The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


EPISODE # 401

Katherine Brodsky — How to Find and Free Your Voice in the Age of Outrage

No Apologies: How to Find and Free Your Voice in the Age of Outrage—Lessons for the Silenced Majority (book cover)

As a society we are self-censoring at record rates. Say the wrong thing at the wrong moment to the wrong person and the consequences can be dire. Think that everyone should be treated equally regardless of race? You’re a racist who needs to be kicked out of the online forum that you started. Believe there are biological differences between men and women? You’re a sexist who should be fired with cause. Argue that people should be able to speak freely within the bounds of the law? You’re a fascist who should be removed from your position of authority. When the truth is no defense and nuance is seen as an attack, self-censorship is a rational choice. Yet, our silence comes with a price. When we are too fearful to speak openly and honestly, we deprive ourselves of the ability to build genuine relationships, we yield all cultural and political power to those with opposing views, and we lose our ability to challenge ideas or change minds, even our own.

In No Apologies, Katherine Brodsky argues that it’s time for principled individuals to hit the unmute button and resist the authoritarians among us who name, shame, and punish. Recognizing that speaking authentically is easier said than done, she spent two years researching and interviewing those who have been subjected to public harassment and abuse for daring to transgress the new orthodoxy or criticize a new taboo. While she found that some of these individuals navigated the outrage mob better than others, and some suffered worse personal and professional effects than others, all of the individuals with whom she spoke remain unapologetic over their choice to express themselves authentically. In sharing their stories, which span the arts, education, journalism, and science, Brodsky uncovers lessons for all of us in the silenced majority to push back against the dangerous illiberalism of the vocal minority that tolerates no dissent— and to find and free our own voices.

Katherine Brodsky is a journalist, author, essayist and commentator who has been taking an especially keen interest in emerging technologies and their impact on society. She has contributed to publications such as Variety, the Washington Post, WIRED, The Guardian, Esquire, Newsweek, Mashable, and many others. Over the years she has interviewed a diverse range of intriguing personalities including numerous Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Pulitzer, and Nobel Prize winners and nominees—including the Dalai Lama.

Shermer and Brodsky discuss:

  • What it’s like growing up Jewish in the Soviet Union and Israel
  • Why the Jews
  • Why liberals (or progressives) no longer defend free speech
  • Cancel culture: data and anecdotes
  • Is Cancel Culture an imagined moral panic?
  • Cancel Culture on the political Left
  • Cancel Culture on the political Right
  • Social media and Cancel Culture
  • Free speech law vs. free speech norms
  • Pluralistic Ignorance and the spiral of silence
  • Solutions to cancel culture
  • Identity politics
  • Cancel culture, witch crazes, and virtue signaling
  • Free speech, hate speech and slippery slopes
  • How to stand up to cancel culture.

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This episode was released on January 30, 2024.

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