Image - Joe Pierre against background of text reading FALSE NARRATIVES

San Francisco

Why Have False Beliefs and Conspiracy Theories Become so Powerful?

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First in a Series on False Narratives.

Why does a lie travel around the world while the truth is still lacing up its boots? In all areas, not just politics, science, and medicine, outrageous or fascinating false information outpaces truth, which is often more nuanced. False narratives pose a real danger to democracy, to our health, and to society. This series will discuss the reasons for that destructive state of affairs and what we can do about it, as individuals and as a society.

In this first part of our series, Dr. Joe Pierre, health sciences clinical professor at UCLA and specialist in delusional thinking and conspiracy theories, will discuss the age-old psychological reasons that conspiracy theories and other false narratives have been successful throughout human history. He will also look at how false narratives have been noticeably empowered and accelerated during the past few years by COVID isolation and modern technologies, among other factors.

This will be an intense, information-packed event; be sure to bring your questions or send them to us in advance at Also look for the next events in this series, which will use the insights from this event to discuss how we can reach out to a friend who has become ensnared in a conspiracy theory, and actions we can take as individuals and as a society.

MLF Organizer
Eric Siegel

This program has 2 types of tickets available: In-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

Safety Protocols for in-person attendance:

  • We follow best practices laid out by the CDC and state and local guidelines.
  • We strongly recommend vaccination for guests, staff, and volunteers.
  • Masks are strongly encouraged while indoors (if you do not have one and would like one, inquire at our front desk for a complimentary mask).
  • We reserve the right to require different rules for specific events as necessary.

Our LEED Gold-certified building is designed to cool with outside air, using digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans. We are deploying additional HEPA filters inside to scrub the air. This is all in addition to increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the building.

We welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our online programming.

A Personal Growth Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

Photo courtesy the speaker.

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Thu, Sep 1 / 5:30 pm PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Joe Pierre

Joe Pierre

M.D., Health Sciences Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA. Author; Expert Witness; Legal Consultant 

Image - Eric Siegel

Eric Siegel

Chair, Personal Growth Member-led Forum, The Commonwealth Club of California—Moderator


5 p.m. doors open & check-in
5:30–6:30 p.m. program
6:30 p.m. discussion group
(all times PDT)


$10 members
$20 nonmembers
Students free (with valid I.D.)
$5 for members
$10 nonmembers
Students free (with valid I.D.)