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May 11, 2019

The Intellectual Dark Web and Education [KT]

iewww.jpeg

I have been running across the term "Intellectual Dark Web" lately. Sounds kind of sinister. The first definition I ran across was just something vague about people who got their messages out even though they bypassed the mainstream media. But I guess this is an actual group of people:

It turns out the IDW is mostly a collection of disillusioned liberals looking for a place to have honest conversation

Daniel Miessler took it upon himself to figure out what these people believed on all the major issues:

During the research I started noticing some weird stuff about this supposedly hateful IDW group of Harris, Weinstein, Rubin, and Shapiro. Namely, they're all Jewish, and yet a number of them are often labeled as white supremacists and even neo-Nazis. That completely breaks the stupidmeter.

Some of these people may not be your favorites, but at least they are talking to each other, if not to you. Anyway, Miessler's chart of the positions of six of the leading members of the "Intellectual Dark Web" is helpful. Take a look.

Just so you know where he's coming from:

Rather than bash them due to something you heard from this one place--or that one friend--take the time to actually listen. Most of them are progressive just like you and me. And if you're not liberal that's fine too--listening will show you that true discussion is still possible.

There's a longer list of members in a piece this week by Bari Weiss in the NYT:


The closest thing to a phone book for the I.D.W. is a sleek website that lists the dramatis personae of the network, including Mr. Harris; Mr. Weinstein and his brother and sister-in-law, the evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying; Jordan Peterson, the psychologist and best-selling author; the conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Douglas Murray; Maajid Nawaz, the former Islamist turned anti-extremist activist; and the feminists Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christina Hoff Sommers. But in typical dark web fashion, no one knows who put the website up.

The term "Intellectual Dark Web" was coined by Eric Weinstein, the brother of Bret Weinstein, the professor at the center of the Evergreen State drama.

A year ago, Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying were respected tenured professors at Evergreen State College, where their Occupy Wall Street-sympathetic politics were well in tune with the school's progressive ethos. Today they have left their jobs, lost many of their friends and endangered their reputations.

All this because they opposed a "Day of Absence," in which white students were asked to leave campus for the day. For questioning a day of racial segregation cloaked in progressivism, the pair was smeared as racist. Following threats, they left town for a time with their children and ultimately resigned their jobs.

Eric Weinstein's commentary:

"Nobody else reacted. That's what shocked me," Mr. Weinstein said. "It told me that a culture that told itself it was radically open-minded was actually a culture cowed by fear.

This brings us to a challenging piece from Quillette, which is reviled by The Left partly because it sometimes publishes pieces by members of the IDW. After Academia is a pretty dramatic title. Can education bypass academia the way the IDW has bypassed mainstream media? Nobody is listening to conservatives. Will anyone in academia listen to the IDW? What can conservatives learn from the IDW?

The piece focuses on the Evergreen State drama, with a video documentary included:

I keep being invited to talk about free speech on college campuses and every time I'm invited I make the same point: that this isn't about free speech and this is only tangentially about college campuses. This is about a breakdown in the basic logic of civilisation, and it's spreading. College campuses may be the first dramatic battle but of course this is going to find its way into the courts; it's already found its way into the tech sector. It's going to find its way to the highest level of governance if we aren't careful, and it actually does jeopardise the ability of civilisation to continue to function.

--Bret Weinstein

The author of the piece has a girlfriend from Bulgaria. About the behavior of students, faculty and administration at Evergreen State:

This is exactly the kind of ideological coercion for which Bulgarians have no tolerance: the chain of citations is immaterial if the behaviour is identical. Their society was destroyed by totalitarian tendencies, albeit dressed in different academese. And this isn't an academic panel discussion; at Evergreen, gangs of thugs prowled the campus with baseball bats in search of thought criminals.

These radical ideologies are empowering, but not in the inspiring way that this term is usually used. This power corrupts and, more importantly, it attracts the easily corrupted. Concurrently, a similar corrupting process seems to have occurred in academia, which has ballooned into an administrative morass, the primary purpose of which is to accrue rent-seeking profit, as predicted by Parkinson's Law. Parkinson's Law holds that a task will take as long as the time allotted to complete it. It seems to be a kind of social equilibrium theorem applicable to any complex organisation. Normally such organisations would simply collapse under the weight of their own bureaucratic inefficiency, but academia is different. It will never be allowed to collapse because education is a right.

"It will never be allowed to collapse because education is a right." Until it collapses.

I liked this:

"If we are to address this problem and rescue education, we first need to distinguish between what I will call the classical and modern variants. Classical education involves the acquisition of culturally and scientifically useful knowledge, and fostering an ability to think critically to further understanding. Modern education, on the other hand, is accreditation by an officially sanctioned seminary." . . . .

So, do you see viable ways to get an education while skipping the destructiveness and expense of academia? There are a few suggestions in the piece. You might want to read it.

Hope you have a great weekend.


Remember, this is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

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posted by Open Blogger at 11:20 AM

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