Intellectual Dark Web

Intellectual Dark Web

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Updated Jul 01, 2018 at 04:21AM EDT by Y F.

Added May 08, 2018 at 01:54PM EDT by Don.

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Intellectual Dark Web (IDW) is a phrase coined by mathematician Eric Weinstein referring to a loosely defined group of intellectuals, academics, political commentators who espouse controversial ideas and beliefs surrounding subjects related to free speech, identity politics and biology. In early May 2018, a New York Times op-ed written by staff editor Bari Weiss titled "Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web" drew polarized reactions on social media.


Eric Weinstein is credited with coining the term following his brother's involvement in a series of protests at Evergreen State College for objecting to white students and faculty being urged to leave campus during a "Day of Absence" demonstration. The term is used to describe a group of public figures with varying political beliefs who support freedom of speech and often voice criticisms of political correctness, third-wave feminism and identity politics.


On January 3rd, 2018, Sam Harris published an episode of the Waking Up podcast with guests Eric Weinstein and Ben Shapiro titled "The Intellectual Dark Web" (shown below).

On January 30th, The Rubin Report released a video titled "What is The Intellectual Dark Web?", gathering more than 122,000 views and 1,200 comments over the next four months (shown below, left). On February 15th, the Rebel Wisdom YouTube channel uploaded a video titled "'A Glitch in the Matrix' – Jordan Peterson, the Intellectual Dark Web & the Mainstream Media" (shown below, right).

On March 1st, Redditor leocohen99 submitted a parody alignment chart with the caption "Intellectual Dark Web" to the /r/Jordan_Peterson_Memes[4] subreddit (shown below). On March 16th, the Los Angeles Times[6] published an op-ed article about the Intellectual Dark Web titled "A new movement to speak truth to identity politics is our best hope against regressive thinking." On May 3rd, the libertarian news site Reason[2] published an article titled "What Is the 'Intellectual Dark Web?'."

New York Times Op-ed

On May 8th, 2018, The New York Times published the article, which profiled various intellectuals, political commentators and media personalities who were described as defenders of "free speech," including Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Bret Weinstein, Dave Rubin, Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Christina Hoff Sommers and Claire Lehmann. In describing what the qualities join the figures together, Weiss writes:

"First, they are willing to disagree ferociously, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject: religion, abortion, immigration, the nature of consciousness. Second, in an age in which popular feelings about the way things ought to be often override facts about the way things actually are, each is determined to resist parroting what’s politically convenient. And third, some have paid for this commitment by being purged from institutions that have become increasingly hostile to unorthodox thought -- and have found receptive audiences elsewhere."

Additionally, the article criticized people like Dave Rubin for giving platforms to or failing to criticize figures like Alex Jones, Mike Cernovich, Stefan Molyneux and Milo Yiannopoulos.

That day, critics of the figures profiled in the op-ed posted tweets mocking and deriding the article (shown below). Meanwhile, The Observer[5] highlighted various reactions to the piece in an article titled "NY Times ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ Story Savaged on Twitter."

Ashley Feinberg @ashleyfeinberg love that bari weiss's big oppression piece is also just a cascade of photos of highly prominent and well-off white people Paul Krugman @paulkrugman Until now, I didn't realize how oppressed I am. I mean, sure, I get to write for the Times, am very well paid, and am invited to speak to audiences all over the world. But sometimes people criticize me and my ideas. Why, it's positively Stalinist! 1金 Opinion | Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web An alliance of heretics is making an end run around the mainstream conversation. Should we be listening?

Meanwhile, others lauded the piece, including cognitive scientist Steven Pinker who described it as an "excellent analysis" (shown below, left) and journalist John Podhoretz who referred to it as "intellectual journalism at its best" (shown below, right).

Steven Pinker @sapinker Excellent analysis by Bari Weiss of the "Intellectual Dark Web." I can confirm Joe Rogan & Dave Rubin's reach: More strangers recognize me from their shows than MSM appearances. Weiss identifies the promise (enriching debate) & danger (legitimizing kooks) John Podhoretz @jpodhoretz This, by @bariweiss, is intellectual journalism at its very best. You must read it. 1金 Opinion | Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web An alliance of heretics is making an end run around the mainstream conversation. Should we be listening?

That day, Weiss was interviewed during the morning talk show Morning Joe, during which she discussed the article (shown below). Meanwhile, the "Welcome to My Intellectual Dark Web" Tumblr blog was launched.[3]

Also on May 8th, Twitter published a Moments[8] page titled "Conservative 'renegades' are marking their own space on the "Intellectual Dark Web" after being marginalized by the mainstream media." Shortly after, Weiss replied to the tweet noting that many of the people featured in the op-ed were not conservatives and that several were supporters of 2016 Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders (shown below).

Bari Weiss @bariweiss Cool, thanks @TwitterMoments. But @BretWeinstein, @HeatherEHeying, @EricRWeinstein, @SamHarrisOrg are not conservatives. Bret, Heather and Eric are Bernie people

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