Community Values

Thinklab is built upon a set of values that allow for a functioning and effective marketplace of ideas. We want the best ideas to win!

  • Freedom of speech is fundamental — Speech is what we use to navigate a path towards a better society. Being able to speak freely and advocate for what you believe in is a fundamental human right. Without free speech it will be the most powerful in society dictating what the most vulnerable can and cannot say. Many on the political left want to carve out exemptions for "hate speech". But what is hate speech? Who gets to define it? Should it be illegal to criticize a religion? Should people be punished when something they say offends a minority?

  • Challenge ideas, don't demonize people — Censorship can come from the state, but it can also come from a culture that demonizes people for "wrong think". When we demonize people it feeds resentment, prevents open discussion, and fundamentally breaks the marketplace of ideas. If we disagree with someone's ideas, we should challenge those ideas without demonizing them as a person.

  • Truth must be held as the highest value — Effective conversation requires representing ideas truthfully. To solve problems we must understand the problems and the world in which they exist. The moment we sacrifice truth in support of our cause, we undermine our very ability to have conversation that is likely to produce the results we want. If we avoid speaking the truth for fear of upsetting certain people, then we likely avoid the very conversation that is a necessity for helping the people we fear upsetting. If smart well intentioned people are ignoring inconvenient but obvious truths, we run the risk of pushing people towards other (perhaps less well intentioned) people who are willing to call it like they see it.

  • Science & reason are the path to truth — Science and reason are the best tools we have for figuring out what is true and what is not. An accurate understanding of the world informed by science and reason provides the fertile ground from which the best ideas can emerge. Belief in spite of counter evidence is not a virtue.

  • Universities should not be "safe spaces" — University is a place to have your ideas challenged, to learn to think, and to learn to communicate. Students should not be shielded from dangerous ideas by trigger warnings and safe spaces. Words should not be conflated with violence. Offensive speakers should not be banned. Intellectual diversity and lively debate is what will help us discover the best ideas and progress as a society.

  • Minds are changed through intellectually honest civil conversation — For people to take on new information or change their mind they need to be in a state in which they are capable and willing to do so. If people feel like they are under attack conversation is unlikely to be useful. Effective conversation occurs when the participants engage with each other in the spirit of discovering truth together. This means being intellectually honest and acknowledging good arguments from the other side.