Episode 13: Vaccines milestones and combating conspiracy theories

Since our last episode, the first vaccine target has been hit in England and more than 15 million people in the UK have had their first dose. This is a fantastic achievement for all involved!

However, new questions have emerged over the efficacy of the Oxford vaccine in relation to the South African variant. And despite all the evidence, there remain some people that still dispute the very existence of the virus.

This week, Adam joins us again to give an updated assessment of the vaccine rollout effort. I was also delighted to be joined by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky – Chair in Cognitive Psychology at the Bristol School of Psychological Science, and an international authority on conspiracy theories.

Last year, Stephan and Adam contributed to a new COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Handbook that aimed to help people effectively debunk the potentially harmful conspiracy theories in circulation.

In this fascinating conversation, we discuss what is it about conspiracy theories that draw people into believing them, practical approaches we can take if we are worried someone may be vulnerable, and the roll of technology in spreading conspiracy theories around the world.

On this latter point, Stephan references a recent report for the European Commission he co-authored: ‘Technology and Democracy: Understanding the influence of online technologies on political behaviour and decision-making’. You can find that report here.

As ever, thanks to Adam and Stephan for taking the time our of their incredibly busy schedules to join us.

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