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Conspiracy, Misinformation, and the Infodemic

Fall 2021 to Spring 2022

Resident Associates

In lieu of Resident Associates, CAS Director May Berenbaum and Deputy Director Masumi Iriye will oversee this new initiative featuring UI faculty as well as invited guests.


The year 2020 was one of overlapping crises—of a global nature, including the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine hesitancy, climate change, and immigration; of national impact, such as election security, policing, racism, and revisionist educational standards; and even of very localized concern blown entirely out of proportion to the potential for damage ("murder hornets"). All these crises are to some degree a manifestation of an underlying crisis in communication—an infodemic, defined by the World Health Organization as "too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments."

Particularly during a health crisis, misinformation or disinformation can compromise evidence-based public health responses, with lasting deleterious effects. "Fake news" and other forms of media manipulation have been around for decades, even centuries, but the rapid proliferation of and easy access to new technologies have led to unprecedented information overload and accompanying cognitive vulnerabilities. UIUC's mission as a public university is to discover and disseminate useful knowledge acquired by scholarly means, yet virtually every academic discipline today faces challenges from segments of the general population skeptical of traditionally authoritative sources of information.

This year, CAS will tackle misinformation, disinformation, "fake news" and conspiracies in a series of public conversations, to investigate the history of rumor, propaganda, misinformation, and conspiracy theories, their impacts on human behavior and public policy-making, and the role of institutions of higher education to halt, mitigate, or circumvent their corrosive effects on the health and safety of the public.

Co-hosted by the Center for Advanced Study and the Office of the Provost

News Bureau article

Daily Illini article

Events
Thursday
Sep 30
Kevin Leicht
,
Brant Houston
,
Joseph T. Yun
,
Loretta Auvil
,
Eamon Bracht
3:00pm-4:30pm CDT

Zoom presentation

Wednesday
Oct 06
Thursday
Oct 21
Jim Hansen
4:00pm CDT

Zoom presentation

Monday
Oct 25
Monday
Nov 01
Rana Hogarth
2:00pm CDT

Zoom presentation

Tuesday
Nov 09
David O'Brien
4:00pm CST

Zoom presentation

Wednesday
Feb 09
Steven M. Zipperstein
7:00pm CST

Zoom presentation

Wednesday
Feb 23
Kathryn Paige Harden
7:00pm CST

Zoom presentation

Wednesday
Mar 09
Wednesday
Mar 23
Alison Van Eenennaam
7:00pm CDT

Zoom presentation

Wednesday
Mar 30
Jodi A. Schneider
7:00pm CDT

Zoom presentation