People are drawn to this assumption of "Subjective Reality" because it enables them to make excuses for whatever irrationality they want to get away with.
One manifestation is what I call “subjectivist distancing”--a tactic for avoiding engagement with particular facts and arguments by dismissing them as “merely based on personal experience” and therefore irrelevant to anyone other than the speaker.
This is the pattern of "subjectivist distancing": A reality-oriented person offers facts and logical arguments. The subjectivist instinctively dislikes the absolutism and the challenge of that substance—and he seeks to distance himself from it by finding some way in which the reality-oriented person “just had a bad personal experience.” The subjectivist wants to avoid grappling with the specific facts and logical arguments offered, and he does so by ignoring them and implying that his opponent's judgment must be clouded and biased by his own subjectively constructed perception.
Here are some examples of Subjectivist Distancing from my own personal experience.
Each school year, I have a conversation with my graduating students—who will be going off to college the next year--about the nature and dangers of academia. We discuss the origins of academia in Plato's philosophy, embodied in his Academy, which was then re-created in the medieval Christian monasteries, which were eventually opened up to the public to become Universities. I warn the students about the dangers of living in a bubble cut off from the realities of life, without productive work to make a living, with all the concrete details of grocery shopping and paying bills managed by the great Parent which is the university—all riding on money that comes from commerce and industry, whether via private donors, government subsidies or grants, parental payments, or from debt which will be repaid by the student's own future work. I warn of the brainwashing indoctrination that students are subjected to, and explain in detail which ideas a pushed and how they are pushed. I warn about the dangers of false prestige, and the way “school pride” fuses your sense of self, your identity, with the institution and its doctrines.
One student, whose parents are piled high with academic credentials, and who was proud of being accepted to the prestigious Princeton University, found my message especially uncomfortable and fought me on it steadily. She particularly wanted to find out if I had had a bad experience in college—she half-heartedly acknowledged the facts I cited, but insistently pressed me about whether I had just had “a bad college experience.” When I told her that, yes, I did have a bad college experience, she was finally satisfied; she concluded—as she wanted to--that everything I said pertained only to me, was only relevant to me, that she did not have to deal with it or answer it, because my viewpoint was tainted by “personal experience.”
Another example: Several of my recent blog posts have condemned the Landmark Forum as a deadly and evil cult. I got a number of objections to those posts from people who had “completed” the Landmark Forum and wanted to shoot down what I said and reassert that they had “gotten value” from it and “suffered no ill harm” from it. Their objections were (quoting from one Landmark supporter): 1) “have you completed the Landmark Forum yourself, or is everything you have posted on the subject second or third-hand?” and admonishing me to “disclose that you never completed the program you are posting about and have no actual first-hand knowledge of it.” And 2) “You've not offered any sort of evidence except your perception/opinion of what is going on.”
Notice the double standard: if you do not have direct “personal experience” with the thing you are discussing, then your viewpoint is dismissed as not based on first-hand observation; but if you do have “personal experience” with it, then your judgment must be clouded and tainted by your own false private reality. There is no square inch of the human brain which is not destroyed by the premise of metaphysical Subjectivism.
My third example is about religion and worldview. I had a conversation with a Catholic friend—a very intelligent person with wide knowledge of science and the arts, but who was rigidly committed to the Catholic faith. I explained that I couldn't accept religion because it doesn't make any sense. We had fairly extensive conversations in which I pointed out the fallacies in the concept of God as an omniscient and omnipotent being, in which I pointed out the horrific implications of such things as original sin and the Ten Commandments (self-abnegation being the main theme). I was defending Ayn Rand's philosophy on the grounds of logic and facts.
But the final note of the conversation, pressed by my friend, was her assertion that I seemed to have had a difficult childhood, and therefore I needed a philosophy like Objectivism—whereas she had had a fairly good childhood, so she didn't have that need. She brushed aside the question of truth and rational validity to reassert the Subjectivist metaphysics: your reality is one thing, just for you, and my reality is another thing, untouchable by any of your observations or arguments.
This is how Subjectivism attempts to insulate irrational beliefs from challenge--to keep them impervious to reality. The subjectivist keeps threatening facts at arm's length from himself using, guarding against the thing he fears: objective reality.