Back in March Jamie Bartlett of Demos wrote a challenging article arguing that the best antidote to terrorist recruitment was encouraging people to think for themselves, and to think critically.
There is much to be said for this approach, not least because it has the potential to undermine at source those joining and supporting groups such as Islamic State, and also the conspiratorial mind-set which ensures such groups flourish. I have five comments on Bartlett's article:
1. It is impossible to stop the spread of ideas, but political elites in the UK and certainly academia have broadly succeeded in restricting the ideas of the far-right. In practice what Theresa May seeks to do now is extend to Islamist currents the restrictions fascists and those considered to be racist have experienced for decades. The difference of course, and why she is facing such turbulence, is that Islamists have more sympathy among elites than the far-right.
2. Matthew Dentith, who writes on conspiracy theory, has said the problem with conspiracy theorists is not what they think, but how they think. That is the territory Bartlett is moving into here, and it is an incredibly challenging area. Others have not realised how important it is.
3. Do terrorists from Timothy McVeigh to Al-Qaeda all say the same basic thing, as Bartlett argues? To an extent yes - they claim to be reluctant warriors, forced to pick up the gun by the now unprecedented machinations of X (insert appropriate rival) or more often in the case of religious terrorists, the requirements forced upon them by Y - be it the Bible, the Qur'an or any number of other religious texts. The claim that violence has been forced upon them by others should tell us how important grievance is, and how dangerous the current grievance culture in this society is.
Instead our politicians seem to be scared by the public display of grievance - the tolerance of the Conservative Party to Baroness Warsi's grievance mongering now borders on the reckless. I keep expecting them to detonate all the dirt they hold on her - they never do.
4. I have not seen any detailed research on the numbers of UK students and graduates in Syria/Iraq, and their academic backgrounds. Indeed both FOSIS (the Federation of Student Islamic Societies) and UK Universities declined to reply when I asked each how many university students are currently fighting in Iraq and Syria. My instinct would be that amongst those fighters there will be a lot more from technical backgrounds than Sociology students. Jason Burke has made the point about the number of technical students in Al-Qaeda and related groups - I have seen nothing to indicate IS will be any different.
Might that indicate again that the problem is how people think, how they process information and consequently decide to act?
5. In encouraging critical thinking, and in the process rejecting censoring and restricting ideas, we probably get closer to affirming 'British values' than Mrs May is. I do think Telegraph readers would benefited from that point if Bartlett had made it......