The intellectual-web, part 2

In part one I discuss the emergence of an online subculture, so-called intellectual-web. In part two, I will describe additional characteristics of this nascent ‘movement’ or identity. It’s not unified by a set of goals or objectives in the way a political movement is, but rather by a set of values and idiosyncrasies.

In terms of numbers, is much smaller than the mainstream-internet, as would be expected by virtue of the normal distribution of IQ scores, but on an individual basis is more influential in terms of social influence (typically, with the exception of celebrities and athletes and other famous people, the size of one’s social network, reach, and influence such as on Twitter and Facebook is proportional to one’s IQ), so although there are far fewer members of the intellectual-web compared to the mainstream-web, each member in terms of influence (such as social media reach) may be equal to a dozen members of the mainstream-web. For example, many of the people Scott follows on Twitter are by no means famous in the conventional sense of the word (compared to top athletes or actors), yet have hundreds or even thousands of followers and are to some degree influential in Bay Area culture and politics, which is way more followers than typical Facebook or Twitter user has. This also goes for networks of post-docs, grads, and entrepreneurs, such as in economics or STEM. Individually, THEY are not as influential as someone like Eric Weinstein, but there are a lot of them and combined have as much or more influence if they all tweet out or share the same story.

An example of this is the bottom-up propagation process of memes and news. Rather than the mainstream media and mainstream publications dictating what is newsworthy, high-IQ influencers (I hate this neologism, but I cannot think of a better word for this context) who have large followings such as on Twittr, Reddit and 4chan, are able to play a disproportionate role in dictating the news cycle despite having little or no budget. Someone like Tim Pool, who has a huge following, can create news by reporting it on his Twitter account or YouTube, which then gets picked up by Reddit and 4chan, and then eventually the mainstream media.

Rather than alternative media taking over mainstream media, they coexist. They serve different functions. Sites such as 4chan is where inchoate movements and stories bubble up, and are then picked up by the mainstream media if there is potential and some veracity, which is what happened with Pizzagate and Q-anon. But also, footage of campus protests and antifa scuffles, which are posted on YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit in real-time and then hours later picked up by mainstream media outlets such as CNN, Vox, Washington Post, and Fox. A recent example is the the antifa Portland-Andy Ngo story.

Other characteristics include:

–Internal value system > external value system. The external value system is between communities or groups, such as political groups or tribal groups. The internal value system are values shared by members within the group.

–Shared narratives and experiences that unite people of differing ideologies by a shared set of values and experiences that tend to be unique tor exclusive to high-IQ people.

–The juxtaposition of the lowbrow with the highbrow, and the importance of authenticity. This, and other reasons, explains Joe Rogan’s popularity among the intellectual-web, because Joe Rogan does not have any pretense of intellectual superiority. He is authentic in that he does not pretend to know more than he does, and when confused, he just plainly states so and asks the guest to clarify. Mr. Rogan’s secular, non-judgmental value system also resonates with a lot of smart people. He tends to abstain from moralizing or imposing his own values, except for limited circumstances such as opposing trans-women competing against cis-women in sports, in which he does take sides, but overall he tends to defer to a set of anchor points or shared narratives that almost everyone can agree on, such as how social media has made politics worse, or how AI will have possibly unforeseen and unexpected consequences.

A related characteristic is the ‘celebration of the mundane.‘ In our 24-7 frenzied news cycle that is always dominated by high-stake, controversial topics such as China, Trump, immigration, guns, etc., there is, among smart people in particular, a huge demand for stories about more mundane or non-topical subjects, whether it’s about stoicism or the ‘miracle’ of exponential functions. For example, the article Bring Back Handwriting: It’s Good for Your Brain went hugely viral having received over 3,000 ‘claps’, is an example of a topic that could not be be less topical (penmanship), and also it ties into the rise of the reactionary-left and the recent backlash or criticism of modernity, which is why it went so viral. People who are involved in tech and other ‘smart’ fields seem to have an heightened appreciation for tradition and old ways of doing things (but not in a Puritanical sense), and the value of relearning and reapplying traditions and habits that served people well for centuries or longer but have been lost to modernity, which is yet another juxtaposition, that being between the low-tech and the high-tech.

–The US-China cultural and economic connection. There is a sort of affinity or shared bond between smart Americans and the smart-Chinese. The Chinese experience is an American one, and vice-versa. You ask a low or average-IQ person about China and their response is usually either indifference or one of a handful default responses that is parroted from the mainstream media: “communism”, “human rights violations”, “cheating” (in regard to trade), etc. But for smart people, it’s more nuanced. China’s economic success story is one that should be praised and is demonstrative of the success of capitalism, and it’s not clear how specifically China is cheating in regard to trade, or even what that means (how can one reduce a complex, mutual relationship such as international trade to a fair vs. unfair dichotomy like in a school game). There is the understanding that China’s system of government, in spite of criticism regarding human rights, seems to be working well in terms of maintaining social stability and economic growth. I have argued for awhile that America and China are closer culturally and economically than the US and Western and Northern Europe are, despite America being included under the umbrella of ‘Western civilization’. Silicon Valley, Washington DC, Vancouver, Manhattan, Seattle, and the major cities of China – Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen–are major cultural, political, wealth, intellectual, and economic hubs and have seen their influence expand greatly since 2009 and will will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. America’s competitive economy, consumerist culture, and respect for ‘rule of law’–antifa antics notwithstanding–is much closer to that of China than Europe, which is not nearly as economically competitive as China and the US are, lacks booming high tech industries, and is more socially liberal. There is respect for China’s pragmatism and technocratic leadership, whereas in the UK it’s been three years and still no decision on Brexit, as an example of how inefficient and stultified the latter’s government is. China has no politics. But unlike Suadi Arabia, which is also apolitical, is also high IQ and has booming tech industries. Also, there is tons of money from the smart Chinese flowing into Silicon Valley, Washington DC, Vancouver, and Seattle, so the connection is both cultural and financial.