05 October 2022, 18.00 – 20.00

Paul B. Baltes Lecture 2022: Stephan Lewandowsky (Bristol)

“Demagoguery, Technology, and Cognition: Addressing the Threats to Democracy”

The lecture is free and in English and takes place at the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences at Gendarmenmarkt.

The Paul B. Baltes Lecture is a joint initiative of the psychology institutes in Berlin and Potsdam (Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität, Technische Universität, Universität Potsdam, Max Planck Institute for Human Development). The lecture series commenced in 2008 and honors Paul B. Baltes, the former director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, for his outstanding contributions to the psychology of the lifespan as well as for his services to psychological research in the Berlin-Potsdam area.

Where: Leibnizsaal, Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften e.V., Markgrafenstraße 38, 10117 Berlin

Organizer 2022: Prof. Dr. Birgit Elsner (Entwicklungspsychologie, Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften, Universität Potsdam)

Abstract: Democracy is in retreat or under pressure worldwide. Even in countries with strong democracies, polarization is increasing, and the public sphere is awash in misinformation and conspiracy theories. Many commentators have blamed social media and the lack of platform governance for these unfortunate trends, whereas others have celebrated the Internet as a tool for liberation, with each opinion being buttressed by supporting evidence. One way to resolve this paradox is by identifying some of the pressure points that arise between the architecture of human cognition and the online information landscape, and by studying how these pressure points can be used by populist demagogues to undermine democracy. The lecture will survey some of those pressure points, focusing on the attention economy and the algorithms that curate our news feeds. Partly based on the current ERC advanced grant “Protecting the Democratic Information Space in Europe (PRODEMINFO)”, it will be shown how such pressure points allow politicians to replace evidence-based discourse with often emotive belief-speaking that is less sensitive to evidence and accountability. A spectrum of possible solutions will be discussed.

Registration not required.

Website BBAW: www.bbaw.de/veranstaltungen/veranstaltung-demagoguery-technology-and-cognition-addressing-the-threats-to-democracy




Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften e.V.
Markgrafenstraße 38
10117 Berlin