April 30, 2008

Top 100 Public Intellectuals

A reader emails;

Foreign Policy is having a poll of the top 100 intellectuals. The vast majority of the names that I recognized in their top 100 list are lefties. However there is a provision for writing in a candidate. The criteria is: "Although the men and women on this list are some of the world's most sophisticated thinkers, the criteria to make the list could not be more simple. Candidates must be living and still active in public life. They must have shown distinction in their particular field as well as an ability to influence wider debate, often far beyond the borders of their own country."

Under this criteria, I chose to write-in Mark Steyn, Canada, Author.
If ever there was a poll to go horribly wrong... here's the link;

Posted by Kate at April 30, 2008 12:12 PM

LMAO... Iggy made the list as a Human rights theorist/politician.

No Dion on the list as an environmental crusader... yet

Posted by: Barcs at April 30, 2008 12:35 PM

Steyn got my write-in as well.
Other choices were Petraeus, Vaclav Havel and Hirsi Ali.

Posted by: Rattfuc at April 30, 2008 12:37 PM

Done; I wrote in Steyn, and chose Hirsi Ali, Hitchens, Bjorn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist), and Vaclev Havel.

And dammit, I just see that I missed Gen. Petraeus!

Posted by: Frozen Tex at April 30, 2008 12:40 PM

You know it's a farce when Al Gore is listed as a choice of top 100 intellectuals worldwide.

Posted by: pete at April 30, 2008 12:42 PM

Hirsi Ali
Pope (Ratzenberger)

Write in Mark Steyn

Posted by: richfisher at April 30, 2008 12:44 PM

Wrote in Mark Steyn and Ezra.

Posted by: JimN at April 30, 2008 12:49 PM

Iggy and the Goracle, fer g*d sakes, please give us a break. I'd pick Peewee Herman over those two clowns.

Posted by: Texas Canuck at April 30, 2008 12:52 PM

I added Mark Steyn a few days ago. I bypassed Hitchens, but I guess he has had quite a lot of influence. Gore's inclusion made me gag. What a joke.

Posted by: lookout at April 30, 2008 12:59 PM

Steyn is no intellectual. You can relate to him because he talks in terms you can understand but that does not make him an intellectual. Intellectuals are capable of considering both sides of an argument, not making gross generalizations about the other side and dismissing it summarily.

Steyn's credentials are ?

He's just your run of the mill journalist whose polemic is popular with right-wing simpletons. I am willing to wager 100 dollars that most right-wing intellectuals wouldn't consider him an intellectual.

Besides he started of as a theater critic which makes him about as qualified to talk about global events as Barb Streisand. But since the great minds here agree with him, he must be an intellectual.

Posted by: dubious at April 30, 2008 1:00 PM

I will take it one step further and suggest an alternative to Mark Steyn - a conservative intellectual journalist worth his salt.

Charles Krauthammer. Pullitzer - Awardee. McGill/Oxford/Harvard educated. Conservative. And reasoned, well-written work. None of the conjectural bs that Steyn is so popular for.

Posted by: dubious at April 30, 2008 1:15 PM

'dubious' chose a name representing his own critical thinking skills?

Oh, and I wrote in Rush Limbaugh. Take *that*.

Posted by: fretless at April 30, 2008 1:26 PM

dubious you state Intellectuals are capable of considering both sides of an argument ,making no generalizations blah blah blah. I guess you would agree POS Gore qualifies.

Posted by: Rob C at April 30, 2008 1:28 PM

Some "Intellectuals" have no smarts at all.

Posted by: ron in kelowna at April 30, 2008 1:29 PM

Added Roger Scruton, Theodore Dalrymple and Roger Kimball to Steyn.

Posted by: David at April 30, 2008 1:30 PM

How does a general qualify exactly?

Charles Taylor is a giant.

I'd never even heard of Ignatieff until a few years ago, not even from friends who had actually studied under him. His op-ed recently about his Iraqi turn-about was the most shameless thing I'd read since university. A complete cop-out, and if was his student's parents, I'd demand a complete refund on my child's tuition for his classes.

