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What Defenders and Critics Get Wrong about the ‘Marketplace of Ideas’

In his book How Fascism Works, Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley exposes the weakness in the most common argument for free speech. According to this argument, which can be traced back to liberal thinkers such as John Stuart Mill, free speech leads to a “marketplace of ideas” in which the truth prevails and falsehoods are widely rejected.

Stanley argues that the recent proliferation of conspiracy theories and dog-whistles refute the premise that “reason always wins out in the public square of liberal democracy.” He is primarily concerned about conspiracy theories, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which serve to spread fascistic worldviews. This type of speech, he concludes, cannot be effectively countered through a free exchange of ideas.

The motif of the marketplace of ideas, Stanley argues, only works with descriptive speech. Descriptive speech occurs when words are communicated precisely in their logical or semantic sense. The paradigmatic example is of scientists engaged in an exchange where words have precise and agreed meanings. Non-descriptive speech, by contrast, is exemplified by rhetoric, such as that employed by a demagogue evangelizing before a crowd. In the latter, “language is not used simply, or even chiefly, to convey information but to elicit emotion.”

A common characteristic of non-descriptive speech is the use of inverted concepts—concepts that redefine words in order to destroy their original and intended meanings. For example, Hitler redefined democracy to mean the “free choice of the Leader, along with his obligation to assume entire responsibility for all he does and causes to be done.” This helped to justify authoritarianism by using the language of representative government. This perversion of speech, Stanley argues, is insidious and profoundly corrosive to public discourse.

According to Stanley, only conversations which use descriptive speech end up being productive of knowledge. He believes conspiracists and fascists regularly employ non-descriptive speech and thereby subvert the marketplace of ideas. Stanley goes on to condemn channels like Russia Today ( which routinely smudge the difference between the two sorts of speech by hosting conspiracy theorists and treating them as though they were scientists. Stanley concludes his argument with the ominous claim that,  “Attempting to counter such rhetoric with reason is akin to using a pamphlet against a pistol.” Although Stanley never explicitly advocates censorship, the implications of his argument are clear.

Stanley’s criticisms follow from an error frequently made by defenders of free speech—they tend to equate free expression as a right with practices that promote productive dialogue. The confusion occurs because the two are linked—freedom of speech does indeed allow productive conversations to occur—but should not be conflated.

Freedom of speech and the right to associate freely both secure for people the ability to write, speak, and establish institutions. These institutions can then agree upon guidelines concerning requirements for productive conversations. Various institutions may set up different policies and restrictions depending on their goals.

Stanley is correct that including certain viewpoints in specific forums can elevate arbitrary claims by treating them as reputable, thereby undermining people’s ability to think clearly about issues. For instance, no reputable scientific journal should give a platform to young Earth creationists, nor should university history departments be agnostic about whether the Holocaust is a hoax.

However, it does not follow that a government censor could or should ensure the quality of public discourse as an editor curates the content of a scientific journal. A prudently censored environment will not facilitate the diffusion of knowledge. Knowing requires independent judgment. When evaluating any issue, each person has to make judgments not just about what evidence to consider, but also about what to count as evidence. In censored environments, access to relevant information will most likely be excluded. And even if the censors don’t exclude any relevant information, one cannot be sure of this because access to those materials is prohibited.

Censoring false information and malicious opinions does nothing to show why a given view is incorrect or convince anyone of the truth. The primary victims of censorship are therefore conscientious truth seekers denied the opportunity to exercise their own judgment.

Prohibiting access to fanatical and evil ideas encroaches on any honest person’s ability to judge for themselves whether or not the ideas are evil and why. I came to understand Nazism and Islamism by reading their primary writings, and by reading books and essays by those who have done likewise. Had access to these writings been restricted by the decree of an authority, my conclusions about these mass movements and their ideologies would not be justified. This obviously does not mean that anyone has an obligation to promote these views—all that is required is that a government not censor them so that they are available to study.

This view is consistent with Stanley’s observation that certain forums (such as scientific journals) need to restrict the points of view to which they are prepared to provide a platform. An array of institutions and forums, each with their own standards, some more restrictive than others, is a consequence of intellectual freedom, not a barrier to it.

Contrary to the assertions made by some defenders of free speech, its value does not depend upon a consequential triumph for the truth in the “marketplace of ideas.” This “marketplace” cannot automatically guarantee such an outcome, and nor can any other social system. Rather, the right to free speech secures an environment in which everyone is allowed to consider various opinions and to inspect the supporting evidence. Freedom of speech protects our ability to engage in the type of activity required to know the truth about any topic of interest, but it makes no guarantees about the outcome.

It is also incorrect to think that rational advocates are powerless against the sort of speech that worries Stanley. Take the issue of states’ rights, which was used to defend Jim Crow laws. Stanley correctly identifies this as an example of racists using inverted concepts to promote their worldview—the language of “rights” was employed to justify the ongoing oppression of those the concept of rights was intended to protect. But Stanley neglects to mention that the Civil Rights movement (arguably the greatest triumph of free speech in American history) overturned this perversion.

Indeed, Stanley’s argument never mentions any of the historical triumphs of true ideas over false ones. And while the “marketplace of ideas” does not guarantee an acceptance of truth, it is the most useful and effective tool available to us. Even the most optimistic thinkers centuries ago could not have imagined the breadth of knowledge available to those in countries with little to no regulation of speech. But a valid defence of free speech requires us to recognize the importance of unencumbered thought and honest dialogue if we are to discover what is true and what is not.


Mohamed Ali is a student at The University of Rochester studying Physics and Philosophy. You can follow him on Twitter @TrueWordsAli


  1. “Stanley correctly identifies this as an example of racists using inverted concepts to promote their worldview—the language of “rights” was employed to justify the ongoing oppression of those the concept of rights was intended to protect. ”

    Funny, the only form of oppressed minorities the Founders seemed concerned about was the oppression of creditors by state farmer-friendly bankruptcy laws. Given the franchise was originally limited to white males of property, the “oppression of those the concept of rights [in Anglo-American jurisprudence] was intended to protect” would be the oppression of white males of property. At least historically, the “racists” are more consistent with the American tradition than the woke philosophers.

    And this is the contradiction in the heart of modern political discussions–rights as developed in America were about setting up a hierarchical mercantile republic ruled by wealthy elites (primarily descended from English Protestants)–who didn’t give a rat’s ass about racism–and modern liberalism is committed to essentially communist/national socialist ideology based on class and race struggle (both late-19th century ideas) of the “oppressed race/class” versus the “oppressor race/class”, with a need to censor all scientific evidence that contradicts the blank slate. Its 20th century totalitarian ideology operating on top of an 18th century Ox cart.

    Communist ideology on a capitalist platform has only been able to produce “woke capitalism”, the highest form of hypocrisy outside of a theocratic regime, although it does provide a cushy lifestyle for its apologists in the Academy. Yes, the regime needs censorship, controlling mass media is not going to be enough to hide the corruption and contradictions of the current system. Probably some “freedom camps” in Alaska to re-educate mistaken people as well.

    • Tom Shen says

      The motivations of the founding fathers are irrelevant. Their concepts evolved to what we have today.communist ideology has not; aside from a more public emphasis on race, it still is more attuned to 19th Century Britain than now.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Tom Shen

        Thanks. I tend to discount mind reading including of the FF and other people from history. What we have is what they said, and liberal democracy, which has liberated more people from more oppressions than any other system, is what they (and others) gave us. I’ll take it.

        • Peter from Oz says

          The American FF have not had much influence outside the US.
          The UK Parliament is the mother of parliaments. it is to the UK we owe liberal democracy.
          I really wish Americans would stop thinking that their history before 1945 is of any real importance.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Peter from Oz

            I tend not to fret the matter. I see them all as part of that Enlightenment grasp for human betterment. But I’d not go so far as to say the American Revolution was of no importance. I’d say on the contrary that both the Revolution and the thought that swirled around it were pivotal developments. Still the Brits managed to transition to liberal democracy without revolution and in their quiet way they might well be argued to have done a better job. The Americans, predictably, overrate their own people. I see them as followers of the European Enlightenment, but zealous students just the same, and of course deliciously flawed too. But some of the documents have never been equaled IMHO.

          • ^Says the guy who’s constitution was handed to them instead of fought for.

            It’s like the difference between getting a job, saving the money, and buying your first car vs having your royal mommy and daddy just give you one.

            When you earn it, it just means more to you.

          • X. Citoyen says


            I beg to differ. The originality of the experiment isn’t what’s important. The fact that America was built from the best ideas in the English tradition and not the worst—which is what usually happens—is, arguably, the most important event in the last 500 years. (I saw this as a Canuck, by the way.)

          • X. Citoyen says

            Pardon me, I didn’t see it, I say it.

          • Kauf Buch says

            Ooh…sensing some real Marxist ENVY in that post!

          • P from O…in the recent past (60’s, ’70’s, 80’s) many people in Eastern Europe could recite, in their own languages, the stirring phrases from Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths…”. This is also true in other countries under oppressive regimes. So, that is “not much influence”?

          • Pierre Pendre says

            With an assist from the always under-estimated Dutch in whose path the English libertarians trod.

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ KD

      Your comment fails to take into account the Hamilton vs Jefferson debate, on competing visions for the future of America. It also makes no mention of the fact that the aspirations of the best of them were great from the very start, they simply couldn’t reach political consensus on the 2nd of July draft. Indeed, you could view all of American history, right up to the triumphs of the civil rights era, through the lens of a struggle to deliver on the promise of those original noble aspirations.

  2. So to summarize censorship is good if the right people are in charge. Just like socialism.

    • Dzoldzaya says

      To extend the analogy, free speech is like the free market. Whenever someone says they want it, they mean they want freer speech or a freer market. A truly free market would be a disaster, as would truly free speech. We want both of them to be governed and restricted in a reasonable, fair and decentralized way, through norms, rules and taboos.

