LSE IQ is a monthly podcast from the London School of Economics and Political Science in which we ask some of the smartest social scientists - and other experts - to answer intelligent questions about economics, politics or society. #LSEIQ
Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?
Contributor(s): Dr Ela Drazkiewicz-Grodzicka, Professor Bradley Franks, Dr Erica Lagalisse | Conspiracy theories fomented by political division and a global pandemic have gained traction in the public consciousness in the last couple of years. For some people these ideas are just fun and entertaining, but for others their interest in them becomes much more consuming. Why do people become involved in this kind of conspiratorial thinking? That’s the question that LSE iQ tackles in this month’s episode.
Concerns that 5G phone masts reduce our bodies’ defences against COVID-19 and that vaccines are being used to inject us with micro-chips - allowing us to be tracked and controlled - may seem extraordinary to many of us. But these beliefs have led to the vandalism of 5G phone masts and made some reluctant to be vaccinated.
In this episode of LSE iQ, Sue Windebank finds out how left-wing anarchists got caught up in conspiratorial thinking and how Irish parents looking for support and community were accused of spreading a conspiracy. And is LSE unknowingly carrying out the wishes of the Illuminati? Listen to hear how LSE became embroiled in a global conspiracy.
Sue talks to: Dr Ela Drążkiewicz from the Institute for Sociology at the Slovak Academy of Sciences; Professor Bradley Franks from LSE’s Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science; and Dr Erica Lagalisse from LSE’s Institute of Inequalities.
Dr Ela Drazkiewicz-Grodzicka
Professor Bradley Franks
Dr Erica Lagalisse
Taking vaccine regret and hesitancy seriously. The role of truth, conspiracy theories, gender relations and trust in the HPV immunisation programmes in Ireland (2021) by Elżbieta Drążkiewicz Grodzicka in Journal for Cultural Research
Beyond “Monologicality”? Exploring Conspiracist Worldviews (2017) by Bradley Franks, Adrian Bangerter, Martin W. Bauer, Matthew Hall and Mark C. Noort in Frontiers in Psychology
Occult Features of Anarchism: With Attention to the Conspiracy of Kings and the Conspiracy of the Peoples (2019) by Erica Lagalisse
Do algorithms have too much power?
Contributor(s): Ken Benoit, Andrew Murray, Seeta Peña Gangaradhan, Alison Powell, Bernhard Von Stengel | Computer algorithms shape our lives and increasingly control our future. They have crept into virtually every aspect of modern life and are making life-changing choices on our behalf, often without us realising. But how much power should we give to them and have we let things go too far? Joanna Bale talks to Ken Benoit, Andrew Murray, Seeta Peña Gangaradhan, Alison Powell and Bernhard Von Stengel.
Research links: Hello World by Hannah Fry;
Information Technology Law: The Law and Society by Andrew Murray;
Explanations as Governance? Investigating practices of explanation in algorithmic system design by Alison Powell (forthcoming).
Scroungers versus Strivers: the myth of the welfare state
Contributor(s): Professor John Hills | This episode is dedicated to social policy giant Professor Sir John Hills, who died in December 2020.
In this episode, John tackles the myth that the welfare state supports a feckless underclass who cost society huge amounts of money. Instead, he sets out a system where most of what we pay in, comes back to us. He describes a generational contract which we all benefit from, varying on our stage of life.
His words remain timely after a year of pandemic which has devastated many people’s livelihoods. Many of us have had to rely on state support in ways that we could not have anticipated, perhaps challenging our ideas about what type of person receives benefits in the UK.
This episode is based on an interview that John did with James Rattee for the LSE iQ podcast in 2017. It coincided with the LSE Festival which celebrated the anniversary of the publication of the ‘Beveridge Report’ in 1942 - a blueprint for a British universal care system by former LSE Director William Beveridge.
Professor Sir John Hills CBE, was Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at LSE and Chair of CASE. His influential work didn’t just critique government policy on poverty and inequality, it changed it. He advised on a wide range of issues including pensions reform, fuel poverty, council housing, income and wealth distribution.
Professor John Hills
Good Times Bad Times: the welfare myth of them and us. Bristol: Policy Press by John Hills (2015)
What’s the point of social science in a pandemic?
Contributor(s): Professor Laura Bear, Nikita Simpson, Professor Joan Roses, Dr Adam Oliver, Dr Clare Wenham, Professor Patrick Wallis | In this month’s episode of the LSE IQ podcast we ask, ‘What’s the point of social science in a pandemic?’.
On the 23rd March 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the country’s first national lockdown. In the months since, there has been a seismic shift in all our lives. As we embark on 2021 and, hopefully, the latter stages of the pandemic, now is an apt moment to reflect on how we’ve got to where we are. While the scientific community has taken centre stage in the fight to overcome the virus, how have social scientists helped us navigate – and evaluate –the UK’s response?
In this episode we talk to anthropologists Professor Laura Bear and Nikita Simpson, Economic historians Professor Patrick Wallis and Professor Joan Roses, Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy Dr Clare Wenham and behavioural economist Dr Adam Oliver.
’A good death’ during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK: a report on key findings and recommendations, by the COVID and Care Research Group
A Right to Care: The Social Foundations of Recovery from COVID-19, by the COVID and Care Research Group
The Redistributive Effects of Pandemics: Evidence of the Spanish Flu. By Sergi Basco, Jordi Domenech, and Johanne Rohses
Separating behavioural science from the herd by Adam Oliver
Reciprocity and the art of behavioural public policy by Adam Oliver
What is the future of UK leadership in global health security post Covid-19? By Clare Wenham
A Dreadful Heritage: Interpreting Epidemic Disease at Eyam, 1666-2000, by Patrick Wallis
Eyam revisited: lessons from a plague village, by Patrick Wallis
Professor Laura Bear
Professor Joan Roses
Dr Adam Oliver
Dr Clare Wenham
Professor Patrick Wallis
How can we end child poverty in the UK?
Contributor(s): Dr Kitty Stewart | A campaign by the Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford, has prompted the UK government to provide extra support for children from low-income families during the pandemic. Even before coronavirus, child poverty had been rising for several years. This latest bite-sized episode of LSE iQ explores the question, ‘How can we end child poverty in the UK?’
Joanna Bale talks to Kitty Stewart of LSE’s Social Policy Department and Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion. Dr Stewart is currently part of a major research programme examining what progress has been made in addressing social inequalities through social policies.
K Cooper and K Stewart (2020): Does Household Income Affect children’s Outcomes? A Systematic Review of the Evidence
K Stewart and M Reader (2020 forthcoming): The Conservatives’ record on early childhood: policy, spending and outcomes 2015-20.
Polly Vizard, John Hills et al (2020 forthcoming): The Conservatives’ Record on Social Policy: Policies, spending and outcomes 2015 to pre-Covid 2020.
B******t jobs, technology, capitalism
Contributor(s): Professor David Graeber | This episode is dedicated to David Graeber, LSE professor of Anthropology, who died unexpectedly in September this year. David was a public intellectual, a best-selling author, an influential activist and anarchist.
He took aim at the pointless bureaucracy of modern life, memorably coining the term ‘b******t jobs’. And his book ‘Debt: The First 5000 years’ was turned into a radio series by the BBC.
But David started his academic career studying Madagascar. Anthropology interested him, he said, because he was interested in human possibilities - including the potential of societies to organise themselves without the need for a state - as he had seen in his own research.
He was also a well-known anti-globalisation activist and a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
David was generous enough to do an interview for us in 2016 when LSE iQ was in its infancy. That episode asked, ‘What’s the future of work?’ and in his interview he reflected on the disappointments of technology, pointless jobs and caring labour.
David was such an interesting speaker that we would have liked to use more of it at the time, but we didn’t have the space. Now, it feels right to bring you a lightly edited version of the interview.
The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy, published by Melville House.
‘On the Phenomenon of B******t jobs: A work rant’, STRIKE! Magazine
B******t Jobs: A theory, published by Allen Lane
Well produced social science podcast
Not another Freakonomics. The episodes are far more rigorous, and while they lack the slickness of the average podcasts, they still deliver a wealth of knowledge.