The Fifth Column

What Is the 'Intellectual Dark Web'?

"What we're really watching is a breakdown in society's capacity to reason with itself," former Evergreen State College evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein tells The Fifth Column.

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Kmele Foster, Heather Heying, Bret Weinstein, Matt Welch ||| Anthony L. Fisher
Anthony L. Fisher

What is the "Intellectual Dark Web"? The technical answer might be, "A phrase coined by mathematician and Thiel Capital Managing Director Eric Weinstein to describe a loose confederation of left-right intellectuals who share in common an open, occasionally career-altering defiance of the 'gated institutional narrative' enforced by media/academia/Hollywood, particularly as concerns identity politics."

Vanity Fair writer Tina Nguyen is getting criticized this week by IDW types for a piece connecting ideological traveler Kanye West to the movement, which she characterizes as being "comprised of right-wing pundits, agnostic comedian podcasters, self-help gurus, and disgruntled ex-liberals united by their desire to 'red pill' new adherents." More charitably, L.A. Times columnist Meghan Daum contends that dark-webbers "wish to foster a new discourse that can allow innovative thinkers to wrestle with the world's problems without having to tiptoe around subjects or questions deemed culturally or politically off-limits."

Whatever the adjectives, it's a group of people, many of them familiar to Reason readers, who are interested in free speech and free thought, sensitive to intellectual conformity, and adept at using new media to route around hostile gatekeepers. Their ranks are generally said to include Jonathan Haidt, Dave Rubin, Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Claire Lehmann, and James Damore.

One of the foundational members of the Intellectual Dark Web is Eric Weinstein's brother Bret, most famous for being at the center of the gobsmacking Evergreen State College controversy last fall. Weinstein, now untethered from Evergreen after a reported $500,000 settlement, is an evolutionary biologist of some repute, as is his wife, the also-untethered-from-Evergreen Heather Heying. Weinstein and Heying recently sat down with Kmele Foster and I for a wide-ranging Fifth Column conversation about the IDW, campus free speech, identity politics, the race/IQ minefield, and Weinstein's (questionable!) ideas about regulation in academia and media. You can listen to the conversation, which I for one found very illuminating, below:

Below, a transcript from a sliver of our conversation, having mostly to do with free speech, the Intellectual Dark Web, and Jordan Peterson:

Kmele Foster: Is there a free speech crisis on American campuses? This seems like a question the two of you, I'm certain, have been asked before, but have a unique perspective on, having endured some unique circumstances—I'd say probably the archetypal instance of, say, a speech-related panic on campus. So, please.

Bret Weinstein [after long detour through definition of terms]: Then the last issue is whether or not this has anything inherent to do with college campuses or whether college campuses are simply where we are seeing this unfold first. And I would argue that what we're really watching is a breakdown in society's capacity to reason with itself. Yes, of course that has manifestations on college campuses, but it won't be limited to college campuses.

If you look at the one story that doesn't fit with all of the others so far, it's the Google memo story, where Google fired an engineer for doing exactly what they asked them to do: responding to a prompt about questions of equity between men and women among the engineering staff at Google. So, James Damore wrote a memo that analyzed that question. He did a very good job in doing so. They fired him. And so that was Google, a private corporation, that decided to fire an engineer. And then the NLRB, which is a governmental organization, said that his firing was valid, not on the basis that what he had said was wrong, but on the basis that the harm done by what he said was so great that it justified his firing.

This is civilization losing its coherence, right? Google has a huge effect on what we think, because it has a huge effect on what we see when we search for things. It understands or at least is capable of evaluating our email for patterns and figuring out what it is that we're beginning to suspect. Google is a very dangerous entity if it decides to take an active role in controlling what conversations can happen, and Google has told us that at the very top, it is actually interested in seeing some conversations silenced. That should worry us at least as much as what's going on on college campuses, which is itself not a small matter.

Matt Welch: […] I'm curious about the notion that it's sort of society-wide. We've talked a lot here, because we work in the media and work in New York… [that] there's a generation gap: The twentysomethings, the woke millennial kids who are working in media have a much different perspective on a whole lot of things having to do with speech, having to do with the Me Too movement and what exactly are the boundaries of acceptable male/female kind of mating rituals and anything else. So the theory that we've bandied about here is that, okay, you think it's sort of just a college campus thing, but they're graduating and they're moving out into the world. But that kind of suggests that it's sort of like the campus is the furnace and they're spitting out these lumps of coal out there.

This is all terrible metaphors here, I recognize, but the way that you posited this is maybe it's just a society-wide thing and the campus is a place where obviously people are ready to go and kind of clash and do battle, as it always is.

