The Intellectual Dark Web: A New Enlightenment?

Members of the Intellectual Dark Web, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro.
Members of the Intellectual Dark Web. From left: Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro.

In the midst of political chaos where civil discourse is practically non-existent, a new group of thinkers from all political backgrounds has emerged to shed light on an issue that is plaguing our society. Much like the Enlightenment, these thinkers come from a vast array of backgrounds and each essentially has their own philosophies and political beliefs. From atheists to evangelicals and socialists to capitalists, these intellectuals have unknowingly formed an alliance that is just beginning to pick up steam and could potentially take this country by storm.

The “Intellectual Dark Web” or IDW, a term coined by Eric Weinstein, an economist who is the managing director of Thiel Capital in San Francisco, is a group of intellectuals from all political backgrounds who are fed up with both the mainstream media and mainstream political beliefs. The website,, was created in order for “there to be a place where people who are looking for real discussions could be directed to start their journey.”

Unlike the Enlightenment where the intellectuals would meet in groups to discuss their ideas, the thinkers today typically discuss their ideas via YouTube, podcasts, lectures and often times do interviews with one another. However, as previously alluded to, these scholars typically don’t agree with each other on many subjects, if any at all. Yet, unlike mainstream news outlets such as CNN and Fox News, these thinkers are open to discussion and are genuinely interested in hearing the other side of the argument.

As a frequent listener to the “Ben Shapiro Show,” I often heard Mr. Shapiro allude to the IDW and I wanted to learn more about this so-called movement. However, as expected I did not find much information about the IDW on the internet until recently when Bari Weiss wrote an Op-ed in the New York Times titled “Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web.” Much like her previous work, this article was well-written and packed with plenty of information about each thinker in this Enlightenment-esque society. Although each thinker has their own beliefs and ideals, they all encourage their audiences to strive to be free-thinkers and to honor the truth.

Whereas Enlightenment thinkers were praised for their genius, these IDW intellectuals have come together because they have essentially been ostracized by the mainstream media and their own political groups. The website writes that the members of the IDW are here because “They are part of the new media and not the old. Many of them have taken an honest stand, been burnt by the orthodoxy, and found people in the new media that are ready to listen, discuss and debate ideas. Although they may disagree on many things, there are certain convictions that they seem to hold in common.” Thus, the IDW is purely an effect of the mainstream media’s constant attitude of picking on whoever dares to disagree with them.

Civil discourse is low like my colleague McKenna Sjoden mentioned in her article “This Is Why Social Media Is Bad for Political Ideology,” however with groups like the IDW forming to promote free-thinking and public discussion, there is hope for the future. The way I see it, we could be in the midst of the next great Enlightenment and maybe the Intellectual Dark Web will be leading the way.

About Jeremy Fernando 5 Articles
Texas A&M University '20 | Pre-Law | Conservative | Former Student-Athlete

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