The Intellectual Dark Web

This is pretty interesting Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW). Not only did this blog correctly predict economics and fiance stuff, but it also predicted an intellectual movement. This agrees with the themes I have been writing about for the past three years, especially as it pertains to the rise of centrism and so-called ‘intellectualism culture’, and how online journalism has evolved, as well as the decline of low-information conservatism. I first became cognizant of this trend in 2015 and early 2016, which accelerated in 2017, interestingly and unexpectedly enough, after Trump’s win. Intuition would dictate that the popularity of someone as polarizing as Trump would auger badly for centrism, but it hasn’t.

Just the name itself–Intellectual Dark Web–evokes a sort of mystique, much like The Dark Enlightenment.

It also agrees with earlier articles such as The Failed Hero’s Journey and The four horsemen of the alt-middle/center, about this burgeoning online centrist moment that rejects identity politics and favors the ethos of classical liberalism.

The post The accent of the alt-middle/center: how it began gvies a synpsis of how this centrism boom began. It was borne out of the failure of OWS and in rejection by liberal moderates to what they perceived as arrogance and overreach by the the mainstream and activist-left. Gamergate in 2013-2014 was the beginning of this trend, but also the rise of ‘Chan’ culture, Hacker News, Reddit, and the rise of rationalism, all of which tend to unify around a set of themes despite the communities themselves being different in terms of conduct and internal culture. Such themes also unify the intellectual dark web, which is related to these online subcultures.

The themes include:

A strong internal value system, but a weak external one. Some complain that Slate Star Codex is has a right-wing or libertarian bias, but thoughtful left-wing comments also do well. Posts by Freddie Deboer, a socialist, do very well. Slate Star Codex is unified by a rejection of low-information discourse, such as reductionism, lazy thinking, and generalizations, regardless of what side of the political aisle it originates from. That is the internal value system. The denizens of the Intellectual Dark Web are similar in that regard, choosing facts and reason over sentimentalism or emotiveness; and a repudiation lazy/sloppy thinking. Related: Individual Ideological & Philosophical Classification System. The neoreactionary community, however, has both a strong internal and external system. The external one is a unification against liberalism, but the internal one is also a rejection of low-information discourse.

Second, a facts precede values, not the other way around. IDW Pundits such as Ben Shapiro, use empiricism and rationalism extensively to arrive at their conclusions, not appeals to identity, emotion, or tribalism. Additionally, because their values are secondary to facts and and empirical evidence, when the evidence changes, so to do their values. They also employ a smart, fast-talking style to their discourse.

As if it was not obvious enough, they really don’t like identity politics of any form. Or tribalism, ethno-nationalism, or any sort of group-conformity. They tend to be individualistic to a fault this regard.

Although they tend to be agnostic or atheist, they are much more tolerant of Christianity than the mainstream and far-left.

Very provisional. Similar to above, they reject absolutist thinking. One of the advantages of this, as shown by the huge success of key IDW figure Scott Adams, is that they can take varied positions on issues instead of being pigeonholed to an unmovable set of beliefs. This means more intellectual and creative freedom.

Shared narratives that unite the left-wing and right-wing IDW. This why rationalists and reactionaries keep bumping into each other online.

These donations can add up. Mr. Rubin said his show makes at least $30,000 a month on Patreon. And Mr. Peterson says he pulls in some $80,000 in fan donations each month.

Jesus Christ that is a lot of money. And that is just the Patreon and does not include the books, online courses, teaching, clinical practice, YouTube ad revenue, and on and on.

I mean yeah the founders of Google are richer, but it feels like it’s more money.

Mr. Shermer, a middle-aged science writer, now gets recognized on the street. On a recent bike ride in Santa Barbara, Calif., he passed a work crew and “the flag man stopped me and says: ‘Hey, you’re that skeptic guy, Shermer! I saw you on Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan!’” When he can’t watch the shows on YouTube, he listens to them as podcasts on the job. On breaks, he told Mr. Shermer, he takes notes.

This agrees with posts written in 2015-2016 about the rise of the STEM celebrities and ‘esoteric celebrities’. AMAs on Reddit by scientists and economists are as popular and highly-voted as those by actors and athletes, and the reaction is more positive because they do a much better job engaging with the Reddit community. However, Carl Segan was a big deal many decades ago, so maybe this not a new observation, but it seems like online, at least, STEM is the cachet of nobility. But historians, English majors, philosophers, accountants, and economists are also high status online–anything that is intellectually rigorous and pure, even if the pay is not that great.

“I’ve had to update Quillette’s servers three times now because it’s caved under the weight of the traffic,” Ms. Lehmann said about the publication most associated with this movement.

That agrees with posts about how the fastest growth online in in intellectual and niche topics–as well as ‘smart’ and contrarian websites such as Medium, Quillete, QZ, and WaitButWhy–while mainstream websites and topics, although more popular in absolute numbers, have stagnated. [Related: Notes on writing advice: longer is better and To make money online, don’t write about weight loss; write about physics] In the pre 2013 world, short, dumbed-down articles and websites thrived, but since 2013 there has been this sudden explosion of interest in complicated subjects, non-mainstream viewpoints, and long-form articles. The assumption was attention spans were too short for anyone to read a 5000-word article online, but although most people won’t read such a long article in one sitting or in its entirety, the length creates the impression of it being a substantive piece of work worthy of attention and merit, which means it’s more likely to be shared and go viral, even if few read it in its entirety. Also ‘old media’, such as FOX, Drudge, and CNN no longer control the national debate and discussion–but rather 4chan, Twitter and Reddit do–and the smart, young people who share articles and links on those sites, which are then picked up by the mainstream media. The front page of /r/the_Donald is what is important, not what the mainstream left and right insists is important.