Heather Heying: I think campuses are concentrating the problem, that we do have a generational problem. And it's in part—these issues have been discussed widely—but it's about the rise of iPhones and tech and the decrease in children spending time outside and getting physical experience with their world, and becoming more social creatures. You take a generation that has been raised in that way and you put them into a campus culture where there are some disciplines that have become so enamored of postmodernism that they actually do not necessarily believe that there's an objective reality out there to be reckoned with….

If those kids who actually haven't spent much time racing down hills on bikes or climbing trees and falling and experiencing gravity in real time, are told, "Actually, objective reality is a sign of the patriarchy and it's about power and it's not actually about reality," that feels really confirming to certain people. I would say that Bret and I spent 14, 15 years in classrooms with mostly millennials, and it's really easy to disabuse people of these ideas in real time when you have time, when you can build trust, when you can build community, and then yank the rug out from under people when they say things that are actually batshit crazy.

When you actually take them also into the field and you say, "Okay, now we're gonna get dirty, we're gonna get wet, we're gonna get uncomfortable, and we're gonna come back and eat good food and share stories around the campfire, and you're gonna see that we're all reasonable people who make mistakes and have beliefs that are congruous and incongruous with one another, and that's okay, and that is what being together in community is about." But if you have a classroom—and we know for sure that there are lots of classrooms out there in which dissent is considered harm—so there is a conflation of….

Welch: Dissent to who?

Heying: Any kind of dissent. Any kind of disagreement is considered harm, and so emotional harm is conflated with physical harm. I think it's easier to have that happen if you've not actually been exposed to physical harm, if you don't actually know what it is to experience your own body as a real instantiation and, like, meat space.

Welch: So you're totally bought in to the Lenore Skenazy/Jon Haidt theorem.

Heying: Yes. […]

Foster: The left eating its own is a phrase that I've encountered [from you] in the past, and one of the things that I was talking…about when we were getting ready for this conversation is the fact that the Intellectual Dark Web, I think is the phrase—and you can provide some context and explain what that is, Bret—but that the Intellectual Dark Web seems to be dominated by conservative voices, seemingly.

It at least, perhaps, seems to be particularly concerned with these kinds of phenomena that are occurring on the left. And one wonders…I mean, there are certainly examples of speech prohibitions on campuses on the right. Like, certain groups, a pro-Palestinian group or something that might be facing some sort of obstacles on campus. There are certainly conservative people on campuses who have ostracized folks on the left in different instances; at least I know the folks at FIRE have taken up cases where they are advocating on behalf of a liberal student in a circumstance like that.

So I wonder about the ideological complexion of the Intellectual Dark Web, and I wonder what your thoughts are on what the consequences of having this conversation—this, in my estimation, much needed conversation about the need to be able to have complicated, potentially "dangerous"…conversations in public—how it all works together. I'll stop there.

Weinstein: So, first, let me just say, "Intellectual Dark Web" is a term coined by my older brother, Eric Weinstein, and it's a term that makes some people uncomfortable, including me a little bit, because the Dark Web itself is obviously a place where lots of stuff happens, some of which is perfectly horrifying….

What Eric was saying in coining the term Intellectual Dark Web is really that this is an intellectually unpoliced space, that it is a space outside of what he calls the "gated institutional narrative," which are the stories that we are supposed to believe. It is a very interesting conversation precisely because nobody involved in it believes in those rules. In fact, I think everybody associated with the Intellectual Dark Web is sort of constitutionally resistant to being told what questions they're allowed to think about or what answers they might be allowed to advance. So, in any case, the idea of the Intellectual Dark Web is a space that is intellectually free, at a moment in which the mainstream intellectual space is increasingly constrained by things like what we were talking about before.

In terms of the association, there is a very clear focus amongst all of the folks who are associated with the Intellectual Dark Web about the free speech crisis or whatever the proper term for that would be if we were to re-figure it, right? There's a reason for that, which is that we're all people who would tend to be shut down by the mainstream that wish to maintain control over the narratives that are central to the way we govern ourselves and the way we interact. So it's not surprising that, A) people in the Intellectual Dark Web would be prone to being de-platformed, and B) that we would be particularly sensitive to the danger of ruling certain opinions beyond the pale.

As for the political complexion of it, it isn't at all what people think, and this has been something that Heather and I have discovered in a very odd way. What happened to us at Evergreen felt and was almost literally like being kicked out of the political left. We had spent our entire lives [there], right? The left told us "You're not welcome anymore." In fact, you're not even left—you're right, or, you know, if it's really pissed at you, you're alt-right, or you're a darling of the alt-right. These are the things that were said.

