Are we winning?
Looking around at a world awash with misinformation, it’s easy for even the most optimistic skeptic to feel disheartened. Across the world, we’ve watched on as viral pseudoscience has exacerbated a viral pandemic, as patients have put their trust and their health in the hands of would-be gurus and healers, and as conspiracy theories have inspired thousands to take to the streets in order to fight back against one moral panic or another.
Yet, that isn’t to say that we ought to pessimistic. Recent years have seen significant advances in fight against alternative medicine, particularly in Europe; the community of people who reject religious dogma appears to be growing year-on-year; and the pandemic itself demonstrated to the public the importance of evidence-based policy and the life-saving nature of scientific ingenuity.
So, for our next addition to the panel room session at QED, we’d like to explore a simple question: are we winning? To try to answer that question, we have pulled together an international panel of skeptics:
- Diana Barbosa graduated in Biology, having done research on topics related to ethology and evolution. Since 2010, she dedicated herself professionally to science communication, with experience in institutional communication, science exhibitions, training, and production of science popularisation activities. In 2012, she co-founded COMCEPT, the Portuguese Skeptic Community, of which she is President of the Board since 2016. Having crossed the bridge of “the two cultures”, she is currently the science communication officer of the Institute of Contemporary History, at NOVA University Lisbon.
- Claire Klingenberg is the president of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations. She has been involved in the skeptic movement since 2013 as co-organiser of the Czech Paranormal Challenge. Since then, she has consulted on various projects where woo and belief meets science, including a Czech and Slovak state-funded TV show, Investigátori. She currently runs free critical thinking seminars for interested high schools, contributes to the news site of the Czech Religious Studies journal Dingir, and visits various religious, esoteric, and alternative movements to better understand what draws people to certain beliefs.
- Noah Lugeons is the co-creator of the Podcast Award winning Scathing Atheist podcast, and the host of the Podcast-Award eligible God Awful Movies. His most recent book, Outbreak: A Crisis of Faith: How Religion Ruined Our Global Pandemic, tracked the ways in which White Christian Nationalism undermined the American pandemic response, resulting in a barrage of dangerous health misinformation, church-based COVID outbreaks, and – ultimately – countless preventable infections and deaths.
- Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society, President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, and editor of The Skeptic. Since 2013 he has interviewed proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast, including leaders of the Flat Earth movement. His work has seen him organising international homeopathy protests, and lecturing on journalism and PR at a number of universities. He has written for The Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.