[Originally published as It is Now a Risk to Promote Free Speech in Science!]
Dr. Adam Perkins is a personality researcher at King’s College London (KCL). On March 16, 2018, he was scheduled to give a talk to a group on campus. However, that same day, the college’s events office informed him that they had deemed his talk a high-risk event and did not have time to organize the security that kind of situation would require. Thus, the talk would have to be postponed. What was the title of this high-risk talk? It was:
The Scientific Importance of Free Speech
Why in the world would that title cause KCL’s events office to consider the event to be risky? As far as I know, the office hasn’t answered that question. Perhaps it got skittish after thugs stormed into a debate that was taking place at KCL and violently stopped it. Perhaps they were afraid that the group which arranged the talk (the KCL Liberterian Society) was so controversial that any event it arranged would have to be treated as high-risk. Perhaps they thought that promoting free speech in science is just too controversial.
Regardless of the reason, the very fact that such a speech needs to be given indicates the depths to which parts of the culture have sunk. When professors actually have to remind students how important it is for scientists to be able to openly and honestly debate their ideas, you know that something is terribly wrong.
Despite the fact that the event was cancelled, Dr. Perkins has published an abbreviated version of his talk. While I strongly recommend that you read the entire article, here is the most important point that Dr. Perkins makes:
When one side of a scientific debate is allowed to silence the other side, this is an impediment to scientific progress because it prevents bad theories being replaced by better theories.