A bad case of groupthink

Frank Furedi on academia’s response to the referendum result:

At the end of the conference, a Dutch colleague who knows that I voted Leave calls me aside and whispers: “I agree with you on Brexit.” When I ask her why she is whispering, she gives me a knowing look, conveying that it is best to remain discreet about such unpopular thoughts in an academic environment… [A]cademia has embraced the caricature of Brexit voters as racists or manipulable halfwits unworthy of political engagement. For many on the receiving end of these sentiments, it feels as if, in all but name, they have been no-platformed.

In years to come, when the post-Brexit dust has settled, I will still remember a comment made to me by a social scientist the day after the Brexit verdict. Still in shock, he expressed his sense of astonishment by noting that he had “never met or talked to anyone who supported Brexit”. And that’s the nub of the problem. It seems that too many academic supporters of the Remain campaign have talked only to people like themselves. They may be “experts”, but they are certainly not public intellectuals.

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