While our in-person events have been disrupted, we didn’t want to let that get in the way of getting important timely content out to the world. In that spirit, we have launched a special series of live programs recorded using videoconferencing technology. Special thanks to Zoom for their in-kind support!

October 29, 2020 Election 2020 + Radical Partisanship

Regardless of your personal politics, everyone can agree that we’re more divided than ever — and we seem to be at a loss for how to repair these divisions.

We wrapped up our series on defending democracy with a conversation with Lilliana Mason, associate professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park and author of the book “Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity.”

Mason offers a clear and compelling understanding of the origin of our social divisions, how they have resulted in radical partisanship and political dysfunction — and importantly, what we might do about it going forward.

And of course we will go over the latest about what we know about Election 2020, and how we might expect it to play out.

Please join TEDxMidAtlantic co-curator Dave Troy in conversation with Lilliana Mason for a deep dive into radical partisanship, what might happen with Election 2020 — and your questions!

October 21, 2020 Exclusive: Dismantling QAnon

Of all the threats to democracy, the rise of belief in conspiracy theories is perhaps the most pernicious. Specifically, the so-called “QAnon” movement has risen above many others to pose a special concern, especially during this critical election. That’s why we’re continuing our series on undue influence and unethical manipulation of democracy with a deep dive into what exactly QAnon is — where it came from, who started it, and why. And most importantly, what we can do about it.

The Financial Times has released a video that outlines the origins of the scheme. We will feature two of the guests interviewed by FT — alternate reality gaming expert Jim Stewartson, and cult expert Steven Hassan.

Startling revelations reported by the Financial Times include indications that QAnon has its roots in the internet puzzle “Cicada 3301”; that a network of former disgruntled military and intelligence professionals has collaborated to lend the scheme legitimacy; that various people involved are connected to a 1930’s cult called “I AM”; and that many people involved with QAnon were also involved with “Occupy,” NODAPL protests at Standing Rock — and even connected to the people behind the disinformation film “Plandemic.” We’ll speak with journalist Desiree Kane, who was involved with those protests.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and this is an impossibly complicated story. Doing it justice will take some time. So we’re setting aside 90 minutes for this important conversation, with the intention of exposing more facts, and ultimately helping to safely dismantle this destructive cult that has damaged so many lives.

October 13, 2020 Truth Decay + The Threat of Tribalism

We are pleased to welcome political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh of the non-profit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, whose pioneering work on "Truth Decay" helps us understand how trust in facts, science, and reason is being eroded across our culture. As part of the Countering Truth Decay initiative, she and a team of RAND researchers take a sweeping, systemic view of the problem, and offer ideas for how we might address this disturbing set of trends.

We'll also be joined by disinformation researcher Samantha North, whose focus is on tribalism and how disinformation seeks to exploit existing fissures and divisions within our society. And she believes the design of social media platforms tends to make things worse still. North sees tribalism as a major ongoing threat to democracy and civil society, and offers ideas about how we can better understand this weakness and how to protect ourselves.

Kavanagh and North will each give short TEDx-style talks and then join TEDxMidAtlantic co-curator (and disinformation researcher) Dave Troy for a conversation, and your questions!

October 7, 2020 The Aftermath of Cambridge Analytica

We're thrilled to welcome back 2019 TEDxMidAtlantic speaker Professor David Carroll. Just this week, he completed the task he's been trying to accomplish for almost four years: to obtain a copy of the data held on him by UK-based firm Cambridge Analytica.

Carroll's story was powerfully told in the 2019 Netflix documentary THE GREAT HACK (2019) and was revisited again this week with an explosive Channel 4 (UK) exposé. Carroll will guide us through an exclusive first public look at his actual Cambridge Analytica data file via screen sharing — straight from his desktop to yours!

Our other speaker is Australia-based architectural academic Brent Allpress, the key researcher behind the just-released documentary film PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW (2020). Allpress found that Colorado-based firm Gloo, a Cambridge Analytica offshoot, has been illegally using mental health data to target people — including members of the military in multiple countries — for religious and political indoctrination. Don't miss this important program!

