Spectator Briefings

Defending science from ‘cancel culture’

27 min listen

Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental tenets of a liberal democracy, and yet threats to freedom of speech today don’t so much come from authoritarians abroad as they do from within. The idea of ‘no-platforming’ those you disagree with, or ‘cancelling’ them, has taken root in all forms of public debate, and increasingly so in science. The word ‘science’ can today often be a shorthand for ‘truth’, which creates an orthodoxy where diversity of opinion is not welcomed. Science is meant to be ongoing process of finding truth, where what each generation takes as given may well be overturned as we discover more.

On this podcast, we will be looking into the question of free speech within science, and asking whether we have lost sight of what science means. Is it simply the case that in an age where misinformation travels at lightning speed, there needs to be greater restrictions on freedom of speech in science?

Cindy Yu, assistant editor at The Spectator, is joined by Professor Jay Bhattacharya, an expert in health policy at Stanford University, David Willetts, a former science minister who sits on the board of a number of scientific bodies, and Dr Gizelle Baker, who trained in biometry and epidemiology and is the vice president of global scientific engagement at tobacco company Philip Morris International.

Philip Morris International are kindly sponsoring this podcast.

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