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Does the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ represent the future of ideas?

Does the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ represent the future of ideas?

After years of wandering through the wilderness, are we finally on the right track?

‘Intellectual Dark Web’. Have you heard of it?

I hadn’t either until an article by Bari Weiss was published in the NYT.

Here are some things that you will hear when you sit down to dinner with the vanguard of the Intellectual Dark Web: There are fundamental biological differences between men and women. Free speech is under siege. Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart. And we’re in a dangerous place if these ideas are considered “dark.”

I was meeting with Sam Harris, a neuroscientist; Eric Weinstein, a mathematician and managing director of Thiel Capital; the commentator and comedian Dave Rubin; and their spouses in a Los Angeles restaurant to talk about how they were turned into heretics. A decade ago, they argued, when Donald Trump was still hosting “The Apprentice,” none of these observations would have been considered taboo.

Today, people like them who dare venture into this “There Be Dragons” territory on the intellectual map have met with outrage and derision — even, or perhaps especially, from people who pride themselves on openness.

It’s a pattern that has become common in our new era of That Which Cannot Be Said. And it is the reason the Intellectual Dark Web, a term coined half-jokingly by Mr. Weinstein, came to exist.

The Intellectual Dark Web is not just a website that holds individuals like Christina Hoff Sommers, Ben Shapiro, and Jordan Peterson in high esteem, the IDW (as we’ll call it for convenience’s sake) believes itself to be at the forefront of a revolution of ideas, one evolved beyond the internet’s current cesspool of striated discourse.

But what is it exactly? The site describes itself as:

I wanted there to be a place where people who are looking for real discussions could be directed to start their journey.

The traditional media is only offering soundbites, conformity and ideologies. There is very little room for partisanship or truth between warring factions.

All true. Political and cultural conversation on Big Internet has become hyperpolarized. Few care to listen, most just want to holler about why so and so is wrong. Nuance has been cast aside and blanket judgments reign. Forget stepping outside of a partisan boundary to earnestly explore an idea across the political aisle. Humanity and the search for common ground has been traded for mass objectification. No side is blameless.

And these are the problems the IDW hopes to change, or so it seems.

For years, conservatives have suggested politics is downstream of culture. Andrew Breitbart said the same. So what makes the IDW so special?

I’m not entirely sure.

The IDW roster is a good one. They’re all movers and shakers in their own way. Many are driving conversations, prompting people to think outside of the box, triggering youngsters, and getting yelled at in the process. They’re all part of the cannon people my age follow with regularity.

Peterson, Shapiro, and Sommers (to randomly pick a few) are well educated, well informed, as are their ideas, thoughts, and lectures. They are willing to civilly debate without immediately descending into name calling and wide sweeping generalizations while allowing their challengers to be heard. Maybe it’s just as simple as that. Good ideas, absolute truth (backed by actual science), and civility.

It may be a simple formula, but it’s desperately needed. Other sites and voices like NRO (who I still love and adore) espouse similar ideas but are typecast as Republican loyal (mostly) in a time when Americans are fleeing from party affiliations in droves.

Speaking of NRO, Jonah Goldberg has his own evaluation of the IDW here. He explores the functional side and isn’t convinced it’s anything new, groundbreaking, or different than movements and waves before.

“I learned a lot from the essay, and some of the issues raised by Weiss and her subjects — the need for gatekeeping, line-drawing, and resisting being captured by an audience — are important topics. But they are also issues that conservative institutions — magazines, journals, think tanks, foundations, etc. — have been grappling with for decades. This is an interesting new chapter, but, again, I’m not sure it’s a new story,” he wrote.

Much like the political layout has shifted dramatically these last few years, so has the landscape of ideas. The status quo has wrought the deep cultural divides that threaten to destroy the foundations of western civilization.

It’s far too early to tell if the IDW will prove an effective antivenom to our cultural ailments, but I’m hopeful. Any sphere that is planted in truth and actively engages others is a step in the right direction.


