Bari Weiss created a short, simple label for the worst people in media: “IDW”

It’s been six years since Bari Weiss published that silly New York Times article conjuring the Intellectual Dark Web into existence. I think a lot of us here, at least, instantly recognized that it was PR for a gang of grifters and that Weiss was trying to be the Queen Bee of an imaginary movement. It’s about time we got a retrospective on Weiss’s propaganda flop. Where is the IDW now? How are its heroes doing? The short answer is that they’re thriving, cruising along with growing audiences, because they’ve become the clowns in the circus.

So let’s take a look at the IDW today. Eric Weinstein:

Eric Weinstein, a mathematician who spent years working for right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, gave the IDW its name—which he has described variously as a “half-joke” and also a brilliantly calibrated troll designed to get maximum attention. He’s considered one of the least extreme of the original IDW members.

But both in 2018 and now, Weinstein decries what he calls the “gated institutional narrative” and the irredeemable systemic corruption he believes has infected a vast array of institutions, from academia to the media. He’s convinced that many of these institutions are conspiring to silence himself and his friends (and prevent them from winning Nobel Prizes).

Jordan Peterson:

While Peterson was always prone to hyperbole, he has become increasingly unhinged.

He now says climate activists want to “sacrifice the poor,” compares them to Nazis, and suggests that global elites are using climate change as an excuse to depopulate the planet. He compares this effort to “genocidal societies” with a “utopian vision” which leads to the “mass destruction of millions of people.” He believes Vladimir Putin may well be on the right side of a civilizational battle against wokeness. He describes COVID-19 as a “so-called pandemic” and claims it’s “highly probable” that the vaccines (which he refuses to call “vaccines”) were more dangerous than the disease.

Dave Rubin:

Rubin’s North Star was “civility.” But these days he tweets things like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) is a “dishonest communist cunt,” and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is a “vile jihadist cunt.” Tweeting recently about United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power, Rubin said, “this bitch can fuck off.”

Ben Shapiro:

Another member of this tribe devoted to civility and rational discourse is the popular conservative podcaster and writer Ben Shapiro. As the right-wing’s angry motormouth one-time wunderkind, he’s remained somewhat consistent—having gone from saying things like, “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue” to things like, “Hamas is running Columbia University.”

Bret Weinstein:

Here are a few of Weinstein’s fascinating insights today: He suspects that the United States is involved in a plot with China and the WHO to create a “turnkey totalitarian planet.” He claims that a “credible estimate” of the number of deaths caused by mRNA vaccines is 17 million. He suggests that China is financing infrastructure in Central America to launch an “undeclared invasion” with a covert army of “military age” men. He’s a big fan of RFK, Jr., who compared public health measures during the pandemic to Nazism and the Holocaust.

Joe Rogan:

To cite just one example, when Weinstein recently suggested on The Joe Rogan Experience that vaccine mandates in the U.S. military were meant to purge ethical and freethinking soldiers and replace them with disloyal and compliant immigrants—a force that would be “capable of acting on behalf of tyranny against Americans”—Rogan didn’t offer any critical comment.

Instead, he said: “Holy shit. Then you have a real coup.”

Candace Owens:

In a 2017 interview with Rubin, Owens said, “I think abortion is really just about population control.” Rubin replied with a characteristically uncritical and incurious follow-up: “That’s some serious red-pill right there.” In 2018, Owens claimed that liberals want to “exterminate blacks via Planned Parenthood, which she would later describe as a “silent genocide.” She said Black conservative politicians are “all called coons” by the media. She declared that “the word ‘racism’ is repeated obsessively by people who wish to enslave black people to the Democratic Party.”

Five months before Weiss published her piece, Owens called for the imprisonment of journalists and political opponents—something that probably should have pricked the ears of a movement which claimed to be unwavering in its defense of free speech and civil discourse.

There are others mentioned, including Christina Hoff Summers, Majid Nawaz, Douglas Murray, etc., but you get the idea. The IDW was a tarnished brand from the outset, and it’s only gotten worse as its members descend into greater madness.

Bari Weiss has an awesome legacy. Let’s hope it catches up to her someday.


  1. chrislawson says

    …gave the IDW its name—which he has described variously as a “half-joke” and also a brilliantly calibrated troll designed to get maximum attention.

    Yeah, yeah, we’re all familiar with the Schrodinger’s joke schtick. There’s nothing intellectual about it.

  2. Hemidactylus says

    I will always remember Eric Weinstein by the weirdness of that episode of him with Sam Harris on Triggernometry. Harris was missing in action from the list above and Konstantin Kisin should be added.

  3. StevoR says

    Web, well virtually speaking in that yeah, online I guess.

    Dark in the sense of .. not bright?

    Intellectual .. Meh, maybe not so much despite some of their former reputations given the whole falling into rabid and nonsenical far reichwing shitshow Conspiracy “theories” I’d say.

