Dan Gilbert
Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

If you had $100 billion to give away, how would you spend it?

To embed this video, copy this code:

Gilbert would build an irrational Walden.

Dan Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research with Tim Wilson on "affective forecasting" investigates how and how well people can make predictions about the emotional impact of future events.

Dan has won numerous awards for his teaching and research—from the Guggenheim Fellowship to the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. However, he says that his greatest accomplishment is that he appears just before Dizzy Gillespie on the list of Most Famous High School Dropouts.

Dan's research has been covered by The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Money, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, Scientific American, Oprah Magazine, Psychology Today, and many others.


Question: If you had $100 billion to give away, how would you spend it?

Dan Gilbert: (Laughter) A hundred billion dollars to give away. How would I spend it? Well, you know, there’s two ways to spend it. One is to spend it on lots of little things and then one is to spend it on one big thing. I’m so far from being a billionaire that I don’t really know what you could do with 100 billion dollars. But I think it would be amazing to do a social experiment, an experiment in which you created a state – whether that means 1,000 people, 100,000 people or a million people – on a piece of land that lived by different principles. Kind of a Walden II, if you will, that lived by irrational principles. I think this could be a demonstration experiment for the rest of the world on how people can get along, and on how they can thrive or survive. Now I don’t know what those principles should be. I’d gather . . . With part of my 100 billion, I’d gather a whole lot of very smart people for a few years to think this problem through. But to create an amazing community in the desert of people who are living by irrational principles and thriving would do more for the export of that notion that all the arguments in the world. There it is. There is the demonstration proof.

Recorded on: 6/12/07