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July 07, 2008

The World's Top 20 Public Intellectuals

...according to Foreign Policy, are almost all Muslims:


Rankings are an inherently dangerous business. Whether offering a hierarchy of countries, cities, or colleges, any such list—at least any such list worth compiling—is likely to generate a fair amount of debate. In the last issue, when we asked readers to vote for their picks of the world’s top public intellectuals, we imagined many people would want to make their opinions known. But no one expected the avalanche of voters who came forward. During nearly four weeks of voting, more than 500,000 people came to ForeignPolicy.com to cast ballots.

Such an outpouring reveals something unique about the power of the men and women we chose to rank. They were included on our initial list of 100 in large part because of the influence of their ideas. But part of being a “public intellectual” is also having a talent for communicating with a wide and diverse public. This skill is certainly an asset for some who find themselves in the list’s top ranks. For example, a number of intellectuals—including Aitzaz Ahsan, Noam Chomsky, Michael Ignatieff, and Amr Khaled—mounted voting drives by promoting the list on their Web sites. Others issued press releases or gave interviews to local newspapers. Press coverage profiling these intellectuals appeared around the world, with stories running in Canada, India, Indonesia, Qatar, Spain, and elsewhere.

No one spread the word as effectively as the man who tops the list. In early May, the Top 100 list was mentioned on the front page of Zaman, a Turkish daily newspaper closely aligned with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Within hours, votes in his favor began to pour in. His supporters—typically educated, upwardly mobile Muslims—were eager to cast ballots not only for their champion but for other Muslims in the Top 100. Thanks to this groundswell, the top 10 public intellectuals in this year’s reader poll are all Muslim. The ideas for which they are known, particularly concerning Islam, differ significantly. It’s clear that, in this case, identity politics carried the day.

What I find astounding is all the names who are not on either list.

Dare we propose an alternate one?

Posted by Cassandra at July 7, 2008 08:23 AM

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Comments

Well now don't all jump in at once :p

Posted by: Cassandra at July 7, 2008 01:36 PM

I wonder if it says more about me or their list in that I recognized no more than 10-15% of the names on it?

You want a recommendation of who would be on a list of top 100 Public Intellectuals? Bill Whittle.

Posted by: MikeD at July 7, 2008 01:42 PM

I, too, was astounded to find myself missing from that list. The ingratitude! But rather than merely whine about not being counted in the company of such visionaries as Al Gore, I decided to conduct my own poll as to who the Top 20 Private Intellectuals, those persons, such as my self, who purposefully hide their shining lights beneath the bushel basket of humility so as not to blind the world.

Here is the first candidate.

1) Manny Ramirez: The unassuming outfielder for the Boston Red Sox usually deflects questions about obtaining his first doctorate degree in physics at the tender age of 14, and you won't find a single mention of his four Nobel Prizes in advance theoretical quantum physics anywhere on the back of his baseball card. But don't be fooled, there's a whole lot more to "Manny being Manny" than meetes the eye of your average baseball fan. For example, did you know that when Ramirez isn't actually at the plate, he is simulatneously engaged in at least for chess matches with players throughout the world? "It's not so hard," Manny told me after one game recently. "I just use singles while I'm out there to let my opponents know my next move." He demonstrates a series of moves by grabbing his crotch, flipping his hat backwards and running headlong into a wall. "See? That's Volga Gambit."
When not horsing around in the dugout, you'll find Manny applying his knowledge of particle physics to the horsehide of a baseball. Not only has he recently joined the elite 500 home run club, but his startling theory about micro-blackholes being momentarly created when a Mariano Rivera fastball is crunched for a walk-off homer has got the scvientific community all a buzz.

Manny Ramirez: Baseball player, scientific genius, and Renaissance man.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 7, 2008 01:52 PM

I'll throw out a few:

Thomas Sowell

Milton Friedman

Richard Posner

Posted by: Cassandra at July 7, 2008 01:54 PM

spd....

You're a dead man :p

Sooooooo dead.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 7, 2008 01:55 PM

Al Gore? Noam Chomsky? Fareed Zakaria?

And all those unknown "Muslim" intellectuals?

Honorable mention: Stephen Colbert? Where's George Carlin? I'll bet Lewis Black is jealous!

What a load of twaddle.

Bernard Lewis is the only one that I can see actually belonging on that sort of list, at all.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at July 7, 2008 01:55 PM

Stephen Colbert pretty much blew the credibility of the entire list.

I was waiting for them to vote someone off Vanuatu, Don :p

Posted by: Cassandra at July 7, 2008 02:00 PM

No scientists or mathmeticians?

Edward Witten?

Hawking?

