The Intellectual Dark Web: Good Conversations Aiming at Truth

Other than in passing, I haven’t watched cable television in a few years. My parents and some of my friends still pay for cable, so I’m forced to watch it from time-to-time. I’m not anti-cable by the way, I just find it extremely boring.

If I’m going to watch something, or read something, it must have an educational element. I read and watch very little for purely entertaining purposes. That being said, I acknowledge that the educational shows I watch and books that I read are actually entertaining to me.

For the above reason, I quickly unplugged from cable television after moving out on my own. Interesting people often make it on to a television segment, but only for (at most) like 10 minutes. Often, there is somebody across from them that makes a stupid point in an attempt to contradict their viewpoint and then the segment is over. I find this problematic for sure, but mostly just boring.

YouTube is my cable. By YouTube, I don’t mean getting sucked into a vortex of vine compilations (although this can be great fun). I watch shows where an interesting person is interviewed for an hour (or more) and allowed to work out their thoughts in a much more comprehensive way. Debates are also great to watch on YouTube.

This led to my eventual stumbling across the “Intellectual Dark Web” (IDW). The IDW is a group of people – Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, the Weinstein Brothers, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Joe Rogan (I think that is all) – who each have their own independent space that they have carved-out for themselves using podcasts, YouTube, and other social media platforms.

If you are familiar with just a few of those names, you’ll notice right away that they have very different views on many subjects including the most fundamental aspects of life. One is arguably the foremost atheist philosopher in the world, one is Christian, and another is an Orthodox Jew. Could there be a broader spectrum?

What unites them, in part, is their passion for good conversations. Good conversations aim at discovering the truth. This is the Socratic way. There is no room for taking offense and claiming victim-hood. There is no place for setting-up the worst version of your opponent’s view and destroying it, making yourself look good.

The reason there is no room for these petty tactics is because these gentlemen are not aiming at winning, they are aiming at the truth. This aim is noble, mysterious, and judging by the size of their audience, intoxicating.

As someone primarily interested in philosophy and Christian apologetics, I value conversation. But good conversations have been lost under this disgusting political landscape. I’ve hoped and prayed that we would learn to converse with one another properly, despite our differences. I never imagined I would see the charge for this purpose led by a group that is mostly non-religious. However, when you value conversations that aim at obtaining truth, it doesn’t matter who is leading the charge. I often find myself in agreement with the world’s foremost atheist. So what? Truth is truth. I refuse to digress into tribalism, whether on the Left or the Right of the political spectrum. I want to know what is true.

The cable news folks are playing the same dumb game they’ve always played. Unplug it and find people who are aiming at the truth. My hope is that this new, intellectually diverse group will spark a flame for good conversations that aim at the truth, and that the on-looking world will see the value in such conversations and demand better from those still playing games. If we are to avoid tribalism, this is the way forward.


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8 Replies to “The Intellectual Dark Web: Good Conversations Aiming at Truth”

  1. Thanks for sharing about this channel! I’ve been avoiding cable for awhile now as well and mainly stick with YouTube. Everything is just so highly sexualized, commercialized, and just plain false with only a little bit of interesting tidbits few and far between but I definitely want to check out that channel. Thanks!

  2. I listen to the Intellectual Dark Web members daily and find them fascinating. With that said they are elitist that promote tribalism. But I still love watching them.

  3. There are several writers at National Review who tend to take an intellectually honest approach to finding truth. (Shapiro often contributes articles there.) There is a fair amount of political tribalism everywhere these days, but conservative Trump-skeptics have been fairly kicked out of their tribe, which makes them free to say things they may otherwise be hesitant to say. I enjoy reading someone who is willing to admit the strength of their opponent’s arguments, as well as the weakness of their own.

    The search for truth is fundamental, regardless of your intellectual discipline. Truth is everything in religion (at least it should be), but scientists, economists, artists, and every other field has their own way of honestly searching for truth. I have been trained in both science and religion, and it is interesting for me to compare and contrast the tools used in the search for truth in these different disciplines. The scientific method does not work very well in religion, because it sometimes leads to the wrong answer no matter how carefully you apply it, although there is a role for logic and some experimentation in religion. Similarly, the intuitive and revelatory experience of searching for religious truth doesn’t play well in science, unless it is backed up by experimental rigor. Scientists and religionists tend to be skeptical of one another’s motives, methods, and findings, but maybe they should not be so antagonistic. All truth belongs to God, after all.

  4. Thank you for sharing about that channel–it sounds beautiful and I’m definitely gonna check it out!
    Also, I commend your passion for honest truth. I’m a high school English teacher and my kids have to listen to me say over and over that “The goal of argument is not to prove you are right, it is to move closer to the Truth.”. Have you seen the documentary “Accidental Courtesy” on Netflix? Fascinating piece on the power of conversation and relationship.

    1. And since I outed myself as an English teacher and it looks like I can’t edit my comment, I have to say please excuse that extra period. And maybe I’ll be ironic and not mention my use of “gonna.” 😎

  5. The Oxford Debating Society has a slew of videos featuring those people with some that are one-on-one interviews and others that are formal debates (when the society exists for). You should check them out on Youtube.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I have been so desperate lately….it seems as if everyone is shouting more and more, and no one is listening. Most things about religion have become so heavily politicized that simply anything one says is misinterpreted as meaning you endorse one political philosophy or another.

    I will definitely search out this YouTube channel.

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