Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
Students sitting a test in an exam hall in college
Students sitting a test in an exam hall in college

When Universities No Longer Want You To Know Controversial Ideas

Perhaps The Economist might wish to consider whether reality matters

Yesterday, we looked at why the publishing industry has gone to war against books. In that case, it’s an economic decision, really. The industry no longer benefits from championing books that the establishment would rather you did not read — a major change from centuries of publishing history.

Why it happened? Well, mainly, there are lots of other ways to get the news. And there are ways to make money from publishing without risking controversial books.

The tendency has, of course, infected universities as well. The Economist has the story: What aren’t you allowed to know more about gender ideology?:

Hours before Jo Phoenix, a professor of criminology at Britain’s Open University, was due to give a talk at Essex University about placing transgender women in women’s prisons, students threatened to barricade the hall. They complained that Ms Phoenix was a “transphobe” likely to engage in “hate speech”. A flyer with an image of a gun and text reading “shut the fuck up, terf” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist, a slur) was circulating. The university told Ms Phoenix it was postponing the event. Then the sociology department asked her for a copy of her talk. Days later it told her it had voted to rescind its invitation, and would issue no more. Ms Phoenix says she was “absolutely furious and deeply upset” about both the damage to her reputation and to academic freedom.

A backlash against gender ideology is starting in universities” at The Economist (June 5, 2021)

In the continuing uproar, of course, The Economist tries to come down on both sides at once, on all four feet. The arguments, we are told, are “complex and debatable.” Also that “many trans activists think that any disagreement is tantamount to hate speech and try to suppress it. Some universities with policies that reflect the belief that trans women are women have acted on complaints about people who do nothing more than express a contrary view. In May, after students at Abertay University in Dundee reported that a student had said at a seminar that women have vaginas and men are stronger, the university launched an investigation.”

Perhaps The Economist might wish to consider whether reality matters. If reality matters, the right to talk about it freely is not so hard a road to walk as many must suppose. The alternative is much worse.

You may also wish to read: Fighting back against Cancel Culture with Douglas Murray. We may need to start asking ourselves some hard questions. Do educational institutions we support sponsor crackdowns on independent thinking? It may be time to find out.


Why did the publishing industry go to war against books? Readers need to know how things have changed. For various reasons, traditional publishers today are trying to dump controversial books instead of profiting from their sale.

Mind Matters News

Breaking and noteworthy news from the exciting world of natural and artificial intelligence at MindMatters.ai.

When Universities No Longer Want You To Know Controversial Ideas