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

Coronavirus and Conspiracy Theories, with Michael Shermer

Image Credit: Storyblocks.
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About This Episode

What’s the difference between being a skeptic and believing in conspiracy theories? How do you remain skeptical without falling down a rabbit hole? On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice catch up with Michael Shermer, Founding Publisher of Skeptic Magazine and author of Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections from a Scientific Humanist, to explore conspiracy theories and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why do we need free speech? Michael shares the importance of giving everyone a voice and being able to listen. We discuss the consequences of spreading misinformation. You’ll hear why people are confused about what “freedom” actually entails. Michael tells us why the coronavirus is susceptible to conspiracy theories. 

Then, we answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries. Is it better to ignore or confront conspiracy theories? We investigate the need to have a full explanation of events and the idea that the size of the cause should match the size of the effect. Are religious people more prone to being conspiracy-minded?

Michael explains how to sell the idea of skepticism successfully. Where is that line between healthy, cautious skepticism and believing in conspiracy theories? Find out more about the importance of experimentation in order to get to the truth. Discover why there might be a lot of hindsight bias over the next decade about how the world handled the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We discuss how China’s early lack of transparency fueled some of the coronavirus conspiracy theories. Lastly, you’ll hear some of the more outlandish conspiracy theories that Michael has come across. All that, plus, we end our show with a reminder about the importance and necessity of vaccines. 

Thanks to our Patrons Sami Succar, Kaleb Saleeby, Paul Dills, Evie Taylor, Cameron Buynack, Mick Swiger, Daniel Brooks, and Jill Chase for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.

In This Episode

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