0:51
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    last-thursdayism rationalwiki.org/wiki/Last_Thursdayism
    – causative
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 1:23
  • @causative You got it! You can make it into an answer and I will accept. Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 1:53

1 Answer 1


This is one version of a set of beliefs broadly known as "omphalism." (Alternate source.)

Omphalos is Greek for navel. The references is to Adam and Eve being created with navels. Why would a human that had never been born need a navel? The navel is where the umbilical cord connects you to your mom before you are born. If, as Adam and Even were described, you were created, you would never have had such a connection. So why would you have evidence of it?

They must have been created with this evidence in place.

So, this opens the passage for created entities to have characteristics that make them look like they had a history that they did not. If Adam and Eve can be created with evidence of development up to birth, then why not other things? Why not fossils created in the ground? And with fossils, so with other things such as huge deposits of organic material at the bottom of bogs. Or domesticated dogs that evidence suggests happened something like 23,000 years ago, when the Genesis story is only 5,000 years old. Why not stars created with star light already on the way so they appear much older? And so on and so forth.

So, the universe was created to look old. Exactly like it was old. In hugely rich and detailed elaboration. Evidence piled on evidence piled on evidence.

And once you open that niche, to allow a 5000 year old universe to look vastly old, it's only a couple steps to wondering why it could not have been created at any point? Say, last Thursday. Or 10 seconds ago. Why couldn't the universe have been created extremely recently with all the evidence in place?

And this leads directly into such hypothesis as Descartes's evil genius. Or many variations on The Matrix and virtual reality notions.

And the only response to such notions is this. Fun as they may be, there's not really much we can do with such notions. Suppose it's true that you are a "brain in a vat" maintained by an evil genius, as Descartes suggested. How can you change your life in any way on that basis? You can't get at the level of supposed reality beyond your apprehension. You can't affect the evil genius. You can't get out of The Matrix unless somebody helps you. You just have to live your life as though what you perceive is real. You have nothing else to go on.

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