Conspiracies, Fake News and False Scientific Information

This Royal Society of Edinburgh discussion event is part of the Edinburgh Science Festival.

In our increasingly connected online world, social media has become a hugely influential player. Most of our critical information comes from those channels rather than through traditional, editorially guided media.



Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have opened up opportunities for greater engagement and better understanding. But, simultaneously, they have led to the spread of false scientific information, often with harmful consequences for society. How can we address this and ensure that people’s beliefs and decisions are based on facts rather than untruths? Why do people believe what they do? What is it that is so attractive about conspiracies and fake news? Join special correspondent for BBC News James Naughtie, BBC Specialist Disinformation and Social Media Reporter Marianna Spring, Policy and Futures leader Peter McColl, and Chair in Public Health at the University of Edinburgh Professor Linda Bauld for this fascinating discussion.

This event will premiere live on Zoom and will then be available on-demand on the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s YouTube channel from Saturday 3 July.

Panel biographies

James Naughtie FRSE

James Naughtie is special correspondent for BBC News, and one of the country’s best-known broadcasters. A presenter of Today on Radio 4 for 21 years, he has reported for decades from around the world, most notably from the United States.

Marianna Spring

Marianna Spring is Specialist Disinformation and Social Media Reporter for BBC News.

Peter McColl

Peter McColl is a Policy and Futures leader, working across sectors to help organisations and communities develop better understanding of opportunities in data and digital, participation, social innovation and much more. He was Rector of the University of Edinburgh from 2012-15 and Head of Policy for Nesta in Scotland from 2015-19. He is a member of the RSE Post-Covid Futures Commission, and has been involved in its work on science, data and participation.

Professor Linda Bauld FRSE

Linda Bauld holds the Bruce and John Usher Chair in Public Health in the Usher Institute, College of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Linda is a behavioural scientist with a PhD in social policy. During the Covid-19 crisis she has been a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on approaches to addressing the pandemic.

The event is finished.


Jun 28 2021


12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
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