July 5, 2020 8:37 pm

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michael Shermer Investigate Conspiracy Theories in the Coronaverse

There’s a lot of noise in the world. Especially online. People throwing around opinions left and right, some based on fact, some based on nothing. How do you sift through what’s true and what’s false? How do you not fall down the rabbit hole?

On this week’s episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice catch up with Michael Shermer, Founding Publisher of Skeptic Magazine, author of the new book Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist, and long-time friend of StarTalk. What better person to answer Cosmic Queries on conspiracy theories in the time of COVID-19?

Storyblock’s image of masked medical professionals in a circle looking at camera.

Image Credit: Storyblocks.

We start with some basics. Why do we need free speech? Michael explains why free speech is important to help us listen to each other. We discuss the consequences behind spreading misinformation. That being said, we also discuss the importance of letting everyone have their voice.

What makes coronavirus more susceptible to conspiracy theories? We investigate how quickly one can go down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole. Then, it’s time for Cosmic Queries. Is it better to confront or ignore conspiracy theories? We discuss the “backfire effect.” We investigate if there’s a certain psychological make-up for people who are more prone to believe in conspiracy theories.

Michael shares how to be cautiously skeptic without crossing the line into conspiracy. You’ll learn about the importance of experimentation. Find out why there might be a lot of hindsight bias in the next decade of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled. Lastly, Michael tells us some of the more outlandish conspiracies he’s come across about coronavirus. All that, plus, we discuss the importance and necessity of vaccines.

Please join us tomorrow for Coronavirus and Conspiracy Theories, with Michael Shermer at 7pm ET right here on our website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re a StarTalk+ Patron or an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
– Ian Mullen

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