His writing is actually worse than Ralston Saul's, And that is stretching it to my absolute limit of what I would describe as "liberrish".

Steyn gets a vote for threatening to expose the CHRC as a corrupt body of censorship, and I'd say that takes a good deal of courage. As was defending that pompous boor Black to the end.

Posted by: Klondike Mike at April 30, 2008 1:35 PM

criterion sing. criteria pl.

I'll be writing in Mark Steyn, and voting for Hirsi Ali and Bernard Lewis. I'm thinking of writing in Patricia Crone, as someone who influences the influential.

Posted by: John Lewis at April 30, 2008 1:42 PM

Al Gore???? Come on....but

Steyn's in there!

Posted by: Orlin at April 30, 2008 1:45 PM

I guess by "dubious"'s definition, then very few of the people listed deserve to be called "intellectuals".

I question why the list was pre-selected rather than having all write ins.

Posted by: Andrew at April 30, 2008 1:58 PM

Did anybody write in Limbaugh yet?

He's not a "great intellectual" for sure, but he's Numero Uno in radio for 10+ years now and he pretty much sets the public debate on the Right in the USA.

Plus it'll piss those guys off something ferocious. ~:D I'm such a devil. Hee hee!

Posted by: The Phantom at April 30, 2008 1:59 PM

What? No Warren Kinsella? Does the Human Rights Commission know about this? Does Michael Ignatieff realize that he's considered smarter than Warren? Is Warren going to accept this without filing a Statement of Claim with co-plaintiff Lucy Warman? This looks like a job for Babs Hall, champion of sensitivity, compassion and truth. (Well two out of three ain't bad)

Posted by: You Rock Kate at April 30, 2008 2:00 PM

What a joke. I nominate Freddie Fudpucker, gotta be one out there somewhere.

Posted by: Liz J at April 30, 2008 2:02 PM

My choices:
Hirsi Ali,
General Petraeus,
Pope Benedict,
Steyn write in

All qualify under the criteria of advancing difficult intelligent debate and action while risking potentially severe consequences.

Posted by: Martin B. at April 30, 2008 2:03 PM

I'd suggest... just a few I did not see yet...

Carl Rove
Stephen Harper
Ben Steyn
John David Lewis
David Bukay

Posted by: OMMAG at April 30, 2008 2:19 PM

I know I'm way out there with this one .....

Michael Savage!

Ya ....I know..... ;)

Posted by: OMMAG at April 30, 2008 2:23 PM

Victor David Hanson, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn, Martin Amis, John Q were so many good ones left off the list. Too bad it was only one write in vote. I wrote in Victor David Hanson.

Rob C - Al Gore, an intellectual?, please, there hasn't been a thought in that fool's head that his handlers didn't put there. The guy has regurgitated scripts all of his life like the weatherman does.

Posted by: penny at April 30, 2008 2:32 PM

Conservatives on the Foreign Policy list, like Niall Ferguson, Robert Kagan, Fareed Zakaria, and Thomas Friedman have been the owners of some rather dubious writings and pronouncements, but placing them in the same category as Steyn and Limbaugh is actually quite laughable, and an insult to reasoned conservatives anywhere.

In fact, I can hear the roiling waves of laughter from Foreign Policy HQ right now...especially at the dunderhead who wants to submit (dear jeebus) Stephen Harper, "Carl" Rove and Ben "Steyn" - shurley Mark's older brother, yes?

Posted by: JohnnyRingo at April 30, 2008 2:35 PM

You're right of course, Mr. Ringo sir. Putting those guys in the same class as Limbaugh is silly.

I mean, which one of those guys gives marching orders to 25 million Americans every day from noon 'till three? Plus books, magazines and internet?

I should nominate Drudge too. He nearly got a whole President impeached all by his lonesome.

Posted by: The Phantom at April 30, 2008 2:41 PM


That should make a few lefty heads explode!

