Given the choice of preserving only one of the countless "This is the age of..." pronouncements, which attempt to encapsulate the essence of our times, we might settle for "This is the age of simulation." Our diet is soggy with simulated sugar, salt, butter, fruit juices, vegetable flavors, and other synthetic simulacra. Our women display ersatz eyelashes, fingernails, and bosoms. Our R- and X-rated movies feature "simulated" sex. We often find it hard to tell the difference between reality and the televised world of simulators. Were "Dr. Welby" to enter our living room in vivo, would we consult him on matters of health, even though aware that he is not a doctor? Were any of his "patients" to accompany him, would we solicitously inquire about the state of their health?
In fact, we don't have to imagine such simulated situations. They already exist. In a recent issue of The Journal
Show Biz. JAMA. 1973;225(1):59–60. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220280047017