Dr. Tom Arcaro
Tom Arcaro was raised in a Catholic family in Ashtabula, Ohio. He completed his undergraduate work in sociology at Ohio State University and then was awarded his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in anthropology/sociology from Purdue University. He has been researching and studying the humanitarian aid and development ecosystem for nearly two decades and in 2016 published Aid Worker Voices. He recently published his second and third books related to the humanitarians sector with Confronting Toxic Othering published in 2021 and Dispatches from the Margins of the Humanitarian Sector in 2022. A revised edition of Confronting Toxic Othering will be out later in 2023.

One of his favorite quotes comes from Thomas Paine, “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” Long a convert to atheism (bordering on being an anti-theist), Tom lives with his family in North Carolina.

Dr. Arcaro is the principal investigator (PI) for this project. He can be contacted directly at: arcaro@elon.edu


Dr. Duane McClearn
Duane McClearn was raised in a secular family in California and Colorado. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in psychology and history, then a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in psychology, all from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He has been a faculty member of the Department of Psychology at Elon University for many years. Among his many interests are the psychology of beliefs, particularly religious and superstitious beliefs, which he has been studying for years.

He has a lovely wife and four lovely children.


Jeff Wright
Jeff grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist in Michigan. He attended Seventh-day Adventist schools from kindergarten through college, including four years at an Adventist boarding Academy (Adelphian Academy). He earned a bachelors’ degree at Andrews University in the early 1990s, during which time he also served as a Student Missionary in Thailand.

After completing his formal education, Jeff worked for ADRA in a variety of roles for more than a decade before leaving the Seventh-day Adventist system.

Jeff holds a Master’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology from Western Michigan University, enjoys travel and the outdoors. These days he makes his home in the Seattle area with his family.


Jordann Brandner
Dr. Brandner is an interdisciplinary psychologist who studies evolutionary social cognition – how our psychology has evolved to understand and think about social situations. Her research focuses on understanding the judgment and decision making processes that create our social lives. Throughout, Dr. Brandner emphasizes an evolutionary perspective, which frames social cognitive mechanisms as mental tools, refined through natural and sexual selection, that are used to solve adaptive problems throughout our evolutionary history. She joins the research team as thew statistical analysis expert.