This program was recorded at the 12th Annual Wonderfest, the San Francisco Bay Area Festival of Science.
Wonderfest's broad goals are best described by its mission statement: Through public discourse about provocative scientific questions, Wonderfest aspires to stimulate curiosity, promote careful reasoning, challenge unexamined beliefs, and encourage life-long learning.
Wonderfest achieves these ends by presenting series of scientific events to the general public. At most of these events, pairs of articulate and accomplished researchers discuss and debate compelling questions at the edge of scientific understanding.
Jane McGonigal, PhD is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games — or, games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems. She believes game designers are on a humanitarian mission — and her #1 goal in life is to see a game developer win a Nobel Peace Prize. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Penguin Press, 2011) — and is the inventor and co-founder of SuperBetter, a game that has helped nearly half a million players tackle real-life health challenges such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and traumatic brain injury.
Philip Zimbardo is internationally recognized as a leading "voice and face of contemporary psychology" through his widely seen PBS-TV series, "Discovering Psychology," his media appearances, best-selling trade books on shyness, and his classic research, The Stanford Prison Experiment.
Zimbardo has been a Stanford University professor since 1968 (now an Emeritus Professor), having taught previously at Yale, NYU, and Columbia University. He continues teaching graduate students at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and at the Naval Post Graduate School (Monterey). He has been given numerous awards and honors as an educator, researcher, writer, and service to the profession. Recently, he was awarded the Havel Foundation Prize for his lifetime of research on the human condition. Among his more than 300 professional publications and 50 books is the oldest current textbook in psychology, Psychology and Life, now in its 18th Edition, and Core Concepts in Psychology in its 5th Edition.
His current research interests continue in the domain of social psychology, with a broad emphasis on everything interesting to study from shyness to time perspective, madness, cults, vandalism, political psychology, torture, terrorism, and evil. Noted for his personal and professional efforts to actually "give psychology away to the public," Zimbardo has also been a social-political activist, challenging the Government's wars in Vietnam and Iraq, as well as the American Correctional System.
Zimbardo has served as elected President of the Western Psychological Association (twice), President of the American Psychological Association, the Chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) representing 63 scientific, math and technical associations (with 1.5 million members), and now is Chair of the Western Psychological Foundation.
He heads a philanthropic foundation in his name to promote education in his ancestral Sicilian towns. Zimbardo adds to his retirement list activities: serving as the new executive director of a center on terrorism, the Center for Interdisciplinary Policy, Education, and Research on Terrorism (CIPERT).
He is also the author of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Random House, 2007).