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"Science of monsters" google hangout

Meet the Participants: 

Sebastian Alvarado: Co-founder of the video game science consultancy group, Thwacke! Consulting.

Dan Loxton: Canadian Writer, Illustrator, and Editor of Junior Skeptic magazine. Co-writer of Abominable Science, Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids

Steven Schlozman, M.D.:  Assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a staff child and adult psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. 

Hosted by Joanne Manaster: Faculty lecturer for the Master of Science Teaching-Biology program at the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois and blogger, JoanneLovesScience, and Scientific American. 

Learn more about the Advisors here.


Our Kavli Video Contest advisors Sebastian Alvarado, Steve Schlozman, M.D., and Joanne Manaster joined author Dan Loxton in a roundtable discussion about the science behind monsters, fear, zombies, scary movies and video games.

Discussion Highlights:

  • 05:00 - 07:00 Dan Loxton kicks off the discussion with comments about how monsters embody conflict and threat, on both a personal level and in a larger, social context. Sebastian  Alvarado expands on the idea of how a " threat" is thrilling and fun when encountered in a controlled environment through a movie or game.
  • 07:00 -  09:00  Steve Schlozman discusses research on adolescent development in the context of  the individual's reactions to scary movies and rides.
  • 12:00 -  17:00  Steve Schlozman answers why zombies are so fascinating and what makes them tick biologically.
  • 21:00 -  29:00  Sebastian Alvarado talks about how his consultancy company Thwacke brings science expertise to help improve the plausibility of  video games narratives. He also discusses how neuroscientists can help improve a game's "scare" factor with their knowledge of "fight or flight', anxiety, surprise, and fear responses. Sebastian analyzes how "Amnesia", a survival horror game, effectively manipulates the player's sense of control, power, and fear. 
  • 37:00 -  40:00   Dan Luxton talks about  the history of monsters in the storytelling tradition, and cryptids, and how the study of cryptozoology has evolved. 
  • 48:00 -  49:00   Dan Luxton and Steve Schlozman discuss why some people believe in the supernatural 
  • 50:00 -  54:00   Audience questions are answered  
  • 55:00  -  58:00  Concluding and inspiring comments about nature, science, and the imagination.     


Read our "Science in Fiction" Video Contest Blog