Challenging Political Correctness At University

A while ago I wrote a piece on “dissident academics” who are challenging groupthink and PC on campus.

Since then, Jonathan Haidt, a brilliant writer and social psychologist, has formed an organisation called Heterodox Academy which brings together academics who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo.

Here he is talking about the initiative. If it catches on and becomes more mainstream that will bode extremely well for the future of intellectual diversity.

 

We Need A Cultural Shift If We Are To Prevail In The War Against Terror

Like so many of us I have been trying for the past few days to gather my thoughts and reflections about the events in Manchester. As a political writer, the Jihadist onslaught against Western civil society over the past few years, drains the creative energy from me, replaced by anger and sorrow. I run out of new things to say about a phenomenon which is now increasingly commonplace, normalised even by some estimations. I run out of adjectives to describe the attacks and the terrorists responsible: horrifying, brutal, sadistic, evil. The English language has its limits.

That being said, something does seem to have shifted in this case. I feel a little queasy even suggesting that, as if our society didn’t get the memo a decade ago, or after one of the numerous attacks since. In just over a month, it will be twelve years to the day since the 7/7 attacks in London. Since then, the only respites we have enjoyed from the cancer of Jihadism have been granted by our security services, whose work in general has been highly praiseworthy, stopping attacks before they happen.

But still we fail. Our leaders fail us in their empty platitudes. We fail to assert the virtue of our civilisation and our corollary duty to prevail. We fail to have honest conversations about the root of the problem. We fail in our creeping normalisation of terror. Read More…

How Simple Narratives Conceal Complex Truths. Interview With Peter Hitchens

On the Imagine Athena podcast I had the great pleasure of speaking to the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, one of my go-to writers and thinkers.

We discussed how simplistic moral narratives are used in political discourse to conceal harder, more complex truths about the world.

Did Britain really attain the victory it set out to in WW2? Is Britain’s relationship with the US a lot more adversarial than the two countries like to admit? And can Trump really make America great again?

The two books he mentions in the podcast are The Deluge by Adam Tooze and The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan

The Imagine Athena Podcast is also available on iTunes.

Jordan B. Peterson: Hate Thrives Underground

Professor Jordan B. Peterson on why sunlight and air is the best disinfectant for hateful speech:

“You want to drive the people who hate underground?

We know what happens, psychologically, when you do that. It’s a very bad idea. Anything you drive underground thrives. It thrives.

It partly thrives because it isn’t even allowed to express itself. And then it festers and turns into hatred that far exceeds the original. The idea that you make society safe by not letting horrible people say terrible things is not a good proposition.”

 

Bertrand Russell: Free Thinker

Some wise words from the brilliant freethinker Bertrand Russell:

When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out.

Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts.


 

 

What it means to be a Freethinker

After a period in the sun, during the heyday of the Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins (among others) New Atheist uprising, terms like freethinker, sceptic and the more specific atheist seem to have lost their popular allure. This is understandable among their obvious targets, the religious and superstitious, among whom they were unlikely to find a fan-base in the first place but, peculiarly, those to whom such terms (either in actuality or in potentia) could be applied have often sought to distance themselves from being associated with them.

In the early days of this website I spent many happy pages dismantling the superficially simpering but ultimately sinister certainties of the religious, yet over the years I have had to turn my spotlight increasingly to the ideological myths and superstitions of academia and journalism. These fields have become increasingly tainted by a commitment to narrative over truth, to a priori framing, rather than reasoned conclusions subject to revision on the basis of new evidence – i.e. the central scientific criticism of religion. Read More…

The Best of Imagine Athena 2016

A selection of some of our best articles of 2016:

 

Disagreement Is Not Violence

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This brilliant piece by Robin Gilbert-Jones touched on one of the seminal issues of our time: political difference and how to tolerate it. Too often, a mere divergence of opinion is characterized as “violence” by moral absolutists who seek to shut down discussion and avoid opposition.

Quote: “In subsequent years we have seen this word often stretched so etymologically thin as to be stripped of all meaning. It is quite a feat to achieve that with a word as concretely rooted in physical action, cause and effect as “violence”. This is often achieved by prefixing it with some silly adjective like “socioeconomic” or “rhetorical”. The reason this is inherently dangerous is that if you can redefine anything you don’t like as being a form of violence, it justifies pretty much any disproportionate response. Violence is usually considered the last straw, the point at which all bets are off and any means necessary can be justified in defence. It also risks stripping real violence of any intrinsic meaning and blurring the usually very distinct line between violent and non-violent actions. Read More…