Tarry for the Nonce

October 18, 2005

Nary a William Buckley

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 11:25 am

So Noam Chomsky has been named the top public intellectual?

Best known for his loud and consistent criticism of the Vietnam War and US foreign policy over the last 40 years, Chomsky, 76, decisively beat Italian novelist and academic Umberto Eco and third-placed Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins to top the poll . . .

Vaclav Havel, the playwright and former Czech president who led Czechoslovakia’s 1989 “Velvet Revolution” that toppled communism, came fourth.

Perhaps more surprising than Chomsky’s victory was the dearth of young and female names at the top of the list. Only two of the top 10, pro-Iraq war British journalist Christopher Hitchens and British novelist Salman Rushdie, were born after World War II, and the highest-placed female intellectual was Canadian journalist and activist Naomi Klein.

With a list like that, it’s no wonder that us average Joes find intellectualism to be completely at odds with common sense. Sheesh.



  1. …intellectualism to be completely at odds with common sense….

    Huh, you don’t say? …. wondering if this is why people think Bush is an idiot…. perhaps its his common sense attitude that gets him pigeon-holed…. Of course, I’m sure I’m not the only conservative around who thinks the spending spree of congress is foolish and needs to be curbed. But then, the media seems like its constantly trying to make Republicans look like they’re dumb…at least Bush uses this to his advantage for a laugh or two.

    On a related note, I once had a roommate (I’ve had about 20+ roommates over the course of my lifetime) who was a genius. His level of thought was so far beyond mine that I was in awe of him. But…he had no common sense. He would constantly forget to shut the screen door to keep my other roommate’s dog from getting out despite several discussions about it. There were other examples of his common-senselessness. So, there may be more merit in Ms. Walker’s statement than meets the eye. Of course, I wouldn’t call Laura an average Joe…she’s far too brilliant to be labeled as such.

    Comment by Andrew P. — October 18, 2005 @ 1:52 pm

  2. wondering if this is why people think Bush is an idiot

    Well, there is an obvious explanation that is very much based on common sense: If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

    I hold Bush in disdain because either (A) he is an idiot, or (B) he intentionally acts like an idiot. I’m not sure which is worse.

    Yes, I know that this comment neither adds value to the discussion or makes the world a better place, but, well, Bush is an idiot.

    Comment by Troy — October 18, 2005 @ 2:10 pm

  3. That’s interesting: for an idiot, Bush has one hell of a record of accomplishments. The “brainy” “progressive” “intellectuals” just can’t seem to stop the guy.

    Good grief, were there enough sneer quotes in the previous sentence? At any rate, that Chomsky — and Klein, for Pete’s sake! — placed in this list at all tells me that people who did the voting are even dumber than they are. Their opinions are discounted accordingly. Let’s keep them in academia where they can keep each other busy, the rest of us amused, and do the least amount of harm.

    Comment by Toly — October 19, 2005 @ 12:31 am

  4. Yeah, but Naomi Klein is hot.

    That said, if you agree that liberal=intellectual is bogus, as I do, then you might also agree that the common sense approach is also equally bogus, because as anyone who has studied the social sciences knows, while common sense and social science probably agree 80% of the time, when they disagree they often disagree in profound ways with devastating consequences.

    Also, I’m surprised to see that the survey was published in Foreign Policy, since I haven’t read my recent issues, but it’s not exactly the kind of magazine known for its irrational leanings.

    So who knows? It’s just a survey, and opinion ain’t exactly fact.

    Comment by Matt — October 19, 2005 @ 3:04 pm

  5. Actually, the only reason I posted was to use idiot in a sentence in order to throw that link on Laura’s site…. and you all thought I had a point to make! ;o)

    Comment by Andrew P. — October 25, 2005 @ 10:10 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: