The intellectual-web: an emergent online culture

I’m sure most readers are familiar with the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW), which describes a closely-linked network of experts, pundits, and academics, who have large online platforms from which to espouse occasionally controversial and politically incorrect ideas, such as topics pertaining to IQ or gender. But I think there is a related intellectual movement, the intellectual-web, which describes a shared set of beliefs and values held by individuals that may follow the IDW and across differing political ideologies, but it’s not the IDW. Essentially, it’s a shared value system that tends to be invariant of politics.

It spans communities and subs such as a Hacker New and some of the ‘smarter’ Reddit subs. You’re not going to find it on Disney.com or ESPN.com.

It is opposed to Puritanical prudishness and moralizing, whether from the social-justice left or the religious-right. It does not want to be told what to do, what to believe in, who to associate with. Similarly, it is skeptical of activism and politics. .

It encompasses the full span of the political spectrum, from the left to the right, but is mostly composed of centrists and moderates. Realpolitik dominates. It is very pragmatic, which makes it somewhat allied with the_Donald-right, who are also economically pragmatic despite being overtly politically biased. The social-justice/activist-left, which includes Sanders and Warren supporters, is less economically pragmatic (at least in my own opinion). Look at Donald Trump…he won due to economic issues, being opposed to immigration, and by being anti-establishment, not because of fighting age-old culture war issues and moralizing over abortion.

It supports individual autonomy to the fullest extent but in adherence with the NAP, whether it’s support for euthanasia, drug legalization, or access to abortion, similar to libertarianism. Even the_Donald-right are not uniformly opposed to abortion and euthanasia. However, as discussed above, it supports policy from consequentialist grounds and is not opposed to government intervention and the fed, which obviously makes it incompatible and diametrically opposed to much of libertarianism. The government is seen as a tool to help promote individual freedom, and help stabilize society and the economy and help it run optimally.

There is an intense interest in making money, economics, financial markets, personal finance (such as FIRE), getting rich, etc. Posts about the stock market (are we in a bubble or not), finance (such as active vs. passive management), economics (recession vs. no recession), and ‘schemes’ to make money (such as horse betting), frequently go viral. Yet this is juxtaposed with a fascination with stoicism, the acceptance of mediocrity and ‘being average’, coping with failure and disappointment, and the benefits of ‘missing out’. Posts about the ‘loneliness epidemic’ wrought by anomie and overexposure to technology, go viral, alongside posts about the stock market and making money.

This is related to the backlash or skepticism of modesty by the intellectual-left, as discussed in the post Left-wing reaction. There are all these liberals, moderates, and centrists who speak fondly of Pinker, Harris, and technology, yet are conflicted about the possibly unforeseen or ignored societal effects of too much modernity, that may negate some of the benefits. Falling birthrates, for example, comes to mind a consequence of modernity, and such articles frequently go viral.

It tends to be STEM-centric, but it has great respect for the liberal arts such as history, literature, or philosophy , or any subject that is sufficiently intellectually rigorous and not over-politicized, unlike African American studies or women’s studies, which are neither rigorous nor apolitical, save for for the most obscure areas feminism, which may get a pass. There is interest in philosophy, as extension to science or being compatible with science, with its own taxonomy much like science has. Intersectionality does have a quasi-science feel to it.

Opposed to reductionist discourage (such as binary thinking and reducing complicated social matters to good vs. evil narratives), factual inaccuracies, judgmentalism and moralizing, over-generalizations, and sentimentalism. To invoke Jordan Peterson, it’s ‘logo-centric’. But as another sorta contradiction, the personal/anecdotal experience is as valued as professional studies/research even though the subjectivity of the former former may seem to contradict the objectivity of latter. The shared narrative is related to the experience that unites members, and the studies provide evidence. The personal stories signal the shared narrative, and is why they are valued. Regarding an article about the epidemic of cheating in college, comments that cite personal stories of witnessing cheating or having cheated are valued, but so are studies about cheating in college, and also commentary about what cheating says about society in general, such as too much competitiveness and how career-orientated everything has become. Like above regarding Puritanism, it’s not about pressing judgment that cheating is always bad or that cheaters should be punished, but about understanding the social phenomenon behind it and what cheating says about the state of modern society.

It’s socioeconomically diverse. Some are college-educated professionals, but others fall into the ‘NEET’ category. The ages range from young adult to middle-aged.

The Intellectual-Web Part 2 of 2