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Free Thought Live

Free Thought Live

Navigating the “current” moment in 2020 was incredibly tense.

Social-distancing kept us apart physically, and while we tried to connect with others online, hyper-partisanship, cancel culture and tribalism drove us, and continue to drive us, to be in constant opposition.

Echo-chambers and shouting matches are crowding out the important conversations we need to have.

Quillette wanted to change that. Their online live event series ‘Free Thought Live’, proudly supported by Think Inc., aimed to help us grapple with the current moment, while bringing an international community together to repair some of the wreckage of 2020.


These bold thinkers, unafraid to challenge the dogmas held by political tribes, were given a platform to speak at a time when fresh ideas have never been more necessary.


John McWhorter

While acknowledging that some aspects of modern social justice movements are vital and necessary, John McWhorter has likened some progressive activism to a new expression of ancient religious impulse – with its own versions of Original Sin, rituals, dogma, and even excommunication— often in the form of “cancel culture.”

As an associate professor of linguistics and comparative literature at Columbia University for over 25 years, and a popular writer penning pieces for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico and The New Yorker (just to name a few), John is well-versed in the dangers and pitfalls of radical social justice.

At a time when emotions are heightened and divisions seem intractable, his moderating voice was more valuable than ever.


Mike Shellenberger

For years climate alarmism has steered the conversation about environmental conservation, stoking fears of an impending apocalypse – but is this line of thinking driven by actual evidence?

Environmental activist Mike Shellenberger doesn’t believe so, and wants you to consider what’s best for us and the planet may NOT be the popular narrative.

Working as an environmental activist for over thirty years, he co-created the predecessor policy to today’s Green New Deal, helped save the last unprotected redwoods in California, and has led efforts to keep nuclear plants in operation as alternative clean energy sources.

Now his mission is to raise the awareness of the basic facts regarding energy and the environment.


Glenn Loury

The 2020 US presidential election was one of the most explosive in the nation’s history.

To understand the racial and social ramifications of the election’s results, we were proud to present veteran professor and public intellectual Glenn Loury, hosted by Josh Szeps!

Glenn has led an illustrious career, being the first black tenured professor of economics in the history of Harvard University, hosting the The Glenn Show, authoring The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, and being a contributing editor of The Boston Review.

He cautioned that America was in a very dangerous situation – “the dry tinder lays at hand needing only a spark to start a conflagration.”

Will the election prove to be the spark that Glenn warned of? With the election’s narrow results, will the US see more civil unrest?

This event saw Glenn provide an invaluable critique of America’s “racial reckoning”, tackling the issue with empathy, passion and analytical rigor.


Helen Pluckrose

Liberal humanist, cultural and political writer, editor-in-chief of Areo, and the co-author of the wildly successful book Cynical Theories, Helen Pluckrose investigated how “Critical Social Justice” is a twisted version of postmodern ideas.

Helen investigated how popular concepts of “wokeness” ignore the nuances of social issues and paint people with a brush they often don’t resonate with.

She seeks to inject science, reason and liberalism back into social discourse, fighting against the “broad stroke” concepts that dominate many of today’s discussions.

She warns that by pushing too far to the left without a foundation rooted in sound reasoning, the extreme right are finding a louder voice and are threatening to roll back the amazing advancements made for gender, racial and LGBT equality.

At the event, Helen explored how to make liberalism, humanism, science and reason the core values of society once again.


Think Inc.

We are a leading intellectual touring company, specialising in conceiving and staging live public events that present and promote ideas.

Our mission is to build a vibrant and diverse intellectual culture in Australia and around the world through innovative, entertaining, and accessible events.


Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

The Judith Neilson Institute supports and celebrates quality journalism and storytelling around the world.

Their grants and education programs equip journalists with the resources they need to produce outstanding work. Their events are forums to discuss the issues shaping the world.