#365: David Robert Grimes, PhD – Conspiracy Theories & Bad Information: Why Are We Susceptible?

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David Robert Grimes, PhD

Dr. David Robert Grimes is a physicist, cancer researcher and a science journalist. In addition to his cancer research, he has also published peer-reviewed work on conspiracy theories, meta-research and health modelling.

Dr. Grimes is the author of the fantastic book The Irrational Ape: Why We Fall for Disinformation, Conspiracy Theory and Propaganda. And given his keen interest in advancing the public understanding of science, he contributes to several media outlets discussing science, politics and society.

He appears frequently on news media to discuss and debate topics as diverse as vaccination to climate-change, and gives talks across the world on the importance of evidence in society. He was joint winner of the 2014 Nature / Sense About Science Maddox Prize for standing up for Science.

David is affiliated with Oxford University, Queen's University Belfast and Dublin City University. His cancer research has focused on the mathematical modelling and mechanistic understanding of hypoxia in cancer.

In this episode we discuss:

  • What makes us susceptible to believe conspiracies or bad information?
  • Psychological traits those who push conspiracy theories
  • ‘Web of Belief’ – our ideas are entangled
  • "Schrödinger’s Bin Laden"
  • Illusory truth and other tactics of disinformation
  • Vaccine hesitancy - the cost of anti-vaxx conspiracies
  • Why is trusting in science different to an argument from authority fallacy?
  • Does the current environment make disinformation more prevalent and more existential than before?
  • “Hoax and rumour completely eclipse truth” - Should we be optimistic or pessimistic?

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