The Big Hoax: The Anatomy of Anti-Intellectualism, Denialism, and Conspiracy Theories, Past and Present

deadline for submissions: 
May 21, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Humber College @ Toronto International Festival of Authors Interdisciplinary Conference
contact email: 

Consider submitting a proposal to "The Big Hoax"

Abstract Submission:

Conference Date: October 22 and 23, 2021

Location: Due to uncertainties around travel due to the pandemic, this year’s conference will be fully virtual.

Hosts: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Innovative Learning, Humber College, and the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA)

Keynote Speaker: Pankaj Mishra (

An internationally known author and scholar, Pankaj Mishra’s award-winning work has included such titles as: the travelogues Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India (1995), Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond (2007), and the novel The Romantics.  2012’s From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia was shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber prize in Canada, the Orwell Prize in the U.K, and the Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award in the United States. It won the Crossword Award for Best Nonfiction in 2013. In 2014, it became the first book by a non-Western writer to win Germany’s prestigious Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding. In 2013, he published A Great Clamour: Encounters with China and its Neighbours. In 2017, to great acclaim Mishra published, Age of Anger: A History of the Present. He is also a prolific journalist writing literary and political essays for the New York Times, the New York Review of BooksThe Guardian, the New YorkerLondon Review of Books, Bloomberg View, among other American, British, and Indian publications. His work has also appeared in Times Literary SupplementFinancial TimesWall Street JournalNew RepublicWashington PostBoston GlobeTimeThe IndependentGrantaThe Nation, n+1PoetryCommon Knowledge, Outlook, and Harper’s.

Call for Proposals:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” –Isaac Asimov

From Federalist Era Conspiracy Theories, to past and present anti-vaccination movements and climate change denial, distrust of the expert has been a salient trait in cultural trends globally. Now, with insurrection in the United States Capitol, a global increase in far-right authoritarianism, and the troubling rise of the planet’s temperature, the effects of anti-intellectualism are being felt across the world, and even once intellectually cloistered college and university campuses are being turned into battlegrounds. While the anti-intellectual movement has persisted historically, in recent years it has been mainstreamed and weaponized by politicians and pundits to rally and enflame a base and to sow discord amongst the population.

This virtual conference seeks to unearth the roots, causes and potential impacts that this movement has or may have through hosting online discussions about anti-intellectualism, denialism, distrust in media, and conspiracy theories from the past to the present.

Potential Topics for Discussion:

  • Activism
  • Agnotology
  • Anti-Feminist movements
  • Anti-fluoridation
  • Attacks on media
  • Campus wars
  • Climate change denialism
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Contemporary or historical antivaccination movements
  • Culture wars
  • Defunding Liberal Arts
  • Fake news
  • False dilemma/ False flags
  • Gibson’s Law
  • Historical denialism
  • Misgendering, Gender conspiracies
  • Pandemic denialism
  • Proletarian drift
  • “Reverse Racism”
  • Scientific denialism
  • Social engineering
  • “Social Sciences as Sorcery”
  • State neglect/contempt for art
  • Teaching in an Age of Disinformation
  • Victims of denialism
  • Vulgarisation

Our conference committee welcomes individual presentation proposals of 300 words, and panel proposals (3 people max) of 900 words, based on any of the above themes. This will be the seventh annual Humber@TIFA interdisciplinary conference held by Humber College’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Innovative Learning in association with the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA), one of the most celebrated literary festivals in the world. TIFA is located at the Harbourfront Centre, one of downtown Toronto’s major cultural and artistic venues.

Submission Deadline: May 21, 2021

Submit your proposal online by May 21, 2021: