Hey Everyone! My name is Rodney Ascher (/u/rodres). I directed Room 237 and The Nightmare and just recently released my new film, "A Glitch In The Matrix," a documentary about simulation, now in theaters and video on demand.

To find out more, please visit:


Proof: https://i.redd.it/3xpywruhace61.jpg

Comments: 124 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

Bjarki5632 karma

Would you say that the theory that we live in a matrix (some kind of computer simulation) is a variation of intelligent design creation theory that religious people sometimes present?

rodres40 karma

You know, I was surprised when talking to people for the film, how often the conversation went to religious places. They're similar in broad strokes and one could even imagine a simulator creating a world according to the specs of creationism (or other specific religious traditons)

insaneintheblain19 karma

We live in the world our brains generate for us - our brains overlay our cultural conditionings so that collection of wood over there is recognised by us as a “chair”.

The question is, who is controlling our cultural conditionings?

And if reality as we know it is manufactured for us, what real potential for creativity is there?

Reality is simple chaos. Our minds give it order so that we can ‘make sense’ of it.

“What we call reality is in fact nothing more than a culturally sanctioned and linguistically reinforced hallucination.” — Terence McKenna

rodres11 karma

I'll buy that for a dollar.

OleColonelAngus18 karma

Hello Rodney. I found the section on Joshua Cooke very...unsettling. How were you personally impacted by interviewing Mr. Cooke and hearing him tell his story?

rodres28 karma

I was mostly saddened by it, even in prison it doesn't seem like he's getting a lot of help and the growth he's managed to do was mostly by working through things on his own. When cutting that sequence I was struck by the timing of the graphic 'system failure' that played over that monologue he was repeating. It seemed like one system/safety net failed to reach him before it was too late.

quantizedself8 karma

Hi, nice documentary. It was definitely quite a ride and very engaging. Two questions:

1) I thought the use of the bizarre character avatars was a nice touch. Was that strictly a style choice, or was it in part for anonymity?

2) I was pleased to see Nick Bostrom on there, as he is definitely one of the leading experts in the theory (check out his interview on Sean Carrol's podcast, Mindscape). I was hoping for more scientific/philosophical grounding. Why did you choose to lean more into people's personal beliefs and conspiracy theories than the actual scientific and philosophical views?

rodres10 karma

Thanks! 1) It was style choice to make the look and feel of the film better reflect the subject (and to allow us to put the interview characters themselves directly into the re-enactments without having to find lookalikes. 2) I find those human stories the most interesting personally and feel I have a better knack at telling them then doing hardcore science journalism. I tried to include enough science/philophy to put them into context but the real people are the heart of it for me.

TheNeonLemon8 karma

Do you think those who believe in simulation theory think it makes more sense after all that happened in 2020 or less?

rodres16 karma

A lot of folks find unlikely events in the news evidence of the simulation and I get it for sure, but to me those things feel more like evidence that we're living in a TV show.

jumpsteadeh7 karma

Does Roko's Basilisk come up in the discussion at all?

rodres8 karma

It was on my big whiteboard of related ideas but didn't quite make it in the film. Lots of material for part 2!

jumpsteadeh26 karma

So what you're telling me is that you did not use your wide-reaching platform to spread the word of Roko's Basilisk? I'm just gonna make a note of that real quick.

rodres12 karma


neoclassicaldude6 karma

Have you yourself ever subscribed to the "simulation theory"?

rodres8 karma

It sure is tempting sometimes.

realityshifter9826 karma

What things exactly will be shown in this documentary?
People who claim that we live in a simulation and have experienced glitches in the matrix?or just scientific proves and explanations regarding this topic?

rodres17 karma

closer to the former. I'd say the heart of it is people who believe we're in one sharing their stories and reflecting on it with a little science and philosophy sprinkled in to put it into context.

ApocalypseSpokesman6 karma

I think the reality of a simulation is fundamentally impossible to prove either way. There's nothing that could ever be raised as evidence of a simulation that couldn't also be argued as the interference of an advanced intelligence on the one hand or some sort of deity on the other.

What do proponents of this theory push forward as their strongest piece of evidence?

rodres3 karma

Well...Bostrom makes his 3 point argument with statistics, and at that conference Musk used the fast evolution of videogames to support it. In the case of the 4 people who shared personal stories (and perhaps Phillip K Dick) it was either an almost religious revelation or something that just made sense at a gut level. There's certainly deeper scientific places you can go with bleeding edge physics but the movie focusses on the above.

crimsonavengerjr5 karma

I haven't seen it but do you think you broke any ground on solipsism and idealism or is this more of a window into skeptical philosophy and a contemporary view if descartes' evil demon?

rodres6 karma

We do wrestle with the question of solipsism and how it relates and even mention that Demon, so knock on wood, hope you like it!

popashot5 karma

What's your personal belief? Were you influenced by anyone in the film?

rodres26 karma

I think the thing that most influenced me was Erik Davis saying that even if it's true, our obligation to treating each other as fully human equals remains. Similiarly, if our world was created a testing ground for some experiment being done by someone OUT THERE, this is still the real world as far as each of us are concerned.

