Video: The Secret Powers of Time

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In this brilliant lecture-with-animation, Professor Philip Zimbardo discusses six different ways people's minds are focused on time. Do you focus on the past? If so, are you "Past Positive" (focusing on the good times) or "Past Negative" (focusing on failures)? Do you focus on the present? If so, are you hedonistic or do you just feel it doesn't pay to plan?

As Zimbardo says, "Most of us are here because we're future-oriented. We have learned to work, rather than play -- to resist temptation. But there's another way to be future-oriented. Depending on your religion, life begins after the death of the mortal body. To be future-oriented, you have to trust that when you make a decision about the future, it's gonna carry out." He proceeds to discuss how in different cultures, people have different paces of life, different time orientations, and how that affects their societies' function. He also goes into a detailed discussion of how computers and technology change our perception of time, and what that means for things like technology. Basically, Zimbardo makes a powerful argument that our individual (and collective) perception of time affects our health, wellbeing, and work habits.

There's a fun personal anecdote in the video as well. Zimbardo is Sicilian, and gets into a discussion of how there's an ongoing debate in Italy about splitting the country into two. It appears, at least in part, to boil down to a surprising linguistic anomaly of the Sicilian language -- watch for this around the 3:15 mark and enjoy.

Recommended for those interested in: science, linguistics, religion, time, geography, time, psychology, and sociology.

For the full non-animated lecture by Zimbardo (about 40 minutes), go here. It's worth it. There's also an MP4 download, so those of you behind YouTube blockers may be able to enjoy the lecture at work.

Note: Zimbardo was the primary researcher behind the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971. Read this interview discussing the project, 40 years later.

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July 11, 2011 - 7:07am
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