Bret Weinstein

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Bret Weinstein
Bret Weinstein in 2018.png
Born (1969-02-21) 21 February 1969 (age 52)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania
University of California, Santa Cruz (BA)
University of Michigan (MA, PhD)
OccupationBiologist, vlogger, professor
Spouse(s)Heather Heying
RelativesEric Weinstein (older brother)
Scientific career
ThesisEvolutionary Trade-Offs: Emergent Constraints and Their Adaptive Consequences (2009)
Doctoral advisorRichard D. Alexander[1][2]
WebsiteOfficial website
Weinstein holding a TEDx talk at the Evergreen State College in 2012

Bret Samuel Weinstein /ˈwnstn/ (born 21 February 1969) is an American evolutionary biologist who came to national attention during the 2017 Evergreen State College protests. He is among the people referred to collectively as the "intellectual dark web".[3][4]


Weinstein began his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. As a freshman, he wrote a letter to the school newspaper that condemned sexual harassment of strippers at a Zeta Beta Tau fraternity party.[5] After experiencing harassment for the letter, he transferred to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he completed his undergraduate degree in 1993.[6] Weinstein received a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 2009.[2][7]


Until 2017, Weinstein was a professor of biology at Evergreen State College in Washington State. In 2002, he published The Reserve-Capacity Hypothesis, which proposed that the telomeric differences between humans and laboratory mice have led scientists to underestimate the risks that new drugs pose to humans in the form of heart disease, liver dysfunction, and related organ failure.[8][9][10]

Evergreen State College Day of Absence[edit]

In March 2017, Weinstein wrote a letter to Evergreen faculty in which he objected to a change in the college's decades-old tradition of observing a "Day of Absence", during which ethnic minority students and faculty would voluntarily stay away from campus to highlight their contributions to the college.[11] The change to the event asked white participants to stay off campus, to attend a program on race issues, while the on-campus program was designated for people of color.[12] Weinstein wrote that the change established a dangerous precedent:

There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and underappreciated roles.... and a group encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness, which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.

— Bret Weinstein, in a message to a campus email list[13]

The event organizers responded that participation was voluntary and that the event did not imply that all white people should leave.[14]

In May 2017, student protests disrupted the campus and called for a number of changes to the college. The protests involved allegations of racism, intolerance and threats; brought national attention to Evergreen; and sparked further debate about free speech on college campuses.[15] During the protests, there was an altercation between protesters and Weinstein.[16][17]

Weinstein and his wife, Heather Heying, brought a lawsuit against the school, alleging that the college's president had not asked campus police to quell student protesters.[18][19] Weinstein also said that campus police had told him that they could not protect him, and that they had encouraged him to stay off campus. Instead, Weinstein held his biology class that day in a public park.[20][21] A settlement was reached in September 2017 in which Weinstein and Heying resigned and received $250,000 each, after having sought $3.8 million in damages.[15]


Following his resignation from Evergreen, he appeared on the podcasts of Sam Harris[22] and Joe Rogan numerous times. He moderated two debates between Harris and Jordan Peterson.[23] He appeared in the documentary No Safe Spaces, which documents the Evergreen incidents.[24] Weinstein's brother Eric coined the term "intellectual dark web" and described Weinstein as a member. The term refers to a group of academics and media personalities who publish and debate outside the mainstream media.[25][26][27][28]

In June 2019, Weinstein began the DarkHorse Podcast, which is typically co-hosted with his wife Heather.[29] Their guests have included Glenn Loury, Douglas Murray, Sam Harris, John Wood Jr., Thomas Chatterton Williams and Coleman Hughes, with topics often centered on current events, science, and culture.[30]

Weinstein was a 2019–2020 James Madison Program Visiting Fellow at Princeton University, which continued for the 2020–2021 year.[31][32]

Personal life and political views[edit]

Weinstein is married to Heather Heying, an evolutionary biologist who also worked at Evergreen. Heying resigned from the college along with Weinstein and took a similar position during the Day of Absence controversy.[15]

Weinstein describes himself as a political progressive and left-libertarian.[33] He appeared before the U.S. House Oversight Committee on May 22, 2018, to discuss freedom of speech on college campuses.[34][35]

In 2020, he announced Unity 2020, a plan to nominate for the upcoming US presidential elections a pair of suitable candidates, each associated with one of both major political parties, to govern as a team.[36][37][38]


  • Weinstein, Bret S. (January 2009). "Evolutionary Trade-Offs: Emergent Constraints and Their Adaptive Consequences" (PDF). University of Michigan.
  • Lahti, David C.; Weinstein, Bret S. (January 2005). "The better angels of our nature: Group stability and the evolution of moral tension". Evolution & Human Behavior. 26 (1): 47–63. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2004.09.004.
  • Weinstein, Bret S; Ciszek, Deborah (2002). "The reserve-capacity hypothesis: Evolutionary origins and modern implications of the trade-off between tumor-suppression and tissue-repair". Experimental Gerontology. 37 (5): 615–27. doi:10.1016/S0531-5565(02)00012-8. PMID 11909679. S2CID 12912742.


