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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[…]

An age of believing our eyes, rather than our elders.

Gilbert: Well surely this age will be remembered as the age of science. I mean, when we look back, this is the big change in the human story. People are suddenly believing their eyes instead of their elders. This is a whole new way to generate beliefs. For most of our history, the nature of the world was given to us by people who’d experienced it before. And we’re very good creatures of culture. We know how to make societies by believing what societies tell us. It’s a pretty important part of cohering as a society. But for the very first time we’re lifting the veil off our eyes, and we’re looking around and seeing for ourselves. That sounds so obvious to some citizens of the 21st century that you would open your eyes and see for yourself what the world is like. We don’t appreciate what a marvelous, new invention . . . a new way of thinking this is. I think when history is written, we will look back on this age as the age of . . . the age of which people decided to believe their eyes instead of their elders, to look for themselves. It’s an exciting new thing.

Recorded on: 6/12/07