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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 256

Imagining the Future with Reality Game Designer and Futurist Jane McGonigal

Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything―Even Things That Seem Impossible Today (book cover)

A world-renowned future forecaster and game designer, Jane McGonigal teaches people to envision the future before it arrives — and gives us the tools to help shape the world we want to live in. The COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most disruptive events in human history, has made it more challenging than ever to feel prepared, hopeful, and equipped to face the future with optimism. How do we map out our lives when it feels impossible to predict what the world will be like next week, let alone next year or next decade? What we need now are strategies to help us recover our confidence and creativity in facing uncertain futures.

In Imaginable, Jane McGonigal draws on the latest scientific research in psychology and neuroscience to show us how to train our minds to think the unthinkable and imagine the unimaginable. She invites us to play with the provocative thought experiments and future simulations she’s designed exclusively for this book. Imaginable teaches us to be fearless, resilient, and bold in realizing a world with possibilities we cannot yet imagine — until listening to this transformative, inspiring, and necessary book.

Jane McGonigal is a future forecaster and designer of reality games created to improve real lives and solve real problems. She is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Penguin Press, 2011) and SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully (Penguin Press, 2016), and her TED talks on how gaming can improve our lives have more than 15 million views. She is the Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research group in Palo Alto, California, currently teaches the course “How to Think Like a Futurist” at Stanford University, and is the lead instructor for the Institute for the Future’s series on the Coursera platform. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Shermer and McGonigal discuss:

  • What is a futurist and what do they do?
  • predicting the past: counterfactuals. How could the present moment be different?
  • The Institute for the Future
  • How can you imagine the unimaginable, or think the unthinkable?
  • “In dealing with the future it is more important to be imaginative and insightful than to be one hundred percent ‘right’.” —Futurist maxim
  • Doesn’t every generation think it’s special, unique, and “living in interesting times”?
  • COVID-19: how have we done so far?
  • how to time travel
  • how to envision what our lives will look like ten years from now
  • how to develop the courage and vision to solve problems creatively
  • how to take actions and make decisions that will help shape the future we desire
  • how to simulate any future you want
  • simulations as thought experiments as counterfactual causality tests
  • gaming as simulation of problem solving
  • 10,000-hour rule for success
  • your present self vs. your future self and why most of us discount the future too much.

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This episode is sponsored by The Lost Debate and Wondrium:

The Lost Debate (sponsor)
Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on March 22, 2022.

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Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

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