Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier co-authored a Project Syndicate opinion piece arguing that social media and other digital channels have changed the way conspiracy theories are consumed and distributed — and that the only way to counter them is to use the same technologies. The far-right QAnon and other groups espousing conspiratorial thinking use social media to disseminate unfiltered ideas at no cost, wrote Anheier and Andrea Roemmele of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Disinformation has “always been part of the warp and woof of politics,” they wrote, but “rarely have political debates been so unmoored from widely accepted truths as they are today.” This has led to violent and extremist actions and undermined confidence in experts and institutions, they wrote. To combat the threat, they call for a professional, nonpartisan, nongovernmental “conspiracy monitor” empowered to scour sites and social media feeds, identify dangerous messages and initiate action to block content.
“For government, the most important objectives are to reverse two key trends: rising economic inequality and declining social mobility,” said Helmut Anheier, adjunct professor of social welfare, in a recent Project Syndicate interview on German economic and social reform. Anheier, who also holds posts at Hertie School of Governance and Heidelberg University in Germany, argued that policies that could advance these goals include a livable minimum wage, reforms to the system for delivering unemployment and welfare benefits, and massive investments in education and skills training. Anheier, editor-in-chief of the new UC Press publication Global Perspectives, also commented on a number of topics including globalization, philanthropy in the time of COVID-19 and lessons to be learned from Germany’s past. “Germany has come to terms with its history … but it still hasn’t developed a clear vision of a multi-ethnic society – vital to prevent the kind of divisiveness one sees today in the United States and United Kingdom.”
Global Perspectives, a new UC Press publication, is now live online with the first of a series of articles designed to advance contemporary social science research and debates across disciplines. Helmut Anheier, adjunct professor of social welfare at UCLA Luskin, serves as editor-in-chief of the online-only endeavor. “We start from the premise that the world that gave rise to the social sciences in their present form is no more,” Anheier said in a Q&A on the UC-based blog. Anheier, who also holds posts at Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and the Max Weber Institute at Heidelberg University, Germany, explained that the overall vision was to “assemble a group of leading scholars that together can create a significant momentum to overcome the inertia that is inherent in the rigid disciplinary and national silos.” Global Perspectives is “open to the whole thematic range of the social sciences, and in particular those phenomena that are no longer located neatly within established geographical or national boundaries, if they ever were,” Anheier wrote in the publication’s inaugural essay. The first article available is “Recoupling Economic and Social Progress” by Katharina Lima de Miranda and Dennis J. Snower. Other titles will focus on issues including trade, markets, security, the environment, media, justice, law, governance, culture, identities, technology, shifting geographies and migration. “The concepts and empirical bases needed for a profound understanding of financial flows, climate change, intellectual property rights, technological advances or migration flows are just some examples that illustrate the complexity of the research task ahead,” Anheier said.