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What makes people believe? How do science and disinformation battle to convince us? And why has the apocalyptic discourse of conspiracy theory risen to prominence in our current political moment? This talk considers a new way of assessing the relationship between thinking and feeling, suggesting that we see them as deeply interrelated rather than fundamentally separate. Shifting our frame of reference allows us to draw a clearer map of how and why conspiracy theories have managed to gain such a powerful hold in contemporary society.


Please join the Religious Studies program and the Humanities Center for a cosponsored workshop for faculty and public talk, Feeling is Believing: a New Approach to Conspiracy Theory, with the Religious Studies Program on Monday, March 4, 2024, featuring Dr. Donovan Schaefer, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power (Duke UP, 2015) and Wild Experiment: Feeling Science and Secularism after Darwin (Duke UP, 2022), which won the Ludwik Fleck Prize from the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and the annual book prize from the International Society for Science and Religion. His research and teaching examine the role of affect and power in formations of secularism, religion, science, and material culture.

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  • Anh Nguyen
  • Juliet Wanosky

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