      • Peter from Oz says

        ”We want both of them to be governed and restricted in a reasonable, fair and decentralized way, through norms, rules and taboos.”
        A good description of what Lord Moulton called ”the Third Domain’, i.e. the space between law and individual choice. Governments and special interest groups have throughout the latter half of the 20th century have whittled away at this Third Domain. But it is essential that it remain strong. WIthout it we are left with a terrible mish mash of government intereference and rampant individualism or tribalism.

        • Geary Johansen says

          @ Peter

          Great Comment. Lord Moulton, have to look it up. Basically why I scored higher on sanctity and lower on liberty than I expected, on Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations test- not because I thought government should restrict people, but because people should restrict themselves through the cultivation of moral behaviour.

      • jolly swagman says

        who is this ‘we’ that you think should regulate what is spoken, read and thought? does it include you, and why?

      • David of Kirkland says

        @ Dzoldzaya Don’t use the royal “we.” Freer speech and freer markets would be better. There are too many who think they know best how to go into the future; they are always wrong. There are 7.5 billion people, and there’s no “good way” for them to live and speak.

        • Mike says

          Free markets would be great if the true externalities were accounted for. The problem is that we live on a world with finite resources but our economy doesn’t accurately price the long term effects of our activities, which is why we need government. Because take a look at Syria, do you have any idea how shitty anarchy would be compared to moderate restrictions on lifestyle?

      • doug deeper says

        In the US, free speech is limited, one cannot incite violence. The only problem, this is rarely, if ever enforced. All other conceptualized restrictions, no matter how “reasonable” are simply one person’s or group’s opinions. Today, the tech giants in cahoots with the Democrat party, academia, Hollywood and the media have determined that any speech to the right of Elizabeth Warren’s is to be censured. On campus the line is drawn by AOC.

        All hate and violence emanating from the left is free, anything the right says is either being censored today or will be tomorrow.
        Until a few years ago there was a negligible dangerous right wing in the US, too few white nationalists, KKK, neo-nazis to fill a high school stadium. Yet the demonization of anyone who doesn’t toe the leftist party line has resulted in a predictable backlash. Now it appears a dangerous far right is growing. When the left, often the far left controls nearly every powerful institution in the country, and looks upon all others as deplorables, such things happen.

        Just when the far right was virtually left powerless in the US, the unquenchable left ensured its return.
        Since the culture is controlled almost entirely by the left, and will be for a long time to come, expect the dreaded polarization to grow.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @X. Citoyen

      Yup. We old school Canadistaniis, being British at heart, but being so immersed in American culture can see it both ways. America was trying to be what England should have been, and there was a feedback loop there tho the English would probably not want to admit it.

      • Peter from Oz says

        The Americans were trying to be what they, and a lot of British people, thought the UK should have been, in the 18th century. So the British consititution evolved to take some of the complaints into account.
        Tony Blair seems to have have made a nod to the US in taking the highest court out of the House of Lords and making it an independent institution known as the ”Supreme Court”.
        Other than that the real change to the British COnstitution has been the role of the Monarch and the removal of office bearers (other than Minister and Secretaries of State) from the Commons. The former actually has nothing to do with America, where the President still has full executive power. The latter change is one that responded to the 18th century complaint that the King had too much power because he could give offices to MPs and influence their votes. That was indeed something the Americans were keen to avoid. I don’t think the development of the British constitution whereby the Civil Service and the Parliament became separate had anyhting to do with the American example.

        • Ray Andrews says

          Peter from Oz

          It is a fascinating subject. It has always seemed to me that on paper the American system is better, but in practice the Westminster system wins every time. Our Commons is a kindergarten, but somehow the country is reasonably well run.

          • Charlie says

            The American system appears to lack robust debates between the two parties. The House of Commons allows forthright debates.

            In the English speaking World there is change from do not ask what the country can do for you to ask what you can do for the country of Kennedy to the desire to be spoon fed, to have our problems solved by others, to be given short snappy answers.

            However, I have faith in the average person to maintain common sense and common decency which makes them immune to Nazism and communism whereas Nobel laureates supported both creeds. As Orwell said ” Only an intellectual could believe it and they play with fire and they do not realise it burns “.If a person lacks the desire to tell other people how to live, they are impervious to the blandishments of Nazism and communism or any other ism.

            Modern day intellectuals have the same arrogance as much of the clergy of the Middle Ages; they consider themselves morally and intellectually superior to others and therefore fit to run their lives. Stanley enjoying the material benefit of Yale is no different to an abbot living in luxury within a monastery while telling the serfs who work to support him how to live their lives

            Historically Law lords had a broad range of experience but nowadays, the Supreme Court is full of conceited affluent priggish lawyers who consider themselves superior to the people and Parliament.

          • Geary Johansen says

            @ Ray

            Apart from the fact that our infrastructure is a mess, but I suppose you could say the same for America

          • Optional says

            I believe this has more to do with how votes are allocated, rather than they system itself.
            The US system produces only 2 major parties ever – mostly representing nobody.
            The Parliamentary system appears to allow more than 2 parties, and therefore more accurate representation.

    • Charlie says

      Pierre Pendre you may be correct. The Angles, Saxons and Jutes chose their ruler who through the Witan ruled through consent and consultation. Some say the first rules for developing representative rule after the Fall of Rome came from Friesia (which is now mostly under the North Sea) and were called the Tex of Freya.

  3. Fran says

    People believe and talk about the weirdest things, all based on emotion rather than science. There is no way to stop it. Eg, 6 houses in my community cannot have a repeater to beam the local high speed internet because one of them believes the ‘radiation’ will cause harm like cancer and other health problems. The notion that irrational beliefs can be stopped by defining some forms of communication as outside the protections of free speech is one more daft idea. People actively seek out information that activates them emotionally – it might be new music, food fancies like gluten, and conspiracies of all sorts. Is one also going to ban fiction that feeds some of the silly ideas around?

  4. How fascism really works is the following:

    1.) Communist take over some place backwards and steal everything and liquidate the former ruling class.

    2.) Communists then attempt to start taking over less backwards places and steal everything and liquidate the ruling class.

    3.) The ruling class examines their prospects under communism, and backs a rival gang of thugs to beat Communist thugs at their own game, hello fascism.

    Which is why there is no real fascist threat today is because there is no real communist threat. [There is a populist/nativist political threat, but that is a different story altogether, which is why it is necessary to avoid nuance and lump it with fascism. But America has had lots of nativist politics in its history without taking on any of the features of totalitarian fascism.]

    However, Stalinist ideologues need fascist bogey men (if bourgeois saboteurs are unavailable) to justify restricting freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion in order to implement totalitarianism, so Stalinist propagandists are always talking about conspiracy theories and fascists under the bed. . .

    . . . or rather, progressives are always talking about “systematic racism” and “implicit bias” and “racists” in ways that are either unfalsifiable or which have been empirically falsified (in which case results are ignored or characterized as “pseudo-science”). Thus, we need censorship so the social sciences can continue to be a wasteland of unreplicated garbage and so we can shut down discussions of human differences, or else the barbarians will win.

    Unfortunately, censorship or not, the truth wins in the end. On the other hand, you will retire more comfortably if you help the Pope draft his condemnation of Galileo. This is the real generational question: will you help the regime buttress a pile of lies, or take a risk and oppose them?

    • I like that- I think you’re onto something. To the extent we have anything resembling fascism, it’s in reaction to over reach by Frankfurt School types who are so concerned with general societal disruption that they lost track of what Socialism or Bolshevism was supposed to be about. Which was some kind of free adn equitable society.

  5. codadmin says

    How fascism works…it calls itself anti-fascism.

    • TarsTarkas says

      ‘We must restrict your freedoms in order to save them’. Sorta like ‘we had to destroy the village in order to save it’. These people always stupidly assume that ‘woke’ like them will be in charge, whereas in reality ‘woker’ more violent people will inevitably take over and ‘dewoke’ them.

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ TarsTarkas

        Actually it’s for worse than that, mate. It’s the idealistic revolutionaries who actually become the monsters. Many have cited that the reasons why socialism fails is because it lack incentives, private property, and the distributed knowledge system of the market. But I think there is a far more fundamental problem. It’s because socialism is terrible at producing a highly capable managerial class (and to a lesser extent a technical class which stretches to cover the whole of economy). It’s because the young ideological zealots who want change, always imagine themselves sitting in some cushy office planning and making decisions, when they haven’t earned the right or hard-won experience, to begin to make decisions that affect other peoples lives. Plus, they are always crap at it. Whether its land management and farming, or an oil industry whose output halves in a decade, they always fail miserably.

        The real problem with centrally planned systems, is that they always generate a host of appointees that are useless at their jobs. Which is tragic really, given that it only takes a degree of intelligence and 3-4 years working in a high value manufacturing environment fighting-fires, thinking on your feet and developing a prodigious appetite for new technical knowledge, to develop the operational elan necessary to master the advanced competence (if not the people or political skills, they take longer) to be successful in most retail, service or manufacturing endeavours. Most of the habits are so simple really. Never pretend you understand something you don’t. Learn to read deeply and in detail. Develop memory techniques. Keep a clear desk and manage your time effectively. Take the time to teach subordinates how to do things, and come to you with solutions, not problems, because then you free up time in the long run.

        When the revolutionaries fail miserably at whatever middle management the regime allocates them, they already have people they resent for objecting to their orders. The poor fools who have that peculiar combination of technical common sense and human naivety to resist the ridiculous. Having stripped themselves of the legal protections of an independent judiciary, the apparatchiks know that it’s their neck on the chopping block- so in a craven act of self-justification and driven by the blindness only ideology can generate, they tell themselves that it’s worth removing resistors for the half-imagined utopia that will only ever exist in their head. And that’s how the body count or internment population starts.

