CIRCE is an institute dedicated to developing humanity's immunity to the ideas and ideologies that consistently frustrate human aspirations. Through the deliberate application of scientific findings on the mind's immune system, CIRCE seeks to prevent epidemics of unreason.
CIRCE emerged as researchers and scholars, galvanized by Andy Norman's book Mental Immunity, began to pull together around the science of cognitive immunology. Within months of the book's release, scholars from all over the world—America, Australia, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium—rallied to Andy's vision. Since CIRCE's formation, psychologists and philosophers, cognitive scientists and evolutionary biologists, behavioral economists and information epidemiologists have begun working together to deepen our understanding of mental immunity. CIRCE strives to apply the resulting understanding to our most persistent and pernicious social problems.
CIRCE aims to (1) advance the science of mental immunity, (2) develop humanity's resistance to cognitive contagion, and (3) build a world where divisive ideologies and epidemics of unreason no longer frustrate human aspirations.
Propaganda and disinformation, divisive ideologies and political extremism: these things account for a sizable portion of human misery. But how do we keep these "mind parasites" from proliferating? Cognitive immunology points the way. We can study mental immune systems, work out how to strengthen them, and together inoculate willing minds. We envision a world where low susceptibility to cognitive contagion vastly improves human wellbeing.
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luke [at] cogntiveimmunology.net
CIRCE Board member
CIRCE Board member
CIRCE is a network of researchers, thinkers, and change agents that partner in the fight against misinformation and polarization. CIRCE affiliates are often leaders in their field.
Sander van der Linden, Ph.D., is Professor of Social Psychology and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge. He is an ISI Highly Citer Researcher and has published over 100 papers, many on the topic of how to best counter misinformation. His research is regularly featured in outlets such as the New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, and the BBC and he has been described by Fast Company Design as one “four heroes who are defending digital democracy online”. He co-created the fake news game, Bad News, and regularly advises governments and social media companies on how to combat misinformation. Before joining Cambridge, he held academic positions at Princeton, Yale, and the LSE.
Dr. Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and a medical doctor at Stanford and UCLA. She directs Stanford's Health Communication Initiative and serves as a medical analyst for CNN. She's the author of What the Fact?! Finding the Truth in All the Noise and Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, WIRED, Scientific American, and the BBC. She writes poetry, teaches crisis communications at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, and is a sought-after keynote speaker.
Stephan Lewandowsky is one of the world’s leading cognitive immunologists. He conducts research at the University of Bristol and has published more than 200 scholarly articles and books, including The Debunking Handbook, The COVID-19 Communication Handbook, and The Conspiracy Thinking Handbook. He explores people’s responses to misinformation and propaganda. Why do people reject well-established scientific facts? Is our online information ecosystem conducive to democracy? Professor Lewandowsky has received multiple awards for his research.
Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and a Lecturer in Ethics at Harvard Extension School. Lee's bestselling books include Post-Truth and How to Talk to a Science Denier, along with eleven other works of fiction and nonfiction. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek, Scientific American, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and numerous other popular venues.
Claire Wardle is one of the world’s leading experts on misinformation and public health. She co-authored the foundational report Information Disorder: An Interdisciplinary Framework for Research and Policy for the Council of Europe and directs the Information Futures Lab. In 2015, she co-founded the nonprofit First Draft, a pioneer in innovation, research, and practice in the field of misinformation. Over the past decade, she has developed an organization-wide training program for the BBC, been a Fellow at the Shorenstein Center for Media and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School, and been the Research Director at the Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
John is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub. His research focus is understanding and countering misinformation about climate change, with an emphasis on using critical thinking to build resilience. He co-authored the college textbooks Climate Change: Examining the Facts and Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis, as well as the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand.
Andy Norman is the award-winning author of Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think. His work has appeared in Scientific American, Psychology Today, Psychiatric Times, Skeptic, Free Inquiry, and The Humanist. He has appeared on NPR, The Joe Rogan Experience, and the BBC’s Naked Scientist. His research illuminates the workings of the mind’s immune system. He champions the emerging science of mental immunity as the antidote to disinformation, propaganda, hate, and division. He is the founder of the Cognitive Immunology Research Collaborative (CIRCE) and Infodemic Solutions.
Maarten Boudry is a philosopher of science and current holder of the Etienne Vermeersch Chair of Critical Thinking at Ghent University. His most recent book is Science Unlimited? On the Challenges of Scientism, co-edited with Massimo Pigliucci. His academic research deals with cultural evolution, irrational belief systems, atheism, and naturalism, evolutionary epistemology, reasoning fallacies, and conspiracy theories.