Might I also add Judge Judy, Laura Ingraham and Dr. Laura!

Posted by: Eskimo at April 30, 2008 2:44 PM

Hey, what about that crazy chick from Sasywatchkin? Wassername... Kate McMillan! Yeah, that's the ticket!

Posted by: The Phantom at April 30, 2008 2:49 PM

My Choices: Amartya Sen, Lee Kwan Yew, David Petraeus, the Pope, and Bernard Lewis. My write in was Hernando de Soto (Peruvian economist).

Posted by: DrD at April 30, 2008 2:54 PM

Hernando de Soto, good one, DrD, if the principles of his writings were applied to SA countries he could single handedly bring them out of poverty. I couldn't think of his name when I was looking at who was missing.

Posted by: penny at April 30, 2008 3:10 PM

The first clue that this list is a farce is that Gore is one it ... the nail in that coffin is that Mr.Ringo takes it seriously... very full of yourself today Ringo .... fresh meds?

Although I can see from some of the more well read commenters that I've got some authors to explore... which is good enough.... cheers.

Posted by: OMMAG at April 30, 2008 3:24 PM

In what world is Fareed Zakaria a conservative? All his writing has the common them of "Everything is America's fault, always."

Posted by: Frozen Tex at April 30, 2008 3:43 PM

Thomas Sowell.

Posted by: Rick in BC at April 30, 2008 3:49 PM

I read about this poll about a week ago but laughed it off when I saw that Iggy, Gore, et al were on the list.

Posted by: kelly at April 30, 2008 4:09 PM

How about Havel's favourite american composer,free speech crusader,and guitar master,Mr. Frank Zappa?

Posted by: wallyj at April 30, 2008 4:09 PM

Frank Zappa?

"Candidates must be living and still active in public life."

So, unless you have some news about Frank that you'd like to share with the rest of us...

Posted by: Frozen Tex at April 30, 2008 4:20 PM

My nomination: Robert Fulford. I've done a comparison of the nominated Canadians in this poll and the first such one in 2005.


Posted by: Mark Collins at April 30, 2008 4:30 PM

Geert Wilders

Posted by: JP at April 30, 2008 4:30 PM

Hmmm... Robert Spencer.

Posted by: Frozen Tex at April 30, 2008 4:42 PM

Aw come on, you're joshing us.

There isn't 100 lefty intellectuals in the world.

Obviously, lefty intellectual is an oxymoron.

Posted by: rockyt at April 30, 2008 4:52 PM

Another write-in vote for the inestimable Mr. Steyn!

(I don't particularly care for most Canadian beers I've tasted, so keep your beer but send us your steyns. :-)

Posted by: Dave in Pa. at April 30, 2008 5:27 PM

"Besides he started of as a theater critic which makes him about as qualified to talk about global events as Barb Streisand. But since the great minds here agree with him, he must be an intellectual."

And Suz U ki started out as a biologist which makes him about as qualified to talk about global warming as Aristotle. But since the science is settled, he must be right.

Posted by: Play'nWitYoMomma at April 30, 2008 5:31 PM

just a guess, but i'd bet some of the stupidist people on the planet will be on that list.

Posted by: old white guy at April 30, 2008 5:48 PM

Dave in Pa....

Don't be badmouthing our beer.... or our Steyns :)


Posted by: OMMAG at April 30, 2008 5:52 PM

Wilson, Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Diamond.

Steyn?!? BAHHHA HAAAA HAAAA! It is to laugh. The Pope?!? Maybe if running a diddling empire is the next great intellectual battleground.

Posted by: anon at April 30, 2008 6:16 PM

After only a quick scan of the comments it seems you have all missed Christopher Monkton, 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, of Great Britain. He posseses a towering intellect and has generated the most effective attack on AGW that I have seen. Google his name for lots of information.

Posted by: Bob Wood at April 30, 2008 6:27 PM

Another one bites the dust. Thanks for coming out though:

I'm sure some homeschooler will need a tutor. Or a housekeeper.

Posted by: anon at April 30, 2008 6:51 PM

OMMAG: Ben "Steyn"?!? I suggest you cut down on the either the crack, or the creationism. Both of them rot your brain.

Posted by: anon at April 30, 2008 7:17 PM

Steyn. A no-brainer.

Posted by: Shere Khan at April 30, 2008 7:20 PM

"Steyn. A no-brainer."

Khan, you NAILED him there. Perfect description.

Posted by: anon at April 30, 2008 7:27 PM

To the commie above that said intellectuals have to consider both sides of an argument: then that means no leftists are intellectuals then doesn't it?

Posted by: real conservative at April 30, 2008 7:38 PM

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Posted by: low cost auto insurance at April 30, 2008 7:42 PM

General David Petraeus
Christopher Hitchens
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Bjorn Lomberg

write in: Vaclav Klaus

Too bad they allowed only one write-in.

Posted by: Bill at April 30, 2008 7:43 PM

Dawkins had -one- idea 40 years ago and hasn't shut up about it since. Yep, another great mind right up there with Algore and David Snoozuki.

Posted by: The Phantom at April 30, 2008 8:01 PM

I put Mark down as well. I think he would like this kind of lark. Besides I hardly noticed any name I know.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at April 30, 2008 8:14 PM

As soon as I saw Al Gore's name on the list I stopped reading as Al Gore would belong in a list of the worlds 100 greatest morons.

My list would include:
Oliver Sacks - worlds best known neurologist
Raymond Kurzweil - polymath
Bjorn Lomberg - rational environmentalist
Alexander Shulgin - psychonaut and organic chemist
Antonio D'Amasio - neurologist and writer

If I could include more than 5 I'd also add:
Stephen Wolfram - creator of mathematica

I've included the people above because they are well known. I wouldn't include Steyn as I don't think he fits in the intellectual category (nor would I include PJ O'Rourke whose work I enjoy immensely).

I think that anyone who is not working in a scientific area should be excluded unless they start first in science and then develop an interest in other non-scientific areas. Anyone who is innumerate shouldn't qualify and this would disqualify a large number of the literary types. The only writers that I would include would be hard SF writers as they usually have a strong science background. For writers I'd find it hard to chose between:
Greg Bear
Larry Niven
Neal Stephenson

Posted by: loki at April 30, 2008 8:16 PM

Phantom: I think Dawkins' contribution has more to do with his recent PR work, and less to do with the thesis behind The Selfish Gene. Despite what you might think the field of evolutionary biology has come a long way since TSG. Dawkins was a big part of that, and he continues to make his presence felt as a skeptic, secular humanist, consummate scientific rationalist and Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford.

Sorry we can't all meet your towering standards of intellectualism. Dawkins will have to do until you can show us how it's all done.

Posted by: anon at April 30, 2008 8:45 PM

Kathy Shaidle ;

Canada's answer to the Tasmanian devil, only this one has She before devil.

I do think the Ladies aquited themselves well in such a pond of ignorance. Tip o'h the hat to you both.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at April 30, 2008 8:54 PM

No Thomas Sowell? NO THOMAS SOWELL?

That'll tell you a lot about the broadness of the intellectual horizons of the people making the selections.

Posted by: Sorge L. Diaz at April 30, 2008 9:15 PM

Thomas Sowell, Chalres Krauthammer, Victor Davis Hanson, and, to really rub it in, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.

Posted by: Doug at April 30, 2008 9:40 PM

Robert Bork, Antonin Scalia, Theordore Dalyrimple.

Posted by: Doug at April 30, 2008 9:42 PM

So, want us to write in your name?

I'm confused.

Posted by: Sweet Tart at April 30, 2008 10:18 PM

"How does a general qualify exactly?"

Ask Napoleon. Or Sun Tzu. Or Colonel John Boyd.

If you don't think there's an overwhelming intellectual component to being a strategist, then you have absolutely no idea what it is that military leaders--especially the best among them--actually do. David Petraeus is the architect of, among other things, the US military's revised counter-insurgency doctrine, which he and General Odierno proceeded to put into effect in Iraq with rather dramatic results. He is quite simply the best military mind that West Point has produced since at least Eisenhower, arguably since Robert E. Lee.

Posted by: Dave J at April 30, 2008 11:17 PM

Two words: Conrad Black.

Posted by: Richard Ball at May 1, 2008 12:03 AM

I saw Samual Huntington's name on the suggested list.

In case anyone has forgotten, he was the author of the book "The Clash of Civilizations", which has been discredited by leftists worldwide (in other words, it is full of hard hitting, politically incorrect, facts).

He got my vote...along with Mark Steyn.

Posted by: Sarge at May 1, 2008 12:26 AM

They missed one of the greatest intemalectuals of them all....Homer J Simpson.

Posted by: Bart at May 1, 2008 1:24 AM

"Intellectuals are capable of considering both sides of an argument, not making gross generalizations about the other side and dismissing it summarily."

and here I thought that an intellectual is someone who'se shit doesn't stink.

Oh well!

Horny toAD

Posted by: Horny Toad at May 1, 2008 1:39 AM

Pope (Ratzenberger)

Write in Mark Steyn

Posted by: pete e at May 1, 2008 3:03 AM

Well Anon, if PR work is the standard (as you agree it obviously is) I submit my choice of Limbaugh, Drudge and Kate make a hell of a lot more sense than yours do.

That was kinda my point, eh?

The selfish gene is simplistic crap and has been the whole time, just like gun control and global warming but with less money involved.

You want an influential -intellectual-, a guy who actually breaks ground and doesn't just gas off, try Roger Penrose. Or William Shockley, but he died.

Posted by: The Phantom at May 1, 2008 9:22 AM

So essentially this is a grade school popularity contest on a global scale? If we all agree to make Al Gore the prom king will he go away?

Posted by: Weasel Farmer at May 1, 2008 2:02 PM

Actually Conrad Black for sure should be in the top ten along with Mark Steyn.

Adding Gore to the list makes the whole list bogus. That fat arsed phoney in no intellectual.

Posted by: Liz J at May 1, 2008 7:23 PM

"Pope (Ratzenberger)"

They made Cliff Clavin pope? Or perhaps you meant Ratzinger. ;-)

Posted by: Dave J at May 1, 2008 7:59 PM

What form of skeptic is Dawkin's? Skeptical of...just curious.

I would have to concur with you, I know well the notion of Dawkin's "selfish gene" and the arguments made by the sociobiologists, and evolutionary theorists like Buss.

Was it Phantom who suggests that Dawkin’s TSG is now simplistic simply via the natural progression of science? That seems to miss the mark-inherently. Would phantom like examples of eminent scientists and/or theory’s that have become more simplistic with the "advancement" of a particular field of study? Where are our phrenologists? Yet, did they contribute to the zeitgeist? Inarguably, yes.

Returning to Dawkin’s and Buss (et. al) One of the ‘things they did was to show (or in the least demonstrate) that there is a hierarchy in which those closest genetically (or similar in ways such as facial features that might be genetic markers) tend to garner the "affection and emotional interest" of both people and other animals. (perhaps why conservatives are seen as ‘knuckledraggers. Lol.) Metaphorically, this hierarchy does not address the point that the amount of "affection and emotional interest" is not limited and can be expanded. If Dawkins remains ones sin qua nine I suggest, as an alternative, a review of the large literature on altruism, much of which is not reducible to this biological perspective….yet.

The current level of human evolution, the tragedy of the commons is too often valid. I think the laissez faire notion of self-organizing is a dream that has to pass.

Posted by: Prime at May 2, 2008 12:35 AM

How about Edwina Taborsky?

She would get my vote.

Posted by: Joe Molnar at May 2, 2008 8:34 AM