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: When you read the newspaper or watch the news, what issues stand out for you?
Dan Gilbert: Well there are so many big issues of today. That’s part of living in today. Almost all of the issues seem really, really big. What’s hard to know is which of these issues will seem big when people look back on them 100 years from now. We’re fighting about so many things right now – that is human beings are fighting about so many things that will seem so unimportant to people a century from now; but some of them, I think, will be very, very important. And surely the big issue – the one that people throughout time will agree is a big issue – is the environmental issue. I feel confident that human beings will ultimately work out their sociopolitical differences if given hundreds or thousands of years to either rough each other up or negotiate. Be we won’t have 100s of 1,000s of years to get to that point if we’re on a planet that’s disintegrating. So it seems abundantly clear that the differences between blacks and whites, and Jews and Gentiles, a and men and women, and gays and straights will seem like charming bits of history to people 1,000 years from now. But global warming will not.
Recorded on: 6/12/07