        And, of course, ideology is not confined to socialism. One of the worst posts from the #metoo movement which was most ideologically-tainted, was the one by a woman who said that it would OK if a few innocent men got accused and fired, if it brought down the patriarchy. What greater evidence of insane pathology do you need, than someone using an illusionary concept to justify harm? The only thing the feminists might have a point on is proportions of genders right at the very top.

        And when you account for time, choice and uneven incentives these discrepancies disappear. Because although legal equality appeared sooner, social equality of opportunity only became institutionalised in the 90s. So if you accept that it should and does take 30 years of almost continuous employment, working 60+ hours a week to reach the top, then this is a factor, if you want the most competent people at the top. Choice is a factor because only around 20% of women want a full-time career, with little time set aside for family, with most (60%) opting for a healthier work to life balance and around 20% still preferring to send their partner out to work, whilst they manage the home. And finally there are uneven incentives, because men know that they cannot have a family unless they work hard and relentlessly pursue well-paid work, because women simply won’t put up with deadbeat dads.

        So its any form of ideology that’s the problem, because although ideas may be a useful tool in analysis, they are bloody awful when they are applied to fit people into boxes, literally (one for Steven Pinker, I think).

  6. Geary Johansen says

    One phrase stuck out in this article- ‘the marketplace of ideas’. For someone who used to espousing the miracle of the last 200 years of the market, it’s therefore ironic that I find myself denigrating markets in relation to ideas. Because the popular idea, the current ideological vogue, which the new consumers of thought are always lining up to buy, is almost always wrong. And this is because whether the moral compass of your soul is governed by liberty, kindness and compassion, or personal responsibility within the borders of cohesive community, the truth stands independent from personal morality or beliefs.

    That’s why it’s so important to be brutal with ideas, to test them by the harshest measures and subject them to the scorn and ridicule of your compatriots. Because otherwise, you yourself are lessened, by a weakened capacity to engage and grapple with the world. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t be kind with people. But be prepared to apply scrutiny to every half-cocked policy program proposed and annihilate it’s faulty premises. Of course, expound about the virtues of liberty, but make sure freedom is balanced by responsibility and be willing to acknowledge that some government expenditure can be viewed as an investment, or as prevention of future costs. Promote personal responsibility and inculcate it wherever you can, but also recognise that many who are, upon first examination, classed as freeloaders may be in the bottom 2.5% of the cognitive spectrum and incapable of work without close supervision; long-term sick or suffering from the moral atrophy of critically low morale and may simply need a succession of helping hands to get them back on their feet.

    But what is really scary is the extent to which media (and now tech) take an active role in the curation of the ideas we now have access to. College kids now dismiss IQ as pseudo-science simply because the science is brutal in it’s implications, despite the fact that it is the single best measure of intelligence so far and will govern the outcome of their lives far more than any amount of hard work (by a factor of c. 3.5). The feminist ideologues persist with the notion that gender is a social construct and the belief that gender-neutral classrooms can somehow ‘fix’ the differences between boys and girls, when countries with the greatest ‘social progress’ evidence the highest differences in interest between men and women, or things and people, respectively.

    But what really galls is the great ideas, social and scientific, that find themselves neglected in favour of more fashionable pedantry. The most important and overlooked aspect of Welfare Capitalism, that of continuous training or education in the workplace, has become almost obsolescent in an era of off-the-shelf employees. Worker co-operatives now account for 100 million jobs worldwide, but are dismissed as socialist, when the most successful fully embrace competition within the market and exhibit a model that could best be described as community capitalism. And course, most postmodernists see themselves as standing in the wreckage of the enlightenment project, when enlightenment progress has never been more successful or all-encompassing with the mission to extend it’s jurisdiction and radically improve the lives of everyone in the developed world.

    Critics look at the over-emotionalism and irrationality of those on the other end of the political spectrum, not recognising that conservatives and liberals see the world in fundamentally different ways. Conservatives see multiculturalism and unrestricted migration as fundamental threats to their cultural values and community cohesion. Liberal wonder what all the fuss is about, focusing their interest instead on whatever new and shiny government program is going to fix everything and make it bright and shiny- without realising that the reason why conservatives get irate is because they know that the government does not have the money to pay for its spending commitments to its own citizens in the years to come (US existing future commitments $180 trillion). Although the truth may objective, perspective is not…

    • Rev. Wazoo! says

      Geary Johansen
      IQ is undoubtedly important but becomes the prime determinant of modest success only when education systems leave students primarily to teach themselves as has happened in the US. You don’t need an above average IQ to become a competent engineer or translator for example.

      Primary/middle schools which somewhat rigidly demand the ability to write clearly and master arithmetic feed high schools which stream students, enforce discipline and focus the last 2 years on a field of study produce people easily trained on the job. Colleges which require attendance, homework and expel gross underperformed can take most anyone from the above secondary schools and teach them to be engineers etc. OK not brilliant ones but competent ones.

      IQ helps most when systems are ineffective.

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Rev. Wazoo!

        I agree with you somewhat- IQ equates to about $606 per point, although the relationship is by no means uniform across the curve. It only accounts for 31% of lifetime outcomes, whereas hard work (or maybe conscientiousness) accounts for 9%.

        Even entrepreneurs don’t need to be that bright to enjoy modest success. Openness to experience, a high tolerance for risk and the resilience needed to repeatedly fail and picking yourself up, to try again with another venture, all certainly help. At the top end of the scale, billionaires average around 151- which really isn’t that high when in order for people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Elon Musk to occupy the distribution, there must be many who are around 130 or 140.

        But, the problem is that the coming technological transformation isn’t just going to hit truck drivers, retail workers and call centre operators- it’s also going to hit any intellectual pursuit than can be systematised- actuaries and diagnostic medical professionals are just two examples. Plus, many forms of technical educational training are obsolescent by the time the student graduates. A prime example of this is Joe Rogan’s assistant Jamie, who trained as a sound engineer, only to find himself unable to find work related to his obsolete training as a sound engineer.

        In this type of economy, the relevance of IQ is only going to increase, not decline. Because the ability to solve novel, one-off problems easily, or learn new things quickly are both areas where the cognitively gifted excel and the cognitively challenged do not. And teachers almost desperate attempts to teach critical thinking techniques, are in no way going to make up for the fact. The only thing I can think of that might help, is a new form of ALMO, staffed with high IQ types, investigating and breaking down new vocational knowledge to a distributed network of adult education specialists and offering very fast turn-around courses for fees, or a percentage of earnings. Shades of Arthur C. Clarke…

        • Denny Sinnoh says

          Certainly everything that a college professor does can be easily done by a computer. Lectures, presentations, exams can all easily be made for online, or in a presentation center.
          Computers can even analyze student feedback to see if students are learning.
          Throw out the college professors, they are easily substituted for.

      • Bill Miller says

        When systems are ineffective, it is money that helps most.
        Kinda a “Moral Hazard” for the rich. Eliminate good, demanding schools for all and get your kid a good but expensive private education.

    • Charlie says

      GJ. Good points. Most revolutions are created by resentful and spiteful educated middle classes who are underachievers- Lenin, Mao, Robespierre, Pol Pot, Castro, . They want to destroy the successful people in their society. The French and Soviet leaders were not poor; only one of Bolshi’s was working class and he was murdered in the 1920s. The Revolutionary leaders promise the peasants the land they worked. They then create a secret Police force The Cheka or similar , who are armed and recruited from the criminal classes. When the unarmed peasants and other groups ( sailors in Russia )f rise up because they have not received the land /freedom they were promised after winning the civil war, they are murdered by The Cheka. More French peasants were killed in the French Revolution than aristocrats.

      Solzhenitsyn has said the Revolution of 1917 was by middle class intellectuals , not workers.
      In any society, there are people who will commit murder if paid to do so, the cause is not important. Give a criminal the power of death over people and they will form a group like the Cheka which was founded by Dzerzhinski i , a count.. M Muggeridge who was in the Ukraine in the 1930s , said the KGB had a grudge against civilisation and their fellow man.

      Revolution failed in Germany in 1919 because the Freeicorp comprising patriotic WW1 veterans, from labourers to land owners, defeated the communists. This is why Cultural Marxism was developed; to undermine patriotism which is different nationalism, as Orwell explained.

  7. TJR says

    All fair enough, if rather obvious. However, do people claim that free speech and the marketplace of ideas “guarantee” truth coming out on top? Except maybe in certain obviously-hyperbolic polemics? AFAICS people only claim that it has the best chance of producing “truth”, more or less as you say. I’m not sure anyone really “gets it wrong”.

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ TJR

      Good point. I think that the only thing that can be done is to make people aware, both through our education system and the broader culture, that confirmation bias is the worst form of bias of all- it colours our judgement and polarises society. We should all try to seek that uncomfortable uncertainty in the middle, test our ideas against others and be open to new ideas.

      A good example of this is that until I was in my late thirties, I never questioned a woman’s right to choose, because I figured that it was none of my business, being a man. But after watching a documentary from the US, I decided to look into it as an intellectual exercise, so that I could be better informed. It was actually on a pro-life debunking website, that I found that contrary to the claims of pro-lifers the fetus did not experience brainwave activity after 40 days, but rather that the earliest evidence of brainwave activity occurs around 110 days.

