Speaking an Uncomfortable Truth – The Intellectual Dark Web

I know this is a site for dating and relationship advice - but it's also a site where we tackle thorny issues in an untraditional manner for the love business - with a bias towards truth, rationality and big data rather than feelings.

If you haven't noticed - or have been living under a rock - some of the brightest and most liberal thinkers in America have been tagged as racist, sexist and far-left heretics, simply for pointing out things that are observable.

If you haven't noticed - or have been living under a rock - some of the brightest and most liberal thinkers in America have been tagged as racist, sexist and far-left heretics, simply for pointing out things that are observable.

I wrote about it here and am not doing it again any time soon. Instead, I wanted to use today's post to share a worthwhile op-ed piece by New York Times Bari Weiss that has already made the rounds. 

It's called "Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web," a term that is somewhere between "sad" and "tongue in cheek." Really, it shouldn't be newsworthy when a scientist points out that men and women are biologically different, that Islam has a unique terrorism problem or that the far left is eroding first amendment rights by shouting down any professor, author or comedian who dares to disagree with it.

If I were a public intellectual, I would love to be grouped in with the folks on this list, if only for the reasons Weiss describes here:

"They all share three distinct qualities. 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."

"There is no direct route into the Intellectual Dark Web. But the quickest path is to demonstrate that you aren’t afraid to confront your own tribe.

The metaphors for this experience vary: going through the phantom tollbooth; deviating from the narrative; falling into the rabbit hole. But almost everyone can point to a particular episode where they came in as one thing and emerged as something quite different."

I always thought I was pretty typical: East Coast, Jewish, liberal, well-read, likes to argue, could have been a lawyer, but became a writer. There are thousands of me. What it took me over a decade to calculate was that most people are more concerned about being liked than anything else. And while I'd love to make everybody happy all the time, if it's between speaking truth or kowtowing to cater to the whims of a bifurcated audience, I'll stick with truth every time.

if it's between speaking truth or kowtowing to cater to the whims of a bifurcated audience, I'll stick with truth every time.

As a result, I'm proud to say that I have haters on the right (the MGOTW community who thinks the worst of women) and haters on the left (the radical feminist community who thinks that any man who offers constructive (albeit solicited) criticism to women is a misogynist mansplainer).

So while I haven't hit it huge in the mainstream media - millions of blog readers notwithstanding - I'm proud to stand with the motley crew that makes up the Intellectual Dark Web. They just go to show that truth should not be subjective and one should never be ashamed to tell it simply because it's unpopular.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    kimberly smith

    I’m a conservative Christian and I say amen to your comments! We are going down the intellectual slippery slope and its a scary time in our world!

  2. 2
    Jeremy

    I don’t always agree with Bari Weiss, or Jordan Peterson, or Warren Farrell, or Christina Hoff Summers, or any of the others on the list. But I like the fact that they offer their opinions along with arguments to support them, and aren’t afraid of the reaction of those who might disagree with them. There was a great debate recently about political correctness, with Jordan Peterson and Stephen Fry on one side, and Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg on the other. The debate was fun to watch, but especially amazing was Stephen Fry, who argued against political correctness from the perspective of an empathetic lefty. A must-see for anyone interested in the topic.

  3. 3
    shaukat

    Sorry to be the dissident on this topic, but most of the people on that list are hardly intellectual heavy weights, with the exception of Weinstein and Sam Harris (the latter when it comes to a few topics).

    Most of those provocateurs parrot unbelievably facile points, and often repackage the status quo while acting as though they’re speaking uncomfortable truths. For example, if you listen to Rubin, for example, you get the impression that the guy’s never read a book. Same with Shapiro, he’s said outrageous things, including tacit support for ethnic cleansing, while cloaking himself in intellectualism. Often they’ll lambast identity politics on the left (which is a problem) while remaining completely oblivious to the identity politics on the right, and are often unaware that they themselves peddle in identity politics of a different kind. Harris’ recent podcast with Ezra Klein does a good job of highlighting this.

    Again, Harris is good on certain issues, but his email exchange with Chomsky from a couple years back shows that even he’s out of his depth on several political issues.

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Shaukat, thanks for weighing in. I’m not conservative, but Shapiro is a Harvard grad, and not like GW Bush is a Yale grad. And personally, I put Harris above all of them. He’s driven by rationality and logic, not by ideology, which is not something you can say about either Chomsky or Ezra Klein.

  4. 4
    Eugenie

    You should write a piece for Quillette, which publishes pieces by and on this topic and these personalities.

