Bret Weinstein

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Bret Weinstein
BretWeinstein TEDxTheEvergreenStateCollege.png
Weinstein holding a TEDx talk at the Evergreen State College in 2012
Bret Samuel Weinstein

February 1969 (age 49)
ResidenceOlympia, Washington, U.S.
Alma mater
OccupationBiologist, professor, public speaker
Known forDay of Absence controversy
Spouse(s)Heather Heying
RelativesEric Weinstein (brother)

Bret Samuel Weinstein (born February 1969) is an American biologist and evolutionary theorist.


Weinstein began his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He eventually transferred to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he received his undergraduate degree.[1]

Academic career[edit]

Weinstein spent the majority of his academic career as a professor of Biology at Evergreen State College in Washington. 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 new drugs pose to humans in the form of heart disease, liver dysfunction and related organ failure.[2][3] Weinstein took a brief hiatus from Evergreen to earn his PhD in Biology from the University of Michigan with a dissertation on evolutionary trade-off mechanisms.[4]

Day of Absence controversy[edit]

Weinstein first experienced notoriety when he became the focus of a campus protest at Evergreen State College, where he was teaching biology. His involvement began when he wrote a letter to Evergreen faculty in March of 2017. His letter objected to a change in the College's decades-old tradition of observing a "Day of Absence" during which students and faculty of a minority race would stay home from campus to highlight their contributions to the College. [5] The announced change would flip the traditional event, asking white students and faculty to stay home. Weinstein's letter strongly opposed and criticized the change. In late May 2017, student protests—focusing in large part on the comments made by Weinstein—disrupted the campus and called for a number of changes to the college. The College's president refused to allow law enforcement to quell protesters. [6][7] Campus police told Weinstein that they could not protect him and encouraged him to stay off campus, which caused Weinstein to hold his biology class in a public park.[8][9] In September, a settlement was reached in which Weinstein and his wife, professor Heather Heying, resigned and received $500,000.[10]


Following his resignation from Evergreen, Weinstein has been described as being part of the "Intellectual Dark Web", a term which his brother Eric coined to describe a group of academics and media personalities who publish outside of mainstream media.[11][12][13]

Political views[edit]

Weinstein describes himself as a political progressive and "left-libertarian".[14] He is a critic of capitalism who has stated that although markets are very efficient at informing consumers of how something should be done in the world, consumers must not rely on markets to tell them what should be done about the world's problems. He is also critical of the United States educational system.[15]

Weinstein appeared before the U.S. House Oversight Committee on May 22, 2018, to discuss free speech on college campuses.[16][17]

Personal life[edit]

Weinstein is of Jewish ancestry.[14] He is married to Heather Heying, who is also an evolutionary biologist and also worked at Evergreen. Heying resigned from the college with Weinstein, having occupied a similar position as him. His brother Eric Weinstein is an economist and the managing director of Thiel Capital.


  • 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.


  1. ^ The Rubin Report (30 May 2017), LIVE with Bret Weinstein: Evergreen State College Racism Controversy, retrieved 5 July 2018
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Zimmerman, Michael (19 March 2012). "Unseen Dangers in Laboratory Protocols". Huffington Post.
  4. ^ Weinstein, Bret S. (2009). Evolutionary Tradeoffs: Emergent Constraints and their Adaptive Consequences (PDF) (PhD). University of Michigan.
  5. ^ Svrluga, Susan; Heim, Joe (June 1, 2017). "Threat shuts down college embroiled in racial dispute". Washington Post.
  6. ^ name="InsideHigherEd-20170530">Jaschik, Scott. (May 30, 2017)."Who Defines What Is Racist?", Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Weinstein, Bret (30 May 2017). "The Campus Mob Came for Me—and You, Professor, Could Be Next" – via
  9. ^ "Professor told he's not safe on campus after college protests".
  10. ^ "Evergreen settles with Weinstein, professor at the center of campus protests". The Olympian.
  11. ^ Weiss, Bari (8 May 2018). "Opinion | Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  12. ^ Verbruggen, Robert (9 May 2018). "Re: The 'Intellectual Dark Web'". National Review. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  13. ^ Murray, Douglas (21 February 2018). "Inside the intellectual dark web". Spectator Life. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  14. ^ a b Episode 970: Bret Weinstein. The Joe Rogan Experience. 2 June 2017.
  15. ^ Weinstein, Bret (31 March 2018). "Harnessing Evolution". Virtual Futures (Interview). Interviewed by Luke Robert Mason. London, United Kingdom. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  16. ^ Vazquez, Joey (23 May 2018). "Congressional hearing explores freedom of speech crisis on college campuses". Washington Examiner.
  17. ^ "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.