      What this proves, I believe, is that abortion is a moral wrong that scales over time. Nobody sane would argue that the morning after pill is wrong, because that falls dangerously close to the ‘every sperm is sacred’ argument. Similarly, in most cases the first 10 weeks can be handled by a pill. But as the 17-18 week mark approaches, greater care and consideration should be applied- with abortions after that period only being carried out for the myriad of special exceptions that occur, in a minority of cases. My basis for this viewpoint is that beyond this point, the fetus has progressed to a stage that philosophical notions of human potentiality have been superceded by the demands of knowable awareness, however unformed and absent of the context of memory, and in that kernel of awareness lies the probable ability to feel pain- the one thing that unites all human beings.

      It is interesting that this position conform to the notion of liberty, as the balancing of rights versus responsibilities. If we concede that women everywhere have the right to abortion, does it not also follow that they also have the responsibility to do so in a timely fashion?

  8. bumble bee says

    The ‘Market Place” of ideas mentioned, is no longer in the hands of the learned, but has regrouped to social media. Social media is the “Thunderdome” of every idea put forth today. Those ideas do not need to be supported or even thoroughly researched by facts that people agree upon, but is only supported by the number of people that agree with the statement or idea.

    This is the SJWs nutrient rich soil they use to plant their half-baked neo-etymological discord to rile the masses into believing they have been gravely injured and abused by society. Conspiracy theories, snake oil salesmen, and every degree of conmanship to exploit the masses all the while making a buck doing it is what this new market place has become.

    This is where the anti-vaxer movement came about and grew, where goop tells women their new self abuse will do wonders for you, as well as become the new umbilical cord to all the liberal social movements we now have to work twice as hard to refute their obvious nonsense. The old time conspiracy theories, Area 51, Bigfoot, Bermuda Triangle, moon landing, etc have remained fairly static even in the social media age simply because they were already known as outlandish theories. Today, because of social media we have people, Flat Earthers, claiming something that has been refuted for thousands of years. Why are people falling for all this BS?

    The other issue, is the need to get people’s stream of consciousness out to the masses without regard for validity because clicks=dollars. Pre-social media, ideas were thought out extensively and discussed with others to ensure one was not “off their rocker” and be ostracized from the academic community. We have gone from careful analysis with scrutiny to such outlandish claims that lizard people are running the world. Censorship may not the best way to handle all this bilge, but something must be done to ensure that people understand what they are hearing, seeing, reading is not the truth and is for entertainment purposes only.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      This did not begin with the internet. The Flat Earth Society was formed in 1956, though it’s arguable that most of them really believe the Earth is flat. We had supermarket tabloids before the internet, and those things were ridiculous. To imagine that academic standards were higher is revisionist as well; there was plenty of bad scholarship before the internet, it’s just that nobody knew about it or could score cheap points by attacking it online or via social media.

      No idea why you would bring up SJWs here but leave out every insane right-wing theory that has been promulgated by the internet. Not great for your credibility.

      • Cedric says


        I completely agree with your rebuttal.

      • Baka Tony's Pizza says

        “No idea why you would bring up SJWs here but leave out every insane right-wing theory that has been promulgated by the internet. Not great for your credibility.”

        Well gee, I’d post some examples of right-wing conspiracy theories, but they keep getting erased by SJW reporting mobs before I can even get a screencap! Plenty of left-wing conspiracy theories are still up all over the place, though! In hindsight, this is a good thing. History will forget the worst of the worst from the right, because it’s already being actively and aggressively deleted. The left’s insanity, however, will be remembered for generations to come.

        Keep digging that grave!

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Nakatomi

        You certainly make some valid points. Even some mainstream conservative ideas, like trickledown economics have been debunked. With the realisation that you also need a desirable location, with access to the global transit net, to make it work- and then only marginally because of competition. A large class of upper middle class people, trading cash down, for products and services up, usually works far better at generating wealth and evening off income inequality. Plus, conservatives need to understand that many people who like like freeloader or delinquents, require mentoring and a much-needed boost of morale and confidence, to overcome their personal inertia and move into productive employment.

        One of the things that Jonathan Haidt has observed is that it’s only a relatively small percentage of the student population that studies the evil and insidious doctrine of intersectional feminism, it’s actually social media. I have no problem with the idea that some groups are oppressed by circumstance, crime, relative inequality, poor resourcing of schools, and most of all, relative poverty. But to suggest that others are oppressors, when 99% of any group or genders population possess only the power to govern their own lives, and then only in a limited sense, the very idea becomes monstrous. The only real power most citizens possess is the right to vote.

        And when one considers that some of most harmful, but often well-intentioned, policies have come from the Democratic party, it is clear why many people vote for the other guys. It was Lyndon Johnson, after all, who instituted the War on Poverty, and created structural disincentives to work and fatherhood. It was in responding to Community Leaders, that Bill Clinton ratcheted up the War on Drugs, perverted the criminal justice system, and further institutionalised mass incarceration as a response to the mass criminalisation caused by the evil triad of inequality, fatherlessness and child-grooming criminal gangs. It was Clinton, followed by Bush, who caused the 2008 financial crash, by pre-promising the banking sector a bail out, in order to extend mortgages to people who couldn’t afford the repayments and stimulate the economy by boosting US home ownership- not realising that government should be really, really careful in the licenses they grant to the finance sector.

        And, of course, it’s mainly in the Democratic strongholds that all of these structural disparities occur. They are the ones who pay lip-service to the deeply flawed methodologies of the progressive educational establishment (who see teaching as an art to be experimented with wishful thinking, rather than a science, which can use the latest developments in cognitive science on the way we learn to re-calibrate education), who prevent principals from training their staff to be better teachers and systemically block access to the Charter schools that so many African American parents so desperately want. You have to remember that there are traditionally only two ways out of the underclass- education or join the military- and Democrats don’t seem to like either, or at least in the latter case they like teaching bureaucracies more. They are also the ones who run cities poorly, raise taxes on the rich who move away (NY has lost $2.3 billion in annual revenue, through higher taxes) and create conditions of bureaucratic rent-seeking that drain public coffers (I recently saw an article by Tim Pool, in which $300K to paint over a mural, was the least expensive option, because of the environmental impact study).

        Most conservatives, and centrists like myself actually like liberals. Most of my friends are liberal- they usually have noble intentions, coupled with a good deal of naivety about the way the world really works. But liberals on the left need to stop calling people names, just as people on the right need to stop ranting about SJW’s and call out the bullshit ideas that they have been fed on. I think I first realised that the world had fundamentally changed when Dianna died. Now I had every sympathy with the family, but perfect strangers getting completely over-emotional and sentimental, about someone they never met- come on- and to have comedy crowds verbally castigating comics for bad taste jokes… sounds familiar. After 9/11 a marine embassy guard was reported to have quipped that ‘things must be serious, because the Brits aren’t cracking jokes about it’.

        Something needs to happen for people to recognise each others common humanity, otherwise the miracle (other than climate change) America and the West has brought to the world through the modus of enlightenment technologies, sciences and philosophies will be over, and the many countries that are only now exponentially growing their economies through the trade of labour for money, will slip back down into gut-wrenching absolute poverty they survived in before, as they lose the markets that are making them wealthier.

    • Just repeat this mantra over and over: “Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, shot President Kennedy from the Texas Schoolbook Depository.” The fallacy of Appeal to Authority is the rich soil upon which Technocracy flourishes. Brave New World, indeed. Sure, most of us have never and never will see Bigfoot….or have been in an aircraft at height and can see the curvature. But the renascence of myth in a society which has been marinated in the juices of atheistic materialist scientism for nearly a century is hardly to be wondered at. The increasing centralization of all authority and political power, abetted by something which calls itself ‘market capitalism’ but has far more in common with the late 70s Soviet Union than 19th century England is provoking a reaction on a myriad of levels. Critical Theory, married to ‘market forces’ and weaponized by modern academia has created a hall of mirrors the West may never escape.

  9. This essay seems like an extended rebuttal to a straw man. Perhaps there are some who argue that free speech means that reason will prevail, but that is actually not the reason I and many others defend it. And before I go on, as a Jew, I support the publication of Mean Kampf as opposed to repression and censorship. Like Mel Brooks, I don’t believe there are any words at all that should be censored or not spoken. Speech is not violence. Violence is violence.

    The reason I support free speech is not out of a naive faith that reason and right thinking (whatever that means) will prevail -only someone very young or very cloistered would believe that – but because the alternative is for some stronger agency to prevent the speech. That would be either government or an oligarchic or religious or ideological tyranny. Logically, in order to prevent the people from speaking, a more powerful agency must exert its will on the people. Since that cannot be with their consent – the people do not willingly give up their power – it must be via force, threat, and other forms of coercion. Usually the threat is prison or death — this is typical of the government and religious institutions. Social media has enabled another club to wield–shame, bullying, de-platforming, threats of violence, actual violence via the mob, and threat of reputation and career loss. This club is the favorite of the far left (and i use this term understanding it’s a short hand; I hope people know what I mean). It’s also the favorite of oligarchic corporations who don’t like to get their hands too dirty because they also like to make money, eg Twitter, You Tube and so on.

    Free speech is essential in a just vital society because there is no just vital alternative. That’s all.

    • Ray Andrews says


      Well said. It is not that the best idea is always going to triumph, it is that absent FOS the best idea doesn’t stand a chance. Absent FOS folks will never get to exercise their intellectual muscles to the point where they have any idea how to evaluate the merits of an idea even if they had the chance. The nanny state creates the environment where it really is necessary — first it makes you helpless, then it points out that you are helpless and thus need the nanny state. Big Sister both ensures our good outcomes, and ensures that we won’t have to do any thinking, she’s already done it for us.

  10. Ray Andrews says

    “no reputable scientific journal should give a platform to young Earth creationists”

    That’s a shame. If I were a science teacher and I could find a YEC to come and speak to my kids I’d surely invite her on condition that she stay and answer all questions. If you think you are right then demonstrate that you can refute the other view. As Mill so perfectly said, if you know only your own side of a issue you know little of that.

