Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The Intellectual Dark Web: A home for heretics of all stripes

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.

...But as the members of the Intellectual Dark Web become genuinely popular, they are also coming under more scrutiny. On April 21, Kanye West crystallized this problem when he tweeted seven words that set Twitter on fire: “I love the way Candace Owens thinks.”

Candace Owens, the communications director for Turning Point USA, is a sharp, young, black conservative — a telegenic speaker with killer instincts who makes videos with titles like “How to Escape the Democrat Plantation” and “The Left Thinks Black People Are Stupid.” Mr. West’s praise for her was sandwiched inside a longer thread that referenced many of the markers of the Intellectual Dark Web, like the tyranny of thought policing and the importance of independent thinking. He was photographed watching a Jordan Peterson video.

...A year ago, Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying were respected tenured professors at Evergreen State College, where their Occupy Wall Street-sympathetic politics were well in tune with the school’s progressive ethos. Today they have left their jobs, lost many of their friends and endangered their reputations.

All this because they opposed a “Day of Absence,” in which white students were asked to leave campus for the day. For questioning a day of racial segregation cloaked in progressivism, the pair was smeared as racist. Following threats, they left town for a time with their children and ultimately resigned their jobs.

“Nobody else reacted. That’s what shocked me,” Mr. Weinstein said. “It told me that a culture that told itself it was radically open-minded was actually a culture cowed by fear.”

Sam Harris says his moment came in 2006, at a conference at the Salk Institute with Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson and other prominent scientists. Mr. Harris said something that he thought was obvious on its face: Not all cultures are equally conducive to human flourishing. Some are superior to others.

“Until that time I had been criticizing religion, so the people who hated what I had to say were mostly on the right,” Mr. Harris said. “This was the first time I fully understood that I had an equivalent problem with the secular left.”

Read the rest here.


August said...

We are getting used to this rodeo:


John (Ad Orientem) said...

Alex Jones is a crank and a con artist. If I thought he actually believed most of the crap he spouts I'd call him a nut. But I am pretty sure he knows that 95% of what he puts out is pure bull ----. But there is big money in fertilizer and Jones has been raking it in from the credulous for a long time.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Hmmm... I think I accidentally deleted your comment. I will try and recover it if possible.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

August has left a new comment on your post "The Intellectual Dark Web: A home for heretics of ...":

So, if you were part of the story in the Emperor has no clothes, would you really want to be the guy suggesting we don't believe the four year old?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

The analogy offered is inapplicable. Alex Jones is not a 4 year old. He is an adult, a huckster and serial liar. If you think he is a reliable source for anything, including the time of day or current weather then we simply do not inhabit the same plane of existence.

August said...

Alex is more like the four year old than when I came up with that analogy- back when Denise Minger did a take down of the China Study. She actually took everyone through statistics- and the main reason for the analogy that they always tried to side step getting caught out in sloppy reasoning by saying she wasn't a 'professional.'
Alex is just pointed and shrieking like the four year old in the story- since he happens to have a show, he got Vox Day on, but it is clear from his line of questioning all he knows is these people bad mouth him and appear to have old Republican money behind them.

But they broke the party a long time ago and they will continue to find their candidates unmarketable. And, like I mentioned, we see them coming long before they've really got anywhere.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The more I read about this, the more it comes across as a desperate attempt to shore up the Right bound of the Overton frame.