Does Our “Knowledge” These Days Rely on Facts, Rumors, or Bogus Theories?

From climate change to a global pandemic and even a presidential election, a tradition of national trust in expertise and authority has been pushed aside in the United States, in favor of random personal opinions, rumors, and even conspiracy theories perpetuated on social media. But if an educated populace is essential for democracy to function effectively, how might we address the surging confusion and cynicism among the general public? How can we mitigate the problem of false equivalencies that have invaded dialogues on scientific, technical, political, and social issues? What is the impact on Free Speech as we know and practice it?

Panelists include David Dunning, a social psychologist who studies human misbelief and disbelief; Fathali Moghaddam, a political psychologist who examines the cognitive processes underlying democracy and dictatorship; Danielle K. Brown, a scholar of political communication who investigates the intersection of news media, underserved and historically excluded communities, and social justice efforts; and Briony Swire-Thompson, a senior research scientist who investigates what drives belief in inaccurate information.

Interview recorded on February 28, 2022.