ONLINE LECTURE Hugo Mercier: “Not born Yesterday: Why humans are less gullible than we think”*

May 25 2022, 15:30 – 17:00

ABSTRACT: It is often thought that humans are gullible, easily manipulated by demagogues, advertisers, and politicians. I will argue that the opposite is true: humans are equipped with a set of psychological mechanisms that allow them to properly evaluate communicated information, and to reject information that is false or harmful. I will rely on experimental psychology data, as well as studies showing the failures of mass persuasion, from Nazi propaganda to American presidential campaigns. I will also suggest that, with the right argument, people can be persuaded to acquire more accurate beliefs.

Hugo Mercier is a research scientist at the CNRS (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris), where he works with the Evolution and Social Cognition team and the Collective Intelligence team. He studies human reasoning and epistemic vigilance and is the author of The Enigma of Reason and Not Born Yesterday.

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*Updated title and abstract.