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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[…]

Gilbert would build an irrational Walden.

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