    Besides, one does not have to be right to have something useful to say. I follow the ID movement and the challenges it has raised against orthodox Darwinism have been stimulative of better thinking on the part of the latter and that is true even if (if) the challenges themselves end up well refuted.

    Absent a flat Earther, when I do astronomy down at the pier and folks wander over, I take the part myself and ask folks to refute me. It is hugely educational.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      I disagree. By giving voice to stupid theories you’re giving them credibility. The results of this are evident when legitimate authorities are paired with nutjobs on talk-shows to create the appearance of “balance.”

      And why would a science journal indulge in creationism of any sort? Sort of defeats the point of having a science journal, doesn’t it?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Nakatomi Plaza

        ” By giving voice to stupid theories you’re giving them credibility.”

        Not necessarily. When I put on my Flat Earth hat, I am asking people to refute me, and if they can’t, I show them how.

        “And why would a science journal indulge in creationism of any sort?”

        Because they might have useful points to make even if their overall thesis is not popular. Another good reason is because their thesis remains a valid contender. We really have no proof how life got here, or the universe for that matter. Materialists like to believe the matter is settled, but it isn’t.

        • Scott M says

          Exactly. I hold to the viewpoint that scientists should always entertain new evidence (not old evidence repackaged, but genuinely new evidence). To be otherwise would be dogmatic.

        • Geary Johansen says

          @ Ray

          One of my old ‘A’ level teachers always used to say that it’s always interesting when a tried and tested science experiment doesn’t work. Because it’s in the process of retracing the process to see what might have gone wrong that you learn a great deal more. Plus, the students tend to remember it more, and get to see the scientific method at work, firsthand.

      • DiamondLil says

        NP. I would argue that by SILENCING voices, you give them glamour in the original sense of the word. Silenced voices can claimed to have been silenced because an established power is “afraid” of them. Journalists do not fail by giving a platform to “nut jobs” but by not challenging their ideas clearly and with objective facts, having first done their homework before going on air.

        • Ray Andrews says


          Exactly. Holocaust denier? Please, let’s hear your case. We’re not shutting you up, we WANT you to be your own caricature. Please do make a fool of yourself. Climate change denier? Please, convince me that NASA is part of a global commie conspiracy to undermine America. Please do. I’m listening. Flat Earth? I do my best to sound convincing but I keep breaking out in a smile. A genuine believer would be a welcome target.

      • Scott M says

        I disagree. You’re merely giving them their right of free speech. What you’re actually doing is exposing them to the best disinfectant…sunlight.

      • Kencathedrus says

        @NP: Once upon a time giving women voting rights was seen as a stupid theory. What is considered ‘stupid’ or not depends on society’s Overton window.

      • Geofiz says


        The year is 240 B.C. You have all the tools that any scientist had at that time. Prove that the earth is round and calculate its circumference within a 15% error? No cheating. The Internet is off limits

        Hint: This was actually done in 240 B.C.

        Multiple professors have “argued” that the earth is flat and challenged their students to prove them wrong without resorting to modern technology. It is a fun problem that teaches them how to to think. The answers you get are commonly quite good and well thought out.

        One of the seminal papers in plate tectonics was published in 1962 in Saturday Review because no journal would touch it. Eight years later, plate tectonics was the hottest topic in geology. One of the first papers published in a reputable journal regarding plate tectonics (1966) was entitled “An Outrageous Hypothesis”

        Although I agree with you regarding Creationism, anti Vaxers etc. I think we need to be very careful as scientists when deciding any discipline is “settled science”. For example, the empirical data supporting AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) are overwhelming but there are still things we do not understand. Skeptics provide a valuable role in stimulating research in those areas.

        • Geofiz says

          With further thought, I have to defend Nakatomi on this one. A professor has a limited amount of time to get through a course curriculum. You cannot give equal time to all ideas. For example when I taught historical geology, I taught that the earth was 4.5 billion years old. I did not teach creationism. I was occasionally questioned on this by student and always told them the same thing. You are probably being taught that in church and that is OK. But this is a course about geology and in geology the idea that the earth is billions of years old is well accepted. You personally do not have to accept this but you will have to know it for the test.

          There is a clear dividing line between having and open mind towards new paradigms and giving all ideas equal weight. Stephanie notes that if someone found a major problem with radioactive dating, then the idea of a younger earth could be considered. However, no one has found that problem. On the contrary we have developed more and better techniques for accurately dating geologic interval and these new techniques support the old ones.

          Paradigms shift when new data is brought forth that make us question older ideas. J. Harlan Bretz’s explanation of the scablands, originally based on his detailed field work, was conclusively documented by airphotos. Plate tectonics had is genesis in the development of towed magnetometers to detect German submarines. Along the way they discovered symmetrical “stripes” of normal and reversed magnetic polarity parallel to the mid-Atlantic trench.

          However, in the absence of that data, giving equal to time to such ideas as creationism, anti-vaxing, etc., limits the time available to teach science. Clearly what to teach and what not to teach is a judgment call. But in many cases (ex. gender studies) science is explicitly NOT being taught. Theories not based on data do not belong in a science course. For example the data regarding sexual dimorphism in human brains, along with all other animals, is overwhelming. Teaching that sex is cultural has no place in a science course. The same is true for the heritability of intelligence. There are no new data that contradict these ideas. On the contrary the data to support them continues to increase.

          Nakatomi is correct, As conservatives we should be very concerned with the “non-science” being taught at many universities.

    • Stephanie says

      On that point, I would be disappointed if a scientific journal dismissed young Earth creationists out of hand. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but if someone found a problem with radiometric dating that meant our dates should be much younger than we currently have them, that should be treated with the same level of scrutiny appropriate to the journal, and published if it passes. We should have no ideas that are autimautomati out of bounds.

      • Ray Andrews says


        Right. Data is data. To dismiss it out of hand because you don’t like the metaphysics of the presenter of the data is anti-science. Speaking of ages, as an amateur astronomer I know the dirty little secret that our entire cosmology rests on a chain of inferences that is very far from unshakable. If light ‘ages’ as it travels, as some suggest (this having to do with it’s interactions with vacuum energy) then the Hubble Constant could be rubbish and the universe could be no where near as big as we think it is. Not saying I believe this, but some heretics do.

        • Rev. Wazoo! says

          Ray Andrews, Stephanie

          Your points combine well: all data should be examined even if that data is accompanied by a foolish or hugely unlikely hypothesis and practice evaluating both is essential for determining what might be credible.

          “Don’t believe everything you read” is a better dictum than “It was published so it must be true.”

          • TarsTarkas says

            It took decades for the geologic community to rehabilitate J Harlan Bretz for his insane theory regarding the origin of the scablands of eastern Washington and Oregon. And some of his vicious opponents died unconvinced and unrepentant. Fortunately he was still alive and sentient to accept the apology and award.

          • Ray Andrews says


            “rehabilitate J Harlan Bretz for his insane theory regarding the origin of the scablands of eastern Washington and Oregon”

            Thanks for a superb example and one that more people should know about. This within living memory. We like to think that the persecution of heretics is long in the past, but it is still very much with us. We like to think that, yes, science made mistakes in the past, but we’ve got it all sorted out now. If only. Monkeys with cellphones are still just monkeys.

          • Geofiz says


            Living memory???

            Bretz did his work in the 1920’s Just how old are you (Grin)

    • You know, I used to think that creationists had no place at the “big boys table” of scientific discussion, but a recent body of thought started to challenge that belief. The emergence of “simulationism” as a third contender to the origin debate.

      What I’m thinking is this: What if the creationists and the simulationists are unknowingly chasing the same goal? Creationists are trying to find the God who created everything, the simulationists are trying to find the sysadmin that created everything… what’s the difference, if you really think about it? Even if you throw astrophysicists into the mix, they’re just trying to find the chemical reaction that created everything.

      Different means, but the same end goals. All of these people should be working with each other, not against one another. Sure, they all believe very different things, but is that a good reason for why they shouldn’t get along? I think not. It’ll be difficult, but achievable, if everyone can respect one another’s desire to find an answer to a question that’s been asked since our species has been smart enough to ask it.

      I think the only way conflict could arise in such an environment is the moment any of them start talking as if they already have the answers, already know everything that is to be known, and begin trying to “convince” everyone else around them. At that point, why the hell are you even working in research if you’re such a know-it-all? Just to troll everyone else?

      • Ray Andrews says


        Interesting thoughts. But there are at least half a dozen major contenders. My favorite is non specific ID, namely the hypothesis that life was engineered, but without any conclusions drawn as to the engineer (since we have close to zero real evidence as to that), and that, as we see, life has evolved notwithstanding that it did not create itself.

  11. Gordon the Gopher says

    Good article and makes some good points but still shows a bias. The author only talks about fascism and inverted thinking in relation to the far right and RT (correctly imo), no mention is made of the left.

    Read the Guardian, Huff Po, Verge or listen to the populist politicians in the Democrats or Labour and tell me you don’t see the same bias and tactics that is in Russia Today. The same inverted thinking.

    We’re living in dangerous times. Both sides can point to bias and hate in the other side of the aisle but refuse to reflect on their own camp.

    • Lightning Rose says

      We’re “living in dangerous times” except for the fact that only about 5% of any population even listen to, let alone believe, the codswallop coming from the Leftist elite. They have their lives to live and bills to pay, after all. And the song is unappealing.

  12. Sean Leith says

    Mohamed Ali – what an unfortunate name.

  13. Albigensian says

    Free speech does not have to be perfect; it just has to be better than other available alternatives.

    Free speech cannot guarantee that the best ideas will win, or that crackpottery will lose, in any battle of ideas: it can only guarantee that government won’t punish you for expressing “bad” ideas.

