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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
February 2020
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Book description

Who is the 'Devil'? And what is he due? The Devil is anyone who disagrees with you. And what he is due is the right to speak his mind. He must have this for your own safety's sake because his freedom is inextricably tied to your own. If he can be censored, why shouldn't you be censored? If we put barriers up to silence 'unpleasant' ideas, what's to stop the silencing of any discussion? This book is a full-throated defense of free speech and open inquiry in politics, science, and culture by the New York Times bestselling author and skeptic Michael Shermer. The new collection of essays and articles takes the Devil by the horns by tackling five key themes: free thought and free speech, politics and society, scientific humanism, religion, and the ideas of controversial intellectuals. For our own sake, we must give the Devil his due.


'Michael Shermer is our most fearless explorer of alternative, crackpot, and dangerous ideas, and at the same time one of our most powerful voices for science, sanity, and humane values. In this engrossing collection, Shermer shows why these missions are consistent: it’s the searchlight of reason that best exposes errors and evil.'

Steven Pinker - Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

'This is a rather difficult book for me to blurb, given that an entire chapter is devoted to criticizing my claims about pragmatic truth vis-à-vis scientific truth. However, Dr. Michael Shermer is a very clear thinker, and the kind of skeptic that is always necessary to ensure that public thought, scientific and otherwise, maintains a certain clarity. He's a passionate advocate of free speech, for this and many other reasons - to the point of entitling his new book Giving the Devil His Due, which is devoted to many worthwhile topics, but to free speech above all. Despite our disagreements, this is a necessary book for our times. Read it. And thank God and the powers that be that you have the right to do so.'

Jordan B. Peterson - University of Toronto, and author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

'Michael Shermer is a fearless defender of free speech, open inquiry, and freedom of thought and conscience, including - and especially - for those with whom he disagrees. Giving the Devil His Due is one of the strongest bulwarks against the tyranny of censorship that I have read.'

Nadine Strossen - New York University, former President of the ACLU, and author of Hate: Why We Should Resist it with Free Speech, Not Censorship

'… a detailed roadmap for thinking well and clearly about interesting and challenging ideas. This vivid, erudite, broad, and deep collection of essays is marvelously written - so much so that, as you finish one essay, you cannot resist starting the next. And the range - from ancient civilizations to the colonization of Mars, from free speech on campus to gun control in cities - is as astonishing as it is engaging.'

Nicholas A. Christakis - MD, Ph.D, author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

'As always, Michael Shermer is hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and brilliant. The fascinating essays in this wide-ranging book will make you think - and then rethink.'

Amy Chua - Yale University, and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

'Michael Shermer is the voice of reason, and this is a book of his best essays - the ones we most need to read to understand the madness of our time and to imagine a more reasonable future. The range of questions Shermer addresses and the breadth of his knowledge make this book a delight to read.'

Jonathan Haidt - New York University, author of The Righteous Mind, and co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind

'Giving the Devil His Due is a treasure trove for lovers of the humanities and society at large as viewed through the perspective of scholarly minds, treatises, and essays. It’s marvelously ripened and full of wonderful tales… '

Robert Hunziker Source: Counterpunch

'A powerful case is made here for why free speech is the best way to drive out bad ideas and fake news.'

Source: The Times

‘A collection of skilful elucidations of academic ideas.’

Christopher Silvester Source: The Critic

‘Each essay is well crafted to provoke thoughtful reflection and amply referenced for those who wish to dig deeper into each topic … However, for any reader new to scepticism, Giving the Devil his Due would be an auspicious place to start.’

Don Carpenetti Source: Chemistry World

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