None of this was true, right? I'm still as far left as I was before. I'm skeptical that the left knows what to do, I'm very skeptical of what the left advances in terms of policy proposals, but in terms of my values, they haven't changed at all. The interesting thing, though, is having been effectively evicted from the left, we ran into all sorts of other people who we thought might be a bit right of center, who it turned out were actually also left of center and had also been similarly evicted and then misportrayed. So there is a way in which everybody should think twice about why you expect the people are on the political spectrum where you think they are, because maybe they aren't. In each case, you ought to just check whether or not you think that for a good reason or you just think that because you've heard that somebody's over there.

The Intellectual Dark Web involves me, it involves Heather, it involves Eric. We're all left of center. It involves Jordan Peterson—he's a little bit right of center, but if you actually listen to him, there are certain topics on which he sounds downright conservative, and then there are other topics where he really doesn't. He's a little bit hard to peg.

Welch: I just reviewed his book for Reason and got kind of deep into his business. He's a classical liberal who's a little bit obsessed with the postmodern Marxist left, and I think he has developed a—and this is an interesting kind of question for, I think, a lot of people in the Intellectual Dark Web; maybe it is for you, too. There's a reward system over there. His fan base comes [for] that minority of his interactions when he sort of swells up and says, "Men must be dangerous!" or when he criticizes feminists for being potentially submissive and that's why they don't criticize Islam that much. When he rises up and trolls a little bit, that's exactly when he's rewarded. And that's not his best work, as far as I'm concerned. His best work is his kind of clinical practice, is sort of pragmatic, buck up, straighten yourself. I still straighten up my back, my posture, after reading his book.

But if the reward structure is for precisely when you are out there transgressing, you're dancing on that kind of borderline where you're supposed to [engage in] the sort of taboo subjects, right?

Weinstein: Yeah.

Welch: So, it's hard not to become corrupted, I think, in that process.

Foster: Is it the reward structure? Because part of that is there's a bright red warning light. Those are the flashpoints, where people start to scream at you. It's not only….

Welch: Bro is pulling 90 Gs on Patreon a month.

Foster: I'm with you, but that's not …

Welch: That's a reward structure.

Foster: That's not the point that I'm making. The question I'm asking here is, is it a situation where what he is saying predominantly to the audience that's paying for the subscription on Patreon is he's pressing hot buttons over and over again to keep them paying, or are they perhaps tuning in for the substance, in which case the outrage is what seems to respond most loudest to the things that he says that are, in many cases, I find—or at least often, because I can't say "many"; I only monitor him so closely—but they're often misconstrued.

Heying: Yes.

Foster: It's the conversation that you have about gender roles, for example, where the person who's sitting across from you keeps insisting that you're saying something you're not saying at all, because they don't care about nuance.

Welch: No, but if you go on YouTube and you have a fan say "Jordan Peterson's greatest hits," it's gonna be seven times him smashing [leftists]….

Foster: That may be the case.

Welch: I mean, that's what's going on.

Weinstein: I think we need to be fair to Peterson here….There is a distinction between the broadcasting of some kind of reward that would typically persuade somebody, and whether or not he is altered in what he believes or what he says based on it. And I don't think anybody can be certain; probably he himself can't be certain. On the other hand, I think Jordan Peterson is three things that we can see, right? He is a guy who is telling people, primarily young men, to straighten up and get their lives in order and self-author and all of this stuff, right? So, there's something…I hesitate to use the term "self help"…

Welch: It is.

Weinstein: But I can't think of a …

Welch: Absolutely is.

Weinstein: … better one.

Foster: Nothing wrong with that.

Weinstein: Nothing wrong with that. And in fact, if he's taking people, especially people who might fall into the alt-right or something, and he's getting them to wake up….

Heying: More power to him.

Weinstein: More power to him. He is a messianic figure, which is something that I think he has a very uncomfortable relationship with. He's aware that people see him this way and…

Welch: Sees himself a little bit in that way, too.

Weinstein: He may, but I know he's worried that people see him that way, and that that suggests things and has implications.

And then there's the thing that he has, I believe, so far been least well-recognized for, which is that he's actually a top-flight intellectual, right? He is somebody who has done very high quality work building what appears to be a model of human psychology that certainly borrows from the best of what takes place over in that field, but is also independent of that field where that field goes insane. So he's not vulnerable to the replication crisis that is engulfing the rest of psychology, because he's very careful about which conclusions in psychology he pays attention to. So his psychometric bent basically frees him in large measure from the fads that circulate in psychology.

