The first of the Chatham House rules is that there’s actually only one rule.
The second (not really, see the first rule – oh, that’s confusing) is that open discussion is important in order for controversial opinions to be aired.
The Chatham House rule is primarily to encourage better international relations, but its spirit is much more widely applicable. In an era where free speech is among the central promises of the internet, ad hominem attacks are an appalling characteristic of groupthink. A modern take on the torchlight and pitchfork march that uses fear to suppress argument. By its very nature, controversial thinking makes big, bold steps that move the needle for humanity. We should embrace it.
- Controversial is not the same as contemptuous
- Controversial can be refuted if incorrect
- Needing proof was once controversial