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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Heather Heying: "we’re now getting the chance to do something on a much larger scale than we could ever do in the classroom"

Michael Shermer demonstrating
IDW "civility" by calling a critic
of Steven Pinker a cockroach while
suggesting the critic's motive was

nothing but being desperate for attention

I recently discussed the mystery of why Bari Weiss decided for herself to group people like Stefan Molyneux in with Steven Pinker and other presumably more respectable individuals in her article Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web.

I did not solve the mystery.

But while reading the article more thoroughly than I ever have before, several things jumped out at me.

One is a Big Lie of the IDW, which Weiss promotes in her piece:
...they all share three distinct qualities. First, they are willing to disagree ferociously, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject: religion, abortion, immigration, the nature of consciousness...
If Pinkerite has demonstrated anything, it's that nobody in the IDW is especially civil. And in fact Weiss demonstrated it herself when she wrote:
“I’ve figured out how to monetize social justice warriors,” Mr. Peterson said in January on Joe Rogan’s podcast. On his Twitter feed, he called the writer Pankaj Mishra, who’d written an essay in The New York Review of Books attacking him, a “sanctimonious prick” and said he’d happily slap him.
So why does Weiss repeat the IDWs self-congratulatory marketing copy?

And who exactly is writing the copy?

My bet is on Eric Weinstein. He's often mentioned as merely the coiner of the term "Intellectual Dark Web" but Weiss's article makes it clear that it's about more than just the nomenclature:
...when Ms. Owens and Charlie Kirk, the executive director of Turning Point USA, met last week with Mr. West at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, just outside of the frame — in fact, avoiding the photographers — was Mr. Weinstein. He attended both that meeting and a one-on-one the next day for several hours at the mogul’s request. Mr. Weinstein, who can’t name two of Mr. West’s songs, said he found the Kardashian spouse “kind and surprisingly humble despite his unpredictable public provocations.” He has also tweeted that he’s interested to see what Ms. Owens says next.
And then there is this quote from Weinstein:
“I’m really only interested in building this intellectual movement,” Eric Weinstein said. “The I.D.W. has bigger goals than anyone’s buzz or celebrity.”
Weinstein has goals for the IDW.

And then there is Heather Heying, Eric's sister-in-law. I've argued several times with fans of the IDW on Twitter, pointing out that there is another side to the Evergreen story than the one promoted by the IDW and Fox News narrative. As Bari Weiss puts it:
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.
But then Weiss includes Weinstein and Heying in her discussion of IDW profitability:
That hunger has translated into a booming and, in many cases, profitable market. Episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which have featured many members of the I.D.W., can draw nearly as big an audience as Rachel Maddow. A recent episode featuring Bret Weinstein and Ms. Heying talking about gender, hotness, beauty and #MeToo was viewed on YouTube over a million times, even though the conversation lasted for nearly three hours.

As Weiss writes:
The exile of Bret Weinstein and Ms. Heying from Evergreen State brought them to the attention of a national audience that might have come for the controversy but has stayed for their fascinating insights about subjects including evolution and gender.
Spoiler alert: their "fascinating insights" on gender are garden-variety evolutionary psychology and in Heying's case scolding young women to wear more clothes lest they be guilty of "toxic femininity."

All in all, it sounds like they've used the Evergreen controversy to level up. And Heying seems to agree. Weiss quotes her:
“Our friends still at Evergreen tell us that the protesters think they destroyed us,” Ms. Heying said. “But the truth is we’re now getting the chance to do something on a much larger scale than we could ever do in the classroom.”

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