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OleDirtyBarrister | May 8, 2018 at 6:33 pm

Joe Rogan on an “intellectual” dark web?


    legalizehazing in reply to OleDirtyBarrister. | May 9, 2018 at 4:05 am

    His place is as a host for the ideas. He fosters these conversations. All of these people have been on his super popular podcast.

It could be an idea whose time has finally come. It’s been desired by many right leaning people, but anything can become corrupt as opposition voices find their way there. I think of how some who comment on here can change the whole cast of the dialog with drive by drivel, causing comments to turn.

I agree with party affiliation becoming weaker, and a lot of that is due to elected party members living in their bubbles and not really representing the people who elected them. And the voices of the extremes seem to drown out others, as well as wide brush aspersions that get pushed on people for political convenience. The two party system is broken, yet a new party would weaken conservative voices and split the vote unless the left also had a new party of merit. Both parties suffer from big tent syndrome while the party leadership ignores a large swath. It makes the party be the only vehicle to use to have some voice rather than no voice.

The status quo has wrought the deep cultural divides that threaten to destroy the foundations of western civilization.

I used to think this. I learned what the framers taught us, division (or to use dumb lefty speak, diversity) is what keeps us sane. I want people at each others throats, and just like capitalism I want as many options as possible. Many of those options will be trash, but I want them there anyway. I want checks on the ascendancy of one ideology. I want a pyramid not a monolith. And I want this all back by a lot of people with guns, because human beings have a nasty tendency to resort to force fairly quickly.

I have seen the world get better. I have watched the messy, disgusting sausage making that makes things miraculously better. I am shocked that out of this comes good, but it is very clear to me how this gets done.

    Cadence in reply to Shane. | May 9, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Shane – As long as we’re talking variety of opinion, differences of opinion, heated discussion, even hard feelings and some rough-and-tumble, your view is sound. The rule of law, a working justice system, a common culture, keeps things in bounds. However, how can you not see that we are far, far beyond that?

    The left today is consumed by raw hate, motivated to destroy anyone out of step with them, and – here’s the difference – using the power of unelected forces in the State plus a totally corrupt (and compromised/conflicted by rampant hat swapping, career exchange) media to do so. From Lois Lerner & etc. on. And our “Justice” system is strangely inoperative against this, and way overheated against anyone objecting to it. Hillary indicted? Who’s going to do it? It’s a total breakdown of the rule of law.

    They’ve been rejecting elections when they lose for some time now, but with Trump it’s clear they’ll tear down the house, destroy every American institution and all trust among citizens to destroy Trump and his family, anyone around him. Midnight swat raids on innocent people (Flynn), three raids on Cohen (home, hotel, office!), etc. Very scary stuff.

    You might take a look at Gohmert’s letter re Mueller, the left’s champion and paragon of virtue. It’s long, but if you stick with it for ten pages you’ll know we’re way, way down the rabbit hole from differences of opinion. It’s the work of deamons!

Shane, be careful. Guns in the hands of passionate people have been very deadly.

I come from NZ, and have watched the commentors around Jordan Peterson evolve over about 19 months from pretty trashy to pretty sophisticated in the ideas they are expressing. That is catching a lot of people.

The thing I notice with this collection of podcasters (that includes JRE) is that they listen to the other person and then respond. So you get to see they have some pretty contrary beliefs from one’s own cf Bret Weinstein’s thoughts around why regulate markets. cheers

    Shane in reply to straight. | May 8, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    Guns in the hands of passionate people have been very deadly.

    That is why I want guns in the hands of dispassionate people too. Ideally I want guns in the hands of all people. (excluding criminals but they will get them anyway).

      straight in reply to Shane. | May 8, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      The trouble with guns is it is too easy to kill people. We do it regularly here. They are called hunting accidents. You guys in the States seem to do it on purpose.