But in any case, what I would say is there's enough overlap between what Heather and I think about as evolutionary biologists who think about humans, and what Peterson, as a psychologist who thinks about evolution, think about in tandem, that we can actually evaluate how good he is at this. I don't think there is any chance that you could say something to Jordan Peterson on the topics in psychology that he holds most dear and broadcast enough love at him to get him to say stuff he doesn't believe.

Welch: Sure.

Weinstein: I think he is completely deaf and intentionally deaf to what people want him to say in that space that he…

Heying: That is what has helped make him ascendant, and that is the good part. Very much the good part.

Weinstein: Right. So, the intellectual is an honest broker. Which doesn't mean he's right about everything, but it does mean that he's not going to be persuaded by Patreon followers or people applauding to think things about psychology that he doesn't actually believe. He's arrived at all that stuff on his own, and for better and worse, I believe he'd be very hard to move emotionally on that front.

The messianic stuff is a little dangerous. I don't know where that leads. The self-help stuff probably is to the benefit of the world that people who otherwise don't have a direction are seeing somebody that they can admire and they're following it.

Welch: It's authoritarian by definition on some level—I mean, it's instructive. I'm broadcasting. These are rules for life. But I don't mean to cast him in a negative light, I was actually trying to say that he's…I think the messianic stuff is ultimately the most troubling, and it's actually when he rises up and does his cobra strikes that sometimes it's funny and witty and good and on point, but for me, it's ultimately the least interesting.

But I was shocked, because his reputation precedes him. It takes until page 302, literally, before you get to him bitching about postmodernism on college campuses. I really thought he would all just be "feminazis," and it really is not that. That's not the majority of his work, which I find pretty interesting. He's a classical liberal who got caught up in a thing, and it's a ministry. That's kind of what it is, and he's aware of it, and it's fascinating. To just reduce him as an alt-right caricature or a fascist character, which I think they were trying to do in The New York Review of Books recently, is just a gross misread of the situation.

Heying: That's right.

Foster: Generally speaking, most of those caricatures aren't particularly helpful in allowing us to figure out what people are talking about in most contexts.

Welch: And it's fascinating to figure out why that is resonating, and what that can teach a person about the art of political persuasion or just discussion right now in contemporary life. I don't have any conclusions about it, but it's more interesting just than, "Hey look, a bunch of Charlottesville Nazis like this guy."

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118 responses to “What Is the 'Intellectual Dark Web'?

  1. I’m so old I remember when the people now associated with the “intellectual dark web” use to be called “liberals” and “liberal” use to mean something more than managed trade deals and open borders.

    No Moynihan makes for a decent interview.

    1. You don’t miss the drunken yelling?

      1. I read the transcript. I haven’t listened to a full Fifth Column podcast in almost a year.

        1. You missed out on the full effect of Kmele’s Buju Banton performance last week, then. It was… memorable.

          1. I’ll listen just because I like Kmele, but I think everyone agrees on that already.

            1. Kmele is possibly the most likable dude currently in existence.

              He is also very, very wealthy.

              1. Does he sound like Marc Lamont Hill? Because he looks like he sounds like Marc Lamont Hill.

              2. He is also very, very wealthy.

                He runs a podcast without a day job, so that makes sense.

                1. Dude, he does various things at a place called Free Think.

              3. “He is also very, very wealthy.”

                Kmele’s net worth

                Net Worth $1 Million
                Profession Producer, Writer, Actor

                for what it’s worth

                1. and that’s $1 million in NYC dollars.

                2. Is $1,0-$1.2M really very, very wealthy?
                  I’d call it successful for 37 years, but not very very wealthy.

            2. I think the two things that unite the commentariat is our love of Kmele and our hate of Bill Weld. Is there anything else so uniting?

              1. Sports team preferences?

    2. I was about to come on here and say “fuck yeah, no Moynihan,” but I see the sentiment is widespread. I am pleased.

    3. He will be out on parole in only 6 months tho.

  2. More like the intellectual *dork* web, right?

    1. Try better

  3. Any kind of disagreement is considered harm, and so emotional harm is conflated with physical harm.

    Backfire effect. It’s neurological.

  4. More charitably, L.A. Times columnist Meghan Daum contends that dark-webbers “wish to foster a new discourse that can allow innovative thinkers to wrestle with the world’s problems without having to tiptoe around subjects or questions deemed culturally or politically off-limits.”

    When I was young, we called that the math and science departments.

    1. Or universities.

  5. The IDW’s agenda is to prove that A Handmaid’s Tale isn’t exactly dystopian because it turns out that’s what women really want deep down.

    1. Frankly, that would explain the Left’s obsession with that story. They get titillation thinking about it while at the same time ostentatiously condemning it.