ocktick2 karma

Do you think sim theory actually has any positive moral implications? It seems the best case scenario and the most common interpretation is that it's just an interesting way to make sense of reality and consciousness but ultimately does not matter. It seems like the only "real" philosophy that embracing sim theory could lead to is that working towards replacing humans with AI is not only possible, but a morally legitimate end to work toward.

rodres2 karma

I'm not sure. If it's TRUE (and granted we seem to be a long way away from proving that definitively) than positive or negative don't have anything to do with it, we'll just need to deal with it. But as a metaphor/thought experiment, at a bare minimum it gives us new vocabulary to talk about the world which I think is completely valuable. To your point, I'm not sure of the morality of REPLACING people with AI but I'd say Simulation Theory makes the question of recognizing AI as deserving of respect and equality clearer....

johndenverspilot2 karma

How did you get into directing and what would you recommend for those who want to get into the film industry?

rodres8 karma

My career basically followed two tracks, entry level work in the established industry (running errands or doing storyboards on tv commercials) and shooting my own no-budget shorts and music videos with my friends. It took years for the two tracks to converge.

InternationalGuard752 karma

What's your favorite color?

rodres9 karma

Blue...no! Wait....Aghghhhh!!!!

MitchHedberg2 karma

You claim to present proof it's you but how can anyone be sure? Perhaps it's just a simulation - that's what the matrix would want it's users to believe.

rodres7 karma

point taken

financegambler2 karma

What do you believe? Do you think we’re living in a tv show like “the Truman show”?

rodres3 karma

I have no idea. I think that's why I typically center these things on the reflections of people much smarter and/or more interesting than myself.

T-Mc-271 karma

In most movies about simulation theory, ie. The matrix there is a chosen individual that the simulation seems to be created around or for, do you think there is a “chosen one” in our world and everything we do evolves around them?

rodres1 karma

Paul, one of the people featured in the movie had an idea I found much more compelling, using the model of GANS (generative adversarial networks) he suggested that competition amongst all of us was a likely strategy the simulation could be using in order to solve some particular problem or other.

corraide1 karma

Hi, Rodney! I'm from Brazil and watched the documentary yesterday. First I wanna say that I love Room 237. Now, how did you get into the idea/sense of we living in a simulation? What do you think of the cult about Musk and the relation with conspiracy theories?

rodres2 karma

Thx! When I was interviewing people who experience Sleep Paralysis for the Nightmare one of them told me he thought the things he saw might be peeks beyond 'the simulation.' Before then I only knew the idea from science fiction but it quickly became a rabbit hole I fell into. As for Musk, I found his comments on the subject at that conference kind of a milestone in the mainstreaming of the idea (and proof that it was taken seriously by people smarter than me).

Felipe_AP1 karma

What's the most direct way you know someone can modify their reality and abandon the usual conditionings of this system/matrix?

rodres3 karma

I might guess by close contact with with a person/ group of people who challenge everything you've always believed. Did you read the story of the woman who left the Westboro Church?

Felipe_AP1 karma

the woman who left the Westboro Church

well, i'm new to this, could you tell me more?
EDIT: yeah, found info about her. I find these stories interesting.

rodres8 karma

Westboro is a controversal group (very very inflammatory and confrontational) and a young woman who grew up in their tight knot community believed in their movement since she was a kid. If I remember right (should be an easy google) her mind was blown when someone reached out and patiently talked to her about life outside and she was able to walk away. Not strictly speaking a matrix story, but she did abandon her conditioning.

blackphillipbaby1 karma

How did you decide what online people to interview for the film? How did you find people who believe we live in a simulation? Loved the film!

rodres2 karma

thanks! For the four 'eyewitnesses' it was largely on the basis of how dramatic and personal their stories were and how they complemented the other ones. For the 'experts' they either wrote something that blew me away or their expertise included some particular idea I wanted to get in the movie.

3905571 karma


rodres10 karma

it came up in conversation for sure. Certainly they managed to delay the release the movie significantly from our original plan of launching in April!

Jaadzia1 karma

How did you come across this group of simulation theorists and how do you think they'll respond to the film?

rodres6 karma

they found us after we announced we were doing the film and looking for people to share their stories. I really really hope they dig it!

Phrii1 karma


rodres3 karma

He didn't come up really since I was focusing more on Simulation Theory than the Matrix films per se. Did his version suggest the characters were living in a computer-created reality?

Phrii1 karma


rodres1 karma

sounds like kind of an interesting story, maybe someone should do one about him...

Copywrites1 karma

Room 237 is probably one of my favorite documentaries of all time, and I liked The Nightmare.

How do you decide what films to base your docs on?

rodres2 karma

Thanks! There's always been at least one external factor - The Shining seemed to be the film that had generated the most (and the most interesting) interpretation. The Nightmare wasn't strictly about Elm Street but sleep paralysis which I had experienced. And this one isn't all about the Matrix movie so much as Simulation Theory which, like the other topics, was a sufficiently bottomless pit that I felt like I could explore it for two or three years without reaching th end or getting bored.

zukoboss1 karma

How did you feel about virtual Sundance this year?

rodres4 karma

I think they pulled it off! To my mind this was the first virtual festival that felt like an event that I saw everyone tracking and debating on my social media feed. (Of course being a part of it, I was primed to see any references to it...) The irony of THIS film playing a virtual festival (and having a party with the cast and crew in VR) was not lost on me either.