    I don’t like the term “Intellectual Darkweb”, and it’s curious that old-fashioned, formerly mainstream conservative/classical liberal/center-left ideas are thought to be controversial. But hey, I tend to agree with a lot of them, so I can’t complain. 🙂

  5. 5
    Tron Swanson

    I’ll grant you that the more vocal MGTOWs tend to be right-wing, but you’ll also find that many of them dislike “tradcons,” referring to family-values conservatives. I personally suspect that there are many more “silent” MGTOWs, and that they have a wide range of political beliefs, or (more commonly, IMHO) are simply checked out of politics. No one would ever describe this MGTOW as being right-wing. I have extremely progressive beliefs, but I’m not involved in politics at all.

    As for this so-called “Intellectual Darkweb”…America started as a puritanical country, and you still see the occasional moral panic pop up. It leads to what I call “cultural over-policing.” In my lifetime, this sort of thing was usually done by the right, as they freaked out about gay people or Dungeons and Dragons or what have you. But it’s now the focus of the mainstream left. Minor instances of major problems (racism, sexism, homophobia) are being treated as major, because the problems themselves are so big. We’re always hearing about viral stuff involving misunderstandings and tone-deafness. Those formerly in control of the culture had already adopted a bunker mentality, because they felt under siege, but this (completely predictable) overreaction is pushing some of the mushy middle to their side. Their long-held ideas suddenly feel “forbidden.” They were always the “cultural police,” before, but that time is over, and they’re starting to get used to playing the rogue. So they’re putting an intellectual sheen on standard talk-radio stuff and trying to sell it as subversive. And it technically is, since they’re becoming obsolete.

    As a hedonist, and not a puritan, I look forward to the receding of our latest moral panics. I’d rather have the left go back to being sex-positive (I’ll gladly take the Summer of Love over MeToo gender-wars, thanks), and I hope that the right becomes more libertarian and less socially conservative.

  6. 6
    Theodora

    I think what is happening now with the left in the US is a deadly combination (deadly for free speech and free thinking, that is) of Bolshevism meets Puritanism. Many American “liberals” just flatter themselves with that name. Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers are close to what a classic liberal is supposed to be, and they are kryptonite for the mainstream American left, who is mostly formed by this curious species of neo-Puritan Stalinists.

    What they took from old school Bolshevism, whose ideological grandchildren they are: inflexible binary thinking which divides the world into oppressors and oppressed, totalitarian impulses to silence, ostracize and character-assassinate those who have the slightest disagreement. It’s just the democratic tradition of the US and the Constitution that still hinder them (barely) to open the Gulag for the dissenters, so for the time being they just have the means to socially ostracize and ruin the livelihood and reputation of those whom they deem “the enemy of the people”, the new kulaks.

    What they took from the Puritans: self-righteousness, moral panics and witchhunts, the smug preachy mood and the peculiar tendency to always be outraged and offended, particularly in the name of other people, and the idea that they are called to save/redeem the world.

    The difference between the old school Bolsheviks and the modern version of American Puritan Maoists is that the former were by far intellectually superior. Whatever we might think of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and their ilk, they were intellectual hardweights with a lot of knowledge and respect for classic culture, people who were capable to read in depth Aristotle and Cicero in their original languages. Meanwhile, today we have the American academic who suggested that the study of classic European languages and classic Greek philosophers might lead to “white supremacy”. This level of stupidity would have been unconceivable for the old guard of 19-20 century Bolsheviks, so probably the poor dolt would have been excluded from the Party one century ago, in spite of her well-intentioned fanaticism.

    Unfortunatly for the rest of the world, the US is capable to export nutjob ideologies like it exports Hollywood movies. It would be heart-wrenching for my part of the world to see the replacement of old school Bolshevism, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with a more idiotic, dumber version coming from America. Fortunately, though American Maoism has gained some traction in academic/NGOs circles, it also has many critics and, more importantly, most average people are immunized with common sense against kumbaya egalitarian-totalitarian propaganda after the Communist experience/occupation. So, I remain hopeful that this cancer of the mind won’t spread to the East of Vienna.

     

  7. 7
    Amy

    I’m super impressed to see a dating website for women broach this topic. I find the “IDW” incredibly inspiring for orienting oneself in the world, for precisely the reasons you listed… it’s about thinking for oneself, being true to your own narrative and not getting caught up in what others think it should be. Kudos to you.

  8. 8
    OKRickety

    “the MGOTW community who thinks the worst of women”I presume you meant MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way).While some are MGTOW because they think the worst of women, I think there are many who have other reasons that are intellectually valid.

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