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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Voices from the Intellectual Dark Web

Silverfiddle Rant!
"Political homelessness and classical liberal principles unify the IDW, not politics or ideology" (What connects the Intellectual Dark Web?)

I started listening to podcasts last year. After sampling this and that and winnowing out the comedians and political talk, it recently occurred to me that my small group of subscriptions are all members of the Intellectual Dark Web. Apologies, but no Jordan Peterson (turgid, cardboard dry and overly-long), no Joe Rogan (too manic, and overly-long).

Here are my faves:

Sam Harris - Making Sense.  He's gone off the deep end lately with his meditation advocacy, and he shifted to a paid platform at the beginning of 2020, but he still gives us a half-hour snippet of each podcast for free, and that's plenty for me.

Brendan O'Neill's Spiked podcast. Heavy on British issues like Brexit and the NHS, which makes sense since he is British, but he explores many issues of universal appeal with his wide variety of interesting guest interlocutors.

Quillett offers a wide variety of intellectually stimulating conversations, and is considered one of the founding members of the IDW

Half Hour of Heterodoxy, podcast of another charter member of the IDW, Heterodox Academy, is also a reliable podcast for reasoned debate by intelligent, educated people who can disagree without being disagreeable.

All of these podcasts discuss a wide variety of controversial topics, and the people discussing them are educated and bring rational, fact-based argumentation to the conversation.  Most striking (and a pleasant respite from our ragey pop culture) is how bereft of ad hominem the podcasts are.  Many episodes feature people who despise Donald Trump, but they are not unhinged over it, and they refrain from disparaging Trump supporters or backhandedly damning them with intellectually-superior condescension.  These are people who can understand something without agreeing with it, people who take the time to understand what they argue against, and who will concede an opponent's  point well made.

Do you listen to any podcasts?  Please give us your suggestions and tell us what's on your mind.


  1. My favourite podcasts are all comedy, history or interview. The one political one I still check about 50% of the time (I don't like it any less, just my routine was to listen to it at the gym, so there's no fixed spot for it in my schedule ATM) is the remainiacs.

    I like the idea of what you describe here, but "intellectual dark web" is horrible branding. Calls to mind a bunch of Johnny Hot-takes trying to out-edge one another.

    1. I absolutely despise political talk in any format, which is why I turned it all off. Brendan O'Neill will get into politics, but as part of a larger discussion, and never for the purposes of partisan bashing.

  2. I never listen to podcasts since I don't have the time. I can read waaaaay faster than I can listen.

    btw - Great article you did for American Thinker

    1. Thanks! I am short on time myself, but the nice thing about podcasts is you can listen to them in your care, or when exercising, working outside, etc.

    2. Yes, I just finally finished your AT article. Good stuff.

  3. Podcasts are my lifeline! My connection to the world while I'm cleaning, cooking, gardening, etc.

    Like SF, I don't like politics, politics all the time and quickly gravitated away from those. Although I've liked the documentary work of Ann McElhinney & Phelim McAleer and check in with them. Very witty and entertaining in short bursts.

    NY Times and WSJ. Amazing how differently the same 'story' reads depending on who's writing it!

    Ben Greenfield rocks! If I had heard him 5 years ago it would be too weighted in fitness. He's well rounded now, fitness, science and spirit.

    I love to stay up on the happenings in the circuit courts which are the final arbiters of so many decisions - so there's the Institute for Justice's Short Circuit. A little preppy, a bit snarky, with a definite focus more on the libertarian side.

    For culture, Dennis Prager and Suzanne Venker.

    For clear thinking about Christianity - Stand to Reason. In fact, I probably learned more about HOW to think from this guy (and Thomas Sowell in matters temporal) than any other in my life.

    Wise Traditions explores traditions in food, farming, and the healing arts and with scientific validation of dietary, agricultural and medical traditions.

    And hooray! I have been reading but not posting as I can't on my regular browser (which I'm not on at the moment),

  4. Dan Bongino and Bill Bennett, but not much time for either.
    I record a few shows off the air and listen to hilights, particularly Bob Dutko.


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