Decoding the Gurus : Decoded.

My take - DTG put me in mind of Omar Little from The Wire. Drug dealers who rob other drug dealers.

They're the same as their marks, but more so. Which makes them both cooler, and more dangerous.

Two points that make me suspicious the DTG boys might be a shotgun stickup crew...

First. By accident or design, they have a blinding hot SEO strategy.

Keyword high search frequency public intellectuals, then attach salacious content to their name.

Second. And more important, for me as a critic.

What DTG are doing isn't criticism.

Criticism is both fairer and more brutal. It's taking a thing apart down to the most fundamental components to understand it. In the act of doing that...

...you're going to learn if it works, or is truthful.

In fairness a number of DTGs targets don't deserve true criticism. But, in the episodes I've listened to, DTG are never engaged in criticism. Primarily because, of course, they don't have the knowledge...

...to truly critique the, sometimes absurdly wide, knowledge claims of their targets. So what DTG are stuck doing is picking on various rhetorical devices or argument structures their targets are using. Which in itself doesn't prove much.

The test of DTG would be, do they take on targets that their audience won't be entertained by them taking on?

It's tough being a critic. You're doomed to offend the people tomorrow who cheer you today. Then they hand you the hemlock.

A true critic is never a popular critic.

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Thank you. Really interesting and welcome interview and article. Aside from the merits or otherwise of the DTG podcasters (of course they have ego investment in there efforts as does everyone). It’s probably overdue for the RW community to at least gently deflate some of the bubbles of individual kudos that have developed over the last few years around some of its central voices who we’ve got to know through multiple interviews.

It’s got to ultimately be a goal of some sort for all of us affiliated with the RW community to stretch out into our own world and bring some of the good stuff into our own communities without having to wait for pronouncements from on high. (As a related aside I have often felt a need for a kind of translated version into ‘regular Joe’ language of some of the concepts. Without dumbing down but without so much of the fancy language which does feel sometimes as though it has become fetishised. Don’t get me wrong, some of these words have brought great understanding and liberation just in and of themselves. This translation is often not that easy, and obviously the work we can do within our own communities.)

David F is obviously right to acknowledge the feedback loop that helps to encourage inflation in egos and energies around individuals, In other words, we all help with our reverence for a particular persons words and style to bring about this undesirable pull to ego inflation of individuals. It is a fascinating thing to try and crack open. I say undesirable and I genuinely feel that most of the individuals involved themselves given their unanimously stated goal of truth seeking would not want their vision to be distorted by any of this. Many of them probably wrestle with this from time to time and are hopefully equipped with practices that help them retain integrity of their whole system. But, they ARE human.

Many of us who have any kind of public role at all (and these days that really means everyone who is active on social media) will have come across the same things. I certainly have, having been a musician/writer/performer for 30 years.

What we are talking about here in macro and micro forms, is what we call ‘fame’ (“later life fame” with most of these intellectual figures) as David highlighted in this interview.

This is one of the central things to try and crack it seems to me if we are to make real progress as a collective, especially in the global social media age. It’s also why I have in the past year encouraged RW to try for an interview with Russell Brand. Obviously flawed, but someone who, admirably in my opinion, after receiving a deep immersion into ‘the famous’ and gaining the objectivity to see it as ‘an illness’ has tried to tackle it head on with the perspective it has given him, trying to reflect that perspective back to those who’ll listen. Others, like him have tried in their own ways to break ranks and send out messages to the human collective. With varying success.

In short the DTG should be welcome I believe, at the RW massive as keeping a watchful eye on shadows around our community. Nothing to be afraid of. All good awareness. X

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Enjoyed this post, David. I've listened to five or ten episodes of DTG. Although I feel little personal affinity with the hosts, I, like you, think they are valuable and, in Chris's case, occasionally very funny. For what it's worth, I independently reached a similar assessment to you. I am no longer a particular fan of the individuals they criticize (e.g., Peterson, Hall, the Weinsteins), but I know these individuals' views very well, having listened to hundreds of hours of relevant content. Very often, Chris and Matt do not "steel man" -- or even accurately characterize -- their positions. Thus, although they do sometimes raise valuable attention to the vagueness, or emptiness, or grandiosity of some IDW rhetoric, rarely if ever have *they* caused me to change my mind on, or even seriously reconsider, an important substantive topic broached by IDW figures.

