Talk – Technoscientific Conspiracies: From Chemtrails to Transhumanism

"Technoscientific Conspiracies: From Chemtrails to Transhumanism" - Dr Stephen Hughes (UCL)

Wednesday 8th March (HT23 week 8), 4:30-5:30pm, Hume-Rothery Lecture Theatre


This talk will explore conspiracy theories that relate to contemporary developments in science and technology. We will investigate graphene-infused vaccines running mysterious nanoprogrammes, chemtrails that provide a medium for wireless access to our bodies and brains, and VR headsets that are the first step on a path towards blockchain-enabled transhumanism. Rather than dismissing or making fun of these ideas we are going to confront them head on and try to understand the underlying social and psychological tensions that exist beneath them. I will suggest how many conspiracy theories about science and technology are rooted in deeper experiences of alienation, civic dislocation, and mistrust. Using these insights, I will suggest how scientific institutions can start building trust with conspiracy theorists and with others who are sceptical of science.


Light refreshments will be served from 4pm in Hume-Rothery reception prior to the talk.

Registration required

Please register your interest by filling out this form:

Space in the lecture theatre is limited so registration is essential. In the case of being oversubscribed, priority will be given to Materials Outreach Ambassadors, followed by other members of the Department of Materials. If there is enough interest, a live streamed option may be available.

If you have any questions about the event, please email

About the Speaker

Dr Stephen Hughes is a Lecturer in Science, Technology and Society and Director of UCL's Responsible Innovation short course.

Stephen is fascinated by cases where responsible innovation and public engagement with science are characterised by discomfort, difficulty, and controversy. He approaches these cases with novel methods which seek to uncover and respond to the emotional and conflictual dimensions of science-society issues.

Stephen has spent the last couple of years building UCL's programme of responsible innovation. This includes the delivery of workshops and online courses to EPSRC-funded centres for doctoral training (CDTs) and the development of commercial short courses for industry which encourages organisations to ask difficult questions about equity, justice, and responsibility in science and innovation.

He teaches public engagement and responsible innovation to undergraduate and postgraduate students across faculties. Stephen is a member of the department's Equality and Equities Committee.

Stephen has a PhD and MSc in Science Communication from Dublin City University, where he explored public engagement with controversial technologies such as fracking.