The cognitive science of science fiction – an interview with John Vervaeke

John Vervaeke is one of the world’s most esteemed cognitive scientists, and a colleague of Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto. He was born into a fundamentalist Christian family, and experienced an awakening to science after reading a science fiction novel – Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.

I interviewed John Vervaeke in October 2020 to explore the cognitive science of science fiction. We dig into the modern mythos of Star Wars, why scifi fans like to dress as their icons, the “bleed” from RPGs into real world experience, and the relationship between science fiction and Vervaeke’s concept of the meaning crisis.

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Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.


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