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I have been having this duologue with myself since 2017 and have felt vexed when speaking with people about issues you raised in this post and your films. You've done it again—you managed to get to the crux of what is echoing through the community and shed light on the subject through good faith communication. It feels good to know other people are experiencing similar reactions and thoughts concerning things one cares deeply about. I follow "gurus" because I hope to learn from them and for intellectual company, a kind of companionship I can't always find near home these days. These perspectives are valuable to me. I'll be listening to the podcast from episode one. Again, much appreciated. *The Gurometer is brillient* *Who's Watching the Watchmen* critiques are never far from my thoughts. Thanks for making the extra effort.

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Very thorough and thoughtful piece. I especially appreciated this point, which I've been wrestling with in my own assessments.

"I don't believe we can avoid looking at the 'hominem', the world is simply too complex to avoid some short cuts with judging who is reliable, who has a track record of good quality reasoning, or who has emotional or audience drivers that may be affecting their arguments, however, care has to be taken to balance this with actually addressing the substantive point at issue."

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I'm a little late to the party, but here goes: I have listened to a number of DTG podcasts, agreed with much, disagreed with as much, and found the overall experience more entertaining than enlightening. In my perspective, DTG is biased - or perhaps willfully blind - with respect to audience capture as it relates to mainstream media, and the US/Nato security state's influence on, and increasing mission creep with respect to, mainstream media and institutions. Institutions and media, including social media, undeniably have a trust problem; people are hungry for truth, and hungry for someone/something to place their trust in. Our institutions need to own up to their own role in eroding pubic trust; otherwise, "gurus" will inevitably attempt to do that job, with varying degrees of success. To the extent that some "gurus" offer people who feel betrayed or failed by institutions a way to make sense of and improve their situations, perhaps they serve a useful purpose. Some should perhaps even be more respectfully referred to as teachers - the original meaning of the Sanskrit "guru", and the current meaning of the word in Khmer. Or perhaps we should just call them "coaches".

Good luck in your future endeavors, David. I find your work valuable and look forward to seeing more of it.

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Apr 9, 2022·edited Apr 9, 2022

This new genre of exploring the incentive landscape of alternative media (that RW seems to be catalysing) is great, it feels like a genuine iterative 'live' process.

I delved into some of the DTG to see what the craic was and found the critiques of the Joe Rogan, Weinstein's etc to be pretty good actually. Now I've got a lot from all the above and have generally applied the principle of taking what's useful and not bothering with the rest, so for example wouldn't bother with certain episodes as I can guess what they're like. And I think in general that's a good approach for learning and human engagement. However, I agree with DTG that at a certain point you have to call into question people's integrity. I mean the Joe Rogan interview with Malone is hard to listen to. After seeing it I have less tendency to visit but actually I might miss some good content that I'd agree with and enjoy so maybe it's about a more radical acceptance of flaws, while also being free to call them out.

I think the line by line approach of DTG is inherently problematic as clearly any complex idea is not necessarily met reliably in each sentence. Obviously DTG is using them as emblematic of broader concerns, but it does feel nitpicky and unfair when you understand someone's view more fully and hear this poor sentence being badgered to death -- when conceivably the author himself would happily replace it with another. The Sam Harris episode felt like this and almost bordered on willful misunderstanding in my view, although there was some great back-and-forth interplay that also steel-manned the views.

But to be clear I think these guys play an important role and definitely seem in good faith. They also clearly have their own ideas and it might be good to hear them more in a dialogue on a topic, rather than a person, although perhaps they're already doing it. The Chris Williamson episode was great.

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I very much enjoyed this breakdown. An stark observation is how few women feature in any context throughout the article. Bro-casters really have responsibility to address this proactively. I'd be keen on everyone's thoughts on this...

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I prefer your narrative as well... it is our only hope.

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This should be called Mainstream Wisdom. Haven't heard any episode (though I haven't read all) that doesn't come down wholly on the mainstream agenda.

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