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What Magic Can Teach Us About Misinformation


Sofia Molina

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This panel joins together the fields of medicine, magic, and ethics. We will explore how misinformation and disinformation about health is created and spread, and how expectation violation theory, a theory of communication that analyzes how individuals respond to unanticipated violations of social norms and expectations, can help to counteract these narratives. The panel will also discuss what can be learned from magicians, who are often seen as ethical disinformation designers. Panelists will point to how magic acts as fertile ground to approach the topics of misinformation and disinformation in safe, gentle ways. Finally, we will dive into how illusions shed light on the larger implications of neuroethics and epistemic injustice in the future.

Speakers and Presenters

Introduction: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center

Jeanette Andrews, Magician, Artist, and Speaker (Affiliate Alumni, metaLAB (at) Harvard)

Dr. Ross McKinney, Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Medical Scientist, Association of American Medical Colleges

Jay Olson, PhD, Behavioural Science Fellow, Government of Canada

Moderator: Stephen P. Wood, MS, ACNP-BC. Visiting Fellow, Harvard Law School: Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics


 Harvard Law School Program on Law and History, the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, with support from the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund at Harvard University.

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