Counter Search is a customized search engine for social and political topics. The engine draws from a curated selection of around 80 high-quality sites and a few hundred hand-picked links. The goal is to provide an easy way to find intelligent counter takes to the narratives of prestige, center-left sources such as NPR, the New York Times, PBS, the Economist, Vox, the Atlantic, or Last Week Tonight. Counter Search screens for quality, and excludes the sites of cranks and partisan hacks, such as Infowars or Fox News. If your media diet consists mostly of sources such as the Times and NPR, then as hot-button issues arise, I encourage you to also do a quick search here and read a few counter-takes.
You can call me Devin, I write a blog here. Once upon a time, I wanted to go into politics and change the world. I attended the most prestigious, brand-name schools; interned in City Hall and the offices of Congress; dined with Senators and thought-leaders; volunteered in the inner-cities; spent hours in the deep stacks of the library reading books on sociology; read econ and policy papers for fun; and made my own excel sheets to study the impacts of policies.
Eventually, I grew dispirited with politics. I found that our entire discourse was broken because both sides of the divide have evolved to frame issues in a way that maximally blames the other team, rather than framing it in a way that is maximally truthful. Since in any argument, there may be fifteen different explanations, if you always pick the explanation that maximally blames the other team, you will almost always be wrong. I noticed that when I had personal, first-hand knowledge of a topic, along with extensive outside reading – whether that topic be urban decay or the nature of the university system – mainstream sources ranging from academic papers to the New York Times to the National Review were often filled with myth, slant, and delusion.
I joined the start up world instead, which ended up providing many life lessons on everything from business and product design to running a high-performance organization.
As I grew older and read more and experienced more, I realized that the intellectual situation was worse than I previously thought. Not only were most common framings wrong, in many cases, the explanation that seemd to me most truthful had actually been branded as bigoted, retrograde or evil. More and more, my views started to grow estranged from those of my friends and family.
And thus, I created my blog, and created Counter Search, to help expose people to some of the same readings that I have read.
Now, it is not realistic for most people to become a voracious reader of alternative sources. Nor do I recommend it – it takes much time to separate the quality from the loads of garbage. But my hope is that I can convince some people to at least supplement their mainstream reading with Counter Search. For every 20 minute NPR segment or Frontline episode, try a search on Counter Search, and see what other views are out there. For every five books you read based on recommendations from professors and the New York Times, try a book from the Counter Search book list. For every dozen long-form articles you read on some subject, go to Counter Search Links and pick a few alternative readings to check out.
I think if you try this, and stick to it, you will be more informed about the world.
The search engine includes a number of academics who consistently produce high-quality, fiercely independent thought: Peter Moskos, Greg Cochran, Robin Hanson, Randall Collins, John McWhorter, Xavier Marquez.
As an example, let us look at the biography of one of these academics: Peter Moskos, who writes at copinthehood.com. When studying for his PhD in criminology, he made the unique decision to actually become a police officer. He went through the training and spent a year in Baltimore as an official police officer. Afterwards, he wrote the book Cop in the Hood. Now, he teaches about criminal justice. His coverage of police shootings in the last few years has been excellent. He calls out police officers for bad shootings, and calls out the New York Times when it wrongly blames the cops. He is excellent at explaining the nuances of police training, the thought process of the typical officer, and how both might relate to a given shooting.
Counter Search includes a number of individuals who are personally accomplished, very well-read, and quite thoughtful writers. For example: Paul Graham, Arnold Kling, and Ashwin Parameswaran. Paul Graham earned a degree in Philosophy and a PhD in computer science. He founded and sold one of the first web startups and then founded a prominent startup investment firm. He is very well read and writes thoughtful essays. Arnold Kling has a PhD in economics from MIT, worked at Fannie Mae, started his own company, and now is semi-retired intellectual. Ashwin worked in banking in the UK and has now founded a FinTech startup. These people have both more book knowledge and life knowledge than the vast majority of commentators that you will read on most media sites.
The search engine also includes the better establishment conservative organs, the ones that avoid being cranks and shills, and that generally hold themselves to a high standard of intellectual honesty. These sources include Ross Douhat, Michael Brendan Dougherty, David Frum, Powerline, and City Journal.
The search engine includes the smartest dissident right-wing journals and writers who broke from or the Republican establishment: the American Conservative, Taki magazine, Ron Unz, Larry Auster, Fred Reed, Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire. The writers often espouse views that are so politically incorrect not even conservative magazines will employ them. But they are often proven correct by reality.
The search engine also includes a set of strange, alternative blogs written under weird psuedonymns: Spandrell, Winterspeak, Mencius Moldbug, Foseti. Why include these crazy people? Well, who is really crazy?
Mencius Moldbug graduated from an Ivy League college and started grad school at Berkeley before he was old enough to drink. He has worked for a half-dozen tech startups, including one that IPO’d. His dad worked for the State Department and he grew up in foreign lands while reading his dad’s foreign service cables. And he is a speed reader who has read more history and politics than any person I have ever encountered.
Foseti works in the federal government in financial regulation and helped draft some of the bills that responded to the financial crisis.
Spandrell was born in Europe and has lived at multiple countries. He lives in Asia, can read Chinese and Japanese, and is amazingly well read in East Asian histories.
These folk write under psuedonymns because it provides the freedom to say what they think, without fearing for their jobs. Sometimes they are deliberately crude or shocking in order to provoke you and jolt you out of your presentist bias. They write under a crazy pseudonym as a reminder to not take them on authority, a reminder to think for yourself. Obviously, the vast majority of randoms writing under pseudonyms are not credible. But over time, I found a small collection of excellent independent bloggers, and I have included them in this search engine.
These sources are not perfect. Each one has flaws, biases, and blind-spots. Gaining an accurate grasp on reality is not easy. But I believe that if you use this search engine, and read a sampling of the results that it spits back, that you will have a better understanding of the world.
I am always on the lookout for excellent sites to add to the search engine. Popularity, total output, matters not. I want sites that consistently provide accurate, honest analysis. If you have a site you think should be included, please email me at