We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Please tell me this is a joke…

Amongst the ten people voted “World’s Top Thinkers” are Russell Brand and Thomas Piketty? Seriously? This must be a truly tenebrous selection of voters! I have occasionally stood in more thoughtful things than those two whist incautiously walking down the street palm surfing for porn essays on complexity theory!

31 comments to Please tell me this is a joke…

  • CalFord

    I’ve already noted this at Tim Worstall’s, but, amusingly, if you go to Prospect’s website they do have the World Thinkers Poll headline on their front page (LH column). But if you click on it it features *last* year’s results, which aren’t as embarrassing.

  • Paul Marks

    This is the culture – the meta context – that the university crowd work to produce.

    Gramsci called in the permeation of ideas (rather than the formal infiltration of persons).

    Sadly this is not paranoia – it is seeing the truth of the situation, the utterly evil truth.

    However, there are few straws of hope – and one can grasp them.

    For example the leftist books (including that Mr Brand) were finally thrown out of the local Tesco yesterday – on the grounds that no one had bought a single copy of such things as “Revolution” by Mr Brand, or Mrs Clinton’s book for many months (they were just taking up space – and irritating, by the very sight of them, customers like me “why is that rubbish still here”).

    Sadly “Waterstones” remains fanatically committed to pushing leftist books.

    Krugman, Stiglitz, Pig (of “Capital”) and on and on.

    Boards in the windows of the shop – books presented face on, members of staff physically attacking people if they do not buy them (yes I made the last one up, but not much, “are you sure you do not want this book “Establishment” – it is soo good, Philip Pullman says so” – sorry my dears but I do not consider Mr Pullman an authority on economics or politics)

    They do not care about their shareholders – if they can not sell leftist books they would rather sell nothing than display books that attack the leftist case on the 2008 crash on whatever.

    They are taught (at school, university, and by the media) that Social Justice is noble, and that the shareholders (the owners of Waterstones and so on)are evil – “greedy capitalists”.

  • My list in the comments at City AM (the only newspaper in the UK worth reading if you ask me) was:

    David Deutsch
    Hernando de Soto Polar
    Whitfield Diffie
    Madsen Pirie
    Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Detlev Schlichter
    Kevin Dowd
    Marvin Minsky
    Sam Harris
    Alvin Toffler

    Go add yours there.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    How is a list of ‘Ten top thinkers’ any more meaningful than one of the ‘Ten most beautiful women’?

    And anyway, if I’m not on it, it’s wrong. ;^)

  • Mr Ed

    Well it can’t be a typo ‘thinker‘ for ‘plonker‘.

  • PersonFromPorlock has fallen victim to the “fixed quantity of top ten lists fallacy” 😛

  • Jeff Evans

    Editorial cockup – April 1st is NEXT Wnesday.

  • Barry Sheridan

    I confused Perry, where’s my name in your list!

    Ok I’m joking, but Russell Brand!

  • Surellin

    Short attention span – both Grand and Piketty had books out recently. It’s like if People Magazine does an article on “the world’s most handsome man” you know he had a movie out in the last few months.

  • Surellin

    Pardon, “Brand”, not “Grand”. A mistake I will not make again.

  • Laird

    The fact that Yanis Varoufakis and Paul Krugman are on the list tells you all you need to know about the intellectual capacity of the yahoos who voted.

    I’m generally OK with Perry’s list, but Toffler? Really?

  • Bod

    Not much of a fan of that noted fabulist deGrasse Tyson either.
    Falsus in unum, falsus in omnium

  • M Taylor

    Well, there goes another magazine letting me know I don’t need to read it.

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    I shouldn’t take the inclusion of Russell Brand too seriously. According to the comments over at Tim Worstall’s place it was the result of an intentionally ironic campaign on the part of the voters.

  • Cal

    Just discovered that there are two different webpages for Prospect. Rather poor organization, I have to say. There’s prospectmagazine.co.uk, and there’s prospect.magazine.co.uk. It’s the same magazine, but the latter has has last year’s poll on the front, and the former has this year’s.

  • However it [the magazine] has been described as left-leaning by the BBC


  • hennesli

    isn’t Prospect the magazine Roger Scruton writes for?

  • PeterT

    Sadly cityam has gone a bit mainstream since allistair heath left. From what I can tell he is not as influential in his role at the telegraph.The opinion pages seem to be more balanced than they were, with various opinion pieces by random labour london politician.

    I would add david friedman to the list.

