Truth vs civility online: Fact, fiction, and funny

Sarcasm and harsh humour attract attention on social media, which is useful when using the digital space to combat the spread of misinformation. But what toll does cynical discourse take on civility, and how can comedy help us respect difference without sacrificing scientific fact?  

Join us to discuss the pursuit of truth through respectful disagreement with Timothy Caulfield, a legal scholar renowned for fighting the rise of pseudoscience and misinformation, and Andrew Phung, an actor and comedian practiced at finding the line separating the callous from the comedic.  

This webinar is part of UCalgary’s Pluralism and Global Citizenship webinar series

Watch the recording

About the panelists

Timothy Caulfield 

Timothy Caulfield is a Canada research chair in Health Law and Policy, a professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. His interdisciplinary research on topics like stem cells, genetics, research ethics, the public representations of science and public health policy has allowed him to publish over 350 academic articles. He has won numerous academic and writing awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He contributes frequently to the popular press and is the author of two national bestsellers: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness (Penguin 2012) and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash (Penguin 2015). His most recent book is Relax, Dammit!: A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety (Penguin Random House, 2020). Caulfield is also the host and co-producer of the award-winning documentary TV show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, which has been shown in over 60 countries, including streaming on Netflix in North America. 

Andrew Phung, BA’06  

Andrew Phung is an award-winning actor, improv comedian, emcee, and writer from Calgary. His infectious and relatable personality has made him one of Canada's top emerging comedic performers, and he is best known as one of the stars of the hit CBC television series Kim’s Convenience where he plays Kimchee. His work on the show has earned him three Canadian Screen Awards (2017, 2018, and 2020) in the category of Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Andrew's recent television and film credits include The Beaverton, Events Transpiring, Wynonna Earp, and The Canadian Improv Games with Andrew Phung, where he served as the host for the factual docu-series. He can also be heard on CBC Radio as a regular contributor to Now or Never, The Debaters, and Because News.

About the moderators

Deborah Yedlin  

Community leader and Calgary journalist Deborah Yedlin was elected the 14th chancellor of the University of Calgary, effective July 1, 2018. She has been observing, commenting and writing about business and politics for more than two decades, as a journalist for the Financial Post, Globe and Mail and Calgary Herald. In addition to her writing, she has been a regular commentator for CBC Radio and Television, and CTV since 1996.

Dr. Aleem Bharwani, MD  

Dr. Aleem Bharwani is a physician, Clinical Associate Professor, and Director of Public Policy and Partnerships for the Indigenous, Local, and Global Health Office in the Cumming School of Medicine and O'Brien Institute for Public Health. He has been recognized nationally and internationally for his leadership and education. He chairs the UCalgary Pluralism Initiative's Research, Social Innovation, and Engagement Committee and curated the UCalgary Pluralism and Global Citizenship webinar series. He is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and an active community citizen serving on a variety of community and corporate boards. Follow @AleemBharwani on Twitter.

Pluralism & Global Citizenship webinar series

Valuing and creating value from difference in our local and global communities

The University of Calgary is proud to present the Pluralism and Global Citizenship webinar series. Co-hosted by University of Calgary Chancellor, Deborah Yedlin and Dr. Aleem Bharwani, Director for Public Policy and Strategic Partnerships at the Cumming School of Medicine, the series will explore the many dimensions of pluralism: the active process of inclusion – recognizing, respecting and valuing difference. 

  • Oct. 27: Multilateralism – Canada’s role in the world 
    Guests: Jean Charest, former Premier of Quebec and recognized multilateralist; and Dru Marshall, Provost and Vice-President (Academic)
  • Nov. 10: Integrative Thinking in Business
    Guests: Roger Martin, former Dean of the Rotman School of Business; and Dr. Justin Weinhardt of the Haskayne School of Business
  • Dec. 1: Nurturing Empathy in Children
    Guests: Mary Gordon, Canadian educator, social entrepreneur, child advocate and parenting expert; and Dr. Diane Gereluk, Dean of the Werklund School of Education
  • Feb. 9: Truth vs Civility Online: Fact, Fiction, and Funny
    Guests: Tim Caufield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta; Andrew Phung award-winning actor, improv comedian, emcee, and writer from Calgary.
  • April 13: The Power of Stories To Shape a COVID Recovery
    Guests: Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General, Global Centre for Pluralism; and Dr. Malinda Smith, Professor and Vice Provost (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion)

Our partners

UCalgary’s Pluralism & Global Citizenship webinar series is presented with support from the Global Centre for Pluralism.