Is it becoming impossible to be contrarian?

Bayes hosts debate around freedom of speech.

More than 200 people were in attendance as Bayes Business School hosted the 2022 Contrarian Prize debate to mark the tenth anniversary of the prize which celebrates individuals who challenge the status quo.

A panel, chaired by Baroness Claire Fox, Founder of the Academy of Ideas – and including Professor André Spicer, Dean, Bayes Business School – discussed the barriers to non-conformity and who decides the rules of what is and is not acceptable in the realms of public discourse. The debate also examined how contrarianism has evolved over the past decade and whether it can survive.

Contrarian Prize panellists

Professor Spicer said:

“At Bayes we encourage students and academic thinkers to challenge norms each day.

“Contrarianism and a broad collective of ideas plays a key role in shaping Bayesian thinking, and we are ensuring that critical thought process forms a key part of our curriculum.

“It was a pleasure to be a part of the panel for what was a highly thought-provoking evening.”

Ali Miraj, Founder of the Contrarian Prize said the panel discussion raised important issues about how individuals who express a contrarian point of view are increasingly silenced:

“Attempting to close down points of view that challenge the status quo appears to be a rising trend around the world. This has led to supposedly objectionable points of view being closed down along with public vilification of those holding such views.

“The Contrarian Prize was established in 2012 to celebrate independence, courage and sacrifice of British public figures whose ideas challenge the status quo.

“The debate was highly energised with valuable insights from the audience, and explored the panellists’ perspectives of contrarianism as well as how different ideas can contribute to the advancement of society.

“My thanks go to Bayes Business School for providing the platform for such an important discussion.”

Panellists for the debate were:

Michael Crick – Journalist and Author of One Party After Another, a biography of Nigel Farage

Baroness Claire Fox (chair) – Founder and Chair, Academy of Ideas

Professor Sunetra Gupta – Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, University of Oxford

Professor André Spicer – Dean, Bayes Business School

Peter Tatchell – Humans rights campaigner and Founder, Peter Tatchell Foundation

Michael Woodford – Former CEO of Olympus Corporation

Read more about the Contrarian Prize.

Bayes Business School took its name in September 2021, having previously been known as Cass Business School. Read more about the reasons behind the name change and the actions being taken to improve inclusion and diversity and widen participation.

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