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Each new advance in communications technology opens up new possibilities for how people present – and misrepresent – themselves and the things they believe. In the age of selfies, deepfake, and information overload, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish fabricated stories and pictures from genuine ones. In this seminar, I argue that this is affecting not only what we believe but also how we believe. Specifically, we appear to be shifting from analog to digital not only in our modes of communication but also in our conceptions of what belief is and how it functions. Drawing on examples from many, different areas of our lives – from politics and religion to our self-perceptions and most intimate relationships, I show how the idea of belief as a continuous variable measured in degrees of certainty is being replaced by the idea of belief as a binary function of zero or one, or “all in” versus “all out.” I then consider the practical implications of this shift for the future of public discourse and education.
Face-to-face seminar at Télécom: room 1A242