What to believe in a post-truth world
Founder's Main Lecture Theatre
Professor Ryan McKay
Department of Psychology
These days we inhabit a ‘post-truth’ world where scientific evidence and accurate information must compete with populist appeals to emotion, ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’. In this lecture, Professor McKay will attempt to shed some light on the human propensity to adopt false beliefs. In some cases, false beliefs may be seductive because their content is compelling, perhaps because it appeals to deeply entrenched prejudices. Humans are more inclined to accommodate evidence if it fits our preconceptions and preferences. In other cases, we may be influenced by the status – or sheer number – of others who endorse the belief. In an era where dubious claims are routinely propagated by highly visible individuals, it is little wonder that misbeliefs about empirical reality persist in the face of contrary scientific evidence.