I don't get it.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 7, 2008 02:05 PM

Camille Paglia

Posted by: Cassandra at July 7, 2008 02:12 PM

Glad I'm not the only one who didn't recognize most of those names. Most of the ones I did recognize I thought they've got to be kidding! Al Gore?

While it's hard to top the genius of Manny Ramirez, my nominee is Frazz. Composer, mentor, tri-athlete, teacher, janitor.

Posted by: Schnauzer at July 7, 2008 02:12 PM

"Al Gore? Noam Chomsky? Fareed Zakaria?

And all those unknown "Muslim" intellectuals?

Honorable mention: Stephen Colbert? Where's George Carlin? I'll bet Lewis Black is jealous!

What a load of twaddle.

The compilation and resulting rankings comes from having Cheech and Chong and/or Sheikh “Omar Abdul-Rahman” as one's philosophical mentors...

But I can not zign ze papers...

Posted by: bt_ZineZeVotingPapersOldMan_hun at July 7, 2008 02:13 PM

After reflection, I feel I need to qualify my statement. I'd have included you (Cass) and Grim in there, but I don't know that either of you qualify for the "Public" part. Anonymity sort of makes you a "Private" Intellectual.

And agreeing with someone is not a pre-requisite to making someone a Public Intellectual. Christopher Hitchens qualifies as one even though I consider him dead wrong on several topics. As does Richard Dawkins. Heck, Benedict XVI qualifies in my mind as well. Noam Chomsky's work in linguistics qualifies him (though I think his politics are naive at best). Al Gore fails to qualify because he shows no scientific rigor in his thinking, and most of what he's credited for is not original thought anyway but his glamorization of other people's thoughts. It would be like calling George Clooney an intellectual for portraying one in a movie. Hardly what I would call original thought.

Posted by: MikeD at July 7, 2008 02:21 PM

I might buy off on Grim, but I'm a bear of very little brain, Mike :p

I think I am closer to this guy than anything else.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 7, 2008 02:46 PM

Manny Ramirez? I guess the fight with the traveling secretary wasn't over extra tickets, but in the traveling secretaries different views on time dilation phenomenons?

Posted by: Frodo at July 7, 2008 02:55 PM

Off the top of my head, I couldn't think of a better place to start putting together such a list (a highly dubious undertaking to begin with) than the roster of Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry, economics, etc.

Fundamentally, producing such a list is an asinine exercise at its core. It requires judgments about which bit of science (for example) is most important and so on. Those who do the serious thinking (as opposed to putting such lists together) readily understand it is easy to see when you stand on the shoulders of giants.

In what I believe to be (close to) the original spirit of the post, this list strikes me as an example of the negative consequences of instant communication combined with too much free time.

Posted by: Bob at July 7, 2008 03:03 PM

The Nobel Prize is too objective a standard that favors the white male patriarchy. So can that stuff.
Pope Benedict? Why, he's a Catholic and a white Christian to boot. Obscure third world Muslims have a much greater intuitive knowledge and intellectual honesty ("Die infidels! Off with their heads!").

Noam Chomsky. Of course, he's a professor at MIT, and even though his linguistic theories are starting to be proven WRONG, why, of course he belongs.

Milton Friedman is dead, so I think that let's him out.
No one can understand Stephen Hawking, so that let's him out, too.

Manny Ramirez? He's got a great career OPS, too. And he's not white, so that's working for him.

There is no reason to take any of this seriously, really.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at July 7, 2008 03:17 PM

Fundamentally, producing such a list is an asinine exercise at its core.

Bob, I am really starting to worry about you :p

Shame. SHAME ON YOU!!! Continuing to repress your feelings in this manner is tantamount to Inner Child Abuse, you know. Let it out... give free reign to your feelings!

We're here for you, man :)

Posted by: New Age, Sensitive Cassandra...Now with 20% More Hugs at July 7, 2008 03:23 PM

Also, I nominate CHARO.

COOCHIE COOCHIE!!!

[SQUEAL!!!]

Posted by: New Age, Sensitive Cassandra...Now with 20% More Hugs at July 7, 2008 03:25 PM

"I think I am closer to this guy than anything else."

Naaaahhhhh, that can't possibly be you....that's a red-head. Plus I see nary a trapeze nor disco ball in sight, although the nose might possibly qualify in a *pinch*....so to speak.
Besides, this guy would be more like it.

0>;~}
Now, on to the more pressing issue of false advertising in the air freshener industry!!

Posted by: DL Sly at July 7, 2008 03:38 PM

Is Carla Brunui an intellectual? I'd vote for her.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 7, 2008 03:39 PM

Sorry, sorry.......I got my medication late today.

If Charo is OK, can we add Carol Wayne to the list?

