April 21, 2008

Quiz Yourself: Public Intellectuals Edition

Foreign Policy and Prospect are doing another rendition of their top 100 public intellectuals, not to be confused with those private bastards who keep their intellect all to themselves.  So, click here.  Look through the list and count how many names you recognize - we'll set the bar low, you're not required to name any works produced or contributions made - just names recognized.  Also, keep track of how many of that number that you have actually "consumed" some form of their intellect - again, low bar - it doesn't matter the form: book, essay, article, blog post, NPR interview, whatever.  Post your score in the comments - fun for the whole family!

My Score:  38 and 27

Some thoughts on the list:
1.  Only four religious figures and only one of those Christian, the Pope, while the other three are Muslim.  I wonder what affect the shift of the epicenter of the Christian church to the global south has had in this regard.  Which is not to say that this has resulted in a loss of intellectual acumen but that it is much easier for the West to deem you unimportant when you fall below the equator - as demonstrated by the "where do they come from" section of the list.
2.  No visual artists?!  (Do you count Rem Koolhass, they probably are?)  Or rather, no artists who aren't authors?!  No musicians?  No film-makers?  Do writers have the only artistic medium producing globally intellectual work these days?  Artist's of other persuasions (or more informed devotees thereof) who read this blog help me out here, is this true, who would you nominate?  I'm fairly uninformed but I could make a pretty strong case for a posthumous inclusion of Tupac.
3.  No bloggers.  Or rather no individuals who have risen to prominence solely due to an online presence, although the influence and exposure of a number of these folks has certainly been expanded by the web.  How long will that hold true I wonder?
4.  Lots of economists.  You expect there to be a lot of politicians since they are far better positioned to influence on a global scale, but economists?  Is that a result of our current obsessions or are economists really so vastly intellectually influential? (A quick glance down the 2005 list, below, seems to show fewer economists)  Don't get me wrong, I love economists . . . 
5.  Here are the results of the last time they did this in 2005.


Pomeroy Kinsey said...

lol. I scored a 38 and a 26. Eerie! Our wives will love it.

Pomeroy Kinsey said...

There were a few economists weren't there. I'm going with the "vastly superior intellect" theory. Seriously, though. LEvitt's up there because of Freakonomics and the popularity of the Freakonomics blog and NYT magazine article. Not sure why Sen would be there though. I didn't know he was a public intellectual. I knew he was a nobel laureate, but I actually don't read broadly enough to see his public writings I guess. I've never heard of George Ayittey. Weird that Michael Spence listed, too. Again, a Nobel Prize winner for his work on information, but I don't know of any popular work he's done personally. He's the father of the modern theory of "job market signalling" and signalling more generally. Kahneman is technically a Psychologist, but he won the Nobel prize in economics for fathering behavioral economics as a discipline, and that's become a real fad of sorts within academic economics, and is probably going to be heard more often if Obama is president, as he has many behavioralists on his staff consulting him. Krugman is always on these lists, and Posner too (he even has a book on public intellectuals), and also counts as an economist. Summers...Never heard of Gaidar, but apparently you can purchase one online from Sharper Image. Man, there are a lot of economists on here. But not only are there a lot, I didn't know half of these were technically public at all. Shows how little in touch I am with my people.

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