      1. Are you saying Tumblerinas are secretly masturbating to A Handmaid’s Tale? That’s so sexist.

        1. It explains why they have taken to cosplay based on it.

  6. Matt really is looking for a reason to hate Jordan Petersen.

    1. I mean I guess his fanbase can be insufferable but so it everyother fanbase.

    2. I also like how they’ve got Peterson and he’s kinda-sorta conservative or right-leaning, sometimes, and they don’t really like him or just that aspect about him, but he’s there so they’re a left-right think tank. If Weinstein’s some part Jewish they can probably go on to earn their ‘not-PC points’ by being multi-racial too.

      1. He’s conservative in that he thinks that traditional values work pretty well and that Western civilization is a good thing. But he’s no kind of right-wing ideologue. He doesn’t seem to talk about politics much, but when he does he seems pretty open to whatever can work to make things better.

        1. His politics actually lean left, but these days anybody that doesn’t toe the line or says something that appeals to anyone on the right is now Alt-Right.

    3. I have heard several people on the free market side of politics who seem to have a visceral dislike of the man for reasons I do not quite comprehend.

    4. I am sceptical of anyone who writes a 12 step help book. That said the guy seems decent enough and I don’t understand the extreme love and hate for him.

      1. have you watched his lectures or any of his youtube videos?

        1. I’ve seen interviews only. Some long ones.

    5. “Hey look, a bunch of Charlottesville Nazis like this guy.”

      Welch is trying hard to ingratiate himself with the renegade free thinkers of the IDW, while simultaneously meeting his Reason obligation of proving that he’s not a conservative.

      You can practically feel the smarm oozing out.

  7. What Is the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’?

    An idiotic name for what otherwise might be a reasonable movement?

    1. But dark webs are so hot right now.

      1. “We’re super smart and creative and stuff and that’s why we’re using a tired buzzword that everyone has heard a bazillion times.”

      2. Dark web is also what Crusty calls his fishnet underwear.

        1. Don’t be naive. Crusty doesn’t wear underwear.

          1. Well, he both does and does not wear underwear. And now you know the answer to that riddle.

            1. Schroedinger’s banana hammock?

    2. I thought Dark Web was the new black SpiderWoman character in the Avengers?

  8. This really was a great interview. Kmele is almost too thoughtful… His questions take 10 minutes to formulate and ask.

    That being said, I need more drunk Moynihan in my life.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one that likes Moynihan. He does not to learn when to let someone else speak sometimes, though.

    2. He has a whole new analysis of how Trump is going to cause nuclear war before his first term ends.

  9. Never, ever, ever, leave the left. They can’t accept that most people disagree with them, so the use alt-right, fascist, evil, and other slurs against people who are moderate or even center left.

    GamerGate was the prelude to this. Despite most gamers being center left / libertarian, they arn’t leftist authoritarians, so the mob goes after them.

    Remember, they truly think their narrow extreme viewpoint is the only acceptable one, so anyone out of that is an enemy to be destroyed. Look at Jordan Peterson, who is ca classical liberal and has beefs with both the left and right; because he correctly speaks out that Marxism is the greatest evil, that makes him an alt-right snake oil salesman.

  10. I thought this was an excellent episode, by the way. Maybe one of the best. I wish you could have talked more about their misgivings about markets – it seems like that could have been an interesting discussion.

  11. The purpose of the IDW is to make it a ‘civil rights violation’ if you have to click twice to get the search results that for a liberal would take only one.

    1. Is your purpose to post garbage takes until Tony comes here and writes an approving response?

      1. Your replies distract from the brilliance of my comments. This is the kind of discrimination that conservatives like me have to deal with every day, and why we must retreat to the dark corners of the internet to discuss our viewpoints.

        1. So that’s a “yes”, I take it

          1. Stop with your ‘acceptable narrative’ policing.

  12. This is civilization losing its coherence, right? Google has a huge effect on what we think, because it has a huge effect on what we see when we search for things. It understands or at least is capable of evaluating our email for patterns and figuring out what it is that we’re beginning to suspect. Google is a very dangerous entity if it decides to take an active role in controlling what conversations can happen, and Google has told us that at the very top, it is actually interested in seeing some conversations silenced. That should worry us at least as much as what’s going on on college campuses, which is itself not a small matter.

    Was the dude seriously not challenged on any of this?

    1. Since when did it become problematic to criticize a private business? We’ve gone from “don’t regulate business” to “don’t speak ill of business”. And if this is the case then maybe the links about Walmart banning Cosmopolitan from its stores should probably not have been posted over and over again in the morning links

      1. Since when did it become problematic to challenge a dude who’s spouting a narrative? He’s certainly free to call out Google for all the evils in the world, but it seems like a couple libertarians might want to put forth the idea of the market possibly dealing with Google. Yeah, I guess it’s just easier to just cry about our lives being ruined by goliath mega-corporations.