    Some speech may very well be truly “bad,” but, who would you trust to make the distinction? And even if you could find such a person, what of that person’s successor?

    The essential and unsolvable problem with alternatives to free speech is the same problem that arises with benevolent dictatorship. A benevolent dictatorship may well be the best possible type of government, but, not only can no one guarantee that it will remain benevolent, one can pretty much guarantee that it won’t.

    And so, too, with those responsible for policing speech: they may initially be wise and benevolent (although that’s unlikely), but, they and their successors can pretty much be guaranteed to be stupid and vicious.

  14. I do not like Mr. Stanley’s arguments. In fact they are dangerous. I propose burning all copies of his book so his insipid ideas do not spread.

    Oh, what that Mr. Stanley, you weren’t saying your ideas are bad you’re saying mine are? Well isn’t that convenient. FUCK YOU and your “credentialed” belief that you know better what ideas should be spoken and which should not. You are a tool of Totalitarians, you insipid moron!!!!

  15. Farris says

    If a scientific journal or any journal, including Quillette refuses or rejects a submission, that submission has not been censored. If the government precludes Quillette from publishing a submission, then censorship is a foot. Conflating censorship with editing is a frequent error seen in many recent free speech articles. Freedom of expression doesn’t include a right to be published.
    Should Quillette elect to delete this response, no freedom has been denied or even implicated. If such were the case hundreds of rejection (censorship) letters would be a violation of civil rights on a daily basis.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Well said Farris.
      The whole point is that private people and institutions have the right to ignore or edit . We also have the right to suggest to them that they should not exercise the right to edit. We often use the ”free speech” argument here. But what we mean is that we think that all arguments should be heard and that it is a benefit to society if institutions and private people give as many views as possible an airing.
      In other words , in the private sphere ”free speech” means givng space to as many points of view as possible.

    • Rev. Wazoo! says


      Valid points but they don’t address the elephant in the room: de facto monopoly public platforms pretending not to be publishers to avoid the legal responsibilities of same whilst exercising editorial control, hence being in fact publishers.

      This is the heart of the free speech debate today but was danced around in the article: Are YouTube, twitter etc platforms/electronic bulliten boards or are they publications with the rights and responsibilities of editorial curation?

      They’re currently eating the lunch of publishers as they legally aren’t but have begun to exercise the editorial powers they deny legally. The knitting Websitee Ravelry has just deemed all things pro-Trump to be “white supremacist” hence “hate speech” hence banned.

      They publish their website on platforms and are using their editorial discretion but if their Web host or YouTube took down their videos as promoting political hate speech then YouTube and the Web host would cease being platforms and become publishers.

      • Farris says


        Regarding your comments about social media platforms, is the solution to require them to publish or break up monopolies? I would argue for the latter over compelled speech.

        • Ray Andrews says

          Farris, Peter, Reverend:

          The first thing is to admit that this is a real issue. Peter’s view is doctrinal but I would say outdated. Reverend’s points carry weight. The health of society should be the dominant good IMHO and it is past time to give this issue some deep thinking. Compelled speech is surely the least best option. Myself I’d start breaking up the de facto monopolies, there is existing law for that.

          • What does “breaking up a monopoly” actually accomplish? All I’ve ever seen that do is create subsidiaries, not actual competition, considering that the broken-up subsidiaries are always still controlled and wholly-owned by the same parent company.

            Whether done voluntarily (Alphabet/Google) or by force (Microsoft/MSN), I’ve never seen a reduction in political power or influence as a result of a break-up. If anything, it seems to make the separate pieces even stronger, more focused and more powerful. Probably has something to do with being able to stuff money from one company into another to play around with those numbers regarding company value, gains and losses, etc. I know, that’s illegal, but that’s never stopped anyone.

            I read a lot about people arguing for monopolies to be broken up, but nobody ever seems to go into detail as to what this would accomplish and why it would supposedly produce a desirable outcome. If any of you could fill that void and explain how this is supposed to work, you’d be amongst the first to do so, at least by my observation.

          • Ray Andrews says


            “What does “breaking up a monopoly” actually accomplish?”

            Is it as bad as that? Legislators have been doing this for over a hundred years and they seem to think there have been results. As you say, maybe not perfect results, but not nothing either. My own view is that it would be even better is to take active measures to stimulate competition. I’d basically tax monopolies very heavily but give breaks to startups.

  16. Copy Editors Unite says

    Censorship is afoot, not a foot (nor hand or leg).

    • X. Citoyen says

      Truth may not win out in the marketplace of ideas, but the internet shows that standard English will.

    • Farris says

      @ C. Editors:
      Oops. Thanks for the lesson. No excuse

        • Farris says


          Probably not but I have to hand it to you. You made me laugh.

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ Ray

      I think there is ample evidence that Tech Giants as a monopoly are going to break themselves up. Facebook is experiencing a downturn in the growth of total users, as many younger people are seriously considering deleting their profiles over concerns about data privacy. Jordan Peterson is opening up Thinkspot, a new free speech platform. And a huge number of small content creators on YouTube are spitting mad over demonetisation and what appears to be a move towards corporatisation. To cap it all, there are a lot of issues which, when I type into Google the political bias of the curation is blatant- on YouTube if you type in Bjorn Lomborg or Eva Moskowitz you have to get the spelling precise, or only spell it partially to get coverage on them at all, and researching trans desistance (as an example), you used to get nothing, and now only get negative articles- even though it is accepted science, albeit a contentious one (given the humane consideration of the need to ‘pass’).

      So I think there is a fair chance they will implode all by themselves, given that their every act can be seen in a negative light by someone, and people are becoming more aware of, and more suspicious of, their intentions. I often wonder whether it is now time for the British Library Service, working in combination with the UK’s reasonably-sized population of programmers and hackers, to accomplish the dream of Aaron Swartz in providing our huge historical knowledge base to the world, at a cost that higher institutions of learning in the developing world could easily afford. Rather than charging outrageous fees to a few thousand purchasers of knowledge, we could charge small fees to the tens of thousands, tiny fees to the hundreds of thousands, and pennies to the millions. This would easily exceed the current $5 billion earned through publishing houses in the UK. Not exactly free I grant you, but providing knowledge as cheaply and ubiquitously as McDonalds.

      What nobody talks about though, is how the data collected by the Tech Giants is used. That should be of far greater concern to the average citizen, rather than data privacy. I don’t care whether I get emails on cheap flights to Sorrento or the I-Pace. I want Amazon to suggest films, books and Hush Puppies shoes. But for many people, could all this data collected exclude them from medical insurance abroad, impact the interest rates on their loans or future mortgages and or used to exclude them from possible job opportunities. Here’s a link to a talk by Frank Abagnale the guy in ‘Catch Me If You Can’

      A point that he makes in the talk is that the best thing a concerned father (or mother) can do for their kid when they go off to university, is to get them a credit (not debit) card, and pay off the balance, religiously. This is because many employers, especially at the high end of the jobs market, check credit rating for prospective job applicants. If they’ve done this for years, what on earth are they doing with the data that is collected now?

  17. Ormond Otvos says

    An unregulated “Marketplace of ideas” will work about as well as an unregulated marketplace of commodities, for parallel reasons.
    The “Who regulates the regulators” straw man always pops up in these discussions, like the half-life of nucleotides in a discussion of nuclear electricity generation.
    You’d think someone would have noticed that Artificial Intelligence will be doing it for us in a while, at about the same time AI will be driving our cars to reduce the parallel carnage in our ideas and our driving.
    We can’t go on like this. Trump’s flirting with nuclear war due to a marketplace of ideas full of expired milk…

    • neoteny says

      The “Who regulates the regulators” straw man

      The Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? straw man has a fairly honorable two millennia long history.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Methinks you need to check the meaning of the straw man fallacy, because without a full understanding you are indeed guilty of constructing a straw man argument yourself.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Peter from Oz

        Just so. There is no straw man there. The problem of guarding the guards is eternal and very real.

    • Stephanie says

      You’d think we’d notice that AIs have human programmers.

      • Photondancer says

        No they don’t. Not any more. You’re 20 years behind the times. Nobody has any idea how a neural net reaches its conclusions which means we cannot predict what conclusion it will reach in any given scenario. There have already been well publicised unexpected results.

        Ormond is right; this won’t stop people handing over the judgement to AI anyway.

        • Rev. Wazoo! says

          Photondancer, Stephanie

          True but just like cross-breeding plant varieties, the unknowable results are then chosen for the traits they exhibit. Programmers try out educated guesses as tweaks to the AI and see what comes out of the black box, ditch the ones they don’t like and keep what they do like.

          Pretending no human participation in this is absurd at best and likely outright duplicitous. “we didn’t do it; it’s just what the algorithm spat out! And who changed the AI, tested the results till it gave what you wanted then implemented it?

          A better term than AI is AD, Automated Decider.

        • Ray Andrews says


          Which is exactly how and why Equitron will solve all our Identity issues. Equitron will be immune to demands by both established and by up and coming Victims that they be moved higher up on the intersectional totem pole. Equitron will not be reprogrammable even if we wanted to and its assignments will be beyond question.

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ Ormond

      Actually, commodity markets work quite well now that many fresh goods can be stored for up to a year and staples like rice can be stored for at least seven years. This allows governments, farmers and intermediary buyers to level off peaks and troughs in commodity prices, by only releasing their goods into the market when prices are right- and this in turn, significantly reduces market vulnerability to multi-billion dollar funds intent on inserting themselves as middlemen and squeezing prices at both ends.