Posted by: Bob at July 7, 2008 03:41 PM

I might buy off on Grim, but I'm a bear of very little brain, Mike :p

Demure all you like lady, but anyone who writes things like this or this and still maintains the humor to post this is no dumb bunny. So enjoy. You intellectual you. :)

Posted by: MikeD at July 7, 2008 03:42 PM

"I might buy off on Grim, but I'm a bear of very little brain..."
I'm with Mike, I'll buy off on both of yas.

Theoretical physicists and mathematicians are indeed often exceedingly brilliant, but who, other than like minded folk find them entertaining? Being entertained means being able to understand, to varying degrees, and derive enjoyment from their work... And if weez ain't entertained, we ain't gowanna bother textin' in our vote to the International Intellectual and Mob Stampede contest. But then, sitting hunched over, mouth agape, might work into that in someway too.

I like to read the work of some historians like Chernow and David McCullough. And political observers like VDH, Walter Williams, George Will on occasion, and WFB jr. -may he RIP. I also think Newt is a very smart man in a practical, political sort of way.

Intellectuals all? Maybe not. Maybe these are only people who develop and use their gifts very well, who fully exploit the 10% of their higher intellect. But then I've always thought that Hank Hill and particularly Yogi Berra had life, the universe and everything pretty well sorted, which probably reveals that I am a bit too easily amused. =8^}

Posted by: bthun at July 7, 2008 03:49 PM

Red Skelton! What a great entertainer he was, and what a great story that is.

Thanks for that pointer Sly...

Posted by: bthun at July 7, 2008 03:55 PM

It's one of my favorites, bthun. I've shared it with many of my nieces and nephews, and now SWHNOB. So that they, too, can really appreciate the words they repeat from rote memorization.

Posted by: DL Sly at July 7, 2008 04:18 PM

Just name the last 10 mass murderers off your head and near them you'll find one of the top 10 intellectuals.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 7, 2008 06:51 PM

Way harsh, Y.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 7, 2008 07:45 PM

"Just name the last 10 mass murderers off your head and near them you'll find one of the top 10 intellectuals"
Hmmm, Joseph Stalin...
Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Hey it works! In a six degrees of separation sort of way. =;^}

Posted by: b_Ivanovich-6.02214199 * 10²³-removed-cousin-of-attila_thun at July 7, 2008 08:35 PM

If I were only a mole removed from Atila the Hun I am not sure I would tell anyone.

....wait, yes I would.

Posted by: Pile On at July 7, 2008 10:22 PM

So, now that I've been nominated as one of the world's Top 20 Public Intellectuals, where's my funding?

Posted by: Grim at July 7, 2008 10:40 PM

Yanno, a mole here a mole there and pretty soon you're really kickin some atomic mass... Nuk, nuk, nuk.

Apologies to Avogadro and Everett Dirksen.

Posted by: b_Ivanovich-6.02214199 * 10²³-removed-cousin-of-attila_thun at July 7, 2008 11:13 PM

Prosit to that.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

There should also be a category for Light and Dark intellectuals. Obviously there's a difference between David Hume, Karl Marx, Engels, Mao and John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Sowell, or take your pick of any other person versed in the intellect as a way to make the world a better place. Frederick Douglass as well.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 7, 2008 11:20 PM

Watch out for the criticisms once those moles reach a mass mob.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 7, 2008 11:22 PM

"So, now that I've been nominated as one of the world's Top 20 Public Intellectuals, where's my funding?"
Amazing how that funding thing works... or not.

Now if you were to regularly make over the top pronouncements against the integrity of the nation, the POTUS, those republican and conservative xenophobic, nationalistic, patriotic, bitter, clingy, gun-totin' fly-over, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, especially before audiences abroad... And you were to wear a Che t-shirt, or maybe a chic Yasser Arafart keffiyeh... I'm absolutely certain that funding would be forthcoming from the Carter Center along with a contract to be an on-call expert for MSNBC and a guest columnist for the NYT.

Stylin' and profilin' draws the big bucks. Like chumming the water for progressives with the fruits from the labor of others.

Grim, Cass, If I hit the lottery, I'll fund ya both to write and help shape young minds... In the meantime, I hope the offer of beers will work. =8^}

Whoops, Walkin' Boss tells me it's lights out at the gulag.

Posted by: bthun at July 7, 2008 11:49 PM

I haven't had time to read the whole discussion, but I don't see Charles Krauthammer. Therefore, I propose he be added.

I also find Bill Bennett to be a spark of light in a dark world.