        1. It’s fine to call him out on it, but I’m not sure under what basis his criticism would be called out? I just don’t see what is so great about Google’s governing practices or operating policies, from a libertarian perspective, that would be the basis for taking issue with his statement.

          If he wandered into the territory of regulation then I could see the basis for push back. Even Welch wrote an article taking issue with Google firing Demore, so I’m not sure if Kmele or Welch would necessarily be inclined to challenge his statement. Maybe Moynihan would have criticized his statement.

        2. FWIW, later in the program Kmele does challenge his misgivings about markets. I wish they had more time to delve into that stuff.

    2. In the abstract I don’t think he is wrong. Note that it came up when discussing that engineer who wrote that gender equality memo that Google fired. I think that is what he meant by “Google has told us at the very top, it is actually interested in seeing some conversations silenced”.

      We trust that competition will keep the decision makers at Google from indulging themselves in ways that their customers don’t want, and I think as trust goes I think it is pretty well placed. But if the market actually doesn’t have a problem with Google censoring certain types of speech, then it could be influential and harmful. See the first paragraph for an example.

      1. I think Google the search engine does this, too. For example, looking up valid sources on Google to bolster arguments that Hillary Clinton cheated in the 2016 election. Regardless of search terms, on Google, results were almost entirely articles explaining that Hillary is unfailingly honest, would never cheat, and was the victim of sexism and LOL Russia. Even several pages into results. Got completely different and much more helpful responses on Bing and Duck Duck Go.

        Obviously, though, I answered my own question for how to change Google’s interest in “seeing some conversations silenced”: I used competitors’ search engines.

        1. Competitors’ search engines will be the answer, until Alphabet buys up most of the DNS’s, and then you won’t be able to find stuff Google doesn’t like even with somebody else’s search engine.

    3. Was the dude seriously not challenged on any of this?

      I found

      because the Dark Web itself is obviously a place where lots of stuff happens, some of which is perfectly horrifying?.

      to be sensationalist and a bit self-aggrandizing.

    4. I wouldn’t challenge him that it “should worry us at least as much as what’s going on on college campuses.”

      Take that as you will.

  13. I see Brett Weinstein has gone full alt-right.

    1. If you flirt with the alt-right, you are gonna put out sooner or later.

    2. I see Brett Weinstein has gone full alt-right.

      Aside from Kmele and Matt’s personalities, the whole thing feels very NPR, the bit where they get intellectuals* to represent opinions both the left and the center of the aisle. Republicans and hardcore libertarians are still morons for clinging to markets but some of them are otherwise good people because they don’t jump down his throat when he gets a little racist.

      *Does evolutionary biology at a liberal arts college get you more or less intellectual gravitas than an E.J. Dionne or David Brooks?

      1. E.J. Dionne maybe my single least favorite wapo writer of all time.

      2. Does evolutionary biology at a liberal arts college get you more or less intellectual gravitas than an E.J. Dionne or David Brooks?

        I’m going to say yes. It’s pretty hard not to beat those two.

        1. I’m going to say yes. It’s pretty hard not to beat those two.

          Man, IDK. Not that I like the other two by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re talking about a pretty soft-science degree at a college that was hippy-dippy by Matt Groening’s standards. If Dionne and Brooks are masquerading as intellectuals it seems fair to say that Weinstein is only an intellectual by default. We’d call him a barista, but there’s no indication he’s done anything besides consider serving a cup of coffee. Not to mention an intellectual by default who’s out of his depth when talking about the socio-political implications of Google.

          1. He only works at Evergreen. Got his PhD at U. of Michigan. He seems like a legit intellectual from what I’ve seen of him.

      3. The problem with hardcore libertarians (and hardcore anything, really), is that we aren’t going to get what we want ever, no matter what. I don’t know if that makes us morons, but it’s something to think about.

        I say not morons. You need the people reminding everyone that free markets are the only thing that ever improves people’s lives over the long term.

        1. “The problem with hardcore libertarians … You need the people reminding everyone that free markets are the only thing that ever improves people’s lives over the long term.”

          1. Is there a point to your comment?

            1. “You need the people reminding everyone that free markets are the only thing that ever improves people’s lives over the long term.”

              I’m not going to write an essay explaining why this is fucking nuts.

  14. Their ranks are generally said to include Jonathan Haidt, Dave Rubin, Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Claire Lehmann, and James Damore.

    Aside from Lehmann, who publishes some milquetoast race/iq stuff, there’s nothing “dark” about any of these people. And why are Rubin and Ali considered intellectuals?