        LastRedoubt in reply to straight. | May 8, 2018 at 11:14 pm

        the trouble with “no guns” is that in practice:

        a ) you can’t get rid of all of them, and mostly, you’ll only take them out of the hands of the law abiding, leaving them in the hands of those who make the laws, and those who ignore them

        b ) even if you could, now you’ve given a huge advantage to criminals of strength, numbers, health, in committing crimes.

        c ) given the desire for those with power to accumulate more power over others, and back that up with force, do we really need to render the people even more powerless in the face of those who might abuse them? (Believe it or not, this same argument also works – and has been made – from a leftist perspective)

          straight in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 8, 2018 at 11:54 pm

          I like the way you express yourself. We have rifles here, probably about 1 per household across the country. I used to have a “22” semi-auto for rabbits and hares. I grew up ‘303’s Not handguns. They are too open to impulsive use. That’s why suicide by handgun is so high when they are available.

          It really looks to me that Corporations playing politics is what is screwing you guys. A corporation can be like a hugely powerful individual. I see an incredible disparity in the power of the players in your political market. Guns wont fix that.

          LastRedoubt in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 9, 2018 at 12:34 am

          It’s a bit of a simplification but while corps aren’t actually people, they are composed of people – so unless we forbid people to interact and coordinate, it’s damn hard to say they don’t have rights to speech, lobby, etc. – there are some lines that can be drawn.

          THAT said, in practice, they are a concentration of power, and like any such, subject to abuse. Company towns – as well as future dystopia megacorps like the ones in Shadorun/cyberpunk stories – are places where they have acquired enough power to BE de-facto governments, because either the government refuses to act as a check in the name of the people electing it, or is hand in hand with it. Note, the more scope of authority a goverment has, the more likely that authority will be subverted by those with money regardless of whether they are corps/etc.

          So again, power in the hands of individuals can oppose power by those in authority.

          FWIW – rifles, especially so called “assault” rifles, are the best cheaply available tools for that, and people like Mike Williamson and Tom Kratman have written on how to do that, practically speaking, even against tanks, etc.

          That said, rifles are not concealable and awkward for every day carry to a degree that even swords are not. Handguns are much better for that.

          As to suicide – men who try to off themselves tend to be serious about it and choose something that works. See Japan.

          In either case, whether murder, or suicide, it’s the people, not the tools. And guns give a granny in a wheelchair a far better chance against a mugger, with or without a gun, than pepper spray, or a club, even if the mugger “only” has a club. Keep in mind that even the Brady organization – hardly biased in favor of guns – grudgingly admits to 100k defensive gun uses per year, whereas numbers from the CDC/etc. indicate 300k-1 million.

          In either case even the lowball numbers significantly outweigh the number of “deaths” (even without factoring in the number that are suicides and not otherwise crimes).

          It’s also worthwhile remembering we’ve got 300 million people here – instead of large absolute numbers look at per capita.

          THEN break it down by demographics. High legal gun ownership counties tend to have gun violence rates in alignment with the most ethnically homogenous European countries. Areas with strict gun control – well, lots of gang violence.

          And I hear knifings/etc. are up in London this last year – so that despite being the same size as NYC they’ve had more murders for the first time in forever – and keeping in mind the different reporting methodologies (what’s actually called a murder in England vs the US) it may very well be higher.

          I know that distributing the power to people means some people will make stupid decisions. People will be killed that otherwise shouldn’t. That said, I’d rather suffer the limited scope of those individual tragedies than have predators in human guise free to take what they want by main strength – especially the kind of psychopaths that gravitate to concentrated power over others.

          LastRedoubt in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 9, 2018 at 12:34 am

          Oh, and thank you, Straight

          straight in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 9, 2018 at 1:02 am

          Thanks for the writing. It must be pretty late at night for you. I’m here ‘cos I’m working from home this afternoon and came here thru NYT Jordan Peterson ‘cos one of my kids follows him.

        forksdad in reply to straight. | May 9, 2018 at 9:22 am

        I was a police officer here in the states. I have personal knowledge of one hunting accident that resulted in death. That one wasn’t mine to investigate.

        In the states they used to list some suicides as hunting accidents or cleaning the gun accidents as it was easier for the families. That mostly ended before I was an officer but I heard stories from my grandfather.

