Fanaticism Stifles Satire, Free Speech and Science
The heritage of the eighteenth century French writer Voltaire and the Enlightenment help explain why four million people poured into the streets of France after terrorists murdered 17 people, including eight staff members of the weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, an editorial in Nature asserts. Crowds in Paris surpassed the size of the demonstrations welcoming allied troops that liberated the city in World War II. The Nature editorial says freedom of speech and satire are crucial in challenging the authoritarianism and dogma that undermine science and scientific inquiry. The editorial also calls for social science research to understand origins of violent fanaticism so that terrorism can be addressed by long term policies and initiatives without relying solely on repressive measures. Read the editorial here. Huffington Post writer Lex Paulson summarizes Voltaire’s message: Tolerate others, think for yourself.