    1. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former member of parliament in the Netherlands, is not an intellectual? The same person who is a fellow with the Hoover Institution? She is not an intellectual?

      Do you work for the Southern Poverty Law Center or something?

      1. I only know her as an activist. Perhaps she’s also an intellectual, but you need a lobotomy if you think winning an election or having a conservative sinecure is proof of that.

        1. I understand that you’re butt hurt that there are dissenting voices.

          1. LOL, maybe you really do need a lobotomy.

      2. a former member of parliament in the Netherlands, is not an intellectual?

        Say’n truly is libertarian af

    2. And why are Rubin and Ali considered intellectuals?

      Agreed, see my point above. Weinstein and Heying barely, if at all, rise to the level of adjunct professor at a local community college. They taught an exceedingly soft science at a school that was hippy-dippy by Matt Groening’s standards (and not when he was there).

      Not to deny that any of them are intellectuals but it includes plenty of people who’s primary claim to intellectualism is that they were notable failures at whatever their non-intellectual pursuits were.

  15. I have no idea what this is but it sounds like a bunch of people whining that they don’t get invited to the cool cocktail parties.

    1. It’s people that are lefties who lost their jobs because they would be lefty by 1995 and 2009 standards but aren’t sufficiently woke by 2018 standards. The left is eating its own these days, and these two are butthurt about it.

      1. Okay, since you guys are the last defenders of unorthodox thinking, when is a good time to raise rich people’s taxes?

        1. homogeneous country with low taxes

    2. It’s professors whining that they got kicked off of campus for not meaning conformist lefties. They had the audacity to question (!) the idea that whites should be banned from campus for a day. I mean, if they didn’t want to lose their jobs they should have just followed their talking points. I mean, duh!

      1. If the tenure system is corrupted I’d like to know about it. Oh, you guys want to do away with that don’t you?

        1. Why don’t you try rewriting that as a coherent thought.

    3. I’m sure you’d say the same thing about communists who lost their jobs in the 50s.

  16. I wish people would stop conflating postmodernism with “a belief that there is no objective reality.” It’s flabby thinking. How about a reference to a postmodern thinker who says that?

    Our experience of reality is mediated by our thoughts. Postmodernism argues that thinking and language have a big effect on how we experience the world. The idea that there is no one worldview that is superior enough to be imposed on others is inherently a libertarian idea as well as a postmodern one. Postmodernism examines how we subtly promulgate and enforce our worldview, especially through language. It is basically an updated study of rhetoric.

    Identity studies are more a target for postmodernism than an offshoot of it. Deconstruction, the signature technique of postmodernism, has a field day with the internal contradictions of the idea of “identity”.

    Read some Foucault. Discipline and Punish or Madness and Civilization is a good start. His work is about freedom, something libertarians should appreciate.

    1. Thank you, seriously.

      1. these yokels will never appreciate these deep insights.

    2. “Read some Foucault. Discipline and Punish or Madness and Civilization is a good start. ”

      I met someone who partied with him in San Francisco. He recommends Punish or Madness.

    3. I wish people would stop conflating postmodernism with “a belief that there is no objective reality.” It’s flabby thinking. How about a reference to a postmodern thinker who says that?

      Thadeus Russell, who claims to be a Postmodernist, has said this very thing.

    4. Foucault was not, however, libertarian, and these ideas are generally interpreted as indictments of free society. Postmodernist often argue that even supposedly freely made choices are really the result of systems of oppression, sometimes needing to be overthrown. Postmodernists do not buy the idea of rational individuals being entrusted to make their own decisions; they tend toward the opposite position.

      Take the leading postmodern thinker of our time, Stanley Fish. A staunch, overt opponent of free speech.
      Postmodernism is no reliable friend to freedom.

    5. The problem is that modern “postmodernism”, as it functionally works in society, has as much to do with that, as perpetual deficits have to do with actual Keynesian theory.

      Which is to say, they both in practice are abusive parodies of the original intellectual roots.

  17. And I would argue that what we’re really watching is a breakdown in society’s capacity to reason with itself.

    What’s happened is that as the government sets a single rule for everybody in more and more of daily life, people lose the ability to live and let live, precisely because there can only be one government decision.

    When government set fewer rules, society may have imposed its own, but those seldom were made mandatory by government, so the eccentrics and freaks could go their own way as long as the only consequence was society’s offended glare. Now you face huge fines, jail time, and a ruined life.

  18. “In fact, I think everybody associated with the Intellectual Dark Web is sort of constitutionally resistant to being told what questions they’re allowed to think about or what answers they might be allowed to advance.”

