Contents: The Age of Unreason

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The autumn 2018 issue of Index on Censorship magazine looks at the ways in which we might be turning away from facts and science across the globe.

We examine whether we have lost the art of arguing through Julian Baggini‘s piece on the dangers of offering a different viewpoint, and the ways we can get this art back through Timandra Harknesshow-to-argue guide. Peter Sands talks about the move towards more first person reporting in the news and whether that is affecting public trust in facts, while Jan Fox talks to tech experts about whether our love of social media “likes” is impacting our ability to think rationally.

We also go to the areas of the world where scientists are directly under threat, including Hungary, with Dan Nolan interviewing academics from the Hungarian Academy of Scientists, Turkey, where Kaya Genç discusses the removal of Darwin from secondary school education, and Nigeria, where the wellness trend sees people falling as much for pseudoscience as actual science, writes Wana Udobang.

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Outside of the special report, don’t miss our Banned Books Week special, featuring interviews with Kamila Shamsie, Olga Tokarczuk and Roberto Saviano. We also have contributions from Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o on his time in prison and how that might have shaped his creativity and Nobel Prize-winning writer Herta Müller on being questioned by Romanian secret police.

Finally, do not miss best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin‘s exclusive short story for the magazine and poems written by imprisoned British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, which are published here for the first time.

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Turkey’s unnatural selection, by Kaya Genç: Darwin is the latest victim of an attack on scientific values in Turkey’s education system

An unlikeable truth, by Jan Fox: Social media like buttons are designed to be addictive. They’re impacting our ability to think rationally

The I of the storm, by Peter Sands: Do journalists lose public trust when they write too many first-person pieces?

Documenting the truth, by Stephen Woodman: Documentaries are all the rage in Mexico, providing a truthful alternative to an often biased media

Cooking up a storm, by Wana Udobang: Wellness is finding a natural home in Nigeria, selling a blend of herbs – and pseudoscience

Talk is not cheap, by Julian Baggini: It’s only easy speaking truth if your truth is part of the general consensus. Differing viewpoints are increasingly unwelcome

Stripsearch, by Martin Rowson: Don’t believe the experts; they’re all liars

Lies, damned lies and lies we want to believe, by Rachael Jolley: We speak to TV presenter Evan Davis about why we are willing to believe lies, no matter how outlandish

How to argue with a very emotional person, by Timandra Harkness: A handy guide to debating successfully in an age when people are shying away from it

Brain boxes, by Tess Woodcraft: A neuroscientist on why some people are willing to believe anything, even that their brains can be frozen

Identity’s trump cards, by Sarah Ditum: We’re damaging debate by saying only those with a certain identity have a right to an opinion on that identity

How to find answers to life’s questions, by Alom Shaha: A physics teacher on why a career-focused science approach isn’t good for students thinking outside the box

Not reading between the lines, by David Ulin: Books aren’t just informative, they offer a space for quiet reflection. What happens if we lose the art of reading?

Campaign lines, by Irene Caselli: Can other campaigners learn from Argentina’s same-sex marriage advocates how to win change?

Hungary’s unscientific swivel, by Dan Nolan: First they came for the humanities and now Hungary’s government is after the sciences

China’s deadly science lesson, by Jemimah Steinfeld: How an ill-conceived campaign against sparrows contributed to one of the worst famines in history

Inconvenient truths, by Michael Halpern: It’s a terrible time to be a scientist in the USA, or is it? Where there are attacks there’s also resistance

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Beware those trying to fix “fake news”, by Jodie Ginsberg: If governments and corporations become the definers of “fake news” we are in deep trouble

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Cry freedom, by Rachael Jolley: An interview with Trevor Phillips on the dangers of reporters shying away from the whole story

When truth is hunted, by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o: The award-winning Kenyan author on having his work hunted and why the hunters will never win

Return of Iraq’s silver screen, by Laura Silvia Battaglia: Iraq’s film industry is reviving after decades of conflict. Can it help the nation rebuild?

Book ends, by Alison Flood: Interviews with Olga Tokarczuk, Kamila Shamsie and Roberto Saviano about the best banned books

“Censorship of the word does not end on paper, but on the skin of human beings”, by Herta Müller: The Nobel prize-winning novelist and poet on the curious words that were banned in Romania and being threatened by the secret police

Pricing blogs off the screen, by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein: The Tanzanian government is muzzling the nation’s bloggers through stratospheric fees

Modi’s strange relationship with the truth, Anuradha Sharma: The Indian prime minister only likes news that flatters him. Plus John Lloyd on why we should be more concerned about threats to Indian media than US media

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Word search, by Ian Rankin: The master of crime writing spins a chilling tale of a world in which books are obsolete, almost, in an Index short story exclusive

Windows on the world, by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee: The British-Iranian mother and her fellow inmate on life inside Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Plus poems written by both, published here for the first time

Metaphor queen, by Sheng Keyi: The Chinese writer on talking about China’s most sensitive subjects – and getting away with it, sort of. Also an exclusive extract from her latest book

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Index around the world, by Danyaal Yasin: A member of the new Index youth board from Pakistan discusses the challenges she faces as a journalist in her country

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Threats from China sent to UK homes, by Jemimah Steinfeld: Even outside Hong Kong, you’re not safe criticising Chinese-government rule there. We investigate threatening letters that have appeared in the UK

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