Proofing and Lies

Proofing and Lies: Fighting Bad Science with Good Food

Can we fight bad science with good food? That is exactly what we set out to do with Proofing and Lies. In October of 2020 we—Elle Rochford, a PhD candidate in sociology and Andrew Schriver, a public defender—decided to start a baking and social science podcast.

The word “proofing” can mean the act of letting yeast activate in dough (proving that your yeast is working) or the act of checking over information for errors. Every week we proof our dough and proof a hot topic with a guest expert. Each episode tackles a complex topic and a complicated recipe. From custard to QAnon, from sugar work to the national debt, we try to make the intimidating more palatable.

Proofing and Lies: Battling Misinformation

I (Elle) am an award-winning amateur baker and sociology instructor at Purdue University. I research inequality, law/politics, and social media. After seeing people get sucked into misinformation through social media wellness and lifestyle influencers, I decided to partner with Andrew to counter these uplifting but dangerously inaccurate narratives. Together we use our love of policy, baking, history, and science to bring levity to tough topics.

We believe content can be educational and entertaining, serious and lighthearted. Ultimately, we feel information is empowering and no problem is too complicated to explain. Science communication is something we are both passionate about. Good science is not always accessible, and all too often bad science is going viral. Proofing and Lies brings scientific experts to everyday people. You don’t have to enroll in a sociology class to get a quality social science education.

We have more access than ever before to scientific studies and global events, but misinformation is a constant barrier to scientific literacy. Proofing and Lies brings together legal, social, and scientific experts to share their analyses and tips for consuming news and science.

The Unifying Force of Food

For us, the combination of politics and baking was a given. Food brings us together, cooking and baking is therapeutic, an act of love and community. Tackling social problems, natural disasters, political upheavals, and discrimination every week can lead to burnout. Trying to stay up to date on current events can be draining so we want to remind our listeners why we do it. We don’t dive deeply into grim topics out of masochism, but out of a commitment to our communities. Scientific literacy, like baking, is more fun when you’re sharing it with friends (or as Elle likes to say “PALs”).

This Season on Proofing and Lies

This season we have an absolutely amazing line up with political scientists, sociologists, historians, and more!

  • Worried about student loans and curious about university finances? We explore the landscape of debt with Dr. Louise Seamster whose work has been influential in loan forgiveness policy debates.
  • Why was the internet so ready to demonize Tessica Brown (“Gorilla Glue Girl”) and so obsessed with who did Michelle Obama’s hair for the inauguration? We talk about personal style and Black politicians with Dr. Nadia Brown – whose co-authored book Sister Style: The Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites (Drs. Nadia E. Brown & Danielle Casarez Lemi) is out now!
  • Exactly how old are the conspiracies that fuel QAnon? Historian Dr. Thomas Lecaque shares his cookie recipe and insights into the Medieval origins of QAnon. Andrew and Dr. Lecaque also bond over their love of the history of the crusades.
  • Who benefits from inequalities research and is the information getting back to the communities who can benefit most? Co-Hosts of BhD: Black and Highly Dangerous, Dr. Tyrell Connor and Dr. Daphne Penn discuss the importance of public sociology and how they grew their podcast into a powerhouse.
  • Ever wonder how anti-vaxxers makes sense of their stances? Dr. Catherine Tan shares her findings studying anti-vax parents of autistic children. Her forthcoming book Challenging Autism: The Making of Controversial Bodies and Identities explores how understandings of autism are created, contested, and practiced.
  • What does a group of fringe conspiracy theorists and a children’s show about the magic of friendship have in common? Dr. Zachary Palmer joins us to explain the unlikely similarities between Bronies (adult men who are fans of My Little Pony) and QAnon believers.
  • How do physical spaces influence protest actions? Dr. Kaitlin Kelly-Thompson walks us through how public spaces and urban design shape collective action. From the Women’s March in Boston to protests in Gezi Park, Dr. Kelly-Thompson describes how “place” matters.

Connecting with Proofing and Lies

Join us for these episodes and many more by following/liking/subscribing to Proofing and Lies wherever you get your podcasts! We also share progress pictures of our baking projects on Instagram @ProofingAndLies. You can also follow us on Twitter @ProofingL or on TikTok @ProofingAndLies for sneak peeks and episode teasers.

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