    Sounds like a good place to discuss the lower IQ of blacks, the inferiority of women, phrenology and all the other issues that occupied the intellectuals of the 19th century,

    1. Don’t forget such quaint racist, Nazi theories like evolution by means of natural selection and Mendelian genetics.

      1. Do you feel you need a safe space to discuss evolution and genetics?

        1. If you ever dare apply them to modern humans, you do.

  19. “The left eating its own is a phrase that I’ve encountered”

    A lot of folks on the left deserve to be eaten. For all the celebration of disruption, most commenters here are probably fearful of what comes after, say, the people at the Democrat party who thought that Hillary Clinton would make a good standard bearer for the left, have been purged. The new order is likely to be less amenable to Libertarian causes. Those successful (absent any support I’m aware of from Democratic bigwigs) teacher union activists in places like West Virginia and Oklahoma, may be a good bet for the future face of the party. Libertarians should be dreading this, as I’m sure I don’t have to point out.

    1. The centrist technocrats battling the blacks, trannies, etc. is going to be great.

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  21. “Welch: Dissent to who?”
    should be:
    “Welch: Dissent to whom?”

    1. Freudian.

  22. “Things are so terrible today – we can’t just talk to each other!”

    In 1856, Preston Brooks almost beat Charles Sumner to death on the Senate floor. Now THOSE people were pissed at each other. What we have today is mostly pussies hiding behind mama’s skirt while they stick out their tongues at each other. Let me know when the guns come out – THEN we’ll know there’s something going on.

  23. Leave academia.
    Leave the cities.
    Shut down your TV and movie propaganda systems.
    Travel to Realville, where no one has any inkling of any of those things, where people go about living, thinking, and speaking however they feel.

    It’s all of the interaction with other folks, society if you will, that promotes this garbage. Once you opt out of all of the mob-ruled infrastructure and you create your own, you might discover that local community and interaction can be enjoyable.

    Society, when mass-produced, is a force for evil, hence communism and progressivism.

  24. IDW is just lefty code-language for enemies.

  25. “The interesting thing, though, is having been effectively evicted from the left, we ran into all sorts of other people who we thought might be a bit right of center, who it turned out were actually also left of center and had also been similarly evicted and then misportrayed.”

    This whole passage seems to me less like an assessment doctrinal positions and more about feelings of self worth.

    ” I’m skeptical that the left knows what to do, I’m very skeptical of what the left advances in terms of policy proposals, but in terms of my values, they haven’t changed at all.”

    Isn’t that nothing more than a polite rephrasing of the sterotypical “it’s not that we disagree on what is best, it’s that my opponents are evil” formulation?

    And on the one hand I agree that what is going on on the campus is but a symptoms of a society wide problem on the other hand I’d say that is a terrible indictment of the campus, that it does nothing to rectify (and often much to exacerbate) the problem. When academia shrug this off it’s one thing, that these two do so is something much worse.

    Lasty, Gillespie and Welch are just lame, lame, lame. Libertarianism deserves better.

    1. Sad when the self identified leftists are the ones encouraging fairness in a discussion about Peterson.

  26. Welch is seriously hung with with blind jealousy of Jordan Peterson. It’s good to see Weinstein attempt to straighten him out some, but still …

    The beauty of JP is that he, the messenger is completely lost in his lectures. All that you come away with are the lectures and the message. Peterson is the most humble popular intellectual I can think of. Sure, on the big 5 axis, he would be a ‘father figure’ archetype, but that’s a good thing, since it inspires him to keep thinking and keep talking.

    Both Welch and Peterson were on Real Time recently, and it was abundantly clear who the well-spoken, brilliant intellectual was.

  27. Welch is seriously hung with with blind jealousy of Jordan Peterson. It’s good to see Weinstein attempt to straighten him out some, but still …

    The beauty of JP is that he, the messenger is completely lost in his lectures. All that you come away with are the lectures and the message. Peterson is the most humble popular intellectual I can think of. Sure, on the big 5 axis, he would be a ‘father figure’ archetype, but that’s a good thing, since it inspires him to keep thinking and keep talking.

    Both Welch and Peterson were on Real Time recently, and it was abundantly clear who the well-spoken, brilliant intellectual was.

  28. Nice..

  29. The Guardian has now published a smear piece, equating IDW people with the “alt-right” and conspiracy people like Alex Jones. It’s titled The ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ ? the supposed thinking wing of the alt-right:

    Guardian hit piece

    It’s written in the condescending, smug tone that usually comes from scribes in gentrified Brooklyn these days. Happy to see they’ve taken notice, since the smugness and misrepresentations usually appear to have a correlation with the growing influence of what they’re reporting on.

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