Conspiracy Theories: Hidden Brain‘s Shankar Vedantam | The Delusion of Nations
Host of Hidden Brain podcast, Shankar Vedantam talks with us about the powers: both useful and harmful, of our delusional thinking. Nations are an example of useful delusions; they are an entirely human-made construct, yet they can present us with a unifying, shared identity.
There is a tipping point, however, at which our beliefs can become harmful to someone else. Shankar defines conspiracy theories as a particular type of self deception which can easily escalate into harmful behavior.
Our conversation with Shankar touches on the Capitol Riots in Washington DC on January 6th 2021, and how conspiracy theories influenced the behavior of the rioters.
“Conspiracy theories, I think are a sort of special case of self deception, which…can easily take over into things that are deeply harmful.”
The challenge most of us face though, is how to talk to our friends and family who believe in conspiracy theories. And on that point, Shankar explains the Illusion Of Explanatory Depth and how conversations with our loved ones need to start with an air of empathy and compassion.
You can listen to our full interview with Shankar Vedantam in Episode 222: How Delusions Can Actually Be Useful: Shankar Vedantam Reveals How.
This bitesize episode is the introduction to our Conspiracy Theories Series, which will run through the month of November 2021. Over the next few weeks, you will hear from some of the brightest minds in the field of conspiracy theories and science denial. Here is our line up for the month:
- Nov 7th, 2021: Lee McIntyre discussing his new book, “How To Talk to A Science Denier.”
- Nov 14th, 2021: Andy Norman talking about his new book “Mental Immunity”.
- Nov 21st, 2021: Eric Oliver, a political science professor at the University of Chicago who has studied conspiracy theorists for over 20 years.
- Nov 28th, 2021: Howard Rankin, describing his new book “I Think Therefore I Am Wrong.”
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