Vanguards of the Intellectual Dark Web

The first thing you will notice about this list of leading figures of the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW) is that they vary in gender, sexual orientation, race, and political affiliation. They do not form alliances based on their identities or tribal affiliation. 

But they all share two distinct and (now) uncommon qualities. First, they are willing to disagree fiercely, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject worthy of public discourse: religion, abortion, gender identity, race, immigration, the nature of consciousness. Many of the opinions they hold on such topics can sometimes be in contrast with the orthodox opinion of their respective tribe. Second, they are intellectually honest and thus resist parroting what’s politically convenient or politically correct. 

While most of these IDWers have been more-or-less roasted by the campfire by their "tribe" and the online public at large, they have been able to find a wide audience that resonates with what they have to say. Part of this may be the fact that they are willing to voice what others think, but are too unwilling to say publicly.

Eric Weinstein

The origin of the term "intellectual dark web" came from Eric Weinstein, on an episode of the Sam Harris's Waking Up Podcast (ep 112). He coined the term semi-ironically to refer to a group of scholars and podcasters who were willing to have discussions that were considered too toxic by mainstream academia and media. Aside from being the managing director of Thiel Capital, he has published writings on topics of economics, math, and physics. He is the brother of another IDWer, Bret.

Political Leaning: Left


Sam Harris

A neuroscientist from Stanford University who has written five best-selling books. It was on his Waking Up Podcast that the term "intellectual dark web" came to light. Harris has a PhD but took a non-traditional route there. After a year or so of college, Harris took off to study mystics of the east. He spent much of his 20s learning how to meditate with Tibetan Buddhists and was even a bodyguard for the Dali Lama. After coming back, he decided to complete his undergraduate degree and then went on to get a PhD in neuroscience in an attempt to study human consciousness. And although trained as a neuroscientist, his books have much more of a philosophical grounding. His books include The Moral Landscape, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, Lying, and Free Will.

Political Leaning: Left

Twitter: @samharrisorg

Sam Harris IDW Wiki (under construction)


Jordan Peterson

A clinical psychologist and a professor at the University of Toronto whose popularity surge when a video surfaced showing a mob of students confronting him about his failure to adhere to Canada's compelled speech law (Bill C-16). He was further thrusted into the limelight during an interview with Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News.  At the start of his career, he was an assistant professor at Harvard prior to obtaining full professorship at the University of Toronto. Since gaining online fame, he has published a best-selling book, 12 Rules for Life: Antidote for Chaos

Political Leaning: Right


Maajid Nawaz

Maajid Nawaz is a British activist and the founder of Quilliama progressive think tank that focuses on Islam anti-extremism. Born in Essex and having been exposed to racism at an early age, Maajid turned to Islamic fundamentalism at an early age and joined Hizb Ut-Tahrir. As a political organization, it tries to establish caliphates worldwide. This association led to his imprisonment in Egypt and his reformation. He was released as a prisoner of conscience and thereafter went on to renounce his old group and his fundamental Islamist ideology. He co-authored Islam and the Future of Tolerance  with Sam Harris. He also wrote another book titled Radical, detailing his journey out of Islamic fundamentalism.

Political Leaning: Left


Dave Rubin

Dave Rubin is the co-host of the show The Rubin Report. He formerly hosted The Rubin Report on The Young Turks Network but left the network due to what he saw was intellectual dishonesty on the network's part, particularly in their treatment of Sam Harris. Since 2016, The Rubin Report has been produced independently. The show has been known to feature various members of the Intellectual Dark Web as well as many conservative controversial figures. Prior to 2016, Rubin self-identified as a Democrat but has since called himself a classic liberal. 

Political Leaning: Left


Claire Lehmann

Lauded as "Australia's Mistress of the Intellectual Dark Web" by The Spectator, Claire Lehmann has been important to providing a platform for opinions and topics considered too toxic to be discussed by mainstream media platforms. QuilletteLehmman's online publishing platform, is a favorite for fans of scientifically-based argumentation. During June 2017, Claire Lehmann decided to publish Richard Haier's defense of Sam Harris and Charles Murray when VOX declined--thereby further elevating the status of the online magazine among fans of IDWers. 

Prior to starting Quillette, Claire Lehmann was a PhD psychology student.

Political leaning: Unknown


Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro is the former editor of Breibart news who left because he thought the media platform was becoming a Trump propaganda machine.  Aside from being for being an anti-Trump conservative, he now independently produces The Daily Wire, a 5-day-a-week podcast that gets millions of downloads a month. Ben also has a new show called The Ben Shapiro Show: The Sunday Special. 

Political leaning: Right


Douglas Murray

Douglas Murray is a British political commentator, author, editor of The Spectator, the founder of The Centre for Social Cohesion, and is the associate director of the Henry Jackson Society. He is an outspoken critic of Islam and Europe's current immigration policy---and his position on the subjects were summarized in the book The Strange Death of Europe

Political leaning: Right


Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somalian-born Dutch-American , political activist, author, and Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and former politician. She is a former Muslim, who is now one of Islam's most vocal critics. She is an advocate for women's right, especially for those in in the Muslim world. Along with Maajid Nawaz, she was listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) list of anti-Muslim extremists. The list has since been deleted by the SPLC after threat of a defamation lawsuit by Maajid Nawaz. Ayaan is also the author of numerous books, including the autobiography Infidel: My Life, which detailed her life as a young Muslim woman in Somalia, to her applying for asylum in the Neatherlands.