Karin is a nationally-recognized expert in political discourse. She is a social scientist who teaches the art of fruitful political conversation. She created the New York Times' Angry Uncle Bot and founded and runs Smart Politics. Since the 2016 election, Dr. Tamerius has focused on using therapeutic communication skills in political discussion, teaching activists how to depolarize conflicts and effectively share their message. She studied political psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Michigan and trained in psychiatry as a resident at UC San Francisco. Her work has been featured in a wide range of media outlets, including NPR, Fox and Friends, Business Insider, and Mother Jones.
Melanie Trecek-King is a true pioneer. Years ago, she recognized the need for science instruction focused less on facts and more on how to think like a scientist. She created a novel course that uses pseudoscience, bad science, and science denial to engage students, teach science literacy, and develop critical thinking acumen. That course—Science for Life—is now being taught at other institutions and is part of an effort to revolutionize science education. Trecek-King created Thinking Is Power to empower innovative educators and enable the general public.
Steije Hofhuis is a cultural historian at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, who became intrigued by the idea of “mind parasites”. In his own research he examines European witch persecutions as an example of a virus-like cultural phenomenon that spread at the expense of its human hosts.
Jon Roozenbeek is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab. His research focuses on misinformation, vaccine hesitancy, online extremism and inoculation theory. As part of his research, he co-developed the award-winning fake news games Bad News, Harmony Square and Go Viral.
Anthony Magnabosco is Executive Director and co-founder of Street Epistemology International, an educational non-profit dedicated to promoting the practice of street epistemology, a conversational technique that helps people reflect on their belief formation process in a productive way. Anthony has been promoting this practice for nearly a decade, and uploads examples of street epistemology to his YouTube channel.
Harris Eyre, MBBS, PhD is the lead of the Brain Capital Alliance. He co-leads the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)-Prodeo Institute Neuroscience-inspired policy initiative supported by the Meadows Institute. He maintains advisory or adjunct roles with the American Psychological Association, The Global Brain Health Institute, the Baylor College of Medicine, and the Brookings Institution.
David R. Samson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. He studies health and cognition in both human and non-human primates. The author of Our Tribal Future, David is also leading an effort to validate a survey instrument for measuring mental immunity, the ability to spot and ward off misinformation.
David Sloan Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Binghamton University and president of Prosocial World, whose mission is “to consciously evolve a world that works for all”. His work represents a paradigm shift in evolutionary thinking and highlights the necessity of conscious evolution. David develops tools for positive change efforts in the real world. His recent books include This View of Life, Prosocial, and Atlas Hugged.
Computational Social Scientist Kathleen M. Carley, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School for Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon, and director of the university-wide center for Informed Democracy and Social-cybersecurity (IDeaS). She teaches courses in network science and simulation. Her award winning software, ORA, is used for assessing social media and tracking influence campaigns.
Steve Gilbert received an M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Northeastern University and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is Board Certified in Counseling Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. In the past, Steve has served as President of the Minnesota Psychological Association and chair of the MPA Ethics Committee. As an administrator and clinician in university counseling centers, he focused on emerging adulthood—a developmental period in which personal values and beliefs are explored and tested.
Ralph Hertwig is a cognitive psychologist and a behavioral decision scientist. He is the director of the
Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. His research examines models of bounded rationality, the importance of learning from experience, and ways to change people’s behavior for the better by boosting their cognitive and motivational competences. He has co-authored and edited four books including
Deliberate Ignorance: Choosing Not to Know (MIT Press). He is the recipient of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Germany’s most prestigious research award.
Barry Mauer, PhD, is on the cutting edge of research into cognitive immunity and the threats posed to it by the intersection of illiberal forces and electronic media. Barry is the author of Deadly Delusions: Right-Wing Death Cult and “The Cognitive Immune System: The Mind’s Ability to Dispel Pathological Beliefs.” Barry collaborated on the DARPA-funded project, “Deep Agent: A Framework for Information Spread and Evolution in Social Networks.” Barry teaches symposiums on cognitive immunity including “The Age of Mass Delusion,” “Why Are People Fooled?” and “Propaganda and Pseudoscience.”
Michael Shermer, Ph.D., is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the host of the podcast The Michael Shermer Show, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. He is the author of Why People Believe Weird Things and The Believing Brain. https://michaelshermer.com/