A participant watching one of the three featured videos curated for the museum.
A participant watching one of the three featured videos curated for the museum.

Philosophers at the University of Birmingham collaborated with the curators at The Philosophy Museum in Milan to produce some of the animated videos on display. They also contributed to the design of an interactive game (Fake Plots!) to teach the public how to detect and respond to misinformation. Players learn the strategies used for developing conspiracy theories and spreading them widely on social media. This knowledge will help them recognise and resist misinformation in real life.

Professor Lisa Bortolotti from the Department of Philosophy collaborated with Anna Ichino (University of Milan) and Kathleen Murphy-Hollies (University of Birmingham) in writing the scripts for three animated videos produced by Squideo. The videos invite us to think about how conspiracy theories emerge, take hold, and trump other explanations. 

I am thrilled that we had the opportunity to collaborate with Anna Ichino and the other curators of the exhibition in delivering engaging materials to better understand what tempts us to believe conspiracy theories. Young people and visitors are greatly enjoying the explainer videos and interactive game we contributed to create where we suggest that in situations of stress and uncertainty we tend to jump to conclusions and accept explanations of events that make us feel more in control.

Professor Lisa Bortolotti - Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham.
The Hungry Caterpillar.
The Hungry Caterpillar video

I am so lucky to have been involved in such an interesting and important project. It has given me the opportunity to present philosophy in totally new ways, and it's a rare gift to see that work shared so widely and publicly. I'm excited to see what people think about the exhibition and the ideas there about what can make conspiracy theories appealing. I am grateful to the collaborators of the exhibition and my collaborators, Lisa Bortolotti and Anna Ichino.

Kathleen Murphy-Hollies - Doctoral researcher in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham.

The three featured videos are taken from the Philosophy Garden Series, focusing on important issues that affect everyone and guiding users to travel down the path of 'conspiracies.'

'The Hungry Caterpillar' video focuses on exploring exactly how conspiracy theories arise focusing on themes of stress, marginalisation and injustice. It was scripted by Anna Ichino and is inspired by the story by Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

'The Ant and the Grasshopper' video, inspired by the Aesop fable and adapted by Lisa Bortolotti, explores how conspiracy theories take hold when we arrive at conclusions too quickly. It highlights the importance of waiting on forming a theory until we have all of our evidence.

The third video, 'The Fox and the Owl' asks viewers why conspiracy theories trump other explanations. The script written by Kathleen Murphy-Hollies focuses on why sometimes people like to arrive to solutions to problems themselves even if they may be incorrect.

The Ant and the Grasshopper
The Ant and the Grasshopper
The Fox and the Owl.
The Fox and the Owl

The exhibition will run until 22 February 2024, and the space will be reserved to schools in the mornings and open to the public in the afternoon, free for all. Exploring the philosophy of misinformation, inviting visitors to play interactive games, watch animated videos, and reflect on what goes on in the mind of a conspiracy theorist.