The Age of Unreason: what happens when emotions trump facts?

7.00pm to 9.00pm, Tuesday 2 October

Conversation room

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Credit: Index on Censorship



Event description

Using footage of real-life debates in the past and present day, Timandra Harkness and the team will run a short workshop with the audience on how to have better arguments in an age of unreason.

There will also be a short panel discussion afterwards exploring science and censorship in the current global climate, asking urgent questions such as: are we now living in a world where reason is trumped by emotion and where scientific research is dismissed because it doesn't fit with the public's gut feelings? What happens when powerful people like President Trump and Philippines President Duterte embrace falsehoods and decry facts as fiction? And do we just need to argue differently and learn how to persuade?

Magazine editor Rachael Jolley will introduce the event with an overview of the autumn issue which includes an interview with BBC Newsnight presenter Evan Davis about whether the world puts up with more bullshit, an exclusive short story from Ian Rankin, a report on why Charles Darwin is being removed from Turkish textbooks and interviews with Hungarian scientists worrying about increasing government interference.

With thanks to The Royal Institution and SAGE Publishing.

About the speakers

Timandra Harkness presents BBC Radio 4 series, FutureProofing. She has also presented documentaries, Data, Data EverywhereSupersense Me & The Singularity, and she was resident reporter on Radio 4's social psychology seriesThe Human Zoo.

Since winning the Independent newspaper's column-writing competition, Timandra has written for many print and online publications. Her book, 'Big Data: Does Size Matter?' was published by Bloomsbury Sigma in June 2016. 

Keith Kahn Harris works as a writer, sociologist, lecturer and editor. He is a senior lecturer and course team leader at Leo Baeck College, an associate lecturer at Birkbeck College, and an associate fellow of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research where I run the European Jewish Research Archive. He has reviews, articles and op-ed pieces to publications including The Guardian, New Humanist, Open Democracy, New Statesman and Society, Jewish Chronicle, The Forward, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Jewish Quarterly, and The Tablet.

Rachael Jolley is the editor of the global quarterly Index on Censorshipmagazine, a magazine that has correspondents around the world reporting on free expression issues. She is a journalist with 20 years experience writing and editing for newspapers, magazines, and websites, including as a news reporter for the UK’s biggest regional morning paper the Eastern Daily Press, as features editor for ITV Teletext on digital and web in the early days of web journalism, and as editor and managing editor of Business Traveller and Business Traveller Middle East. She also worked in senior editorial roles in UK think tanks including the Fabian Society and British Future. She has written for The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The New Statesman and The Spectator, among others. She appears as a commentator of television and radio including Sky TV, BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and LBC. She also co-wrote the play 'Murdering the Truth.'

Food and drink

Free food and drink will be available at the event. 

This event is in collaboration with Index on Censorship. 

Index on Censorship is a nonprofit that campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide. We publish work by censored writers and artists, promote debate, and monitor threats to free speech.

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