It is Now a Risk to Promote Free Speech in Science!

Artwork by Newtown grafitti (Click for license)

Dr. Adam Perkins is a personality researcher at King’s College London (KCL). On March 16 of this year, he was scheduled to give a talk to a group on campus. However, that same day, the college’s events office informed him that they had deemed his talk a high-risk event and did not have time to organize the security that kind of situation would require. Thus, the talk would have to be postponed. What was the title of this high-risk talk? It was:

The Scientific Importance of Free Speech

Why in the world would that title cause KCL’s events office to consider the event to be risky? As far as I know, the office hasn’t answered that question. Perhaps it got skittish after thugs stormed into a debate that was taking place at KCL and violently stopped it. Perhaps they were afraid that the group which arranged the talk (the KCL Liberterian Society) was so controversial that any event it arranged would have to be treated as high-risk. Perhaps they thought that promoting free speech in science is just too controversial.

Regardless of the reason, the very fact that such a speech needs to be given indicates the depths to which parts of the culture have sunk. When professors actually have to remind students how important it is for scientists to be able to openly and honestly debate their ideas, you know that something is terribly wrong.

Despite the fact that the event was cancelled, Dr. Perkins has published an abbreviated version of his talk here. While I strongly recommend that you read the entire article, here is the most important point that Dr. Perkins makes:

When one side of a scientific debate is allowed to silence the other side, this is an impediment to scientific progress because it prevents bad theories being replaced by better theories.

As I have stated before (see here, here, and here, for example), anyone who promotes censoring scientific ideas because they go against the current “consensus” is decidedly anti-science.

8 Comments

  1. John D. says:

    Wow. Thanks for posting. Just read the article. Pure insanity. “Safe space” is a widespread disease infecting institutions of thought all over the western world. It seems private institutions are becoming just as susceptible as those that are state run. This school of thought wants to conflate actual physical harm with emotionally charged speech or controversial ideas. The rub is that only specific social groups qualify for victim status / protection. It’s dangerous to personal liberty and an all out assault on free speech.

    You may have already seen this, but I’ve only recently come across the case of Lindsay Sheperd at Wilfird Laurier University in Canada. From what I gathered, she’s a teacher’s assistant who was reprimanded for discussing the pronoun issue during a class on grammar. To offer a balanced viewpoint she played arguments for and against. On the against side was a short audio clip of clinical psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson (infamous outspoken critic of Gender theory). Shortly after the class she was brought into a mini tribunal where 3 academics spent 45 minutes telling her that what she did was wrong. It’s a fascinating audio recording shedding light on the major hypocrisy and free speech suppression currently breeding in the University system. Two parts really stick out. One being when the professor reprimanded her for being too “balanced” of a presenter and stating she should have denounced Peterson’s views. The second being at around the 11:12 mark when a professor tells her that she shouldn’t present anything that would not pass the peer review process in a recognized academic journal.

    The real kicker to the story is that the stated impetus for the witch-hunt was that a student in her class had filed a personal grievance. It was later found out that this was was a lie. In reality it seems the school’s “Rainbow Center” had filed the complaint.

    Full audio here – https://youtu.be/9YdFlKaJv4g

    1. Jay Wile says:

      Wow, John, I had not seen that. It is amazing how low some institutions of “higher learning” have sunk!

      1. Eddie says:

        Haha Jay. It made me laugh when you put “higher learning” in quotes but, so true!

  2. Dana says:

    I think part of it is this growing trend toward “scientism.”

  3. William says:

    Good point Dana, a wise person once said to me that science is just a way to say we can’t disprove something. In exploring creation with biology (one of Dr. Wiles text books) it says “science has proven” is a false statement because science has its limits and humans are imperfect so a experiment can never be completely perfect.

  4. Alaska Nivanuatu says:

    Perhaps we should also put quotes around “Now” as in: ‘It is “Now” a Risk to Promote Free Speech in Science!’

    Because, really, hasn’t it always been, (and will probably always be), a risk?

    1. Jay Wile says:

      Honestly, Alaska, I think it is worse now. Certainly, going against the mainstream has always been a risk, but typically, you were just risking your professional reputation. Nowadays, you risk violence erupting!

  5. William says:

    Dr Jay Wile,

    I agree it is worse now then in the 80s or 90s but the question is, is violence better then getting fired? I think violence is worse. But people get fired for even going against what the university says or what the scientific consensus says, I believe Dr. Perkins was taking a Galileo-like stand when he said that it is important to have an open debate. But now that I bring up Galileo wasn’t he put under house arrest for his beliefs. It may have been worse then.

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