Social media seems saturated with conspiracy theories, and among the most dangerous are those about diseases such as COVID-19. But they’re hardly new, and part of a broader trend that dates back centuries. Author, folklorist, and Center for Inquiry Research Fellow Benjamin Radford will discuss the history and rise of conspiracy theories about diseases, from the Middle Ages to 2020 America. Topics include the psychology of conspiracies, as well as how such rumors are used for political purposes—and how to fight them.
Benjamin Radford, author, is longtime deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine, and a Research Fellow with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a non-profit educational organization. He is author or contributor to twenty-five books on topics including critical thinking, mysteries, and folklore, and author of thousands of articles on media and science literacy. He has won awards for his books, films, and podcasts, and is a member of the American Folklore Society and co-host of Squaring the Strange podcast.