The Intellectual Dark Web vs. transgender people

The Intellectual Dark Web (IDW) is a loose alliance described as a “gateway to the far right.” Many are “gender critical” opponents of transgender rights. Members typically get money and attention by claiming to be “canceled” or silenced by the minorities and progressive movements they criticize (called DARVO in general; see also the Dregerian Narrative in relation to trans issues, named after IDW inaugural member Alice Dreger).

The term was proposed by American mathematician Eric Weinstein and popularized by American journalist Bari Weiss in 2018. A number of websites emerged profiling members, like the examples below.

The movement was popular with many anti-trans authors, including Meghan Daum, who has written about having an “affair” with IDW.

Members and “friends of the program”

Evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker is the member that ties the IDW to last century’s Human Biodiversity Institute, a group created by Steve Sailer which promoted similar eugenic ideologies.

Alice Dreger, Steven Pinker, and other IDW members. Source:

Intellectual Dark Web members by redditor AnotherDayDream (June 2018).
“Members of the Intellectual Dark Web that have appeared together (so far)” source: IntellectualDarkWeb subreddit (June 1, 2018)

Numerous lists of IDW members and “friends of the program” have been created that include some or all of the following people:

IDW member Alice Dreger in 2018. Source:

alice dreger as shown on
Alice Dreger listing on

Alice Dreger is a historian, bioethicist, author, and former professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. Dreger is widely known for her academic work and activism in support of individuals born with atypical sex characteristics (or disorders of sex development) and individuals born as conjoined twins. She challenges the perception that those with physical differences are somehow “broken” and need to be “fixed”. She has opposed the use of “corrective” surgery on babies whose genitalia are considered “ambiguous”. She has criticized the failure to follow such patients in later life, and reported longer-term medical and psychological difficulties experienced by some of the people whose sex is arbitrarily assigned. Dreger received her Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University Bloomington in 1995. Dreger has taught at both Michigan State University, where she received a Teacher-Scholar Award in 2000, and at Northwestern University (2005-2015).

reddit communities

There is significant overlap with IDW and anti-progressivism on reddit. The subreddit r/IntellectualDarkWeb is closely aligned with center-right and conservative media figures engaged in political philosophy.

Jordan Peterson

  • Jung
  • JordanPeterson
  • Jordan_Peterson_Memes


  • samharris
  • daverubin
  • enoughpetersonspam
  • ThePortal
  • EnoughIDWspam


  • moderatepolitics
  • centrism


  • GoldandBlack
  • benshapiro
  • walkaway
  • FreeSpeech


  • stupidpol
  • SocialJusticeInAction

Media critics

  • media_criticism


Lewis, Rebecca (September 18, 2018). Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube. Data & Society

Beres, Derek (March 5, 2018). These are the women behind the Intellectual Dark Web. Big Think

Weiss, Bari (May 8, 2018). “Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web”The New York Times.

Robinson, Nathan J. (May 10, 2018). The real “dangerous” ideas. Current Affairs

  • There are dozens of well-known critics of social justice activists: Harris, Shapiro, Peterson, Brooks, Stephens, Hoff Sommers, Weinstein, Weinstein, Murray, Murray, Rogan, Chait, Haidt, Pinker, Rubin, Sullivan, Weiss, Williamson, Yiannopoulos, Dreger, Hirsi Ali.”

Dreger, Alice (May 11, 2018). Why I Escaped the ‘Intellectual Dark Web.’ The Chronicle of Higher Education

  • Before Dreger backed out of appearing in Bari Weiss’s article with other alt-right figures, she posed for the photo: “Damon Winter, the Pulitzer winner, had me standing in a marsh full of tall, dry reeds, waiting for a particular moment just past sunset.”

Daum, Meghan (March 16, 2018). Op-Ed: A new movement to speak truth to identity politics is our best hope against regressive thinking. Los Angeles Times

Robinson, Nathan J. (May 10, 2018). The real “dangerous” ideas. Current Affairs

Brown, Elizabeth Nolan (May 14, 2018). The ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ Is Just Rehashing Old P.C. Controversies in New Media. Reason

Daum, Meghan (August 24, 2018). Nuance: A Love Story. My affair with the intellectual dark web. GEN.

Ribeiro MH, Ottoni R, West R, Almeida VAF, Meira W (2019). Auditing Radicalization Pathways on YouTube. (PDF)

Dickson EJ (August 28, 2019). Study Shows How the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ Is a Gateway to the Far Right. Rolling Stone


The Intellectual Dark Web (

Intellectual Dark Web (

School of Peterson (

The Intellectual Dark Web (

San Diego Public Library (