      So commodities are working much better than they once did, thanks to innovation. This has nothing to do with the subject though. 🙂

  18. Pingback: What Defenders and Critics Get Wrong about the ‘Marketplace of Ideas’ | The American Tory

  19. David of Kirkland says

    Evolution is the marketplace of biological progress. To say it’s no good because it creates monsters, diseased critters, dead end branches, or even humans that can destroy so much other of nature is absurd. There is no correct idea, correct speech, or correct products/services in the marketplace, at least outside of some knowledge gained through scientific analysis (which shows “correct” but not necessarily “good” for a human).
    A free society is only as good as its people. To pretend it could be better by limiting free thought and speech is nonsense, proven by all societies that impose a so-called better life on their minions.
    Nothing in life can be shown to be a natural good, because things we like, like long life and wealth and good food are likely causes of sorts of ills for others, just as good religious people somehow manage to commit evil upon others. Progress itself isn’t even a provable good, as shown today by issues with plastics, pollution, climate change, nuclear war, drone warfare, antibiotic resistance, deforestation, loss of habitats and biodiversity, obesity…
    In a free society, you can operate a communist/socialist community. You can live in place with limited ideas and limited acceptable speech. You can live as a prude or a nudist. You can live a life based on science and reason, or mystical thoughts and magic potions. You can be multicultural or tribal. As some people think any of those are “best,” the idea that a central planning tyrant has the actual best way to live is absurd. Even ending segregation had downsides, especially for black-owned businesses.

    • Hutch says

      I agree with you wholeheartedly.

      People become so fixated on their personal and sometimes shared perception of good and evil that they forget everything they do, see, feel or think is tied to their own vested interests.

      In the end everything appears to be a fight for survival of an idea or organism. The classification of a “good” or “evil” winner is wholly dependent on the observers perception (relative to the observer itself.)

      The bar for censorship (on a governmental scale requiring legislated penalties) should be set very high.

      The lower the bar, the more you constrict certain ideas (and by extension the vested interests of other people) and in turn the status quo remains the same.

      There is no absolute consensus on what is good for every person.

      radical ideas need a relatively open “marketplace” to succeed. The utility of the idea again depends wholly on the observers perception of it relative to his or her interests.

  20. ga gamba says

    He is primarily concerned about conspiracy theories, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which serve to spread fascistic worldviews.

    The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was published in 1903. Since the end of WWII, have fascistic worldviews taken hold and flourished? Indeed not, unless we use the clown world definition of fascism of being things feminists, socialists, and the people of the rainbow dislike because these are speed bumps to their authoritarianism and forces them to explain themselves (deemed by the put upon “unpaid labour”).

    • C Young says

      Stanley is presenting a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theorists. They secretly control events behind the scenes. Incredibly stupid.

  21. Philip says

    “no reputable scientific journal should give a platform to young Earth creationists”

    Everyone should have the right to voice their sincerly held opinions, even flat earthers. No one should be excluded. No one is elite enough to have that authority. Only rational debate the power to reject arguments.

    Everyone should have their ideas tested and have the right to present the evidence they have and defend them as best they can. If we deny others that right we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn something we don’t know, and remove our own opportunity to improve.

    • Photondancer says

      Certainly but that doesn’t oblige scientific journals to publish non scientific articles. The creationists have ample opportunity to put forth their notions via books, websites, their schools and museums etc.

  22. Respek Wahmen says

    Equality requires tyranny and tyranny requires censorship. The conversation should be about whether we want tyranny. The regressives want equality and so too tyranny. That rhetoric can include pathos is obvious, not an insight, and not worth writing an article about. What would be worth noting is the explicit rejection of objective truth and therefore any basis with which to judge an opinion or idea as bad, good or “the best” in the first place.

    “free speech is bullshit because the best ideas don’t always win, not least because we’ve destroyed reason, but a lot of us are wahmen and don’t even understand reason, and it’s all about power anyway, so we must control it through propaganda and censorship,” is the argument.

    Repeal the 19th. kappa.

  23. Klaus C. says

    Decent article.

    “An array of institutions and forums, each with their own standards, some more restrictive than others, is a consequence of intellectual freedom, not a barrier to it.”

    This needs to be emphasised. Too often the call for “open debate” includes supposed debates that have actually been settled, as far as science and reason are concerned.

    When creationists lobbied for science classes to “teach the controversy”, biologists quite rightly replied: “Creationism is not science. There is no controversy to teach.”

    It may well be true that in certain university departments, such as various human sciences, there is a need for higher standards than currently prevail. But higher standards should result in a more rigorous filtering out of ideological junk, not the pumping in of more ideological junk from “the other side of the debate”.

    • Photondancer says

      Well said. Free speech does not mean that there’s been no progress whatsoever in knowledge in the last 2000 years.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Klaus C.

      “supposed debates that have actually been settled, as far as science and reason are concerned”

      But many debates that have been pronounced to have been settled have turned out not to be, and the pronouncers are often partisans of an established orthodoxy that is trying to protect itself from challenge.

      “Creationism is not science. There is no controversy to teach.”

      But there is very much a controversy and the fact that the creationists are asking for the right to make their case is ipso facto demonstration of just that. True, if they are correct then the subject of origins must be transferred, so to speak, out of natural science since it will have turned out to be the case that natural science is not the explanation for life. However since that would be the fact of the matter, few should object to the transfer. It would be silly to have a science of origins when we know that science does not have the explanation in the same way that we have no science of the origin of the Mona Lisa since that painting did not arise through natural processes but was in fact produced through creative effort.

      • Klaus C. says


        “But there is very much a controversy and the fact that the creationists are asking for the right to make their case is ipso facto demonstration of just that.”

        You do realise that creationists are not scientists, right? The “controversy” exists in their religious minds, it has nothing to do with the science of biology.

        When the scientists say “there is no controversy” they mean that creationism vs evolution is not a scientific controversy. All biologists accept evolution and this has been the case for a very long time. Creationism is scientifically meaningless – it’s about magic and miracles, not the real world studied by science.

        There is certainly a conflict between science and religion, but that’s a social conflict. Scientists quite rightly demand that science, not religion, be the arbiter of what is scientifically sound and meaningful.

        The only reason the religionists try to challenge them is because they realise that science is accepted by society as a legitimate intellectual authority, while religion is not.

        • Ray Andrews says

          Klaus C.

          “You do realise that creationists are not scientists, right?”

          I don’t realize it because it’s not true. Many creationists are not scientists, but many are. Lists are available.

          “All biologists accept evolution and this has been the case for a very long time. ”

          I’d agree that essentially all biologists accept that evolution (variation and selection) happens, but by no means all of them accept that life arose spontaneously. Blanket statements like that are about as useful as some despot saying that he won the last election 101%. Have you read Behe? Very approachable books. Dr. B is of course a professor of biochemistry.

          Creationism is scientifically meaningless – it’s about magic and miracles, not the real world studied by science.

          Let’s make a comparison: I say that the Diesel engine was first designed and built by Herr Doktor Rudolf Diesel. Am I a creationist? Is my claim about magic and miracles? Is it unscientific? Or is my claim simply the facts of the matter? False dichotomy! Now, we must be clear: had their been a naturalistic theory for the existence of the Diesel engine — has someone postulated that the Diesel engine was produced entirely by random physical and chemical processes — my claim would essentially debunk the ‘science’ of the spontaneous development of the Diesel engine and in that very rigorous sense, my claim would be ‘not science’ but only because there IS no true science of the evolution of Diesel engines — it was never a science to begin with. And in any event my claim would be true. I also disbelieve and debunk the ‘science’ of phrenology because it does not exist either.

          Should we disbar truth because it is ‘not science’? I say that the Diesel engine was intelligently designed and I am correct. I also say that the essential chemistry of life was designed, and, baring further discoveries, that remains a perfectly valid hypothesis tho not proven. The true scientist will be open to the evidence on this. There is no reason whatsoever to presuppose that life must have arisen spontaneously, maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. There’s considerable argument to be made both ways.

          We do not, in point of fact, know the answer. But we do know that speculations on the spontaneous generation of life violate every law of physics and chemistry and information theory and entropy … so there is that small problem. Abiogenesis is in fact anti-science in a very hard way because it ignores everything we know about chemistry.

          The True Believers on both sides will quake with rage at this heresy.

          • Klaus C. says

            Religion is primitive fantasy of zero scientific meaning. One can always find a tiny handful of “scientists” who prefer religious fantasy to science, but only religious believers take them seriously.

            “I also say that the essential chemistry of life was designed”

            Enjoy your fantasies. Nothing I can say will entice you to abandon them, so I won’t waste my time 🙂

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Klaus C.

            “Nothing I can say will entice you to abandon them, so I won’t waste my time”

            Actually evidence would entice me. Science is about demonstrating the validity of theories. Just-so stories are not sufficient. But yes, it is better that we don’t waste time. The fundamentalists on both sides are equally immovable.

  24. C Young says

    He believes conspiracists and fascists regularly employ non-descriptive speech and thereby subvert the marketplace of ideas. Stanley goes on to condemn channels like Russia Today ( which routinely smudge the difference between the two sorts of speech by hosting conspiracy theorists and treating them as though they were scientists.

    So there is a conspiracy to subvert rationality with conspiracy theories?

    We have to buy into the ‘good’ conspiracy theory – Russia controls the minds of voters, who now can’t be trusted – so we can put down the bad conspiracy theories. Sounds like an argument made by a child.

    The left has had a sad tendency to adopt conspiracy theories ever since the idea of ‘false consciousness’ entered the Marxian worldview.

  25. Kauf Buch says

    ““Attempting to counter such rhetoric with reason is akin to using a pamphlet against a pistol.” Although Stanley never explicitly advocates censorship, the implications of his argument are clear.” – the author

    They’re clealy not clear to Li’l Mo, the author.

    President Trump exemplifies what is advocated: think “fight fire with fire.”
    “Non-descriptive speech” or, as I prefer to call it, emotional pleading, is best fought with more of the samealong with “descriptive speech”, sometimes recognized as Sgt. Friday’s line, “just the facts, ma’am” (and NO, he’s not speaking to that mentally ill tranny in the store).

