Flattening the Curve of the Infodemic
Now more than ever, people need to hear from the voices of reason, science, and skepticism, but too often they are drowned out by the noise of misinformation, pseudoscience, and conspiracy theories, especially online.
That’s why Skeptical Inquirer, the magazine of science and reason, is going to turn up the volume.
Introducing Skeptical Inquirer Presents, live online presentations from leading experts in science, skepticism, medicine, media, activism, and advocacy, all devoted to the cause of advancing science over pseudoscience, media literacy over conspiracy theories, and critical thinking over magical thinking.
Every two weeks, Skeptical Inquirer Presents will bring you a new live event, emceed by the brilliant and hilarious comedian Leighann Lord, co-host of the Point of Inquiry podcast.
And it’s all happening from the comfort of your laptop (or any other screen), wherever you are in the world, because even though so much has been closed down, big ideas can’t be contained in conference halls.
It’s time to flatten the curve of the infodemic. Free registration is required for these online lectures. See below for details and registration, and check back for additional events.
Developing a SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine: Is Warp Speed Too Fast?
Featuring: Paul Offit
Thursday, August 13th – 7:00 PM ET
We’ll discuss the path to developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine with an understanding that most research and development programs for vaccines take about 15-20 years. The expectation, however, is that this vaccine will be developed in 12-18 months. Given that this would undoubtedly mean that steps along the path will be compressed or skipped, will this make for a less safe or less effective vaccine?
Paul A. Offit, MD is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq.
The Role of Cognitive Dissonance in the Pandemic
Featuring: Carol Tavris
Thursday, August 27th – 7:00 PM ET
Cognitive Dissonance is the motivational mechanism that underlies the profoundly human reluctance to admit mistakes or accept unwelcome scientific findings—even when those findings can save our lives. Because of the intense polarization in our country, a great many Americans now see the life-and-death decisions they must make in living in the time of the pandemic as political choices rather than medical ones. This dynamic is playing out among the many people who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. While the evidence shows that these methods are the best we have at present to slow and control Covid-19, some people, convinced that the virus is a hoax or that masks impair their breathing or their freedom, would sooner jeopardize their health and everyone else’s than accept that evidence — or admit to being wrong.
Carol Tavris is a social psychologist and writer. Her books include Anger; The Mismeasure of Woman; and (with Avrum Bluming) Estrogen Matters. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Skeptic, the TLS, and many other publications. She lives in Los Angeles.
Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall For Them
Featuring: Seema Yasmin
Thursday, September 10th – 7:00 PM ET
Can your zip code predict when you will die? Will testosterone supplements boost your libido? Should you space out childhood vaccines? Does talcum powder cause cancer? Why do some doctors recommend e-cigarettes while other doctors recommend you stay away from them? Health information―and misinformation―is all around us, and it can be hard to separate the two. A long history of unethical medical experiments and medical mistakes, along with a host of celebrities spewing anti-science beliefs, has left many wary of science and the scientists who say they should be trusted. How do we stay sane while unraveling the knots of fact and fiction to find out what we should really be concerned about, and what we can laugh off?
Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, medical doctor, author, and Director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative.
Conspiracy Theories and COVID-19
Featuring: Joseph Uscinski
Thursday, July 30th – 7:00 PM ET
Using a wealth of recent survey data, Professor Joseph Uscinski will show just how popular conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are, and why they are so dangerous to our health. Uscinski will then look at another set of dangers facing us today: those associated with misunderstanding the causes of conspiracy theories. Smashing down some of the most common myths about conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists, Uscinski will show that conspiracy theories are not a product of the internet, social media, or even our modern age.
Joseph Uscinski is associate professor of political science at University of Miami and co-author of American Conspiracy Theories (Oxford, 2014).