Posted by: MathMom at July 8, 2008 12:02 AM

Very glad to see Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the list, which made me think the list might be serious. Then I saw Al Gore, and realized that it is not completely serious. Christopher Hitchens would be on my list, and is on theirs, and we can thank Allah that Jimmah Cahtuh did NOT make the list.

Posted by: MathMom at July 8, 2008 12:06 AM

Jimmy Carter's like ANthrax.

The Navy once named a ship after him. It was a submarine. The perfect and subtle message of the Silent Service. Jimmy Carters are not supposed to be SEEN or HEARD. Hopefully they'll stay underwater for a Long Time too.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 8, 2008 12:15 AM

I have to say that I am impressed by the Muslim's social networking skills and organizational fast reaction speeds.

They also performed quite well in response to the Dutch cartoons. Numerous and well spread out riots across the entire Islamic world? Incredible, even if it did take a few months to organize. But without a central command and control system, other than Fatwahs and the media, it was an amazing feat of social organization and cannon fodder manipulation.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 8, 2008 12:17 AM

"In the meantime, I hope the offer of beers will work. =8^}"

As long as you don't use the Mongo beer-gram....

Posted by: DL Sly at July 8, 2008 12:53 AM

Mongo quit beer delivery business... People not happy with same-year performance of Mongo Ontime Fleet of Oxen.

Mongo now starting French gardening business. Mail order instruction and online how-to for Au Naturél Produce. That is, Mongo told, some kind of in buff produce? Not sure yet... Maybe like tomato, or peach.

Posted by: Mongo at July 8, 2008 01:41 AM

Maybe like tomato, or peach.

More like ham.

(can't believe I beat Cricket to that one...)

Posted by: BillT at July 8, 2008 02:49 AM

Nah.....more like cucumbers or peppers....
*badump bump*
heh

0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at July 8, 2008 02:59 AM

...more like cucumbers or peppers...

Soooo, now that we've tubed Cassie's chances of making *next* year's list...

Posted by: BillT at July 8, 2008 05:22 AM

Tennesse Ernie Ford
Lucille Ball
Oh..uh..they are dead.

Never mind.

Live ones? Phyllis Schlafly
Margaret Thatcher

Posted by: Cricket at July 8, 2008 09:08 AM

In the meantime, I hope the offer of beers will work. =8^}

That's all I was going to use the funding for anyway.

Oh, and "fact finding" trips. Congress has really got me inspired with its strong example on that subject.

Posted by: Grim at July 8, 2008 10:33 AM

Geez, think of the money we could save -- instead of going on fact-finding trips, catch the idiot who keeps losing the facts to begin with. And we could put little GPS nanotransponders on them, so even if they *do* get

What?

Posted by: BillT at July 8, 2008 11:35 AM

"Geez, think of the money we could save -- instead of going on fact-finding trips, catch the idiot who keeps losing the facts to begin with. And we could put little GPS nanotransponders on them, so even if they *do* get"
I'm on it...

What?"
I'm on it...

Posted by: Det. Joe Friday at July 8, 2008 12:13 PM

"And we could put little GPS nanotransponders on them..."

Oh!
OhOH!
OH, Mr. Kotteeer!!! Mr. Kotteeer! Can I choose the location of the transponders?

Posted by: Ahnold Horseshaaack(ptooie) at July 8, 2008 12:15 PM

I just made a list of FP's list in blist. Check it out!

http://app.blist.com/#/blist/asimmons/Foreign-Policy-s-Top-100-Public-Intellectuals

Posted by: AMS at July 8, 2008 05:01 PM

Wow - that is quite an accomplishment.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 8, 2008 05:18 PM

bthun, I would think you'd want to keep me far, far away from young minds :p

Though I am far better behaved when I am around children. I do love them. Very, very much, in fact. That used to be the one subject I could be relied upon not to have much of a sense of humor about: KJ used to tease me mercilessly about it.

I don't have much pity for adults who screw up in this world, but children are still unspoiled and they can't take care of themselves yet. I get very angry with adults who can't and won't control themselves for the very few moments it takes to protect kids from a world that can be extremely harsh and unforgiving to the defenseless.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 8, 2008 05:23 PM

Perhaps you should consider moving to Texas.

Posted by: Grim at July 8, 2008 05:52 PM

I'm surprised anyone takes that sort of thing seriously, Grim.

I never thought that I could hurt another human being on purpose, but when I read about people like that sometimes I reconsider.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 8, 2008 05:57 PM

My sympathy in this case is with the judge. The SCOTUS is making him into a court jester, assigning penalties that are ridiculous on their face -- because they won't let "life" mean "life," or "death" mean "death."

I feel sorry for the judge, but at least he has found a way to enjoy a joke of sorts along the way.

Posted by: Grim at July 8, 2008 06:24 PM

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