        Mac45 in reply to straight. | May 9, 2018 at 6:32 pm


          Mac45 in reply to Mac45. | May 9, 2018 at 6:44 pm

          Sorry, I don’t know what happened there.

          You do realize that New Zealand has a total population of a little over 4 million people, a population density of 46 people/ sq. mi and an ethnic make up which is 74% European, don’t you? The United states city of Chicago, alone, has a population of 2.8 million [9 million in the Chicago Metro area], a population density of 11,800/sq. mi. and an ethnic make up which is only 45% white [31% non-Hispanic white]. See any difference here?

          The rural homicide rate, including the firearms homicide rate, is very low, when compared to that of US cities. So, comparing New Zealand’s homicide rate to that of the US, which has almost 100x the population is like comparing apples to Lamborghinis.

    Latus Dextro in reply to straight. | May 9, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    “Guns in the hands of passionate people have been very deadly.”
    Straight, that old axiom, ‘guns don’t kill, people do’ remains as true today as it always has. Conflating ‘passionate people’ and murderous intent would at the very least have music lovers up in arms. Your argument distracts from your a far more sinister malaise afflicting ‘passionate people’ in New Zealand without guns. Instead, their preference is for pieces of 4×2 wood, which have proven to be as dangerous as guns to children. New Zealand is a country that has one of the highest rates of child abuse in the developed world, and one of the worst rates of child death by maltreatment within the family. Do you suggest a ban of 4×2?

    So the NZ globalist government did what Leftists typically do, and passed a law in 2009 to address the matter, even though it was already considered illegal to beat or abuse anyone, let alone children with a piece of 4×2. This law made ‘smacking’ illegal by an imposed legal ban on the use of physical punishment with children, in spite of a NZ national referendum forced on the government by petition in which 84% voted against the ban.

    The politicians ignored the will of the people and the ban remains, as indeed does the depraved rate of abuse of children in New Zealand.

LastRedoubt | May 8, 2018 at 7:32 pm


Mostly a list of self-described liberals, leftists, feminists, oh, and a neverTrumper – and frankly little Ben isn’t as smart as he likes to think he is even if he has shown some bravery in the past.

Rogan and to a greater degree Rubin are decent guys who are willing to have actual conversations but despite accusations of being alt-right because of that, are by no means conservatives – they’re just not insane. Ditto Peterson.

I almost feel like the acceptable enemies are being anointed to discredit anyone else.

Here’s the problem – even as they focus on these figures, they ignore others, more libertarian or conservative, who have interacted with, interviewed with, and been interviewed by these officially sanctioned darkweb personages. People like Cernovich, people like Stefan Molyneux who along with Peterson was one of the very very first people James Damore was interviewed by along with Jordan Peterson. And others.

Shining the light on these as acceptable targets keeps people from looking where the lights are not being shined, at people as or more influential, at people more rigorous.

    Daiwa in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 8, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    I’m attempting to discern who your “they” is and, while I’m probably not as smart as either you or “Little Ben”, depending on how you define smart, I detect a whiff of tinfoilhatism here.

      LastRedoubt in reply to Daiwa. | May 8, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      First “they” (third paragraph) in context is the group of people on the supposed darkweb list.

      Second and third “they” in the fifth paragraph – since this is a comment on the supposed darkweb list published by the NYT, is then the NYT, because the NYT is choosing where to point the spotlight.

      So – call it tinfoil hattery if you like. I’m far, far from part of the 9/11 truther/faked moon landing/flat earther/flouridation/theory du jour crowd – but it is interesting that the list of supposed renegades is, again, leftists, centrists, and a couple “conservative” types who are anti (“never”) Trump, and doesn’t include more conservative types. Especially since some of the people I mentioned like Stefan and Cernovich, as well as Milo, Lauren Southern, and others, have significantly bigger followings and audiences than most of the people who made the list, and we know for a fact the NYT and similar outlets are aware of these people.