September 29, 2020 Director Leslie Iwerks discusses her film, SELLING LIES

SELLING LIES is a documentary short by award winning director Leslie Iwerks. The film tells the story of how teenagers in Macedonia were among the first to profit from online misinformation — and how what they learned has shaped our information landscape since then, and ultimately has affected electoral politics. This conversation between Iwerks and TEDxMidAtlantic co-curator Dave Troy was recorded with an online audience after a screening of the film. The film can be viewed online at sellingliesdoc.com.

Leslie Iwerks is the director of the acclaimed Disney+ documentary series THE IMAGINEERING STORY (2019), the sixty-five year history of the artists and engineers who design and construct Disney’s theme parks and attractions around the globe. Iwerks’ grandfather Ub Iwerks, together with Walt Disney, created the iconic character Mickey Mouse.

Iwerks is also director of LEAGUE OF LEGENDS ORIGINS (Netflix) and a trilogy about the Canadian Oil Sands (DIRTY OIL, DOWNSTREAM, and PIPE DREAMS). Iwerks & Co.’s award-winning projects can be seen on-air, online and in theatres in the U.S. and around the world.

June 10, 2020 Racial Inequity in a Time of Pandemic

The events of the last few weeks have been extraordinarily wrenching. The current pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black, minority, and poor communities. And continuous police violence against those same communities have caused many to finally reach a breaking point. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have outraged the world. It is well past time for meaningful change.

We have gathered three experts to share their current perspectives on how we got here, what we must do next, and the growing momentum towards racial equity.

This live conversation was recorded on June 10, 2020, and was moderated by Prof. Lester Spence, Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University (and past TEDxMidAtlantic speaker). His guests will include Judy Lubin, PhD, MPH, Sociologist + Racial Justice Advocate at Center for Urban and Racial Equity (CURE), and Lawrence Brown, PhD, MPA, Visiting Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Population Health Institute.

April 21, 2020 How to Continue: Contact Tracing and Privacy

Experts agree that getting our economy back online is dependent on several conditions, including widespread testing, continued social controls, and contact tracing. Many countries have implemented smartphone applications that can help detect exposure to known-infected individuals, but they often sacrifice privacy. How does contact tracing work, and is it possible to maintain a reasonable level of privacy?

Please join us for a special, live conversation with epidemiologist Dr. Lina Moses from Tulane University; Paul-Olivier Dehaye, mathematician, data privacy advocate and founder of PersonalData.io; and Greg Nadeau and John Werner from the Covid SafePaths team. Covid SafePaths is an open source, privacy-preserving, location tracking toolkit being developed by a team of volunteers utilizing MIT’s differential privacy technology, in addition to the new proximity detection APIs announced by Google and Apple.

March 31, 2020 Dr. Leana Wen: Our new “normal” — Learning to live with coronavirus

In a special “Coronavirus Conversation” with Dr. Leana Wen, professor of public health at George Washington University, she shares with TEDxMidAtlantic curator Dave Troy her thoughts on how we might adapt to living with this virus, and how we need to shift our behavior to deal with this new reality. And they discuss the idea that dealing with coronavirus isn’t so much an “event,” as it is an ongoing process. Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. Dr. Wen previously served as Health Commissioner for Baltimore, Maryland , where she oversaw more than 1,000 employees with an annual budget of $130 million; two clinics that provide more than 18,000 patients with reproductive health services; and mental health programs in 180 Baltimore schools.

A board-certified emergency physician, Dr. Wen was a Rhodes Scholar, Clinical Fellow at Harvard, consultant with the World Health Organization, and professor at George Washington University. She has published over 100 scientific articles and is the author of the book When Doctors Don’t Listen. In 2016, Dr. Wen was honored to be the recipient of the American Public Health Association’s highest award for local public health work. In 2018, Time Magazine named her one of the 50 most influential people in healthcare.

March 22, 2020 Avi Rubin: How Coronavirus May Affect Our Elections

Prof. Avi Rubin is a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. In a special “Coronaviruws Conversation” with TEDxMidAtlantic curator Dave Troy, he explains how the pandemic may affect our elections, and helps us to understand the kinds of trade-offs that may be necessary in this difficult election year. Avi Rubin is Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University and Technical Director of the JHU Information Security Institute. Avi’s primary research area is Computer Security, and his latest research focuses on security for electronic medical records. Avi is credited for bringing to light vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines. In 2006 he published a book on his experiences since this event.