Relax Dammit! Fighting Health Misinformation with Timothy Caulfield
Tuesday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m.
Zoom presentation, free to attend.
Visit sapl.libcal.com/event/3596498 to pre-register. Space is limited.
A cup of coffee to start your day, but is all that caffeine really good for you? Sure, it gets you going for your workday ahead. That boost to your pulse also adds to your stress and marks all the other stressors on your physiology too. Should you listen to the latest medical research, trust your instincts, or read what people are saying about it on social media? Good grief, what to do?
Chill out, Tim Caulfield says, hoping not to make things worse. During a pandemic as much as during regular life, there are a lot of decisions to make about your health and well-being, and not every source of information is going to be reliable.
The Edmonton health policy expert and myth debunker is set to return – virtually, naturally – to the St. Albert Public Library for a presentation on the subject of his newest book: Relax, Dammit! A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety.
“It's not really anxiety in the clinical sense. It really is about the impact of the big theme of my work: looking at our daily decisions and what the evidence says about those daily decisions,” he began.
Modern life can easily leave you overwhelmed with worry about caffeine, tap water, screen time, 5G, food additives, smog and much, much, much more. The gimmick of the book, he explains, is that it takes place over a typical day. He analyzes all the decisions that we make starting from the very first moment of opening your eyes to greet the morning, all the way through to when you’re back in bed, ready to put it all behind you.
His book seeks to help its readers better understand their many daily health decisions and even find a way to make better ones. Of course, all of this is even more important with a pandemic right outside our front door.
“It's an opportunity to explore all the social forces that twist what we hear and impact our decision-making: yes, the spread of misinformation, fear mongering, ideology, and, of course, all of our cognitive biases. They have an impact on all of us. The book is really an opportunity to explore all those decisions to celebrate, the science and critical thinking, but also really, the bigger, more challenging theme is the exploration of all these forces that shaped the way we see the world. Holy cow, is that ever relevant now.”
Caulfield noted he actually began writing the book before COVID-19's arrival changed the world and the importance of credible health information.
“Everything in the book has just been amplified. Over the past year, it has been really incredible,” he said.
The spread of misinformation, he continued, has made his common-sense approach even more important to champion. He pledged to bring the conspiracies and strange theories back to our daily decisions as a way to illustrate how those forces have an impact on all of us.
“I hope that people find it liberating.”