  4. chrislawson says

    @4 — That piece is still far too sympathetic to Harris and uncritically repeats a bundled set of lies used in his defence:

    In particular, Szeps expressed frustration with what he describes as the groupthink among mainstream outlets on certain topics of which reasonable disagreement should be able to take place—such as allowing psychiatrists some latitude on how to treat children with gender dysphoria without labeling them transphobic, or whether certain vaccines make sense for every person. The implication is that zero-tolerance prohibitions in many newsrooms, classrooms or on social media that forbid dissent (or sometimes, even discussion) on these subjects has contributed to some once-reasonable people going down conspiracy theory rabbit holes.

    I’d like to know which mainstream media outlets refused to air views of opposing gender-affirming care. I’d like to know why psychiatrists denying access to life-saving drugs for ideological reasons, against all the evidence and against the wishes of the patient, shouldn’t be called ‘transphobic’. What’s more it’s the anti-affirming forces that are shutting down gender clinics and working to deny access to everyone TG rather than ‘allowing latitude’. I’d like to know which medical source or media outlet claimed that every vaccine should be used for every person (‘contraindicated if you have an allergy to the vaccine or any of the components’ is a standard fucking disclaimer on every fucking vaccine).

    In actuality, (1) every one of those examples is empirically false, and (2) it’s just Szeps’ way of blaming those who have been right all along for the deranged opinions of the people Harris jumped into bed with and now wants to (selectively) distance himself from.

  5. raven says

    While Peterson was always prone to hyperbole, he has become increasingly unhinged.

    Jordan Peterson who?

    He has managed to make himself irrelevant by becoming a complete idiot.
    Since he is a generic horrible person, that is accidently the only worthwhile thing he has done in his life.

    For a guy who pretends to have useful advice on life skills, his own life is a self made disaster. He got addicted to benzodiazapine drugs, tried to detox in Russia, and ended up almost dying on a vent after getting pneumonia.
    Lost his job finally at U. or Toronto after his department discovered a few vertebrae and managed to pretend having a spine.
    Last I heard, the medical board was threatening to pull his license as a clinical psychologist, something about a decade overdue.

    Peterson is a quack, a fake scholar, and a troll.

  6. ANB says

    Amen to all of the above.

    All these people are demonstrably horrible human beings. And it seems quite apparent that the first letter in their label clearly stands for “Idiots.”

    Most of the people in my life, even those with limited intellects, worldviews and racial biases, etc., are still generally decent people. How do these people get so fucked up?!

  7. raven says

    Evergreen college was very fortunate to get rid of Bret Weinstein.
    He is about as far away from a real scientist as anyone can get.

    These days, everything he claims are just factually inaccurate conspiracy theories.

    Appearing on a Joe Rogan podcast in February 2024, Weinstein erroneously stated that some people with AIDS were not infected with HIV and that he found the idea that AIDS was caused by party drugs such as poppers, rather than the HIV virus, “surprisingly compelling”.

    Cthulhu, this lie is decades old and no one bothers to repeat it any more.
    It’s HIV/AIDS denialism which has long been forgotten.
    When HIV/AIDS became a treatable disease due to HAART drugs, there was no longer any reason to pretend that the HIV virus didn’t exist.

    The vast majority of AIDS patients worldwide are women and children who wouldn’t even have the slightest idea what a popper drug is.

  8. Hemidactylus says

    How do the effects of amyl nitrite last long enough to get passed via blood transfusions or from women who never used them to their fetuses? How did Elizabeth Glaser or Ryan White famously contract the vicarious effects of poppers?

    How do protease inhibitors somehow work so well against the vicarious effects of amyl nitrite upon people who never used poppers? I tried poppers (or rush?) several times for kicks back in the late 80s (not recommended) and never came down with a deadly immune deficiency condition.

    Hepatitis B has been a serious disease which vaccination has had success against. Gay men have a risk for contracting it. Are poppers to blame for that too? Recently it has been mpox. I suppose the centuries smallpox had been a threat before a successful vaccination program was because poppers.

    I think the success of protease inhibitors against developing AIDS in HIV infected people falsifies Poppers.

  9. Akira MacKenzie says

    You can’t call yourselves “intellectual” when you feature Joe Rogan: The Platonic ideal of a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, pea-brained DUMB JOCK,

  10. Hemidactylus says

    I think my focus was too narrow on the protease inhibitors. They have been important:

    But raven above uses the HAART term which is a broader multipronged approach toward thwarting HIV:

    Protease inhibitors are but one tool. Other classes of drugs exist which target reverse transcriptase, integrase, fusion via gp41, and against gp120 (CCR5 Antagonists)…

    Targeting successfully so many HIV components at the same time shows HIV is responsible for the progression to AIDS (counter amyl nitrite) and these varied drugs may act in concert to reduce HIV’s chances to evolve resistance against all tools concurrently.

  11. HidariMak says

    It’s pathetic how these dead horses can be flogged well past the point of complete decomposition. Although hardly leaders of the IDW themselves, Alex Jones is still claiming that those who received the COVID vaccines are suffering from “massive die-offs” caused by “turbo cancers”, a claim repeated by the Intellectually Dim Republican Marj Greene. He also repeatedly claims that the COVID vaxxed are spreading death to those around them through “vaccine shedding”, and that women who have been vaccinated have an 80% miscarriage rate, claims which other rabid followers of the IDW happily parrot.
    With the abundance of these loons, not seeing that rate of suffering among those they know who have been vaccinated, when will they see a connection between that belief being proven wrong with everyone they know, and their realization that the belief itself may be wrong? I know, never.

