November 7, 2021

Conspiracy Theories: How To Talk to A Science Denier | Lee McIntyre

How do you respond to someone who says “the earth is flat” or “Covid is a hoax”? Before we can try and reason with conspiracy theorists, we must first understand the reason they have ventured down that path. Lee McIntyre has spent years researching science deniers and has found a common set of traits in their behavior. He also argues that we shouldn’t sit back and assume conspiracy theories are harmless. Find out more from Lee in this episode about how to talk with science deniers and how even to change their minds about the facts.

Our Conspiracy Theories Series continues this month with Lee McIntyre, author of the new book “How to Talk to a Science Denier: Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason”: To gather research for the book, Lee attended a flat earth convention to understand more about the followers who believe in the flat earth conspiracy. His findings are enlightening. 

Lee is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and an Instructor in Ethics at Harvard Extension School. He’s had a distinguished career in teaching and researching issues that we found fascinating.

Next week we continue our Conspiracy Theories Series with Andy Norman, author of the enthralling new book, “Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think”: We learn about how bad ideas can infect our minds and how we can boost our own mental immunity. Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves on your podcast player so you’re the first to be notified when we publish a new episode. 


(9:33) Speed Round

(11:36) Lee’s experience attending a Flat Earth Convention.

(14:56) How people become convinced by conspiracy theories.

(17:09) The value of having face to face conversations.

(22:10) How to have those difficult conversations with your family and friends.

(26:08) The 5 common traits of science deniers.

(31:31) Is the educational system really teaching us about how science works?

(36:23) Why should we take science deniers seriously?

(38:53) Why is science denial growing?

(43:27) Political identity and science denial. 

(58:14) The music that got Lee through Covid

(1:06:14) Grooving Session with Tim and Kurt discussing what they talked about with Lee.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


How to Talk to a Science Denier: Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason” by Lee McIntyre:

McIntyre, L. “Calling all Physicists” American Journal of Physics 87, 694 (2019);

Beyond the Curve documentary:

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Climate Change” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway:

Cranky Uncle:

You’re Not So Smart Podcast:

Behavioral Grooves Patreon page: 

Musical Links

The Beatles “Here Comes the Sun”:

The Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”:

The Beatles “Something”:

The Beatles “Blackbird”:

The Beatles “Hide your Love Away”:

The Beatles, The Medley on the Flipside of Abbey Road:

The Beatles “Because”:

The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever”:

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