Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Number One with an Umlaut

Internet polls are almost entirely worthless, but this is kind of interesting anyway...apparently the top 10 public intellectuals in the world are all Muslims, most of who I've never heard of, and most of them are theorists of moderate Islam, which the hysterics in the US and Europe like to pretend doesn't exist. Top spot goes to Fethullah G├╝len, "the modern face of the Sufi Ottoman tradition".

A few random observations: Chomsky (who was #1 last time around and is still the highest-ranked non-Muslim) might deserve it, but for his linguistics, not the political writing that makes him trendy. His political writing has never been displayed much intellectual depth, IMO, although it's been sadly accurate.

Al Gore has the spot underneath that, which is just plain silly.

Richard Dawkins (19) is the first scientist to appear, and doesn't really deserve it; he's more of a popularizer than an original thinker, and his writings on religion don't have much depth.

Rather surprisingly, there are no computer people on the list at all. Closest are Lawrence Lessig (52), a lawyer, and Neil Gershenfeld (98), a physical scientist at the MIT Media Lab. Computists have produced some profound ideas but I guess they aren't in the right form for this kind of list. Probably Richard Stallman deserves a slot in terms of impact of an idea.

No comments: