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Episode 8: What’s Wrong with Our Universities?

Are our higher education institutions still nurturing true intellectual diversity? Our guest today is Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, and today, we'll be exploring the growing concerns within higher ed that institutions are turning into echo chambers, stifling dissent and censoring certain perspectives.

In this thought-provoking episode, we'll be discovering the challenges to academic freedom in the era of cancel culture. We'll explore how questioning a consensus can now come at a cost, impacting the pursuit of truth within academic institutions. We'll also uncover the story of the Council for Academic Freedom at Harvard, which was formed to combat these challenges.

Join us as we delve into policies protecting free speech, and the vital role of civil discourse in the academic community. Together, we'll navigate the complex landscape of universities, grappling with the delicate balance between common knowledge and the suppression of dissenting opinions.

Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his PhD from Harvard. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style, and Enlightenment Now. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He was Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary and writes frequently for the New York Times, the Guardian, and other publications. His twelfth book, published in 2021, is called Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters.

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