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This episode was recorded on October 11th, 2021.
Dr. Arif Ahmed and Dr. James Orr come on to discuss what led to the University of Cambridge rescinding my invitation to speak there. We get into the difficulty of change in universities, anonymous reporting, the dangers of limiting free speech, microaggressions, the importance of humor, and more.
Arif Ahmed MBE is a philosopher, lecturer at Cambridge, and author of “Saul Kripke”. His interests include decision theory and religion from an atheist and libertarian point of view. In the aftermath of the Cambridge incident, Dr. Ahmed remained a vocal advocate for political diversity.
Dr. James Orr is a university lecturer in philosophy of religion at Cambridge and author of “The Mind of God and the Works of Nature.” He is a regular contributor to The Times Literary Supplement and The Critic.
Dr. Ahmed’s profile:
Dr. Orr’s profile:
“The Mind of God and Works of Nature”:
[01:13] The Cambridge repeal
[09:41] A case for the repealers, their potential fears
[10:19] Photos “don’t imply a position—that was one of the most outrageous things, ‘endorsement by association…’ As if standing next to someone implies [you’re in agreement]" - Dr. Ahmed
[14:11] Changes in free speech policy
[19:54] Speaking Up: Consequences
[25:28] The difficulty of change in university
[27:36] “You become what you practice” - Jordan Peterson
[27:45] “If you put off fights, they don't usually get better” - Jordan Peterson
[35:53] Being Silent: Perils
[36:04] “In general, with any coercive principle, think what might happen in the hands of someone wicked and tyrannical. That's how we should think about these things” - Dr. Ahmed
[41:46] "The idea that you should remove everything that could threaten someone's identity and you should make that a university-wide policy is actually, exactly the opposite of what you should do, speaking clinically if you're trying to help people become more resilient" - Dr. Peterson
[44:32] Microaggressions and the importance of humor
[44:33] "There’s no such thing as a joke that isn't a microaggression. Jokes aren't funny unless they're microaggressions–especially witty ones" - Dr. Peterson
[47:19] Anonymous voting & reporting
[49:52] "Politics is downstream from culture [and, for better or worse,] culture is generated in universities" - Dr. Peterson
[49:59] “What happens on campus doesn't stay on campus" - Dr. Orr
[50:50] "The point about anonymous reporting is that... you can't come back to them to check their evidence. The person who has been accused can't face their accuser. There’s no possibility of due process” - Dr. Ahmed
[54:51] Anonymous reports circumventing due process
[57:55] Tyranny & Free Speech
[59:17] Details about the vote; university bureaucracy
[01:05:56] UK legislation post-Cambridge
[01:13:06] Anti-education & ideological purity tests at university
[01:15:36] "I've heard students say ‘Well, I just write what the professor wants...’ It's like no – writing is thinking and if you don't think, that becomes part of you – those words become part of you [and] that's not bad education, it's anti-education" - Dr. Peterson
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