She is the founder of the AHA Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to defend women's rights.

There is still a fatwa (Islamic death edict) out for her because of her short film, Submission . In 2004, the director of the film, Theo Van Gogh was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam and attached to him was a note stating that she was next.


Joe Rogan

Joe Rogan is a comedian, former host of Fear Factor, current UFC commentator, and podcasting behemoth. As the host of one of the most popular podcasts in the country, Joe Rogan audience size is equal to that of many mainstream media shows and has wide appeal, thus making his show the leading platform for the IDW. Most of the members on this list have been on his podcast show. Although he has been criticized for having controversial guests on his show, he told the NY Times that he just talks to people and records it, and doesn't necessarily support or endorse a guest's political or social position on his show.

Political leaning: Left


Christina Hoff Sommers

Christina Hoff Sommers is a philosopher, author, and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Described as a factual feminist, Sommers is widely critical of the the modern feminist movement. In 2000, she wrote the book The War Against  Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young MenIn the book, Sommers challenged the modern feminist assertion that females are shortchanged by modern society through neglect and a preference towards males. Her central assertion is that girls are not behind boys, but it is in fact the other way around---boys were on average 1.5 years behind girls in reading and writing, and were less likely to succeed in school and go to college.

Political leaning: Right

Twitter: @CHSommers


Bret Weinstein

An evolutionary biologist and brother of Eric Weinstein, Bret came into the limelight during the spring of 2016 when he protested when persons of color asked white people not to come on campus during Evergreen College's Day of Absence. Different from the college's Day of Absence years prior, 2016's event was not a racially self-imposed absence. Bret contended that 2016's Day of Absence is a form of racism. In previous years, persons of color decided to be absent from the college on the day to illustrate what the campus would be like without them. However, in 2016, persons of color asked white people to be absent from the college---essentially one racial group asking another racial group not to come onto campus.

His protestation set off a chain of bizarre events that would make national headlines. 

Eventually, him and his wife (Heather Heying) were forced out of their teaching positions at the school but did reach a monetary settlement with the school.

Political leaning: Left

Twitter account: @BretWeinstein


Heather Heying

Heather Heying, described as a "professor in exile", is a biologist and the wife of Bret Weinstein. She was caught up in the debacle at Evergreen College in 2016 because she came to the defense of her husband. Along with Bret, she was also forced to leave the college. She no longer teaches but is a regular contributor and guest on many media platforms that are IDW-friendly.

Political leaning: Left

Twitter account: @HeatherEHeying


James Damore

James Damore is a former Google engineer who was fired for penning the now-famous memo titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," arguing against Google's diversity policy. In the memo, he asserts that the gender inequality experienced at Google and other tech firms is not due to any social biases or barriers, but due to biological differences between men and women. Scientists have both secretly (and publicly) shown support for the memo, stating that it is scientifically sound. However scientifically sound, it did not save Damore from being publicly ostracized and hung out to dry by his employer. 


Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer is a science writer who is known for his opposition to religion and the supernatural. Michael is the founder of the The Skeptics Society and the editor-in-chief of the magazine Skeptic. The magazine is dedicated to investigating pseudo-scientific and supernatural claims. He regularly appears in various media formats with other members of the Intellectual Dark Web and has been a prominent member of the atheist community.

Political Leaning: Unknown

Twitter account: @michaelshermer


Debra Soh

Debra W. Soh, the second youngest member of the IDW after Coleman Hughes, is a Canadian neuroscientist and a science columnist for Quillette, Playboy, and The Globe and Mail. She has written about biological sex differences, the science of gender, gender dysphoria in children, and sexual dimorphism. While originally wanting to work in academia after finishing her PhD in 2017, she ultimately decided to part ways with academia after seeing the hostile climate for researchers who want to explore the science behind biological sex differences. She currently has a podcast with Jonathan Kay called WRONGSPEAK.

Twitter account: @DrDebraSoh


Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt is a moral psychologist and current professor at NYU's Stern School of Business. Jonathan was one of the earliest prominent members of the IDW to write about the current free speech crisis on campus as he had first-hand experience in the matter in when he was forced to apologize to students when they complained to school officials about the contents of a video shown. He first wrote about the problem in an article in The Atlantic, titled The Coddling of the  American Mind.  He later released a book under the same title with the article's co-author, Greg Lukianoff. Haidt is also the founder of Hetorodox Academy, an advocacy group of professors founded to counteract narrowing of viewpoints on college campuses.

Political leaning: Left

Twitter: @JonHaidt


Glenn Loury

Glenn Loury is an American economist and author, who is currently the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University. He is also one of the hosts of Bloggingheads.tv. The site has been up since 2005, and is described as "the first website devoted to split-screen video dialogues about politics and ideas." He has written four books. 

Books written by Gleen Loury:

One by One from the Inside Out; Essays and Reviews on Race and Responsibility in America

The Anatomy of Racial Inequality,

Ethnicity, Social Mobility, and Public Policy: Comparing the US and the UK,

Race, Incarceration, and American Values.

Political leaning: Unknown

Twitter: @GlennLoury


John McWorther

John McWhorter is an American academic and linguist who is currently a professor at Columbia University. He is a frequent contributor to Bloggingheads.tv with his conversation partner Glenn Loury. McWhorter is also a prolific writer, having published over 20 books since 1997.

Political leaning: Left

Twitter: @Johnhmcwhorter


Coleman Hughes

Profile will be updated soon.

Twitter: @coldxman