  12. Alverant says

    To me, the worst part is IDW is also the name of a comic book company who did wonderful things for the Transformers IP. It added back story and personality to many characters, invented new lore that impacted the brand as a whole, and even had some original characters that became fan favorites. They also had a great run with Ghostbusters and other properties.

  13. says

    If you think you deserve a Nobel Prize it’s all but certain that you don’t.

    Someone should tell Bret Weinstein that the secret Chinese invasion idea is just a variation on the idea in some End Times fandom circles that China will field a 200 million man army as part of Armageddon. I assume he thinks he’s smarter than Christian fundamentalists, yet he’s parroting a variation on an idea many of them believe in. As for the idea that 17 million people have died because of COVID vaccines that’s just an inversion of the conspiracy theory that doctors were literally claiming any death during the pandemic was the result of COVID.

  14. Alan G. Humphrey says

    What would these “intellectual” anti-vaxxers do if bitten by a rabid animal? Almost certainly they’d rush to the nearest hospital for the only known cure for a virtually 100% fatal disease, a course of vaccines.

  15. nomdeplume says

    And Rupert Murdoch has provided the culture medium on which these vile bacteria colonies grow.

  16. says

    I’d like to know which mainstream media outlets refused to air views of opposing gender-affirming care.

    Not the Washington Post and not the Economist either — they’ve both published articles that uncritically support the Cass Review at full face value.

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    I disagree with the whole premise of this post.

    Bari Weiss did not coin “Fox”.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    White men with graduate degrees, a new study finds, are highly likely to hold especially noxious beliefs

    … a new paper entitled “The Status Foundations of Conspiracy Beliefs” by Saverio Roscigno, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine, … [asserts] “…approximately a quarter of those who hold a graduate degree agree or strongly agree” that school shootings like those at Sandy Hook and Parkland “are false flag attacks perpetrated by the government,” which is “around twice the rate of those without graduate degrees.” Results are similar for the proposition that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust “has been exaggerated on purpose.” … he finds that conspiracy beliefs are more common both among the less educated and less affluent, on the one hand, and the more educated and more affluent on the other.

    Roscigno speculates that the “taboo” status of particular conspiracy fantasies may in itself attract such adherents, but mostly, like a real scientist, calls for more research.

  19. StevoR says

    Jordan Peterson : “He now says climate activists want to “sacrifice the poor,”

    Meanwhile in reality :

    Flooding death toll in south Brazil rises to 75 as over 100 people remain missing
    Officials in Rio Grande do Sul state say more than 80,000 have been displaced by record water levels

    Source :

    Kenya and Tanzania have been bracing for a cyclone on the heels of torrential rains and floods that have devastated East Africa, killing nearly 400 people and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

    Source :

    Summer heat hits Asia early, killing dozens as one expert calls it the “most extreme event” in climate history

    By Arshad R. Zargar Updated on: May 2, 2024 / 10:30 AM EDT / CBS News

    It’s still spring but hundreds of millions of people across South and Southeast Asia have already faced scorching hot temperatures. The summer heat has arrived early, setting records and even claiming lives, and it’s expected to get much worse through May and June as summer actually begins.

    At the beginning of May, severe heat waves were already blamed for nearly three dozen deaths across the vast region. Schools have been forced to close weeks ahead of summer vacations and huge swaths of new crops have withered in parched farmland.

    Source :

    There’s also been record breaking extreme temperatures throughout Asia and much of Europe, storms recently wrecking devastation in Malawi, famine in Sudan and massive flooding in Kazakhstan with it being mostly the poorer countries who contributed the least to the Global Overheating and have the least available resources and capabilities to protect their people suffering the worst of the issues caused by it.

    So its the exact opposite of what Jordan “meathead bigot” Peterson says there and very clearly its science denying people like Peterson and Musk who are most willing and, in some cases openly happy given their evident racism, to sacrifice the brown and black-skinned poors. It’s the science and Climate activists who have been speaking out and trying to save and speak up for the whole planet but especially the poorer nations and regions such as Pacific islands vanishing under risng seas, African and Asian underdeveloped, neo-colonially ravished nations hit by famines and heatwaves, storms and floods etc.. that are trying to save and empower the global poor.

    As typically usual then so much projection and so little truth – indeed exact opposite of it – from those on the reichwing & specifically the IDW Conspiracists here..

  20. Prax says

    AFAIK, the Dark Web is best known for child pornography, pirated software, drug sales, fraud, and people offering to kill other people for money. I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to slap “intellectual” in front of that and publicly apply it to yourself.

    (This is not to say that nobody uses the Dark Web for noble causes, particularly under regimes that tightly control net access. But none of the above angry white people live in those places.)

Leave a Reply