These are the women behind the Intellectual Dark Web

A number of important women are working outside mainstream media to build platforms that address the gray areas in challenging topics.

Activist and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks at the National Press Club, April 7, 2015 in Washington, DC. Ali spoke about ISIS, Islam and the West. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Though yesterday’s Italian election is seen as a deadlock, the Far Right is the clear winner, with the populist Five Star Movement and anti-immigrant League coming out ahead. Even Silvio Berlusconi performed well in an election considered a rebuke to anyone with progressive ideas about the cultural and political direction of the nation. Even John Oliver's plea to elect him as a write-in candidate didn't help. 


In America, an emergent coalition of intellectuals that span the ideological spectrum has come out in opposition to growing populist sentiments. The economist Eric Weinstein has termed this cohort of public intellectuals the “Intellectual Dark Web,” which is in part defined by their online presence, with their discourses presented through podcasts and self-funded initiatives.

This particular web is not defined by Left or Right ideologies, but rather a dedication to discussing topics the mainstream media decries or outright avoids. While recognizable names include Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Dan Carlin, Tim Ferriss, and Dave Rubin, there are many important women occupying this space whose work is promoting dialogues about the gray spaces where many only see black and white.

Alice Dreger

Science historian and sex educator Alice Dreger’s book, Galileo’s Middle Finger, has been recommended by Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond, and Dan Savage, among others. She’s written for an incredible range of mainstream publications but it was in April 2015 that her work received widespread attention when she live-tweeted her son’s high school sex-ed class on abstinence.

"You'll find a good girl. If you find one that says 'no,' that's the one you want." HE ACTUALLY JUST SAID THAT.

— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) April 15, 2015
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