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How do you know that you’re really where you are right now? I mean, where are you getting this sense of place from? A bunch of data from at least some of your five senses enters your brain where it’s cross-referenced with categories from memory. You’re making a probabilistic calculation: This sure looks, feels, and smells like my office. 

Jeremy Bailenson, my guest today, has been experimenting with cutting edge virtual reality for over a decade now. His Virtual Human Interaction Lab studies the ways VR’s unique sense of presence—of putting you into a different place (and maybe time) from the one you’re in can be used for education, healing, and—yes—generally making the world a better place. His new book is called: EXPERIENCE ON DEMAND: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode

Michael Schrage on Apple, the FBI, and data privacy, Beau Lotto on technology and empathy

Jeremy Bailenson quote: If five years from now, people are reading their email in VR, then I’ve done something wrong.  
The downsides of VR? They exist. Whether you’re talking about simulator sickness, or possible addictions, or simply just being distracted and smashing into the wall or stepping on the cat.   Given those downsides, we should reserve VR for very special experiences: things that in the real world would be impossible to do, dangerous to do, counterproductive to do in reality but instructive to experience, or things that are so rare and expensive that you couldn’t do them otherwise.


About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.