Anti-vaxxers – fear, anxiety and the psychology of misinformation

Episode 15: Anti-vaxxers – fear, anxiety and the psychology of misinformation

Rafael Behr talks to Imran Ahmed the founder of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate about misinformation.

Show notes

Rafael Behr explores the causes of resistance to vaccine science and its links with far-right propaganda with Imran Ahmed, founder of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

The chat ranges from the emotional vulnerabilities that lead people to take comfort from conspiracy theories to the political obligations on social media companies to help defend democracy from malevolent, weaponised lies.

Along the way, Rafael and Imran touch on politics, psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, the scientific method, Hugo Boss's Nazi tailoring and some practical advice for dealing with toxic falsehood online.

The two reports mentioned in the episode are Don't Feed the Trolls:

And the Anti-Vaxx Playbook:

Imran also mentions Ashli Babbit who was killed in the Washington DC Capitol riot:

And a Guardian report about the Tuskegee Study Imran discusses:

Our podcast was recently chosen by Feedspot as one of the best 15 English-speaking political science podcasts in the world.

This podcast is hosted by


Rafael Behr

Rafael Behr

Rafael Behr is a political columnist for the Guardian. He is a former Political Editor for the New Statesman, Chief Leader Writer and Online Editor for The Observer, a business news reporter for BBC online and a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times, based in the Baltic region and Russia. Rafael is a regular contributor to Prospect Magazine, a guest on BBC and Sky News and a speaker at UK think tanks. His book, Politics, A Survivor’s Guide, is published by Atlantic. He hosts the Politics on the Couch podcast. Before becoming a journalist, Rafael was a political risk analyst covering countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He studied modern languages Merton College, Oxford and took a Master’s degree in Russian Studies at the School for Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. He lives in Brighton with his family. He plays the guitar and harmonica, sometimes simultaneously, not always melodiously.

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Imran Ahmed

Imran Ahmed

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