April 14, 2021 - 8:00am


As each week passes by, the state of academic freedom in the West looks increasingly precarious. As of this month, 162 scholars have been ‘cancelled’; no-platforming has skyrocketed; and support for political intolerance has grown among faculty members and post-graduates to record levels. ‘Viewpoint diversity’, the one form of diversity that has always been conspicuously absent from SJW manuals, is suffering as a result.

So much was confirmed at a recent talk about intellectual diversity in academia last weekend. Hosted by the University of Michigan, Less Jussim, a psychology professor at Rutgers University, meticulously details all the ways in which academic freedom has been constricted over the last 10 years and beyond.

The talk is worth watching in full: Jussim paints a disturbing picture of just how censorious the climate is at universities, but arguably the most surprising moment came at the very end. One of the discussants, Philip Tetlock, a leading superforecaster whose book, Superforecasting, was recommended by Dominic Cummings to his former colleagues while he was in No10, was surprisingly bullish about the future of academic freedom (clip below):

If we had a time series that captured a pure measure of academic intolerance and authoritarianism, I think we would see a blip between 2015 and 2020. My expectation would be some form of mean reversion over the next five to 10 years just purely on statistical grounds… I think that support for extreme censoriousness is thin and it gets old fast. I’m going to expect some fatigue.
- Philip Tetlock

Though Tetlock conceded that this was not a falsifiable forecast, it was refreshing (and heartening) to hear someone as highly credentialed as the professor offer such a sanguine prognostication. We can only hope that he ends up being proven right.