Who’s the smartest of them all?

The Prospect and Foreign Policy are inviting readers to vote for who they think are the top public intellectuals. The magazines have narrowed it down to 100, from which five can be chosen. My selections (in no particular order):

1) Richard Dawkins
2) Hernando De Soto
3) Lawrence Lessig
4) Martha Nussbaum
5) Richard Posner

They also invite one write-in vote. I was tempted to go with Douglass North, but being already long on economists I submitted Antonio Damasio instead.

Your picks?

[Yet another hat tip to The Morning News.]


6 thoughts on “Who’s the smartest of them all?”

  1. There are way too many people on that list that I haven’t heard of. I’d have to say Umberto Eco, Steven Pinker, and Vaclav Havel would be up there, and then Salman Rushdie and Tariq Ramadan. Honorable mention to Chomsky the linguist, Achebe, and Sachs. Write-in to George Will, who I disagree with a lot but who is probably the best columnist in America. I know my Bottom Five would include Baudrillard, Diamond, Fukuyama, Wolfowitz, and some other person.

  2. The number of people on the list I’d never heard of is indeed humbling.

    George Will is an interesting choice. I’m with you on trashing Fukuyama, but why Diamond?

  3. Diamond is the know-it-all type – he has the tendency to extrapolate huge generalizations from scant data and grossly oversimplifies complicated issues such as why the West became dominant over the rest of the world. For someone who claims to be an expert, his understanding is barely above a layman’s.

  4. Now that I think about it, I’d probably change my write-in from Will to Kurt Vonnegut. I also would have liked to see James Loewen, Brian Greene, and Steven Hawking on the list, though none of them would crack my top 6.

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