      C’mon, even Noam Chomsky detailed decades ago how the press selects what are acceptable narratives and topics of discourse. This is backed up in the present day by Wikileaks and the discussions of the press submitting stories for approval to the Clinton campaign, and James O’Keefe has plenty of conversation-length video of reporters admitting to shaping stories to fit desired narratives directed from above.

Ragspierre | May 8, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Ben Shapiro is smarter than you are. Whoever you are, or think you are, he actually is.

So is Jonah Goldberg. You can hate on him all you want. You should just think and read what he says. Never uncritically. But certainly.

    tphillip in reply to Ragspierre. | May 9, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    What? Rags puts two NeverTrumpers on pedestals and declares them the smartest people alive?


      Ragspierre in reply to tphillip. | May 10, 2018 at 8:04 am

      Just like a T-rump sucker. Lies about what I DID say, and has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Conan in reply to Ragspierre. | May 9, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Those two demand cult loyalty against Trump. Not exactly any different an “intellectual” approach than the Democrats are demonatrating with Kanye West.

      Ragspierre in reply to Conan. | May 10, 2018 at 8:07 am

      You’re another ignorant liar. Another demonstration of what it’s like to live in a cult bubble of hate.

LastRedoubt | May 8, 2018 at 8:08 pm

As to little Ben – you don’t have to take my word for it – but I likely am smarter than him. Even if he is smarter, how smart *I* am isn’t the issue. My point that he’s not as smart as he thinks he is stands – I only have to observe his behavior and “arguments”, or how utterly outclassed he is by Peterson.

Goldberg had one good book in him – the followup was a waste of time.

And you’re wasting time talking about how smart you think I’m not as if it matters to my point – that these supposed renegades are mostly renegades for being insufficiently leftist, and nevertrumpers, rather than actually being conservatives, or successfully conserving anything, like women’s bathrooms. Their intellectual chops come, to a small degree, from standing up to the excesses of their comrades, and to a larger extent from having a pretty piece of paper.

You’d do better to look at Molyneux for “intellectual” than Shapiro. Or Taleb.

Especially Taleb.

    Ragspierre in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 8, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    You’ll do yourself a favor to look up the Shapiro/Peterson hour-long interview.

    My reading of you is that you’re a grossly narcissistic boob. But I tend to be rather judgmental.

      LastRedoubt in reply to Ragspierre. | May 8, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      Yes, yes you do.

      You also make a lot of assumptions – like I hadn’t seen that interview. or that I don’t appreciate Peterson, Haidt, or others on the list, or things some of the others have done.

      I also never said anything about MY IQ, or it relative to anyone until you made it about my IQ. I smell projection.

      Odd that you keep bringing it back to me instead of addressing the point – that this isn’t actually a representative list of people in the darkweb – just a list of the more palatable people in it for the likes of the NYT. Renegade leftists standing up for a bit of truth the social justice types have left behind, and neverTrumpers.

        Ragspierre in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 8, 2018 at 8:50 pm

        Now, perhaps you’ll note that my comment was NOT directed to you. If it were, you’d find it indexed under yours.

        I find it indicative that you took it to be.

        Someone who’s stupid enough to cling to the term “neverTrumpers” and throw it around on a thread about being more intellectually open and honest can’t be all that bright. That is IMNHO. And I’m just a simple country lawyer.

          LastRedoubt in reply to Ragspierre. | May 8, 2018 at 9:11 pm

          Your very first reply was immediately after mine until my first comment finally got a nested reply – and I’m the only one who mentioned Ben Shapiro not being as smart as he presents himself to be.

          The rest of your replies were nested under mine.

          I find it interesting that a person who throws around accusations of narcissism, etc., takes a reasonable presumption that a topically relevant reply immediately after one’s comment is a reply to THAT comment when it doesn’t fit anywhere else as a “Ben is smart” out of nowhere thinks it’s indicative of narcissism.

          Nevertrump is descriptive, and the tigers in question have, of course, not changed their stripes. Not calling a spade a spade, to mix metaphors, is not being intellectually honest. You knew what and who I meant – the communication was clear.

          And you’re still bringing it back to me instead of my point – that these are centrists, leftists, and neverTrump republicans, fairly mainstream even by the last few years standards and not some actual “darkweb”. I doubt your reading comprehension is THAT abysmally bad so at this point, which leaves dishonest hack.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 8, 2018 at 9:35 pm

          “The Intellectual Dark Web is not just a website that holds individuals like Christina Hoff Sommers, Ben Shapiro, and Jordan Peterson in high esteem, the IDW (as we’ll call it for convenience’s sake) believes itself to be at the forefront of a revolution of ideas, one evolved beyond the internet’s current cesspool of striated discourse.”

          Ben, Hoff Sommers, and Peterson are very smart people. Ben is a stellar intellect. As is Goldberg. I’m just not seeing that quality in you.

          You can hand-wave them away…or try. You can also falsely call people names like neverTrump. You can project strips on a lion. That does not make you honest. It makes you delusional. T-rump critics are not neverTrump, though we are T-rump critics. If you are not, you are a worshiper, and nobody worthy to call himself an American.

          LastRedoubt in reply to Ragspierre. | May 8, 2018 at 10:31 pm

          You don’t see much, except a field of strawmen, and still haven’t addressed the original point.

          The God-Emperor has spoken.


        straight in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 8, 2018 at 10:04 pm

        LastRedoubt you are correct. Of course the NYT will not publisise people it doesn’t approve of. What is interesting is that the NYT has picked up that there is a previously untapped audience they could bring onto their website. So it is interesting how you tube is taking people (and my kids) down interesting paths.

          LastRedoubt in reply to straight. | May 8, 2018 at 10:40 pm

          As the audiences have grown over the last few years, I’m not sure the NYT/etc. had the choice to ignore them any longer, so I’m guessing they decided to reveal this “darkweb” and simultaneously point the spotlight at safer opposition.

          In an environment where personality after personality exists, with large audiences, that does support Trump, the dearth of followers of the God-Emperor in that list is not random chance.

          Given that they know some of the names I mentioned exist – have been mentioned before in MSM circles and even the NYT in the past, even a couple TV appearances though offhand I only recall Cernovich and Scott Adams doing that – the existence of these internet-centric personalities hasn’t been news to them.

          straight in reply to straight. | May 8, 2018 at 11:27 pm

          LastRedoubt I think Peterson said he would have voted for Trump. From this (kiwi) side of the world, Trump is a fascinating really risky experiment. From our perspective the issues in the USA seem to largely come from the influence of self-serving corporations, call it political market failure.

          LastRedoubt in reply to straight. | May 8, 2018 at 11:32 pm

          I believe you’re correct on that one, he has said that.

          That said, he hardly claims to be conservative – self-described as a former socialist, and currently a classic liberal/centrist of the Canadian socialism-is-the-water persuasion.

          straight in reply to straight. | May 9, 2018 at 12:08 am

          “The Rationale Male” blog has some interesting things to say about Peterson. At least they seem pretty correct to me. cheers

        JusticeDelivered in reply to LastRedoubt. | May 9, 2018 at 12:34 pm

        Those who suffer from the Little Person Syndrome cannot be reasoned with.

Taxpayer1234 | May 8, 2018 at 9:54 pm

I’m delighted to see that my friend Stephen Hicks is a member. His is one of the best minds in the whole bunch.

Why is the Times promoting them? Approved opposition. They’re here to pull people from the dangerous right. Dangerous to whom? Carlos Slim’s blog of course. Their job is to put the Overton window back where it was before Trump and to rehabilitate leftism.

What I find scary is that conservatives speak to people and listen to what they have to say while those on the Left refuse to listen to any conservative for, in their minds, every conservative is an ultra right wing, skin head, racist, extremist who has nothing of even remote value in what they have to say. As such, they disallow any dialogue with conservatives and will even violently protest/riot to prevent conservatives from speaking. Incredibly they view their violence used to try and silence others as a noble act instead of the thuggish behavior, meant to silence others out of fear that their own highly flawed ideology might be outed, it really is.