Back in 1954, the answer Stouffer got was surprisingly reassuring. Only about one in eight Americans at that time felt scared to speak their minds. As McCarthy’s influence on the country waned, there was little evidence that he had managed to manufacture a voiceless generation.

But since the 1950s, answers to that same question have become a lot more worrying. The last time the question was asked, the percentage of Americans who fear speaking their mind had grown by threefold. At its high point in 2015, nearly half of all Americans reported that they do not feel free to express their opinions…

So what does predict who is reluctant to speak up? The answer is that Americans are more likely to self-censor the more urban and educated they are. In a surprising reversal of the usual trends of political participation, in which citizens who have more resources feel more empowered to take an active role in civic life, it is the urbanites and the highly educated who are most afraid to speak their mind.