    Countering fascism/Leftist totalitarianism is not an either/or proposition in this case.

  26. Free speech is not the threat, we’ve had it for a couple of hundred years. Nazi Germany won’t happen again. The threat is censorship. When you stop people from thinking and debating their thoughts civilly we will be doomed.

  27. Don Collins says

    Free speech is never about popular speech and the definitions are never agreed upon until the argument is had. How then are you to come to a definition of truth without one side being wrong in the way the define truth?

    Much simpler to let the sides speak and be mocked if need be, or listened to, as the masses define what truth is, sometimes at the end of a weapon. That is the history of truth and history books are full of ” truths”

    Hitler raised the masses inferring that western capitalism and those rich classes made up of an evil race was the problem. The current left uses the same logic, yet educated intellectuals tell us how woke the modern left is, and they believe they define truth as it is their truth.

    If given the power, and they do have a reasonable amount of it, who is it they censor and who’ truth is promoted?

    But due to free speech, and the dumb speech that must come with it, this notion is soundly mocked by those of us that see the nazis as no different than todays leftist, just more color, but color was never the issue with Hitler, it was idealism and color was but a small part, as he had no problem killing many white folks

  28. MRM Berlin says

    “He believes conspiracists and fascists regularly employ non-descriptive speech and thereby subvert the marketplace of ideas.”
    I disagree – it is not only conspiracists and fascists. We all do it, as we regularly want to convey not only information, but also emotion as a catalyst. Therefore the theory of the marketplace of ideas is flawed to start with.

  29. Francis G. Rushford says

    The fact that in societies where Free Speech has a history, such conspiracies as the Elders of Zion are rejected and ridiculed. Stanley is just another authoritarian.

  30. Scott M says

    “For instance, no reputable scientific journal should give a platform to young Earth creationists, nor should university history departments be agnostic about whether the Holocaust is a hoax.”

    Shouldn’t a scientist be “agnostic” (not sure if that’s the proper use of that word, though the meaning is clear in context) about everything? Take the young Earth advocate. I do not, for a second, believe that the Earth is 6000 years old, nor do I think compelling evidence will ever be provided that can prove that it is, but I’m willing to listen to someone tell me about some new evidence. Granted, that’s an extreme example. I merely suggesting that scientist should be open to new evidence. That doesn’t mean a geologist has to endure the SAME arguments, no matter how they are repackaged. I’m referring to being open to completely new evidence. To be otherwise would be dogmatic, wouldn’t it?

  31. Michael Lucks says

    I’m curious to know if Stanley had equal emphasis on the non-descriptive speech of the left (?) Somewhat of a test of relevance whether or not his thesis is sound.

  32. Howdy says

    Outside of the written Word of God there is absolutely no basis for the idea of truth.
    God’s Word is truth; yet most deny it.
    Evolved chemicals with meaningless, accidental existence have no basis for claiming anything as truth.
    Truth is personal feelings about perceived reality, neither of which (feelings or reality) can be trusted in an existence outside of existence by God our Creator.

  33. Duck Rupert says

    Free speech isn’t an infallible truth machine, therefore we should have certain persons restrict what people say and can hear.


    As Churchill said about Democracy, the best of a bunch of imperfect alternatives, so free speech.

  34. Euan MacIsaac says

    Every market has to have a boundary were the limits of fair trade are honoured.
    Ideas are a utility good that are most valuable when a fair price can be established by honest comparison.
    Daylight and a civilised public square enable a decent exchange.

  35. Kencathedrus says

    ‘He is primarily concerned about conspiracy theories, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which serve to spread fascistic worldviews. This type of speech, he concludes, cannot be effectively countered through a free exchange of ideas.’

    The Protocols of the Elders of Zion may or may not have been a conspiracy theory, but pretty much everything they predicted has taken place.

  36. WILLIAM DAIS says

    Isn’t it funny how the fascist ideas that need censoring are always the ones in opposition to the person’s beliefs who is recommending the censoring?

  37. Michael McIntosh says

    In 1644 John Milton’s Areopagitica preceded John Stuart Mill in advocating free speech, saying that true ideas will triumph over false.

  38. jummy says

    I’ve completely lost patience with liberals who try to appeal to communists’ better natures to reform their totalitarian ways by beating the dead horse of “fascism”. I have no use for it.

  39. Ian Alexander Robson says

    University of Toronto scholar Northrop Frye (1912-1991) outlines his idea of the “modes of language” in Words With Power (1990). Descriptive, rhetorical, dialectical, imaginative, kerygmatic. Throughout his work Frye analyzes propaganda and how it works. I am not sure if Stanley cites Frye for his groundwork in this area of language (or is even aware of Frye). Also, Critical Path by Frye (1971) is an excellent read for “open” vs. “closed” societies and how they form.

  40. Lightning Rose says

    I think we’re going to see, starting tonight (giggle!) EXACTLY which ideas The Marketplace is rejecting as too hard to sell. Here are my Top 5 picks for FUGGEDABOUDIT:

    (1) Reparations payments for long-dead ancestors’ socioeconomic norm of 175 years ago.
    (2) Universal validation of “gender” psychoses and sexual perversions.
    (3) Open borders and the devaluation of citizenship.
    (4) Universal basic income for those who “refuse to work.”
    (5) Bankruping the West for a New Age superstition that we can change the weather.

    Anybody want to start a pool? 😉 Personally, I think the Dems are throwing the election.

  41. Old man of Aran says

    Prof. Jason Stanleys book misses 2 core insights. Firstly restricting free speech means that the underlying conflict otherwise gets managed by extreme political action such as national socialism or totalitarian socilaism. So its not a choice between 2 optimal outcomes but rather the least worst trajectory. Secondly the long view of history suggests a focus on weeds, not forestry management. There were no second Schenectady marches after The Supremes allowed a protest march. Antifa remains a fringe group of angry white homosexual men with few supporters. The number of communists and national socialists continue to decline. Sunlight, as ever, is still the best form of disinfectant. Disinfectant does not kill all germs for all time. Markets likewise, are dynamic, not static, equilibriums.

  42. Stellan Erikson says

    The Holocaust is often held up as a subject that is beyond excavation. I was once told by a profoundly skeptical man that The Holocaust was a hoax…let’s do a thought experiment. If it were, how would that affect your world view. If something as quintessentially central to the modern conception of evil were in fact “other” than it has been described in very substantive ways…should you make a modern forensic, documentary and testimonial inquiry into that subject? Or should you, given its status as Western moral lodestone, summarily accept it as beyond question, as is mandated by the establishment, this gentlemen included?

    Now replace “Holocaust” with any other subject, and now answer the question.

    I thought that it would be easy work to disprove his hoax claim.

  43. Qua Brot says

    The distinction is basically what I read in a bathroom stall many years ago:

    Freedom is the ability to say 2+2=5
    Stupidity is believing it.

  44. Pingback: Six Links Worthy of Your Attention #470 - Six Pixels of Separation

  45. martti_s says

    I routinely check any relevant piece of news from Al-Jazeera, RT, and Breitbart as well as the MSM sources. There is a lot of things going on in the world that never show up in MSM. There are some things that never took place that show up in RT but also sometimes also the view of those under attack when MSM only shows the shiny drone. On YouTube you sometimes find live broadcasts of things going on that get zero attention in MSM but can explain things like the results of a vote.

    America is way too dominant in the culture of the Net.
    Most countries of the world never imported African slaves.
    The American hysteria about left-right or LGBT or abortion or immigration is very American.
    Unfortunately, by the force of the cyberspace, totally alien ideas get rooted in ‘innocent’ countries.
    Even creationism has landed to Europe!

    Many European activists act as if Trump was their president and the root of all evil, globally.
    This is American cultural imperialism, a reflection of how anti-Trumpism pervades in the MSM content. China has real destruction camps but I see nobody losing his sleep over Xi visiting various countries. Saudi Arabia assassinates political opposition and applies Sharia law to the letter –at least to those with no ties to the Royal Family.
    Of all the countries in the world, Saudi Arabia chairs the UN Women’s Rights Commission!

    It is easily forgotten how small the fraction of the world population actually can read and operate with abstract concepts. We here represent an elite who part of which could probably handle the full freedom of speech without witch hunts or lynchings. Clips from the US world of academics indicate that this part might not be very significant.

    As to the general public, the Chinese seem to have decided that they are nowhere near ready for such an amenity. Their priority is to keep the country stable, prosperous and Han. Their leaders actually remember the mountains of corpses that the Great Leap left behind. The young people of today remember the rare days when their parents had found eggs. They are two to three inches taller than the previous generation and they know why.

    America’s problem is overweight, frustration and boredom.
    Also, the violence of the culture and the bizarre choices of role models presented by the film industry work against rational choices towards a peaceful future.
    This country is the one showing all the rest the ways and the values by the sheer power of its industry.

    Marketplace of ideas is warped. Oligarchs own it and twist it according to their agendas.

  46. martti_s says

    Oops, all the edits were accidentally discarded. So sorry for the sloppy end result.

  47. thatsmysecretcap says

    Free speech isn’t nonnegotiable because it automatically leads to the truth. It’s nonnegotiable because as soon as you allow censorship or institutionalized restrictions, the worst possible people will crowd in to control the levers. Free speech is more important for preventing the rise of the worst among us than for the pursuit of some great new truth.

  48. If free speech doesn’t guarantee that truth will prevail, we know what happens when some group is empowered to censor speech. Such groups always turn out to be corrupt in some way or another, and either promote their own interests, or the interests of the ruling elite.

    People who don’t like free speech always envision people who think like them as the censors.

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