  1. ^ "Deep Blue, University of Michigan Library. (September 3, 2009). "Evolutionary Trade-Offs: Emergent Constraints and Their Adaptive Consequences". Retrieved February 26, 2020". hdl:2027.42/63672?show=full. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  2. ^ a b Bret Weinstein| Retrieved February 26, 2020
  3. ^ French, David A. (May 11, 2018). "Critics Miss the Point of the 'Intellectual Dark Web'". National Review. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  4. ^ Sommer, Will. "Intellectual Dark Web Frays After Jordan Peterson Tweets Critically About Brett Kavanaugh". Daily Beast. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  5. ^ Bartlett, Tom (2017-06-05). "The Professor Who Roiled Evergreen State Is No Stranger to Campus Controversy". The Chronicle of Higher Education. ISSN 0009-5982. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  6. ^ The Rubin Report (30 May 2017), LIVE with Bret Weinstein: Evergreen State College Racism Controversy, retrieved 5 July 2018
  7. ^ Graduate Alumni Directory | U-M LSA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB). Retrieved February 26, 2020
  8. ^ Weinstein, Bret S; Ciszek, Deborah (2002). "The reserve-capacity hypothesis: Evolutionary origins and modern implications of the trade-off between tumor-suppression and tissue-repair". Experimental Gerontology. 37 (5): 615–27. doi:10.1016/S0531-5565(02)00012-8. PMID 11909679. S2CID 12912742.
  9. ^ Zimmerman, Michael (19 March 2012). "Unseen Dangers in Laboratory Protocols". Huffington Post.
  10. ^ Weinstein, Eric (19 February 2020). Episode 19: The Prediction and the DISC. The Portal.
  11. ^ Svrluga, Susan; Heim, Joe (June 1, 2017). "Threat shuts down college embroiled in racial dispute". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ Correspondence Between Bret Weinstein and Rashida Love, 2017, retrieved November 6, 2019
  13. ^ Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity (2019), p. 128.
  14. ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (June 16, 2017), "A Campus Argument Goes Viral. Now the College Is Under Siege.", The New York Times
  15. ^ a b c "Evergreen settles with Weinstein, professor at the center of campus protests". The Olympian.
  16. ^ Tan, Anjelica (Jun 15, 2019). "Oberlin College case shows how universities are losing their way". TheHill. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  17. ^ Pemberton, Lisa (2017-09-23). "A school year of events that led to chaos at The Evergreen State College". The Olympian. Retrieved 2020-07-19.
  18. ^ Jaschik, Scott. (May 30, 2017)."Who Defines What Is Racist?", Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  19. ^ Richardson, Bradford (May 25, 2017). "Students berate professor who refused to participate in no-whites 'Day of Absence'", The Washington Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  20. ^ Weinstein, Bret (30 May 2017). "The Campus Mob Came for Me—and You, Professor, Could Be Next" – via
  21. ^ Volokh, Eugene (May 26, 2017). "Opinion: 'Professor told he's not safe on campus after college protests' at Evergreen State College (Washington)". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  22. ^ Harris, Sam. "#109 - BIOLOGY AND CULTURE A Conversation with Bret Weinstein play audio Play Episode Download Back iTunes". Making Sense. Sam Harris. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  23. ^ Ruffolo, Michael (2018-06-26). "Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson waste a lot of time, then talk about God for 20 minutes". National Observer. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  24. ^ "In No Safe Spaces, an Odd Couple Teams up to Fight Free-Speech Bans". 2019-11-03.
  25. ^ Weiss, Bari (8 May 2018). "Opinion | Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  26. ^ Verbruggen, Robert (9 May 2018). "Re: The 'Intellectual Dark Web'". National Review. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  27. ^ Murray, Douglas (21 February 2018). "Inside the intellectual dark web". Spectator Life. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  28. ^ Bonazzo, John (August 5, 2018). "NY Times 'Intellectual Dark Web' Story Savaged on Twitter—Even by Paper's Staffers". The New York Observer. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  29. ^ @bretweinstein (July 11, 2019). "After many days of heel-dragging by Apple, Bret Weinstein's DarkHorse Podcast is now finally available on iTunes! Ngo and Boyce episodes are up, with lots more coming. Link below. If searching elsewhere, 'DarkHorse' is one word and 'Bret' has one 't'" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  30. ^ "Bret Weinstein | DarkHorse Podcast". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  31. ^ "The James Madison Program announces 2019–20 fellows". Princeton University. 2019-04-12. Retrieved 2020-07-19.
  32. ^ "Current Visiting Fellows | James Madison Program".
  33. ^ Episode 970: Bret Weinstein. The Joe Rogan Experience. 2 June 2017.
  34. ^ Vazquez, Joey (23 May 2018). "Congressional hearing explores freedom of speech crisis on college campuses". Washington Examiner.
  35. ^ "Hearing – Challenges to the Freedom of Speech on College Campuses: Part II". United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 22 May 2018. Archived from the original on 22 December 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  36. ^ Bitton, Matt (30 July 2020). "The Unity 2020 Ticket: An Interview with Bret Weinstein". National Review.
  37. ^ "Articles of Unity 2020 : A Plan to Save Our Republic". Unity2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  38. ^ "Bret Weinstein breaks down Dark Horse Duo plan to save republic". The Hill. 30 June 2020.

External links[edit]