Widespread Puzzling Beliefs

This project seeks to better understand this phenomenon of what we are calling “widespread puzzling beliefs.” These are beliefs seemingly held by many—for example, that the recent U.S. presidential election was stolen, that climate change is a hoax, or that the covid vaccines are ineffective and unsafe—that have been clearly refuted by the publicly available evidence. A distinguished interdisciplinary collective of philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, psychologists, historians, media specialists, and guest speakers will lend their expertise to these issues.

Principal Investigator: Paul Boghossian, Julius Silver Professor of Philosophy; Director, Global Institute for Advanced Study, NYU

Working Group Members

K. Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy and Law, NYU

Delia Baldassari, Professor of Sociology; Affiliated Professor, Wilf Family Department of Politics; Management and Organizations Department, Stern School of Business, NYU

Paul Boghossian, Julius Silver Professor of Philosophy and Chair; Director, Global Institute for Advanced Study, NYU

Patrick Egan, Associate Professor of Politics and Public Policy, NYU Wilf Family Department of Politics; Associated Associate Professor of Public Service, NYU Wagner

Richard Foley, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy; former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science and Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Planning, NYU

Jane Friedman, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, NYU

Khatchig Mouradian, Lecturer, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia; Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist, Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern Division

Thomas Nagel, University Professor of Philosophy and Law, Emeritus, NYU

David Poeppel, Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, NYU; Director, Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics

Susanna Siegel, Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University

David Stasavage, Dean for the Social Sciences; Julius Silver Professor, The Wilf Family Department of Politics, NYU


Yochai Benkler, Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor, Entrepreneurial Legal Studies; Faculty Co-Director, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School

Russell Muirhead, Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics; Co-Director, Political Economy Project, Dartmouth College

Kathryn S. Olmsted, author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford University Press, 2009), among others; Professor of History and Interim Chair of the Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies Department, UC Davis

Robert (Bob) M. Shrum, preeminent political strategist; Director of the Center for the Political Future and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics, USC Dornsife