  • Nick (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Paul Hogan
    Gina Rinehard
    Dick Smith
    Rupert Murdock
    Elle McPherson
    Kylie Minough
    Russell Crowe
    Malcolm Turnbull
    Trudi Canavan
    Glenda Larke
    Whilst Gina inherited her father Hancock’s wealth, she has done a lot to expand and increase what she started out with, and Rupert has certainly done well from the Adelaide newspaper he inherited.
    The rest seem to be self-made success stories (the last two are fantasy writers whose books sell well.)
    For some reason, these Australian success stories were not on your list.

  • Nick (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    P.S. I used success stories, because I like practical proof that the person can think better than the average. How come Richard Branson didn’t make anyone’s list?

  • Nick (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    How could I have forgotten Melissa George? Former Home-And-Away regular, hollywood actress (she made a great cheerleader!) and now millionairess inventor (Hemming my way). She transcended fame and adulation to earn real wealth as an inventor- could be a movie in that, and she can play herself!

  • Watchman

    I think we can safely say that the ‘world’s top thinker’ poll tells us much more about the people who filled it in, and indeed the sort of person who is concerned about thinkers. There is a socialist (and general statist) desire to have philosophies and leaders to follow, presumably because people thinking for themselves will inevitably challenge the dearly-held views of the socialist and statist (at the risk of starting a row, this may even apply to Randists…). So they promote ‘thinkers’ at the expense of thinking.

  • CommonSense

    In a liberal list like that it is surprising that the fairly libertarian Tyler Cowan made it to 21, I’d take that as a minuscule bit of positive news. (admittedly small consolation amidst the horror at Piketty being 1 and Krugman 5, just sticking to economists without even addressing the absurdity of Brand and Klein being in the top 4)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paraphrasing Laird — Sam Harris? Really?

    By the way, how far back can we go? I’d sort of like to include Moses, Jesus, probably Algernon Sidney, Galileo, Newton, Carl Menger, and by the way Ayn Rand. Also Michael DeBakey, if he’s not too much techie and too little Intellectual. (I suppose one could make the same argument about Moses.)

    Beyond seeing the name a lot on UT, I am completely ignorant. 🙁 Who is Neil deGrasse Tyson and what has he done for (or against) me lately?

  • Julie, they have to living. So despite Newton being an all time top three (the others are invariably Christ and Muhammed) he doesn’t count. Yes, he might have revolutionised mathematics, unified terrestrial and celestial mechanics, made enormous contributions to fluid mechanics and optics. He might have wrote this…


    But of course Brand wrote, “My Bookie Wook” which apparently (I haven’t read it) described in dreadful detail his sex addiction battle. Yes that is tabloid word-ordering but seeing as it is tabloid thought…

    The Principia of Newton is the most important book ever written. (It has fewer begattings (Google Chrome wants to render that as “beastings”) so I am leaving that out but then I care not a numpty’s uncle who was begat (or beasted) by Zebediah in the parlour with much valour) than The Bible and fewer contradiction than the word of Allah himself.

    This not slagging religion per-se but it is generally sh’ite.

    Curious point on the Principia. It almost didn’t get published. Samuel Pepys of the Royal Society had blown the whole shooting match on an illustrated natural history of fish. Yep, the book that changed the World almost wasn’t published because of Pepys and his love of fish. Fortunately Halley stepped in and paid for it.

    My top ten, in no particular order…

    Isaac Newton
    Nikola Tesla
    Mary Wollstonecraft
    James Maxwell
    The Brothers Wright
    Henry Ford
    Marie Curie
    George Stephenson (and son Robert)
    John Locke
    Jorge Luis Borges
    Agusta Ada, Countess Lovelace
    Kurt Godel

    And they are all very dead. And I know there are 13 but I is three greater than that parrot-faced wazzock of an alleged “comedian” Brand. Never made me laugh.

  • Sam Pepys though did bury a Parmesan cheese in his garden due to the Great Fire of London.

  • Laird

    NickM, I’m not sure all those qualify as “thinkers”. Jorge Luis Borges, The Brothers Wright, Henry Ford? All doers, certainly, but not thinkers in the class of the others. (And if you remove those 3 you get down to the proper 10! Mirabile dictu!) And actually, I wouldn’t include JRRT either.

    I’ve never tried planting a cheese (although I did bury a statue of St. Joseph in the yard when I was trying to sell my last house). Did Pepys manage to grow a cheese tree?

  • Mr Ed

    Pepys might have missed a trick there, had he not buried his cheese, he might have invented the fondue by serendipity, thereby revolutionising English cuisine…

  • Thailover

    As an American, I’m not familiar with Prospect magazine, but I’m forced to assume that it’s light reading for useful idiots. Brand is, boringly enough, the typical neo-marxist. He shouts a lot, gesticulating wildly, signifying nothing. The slightest scratch to his rhetoric exposes that there is absolutely nothing underneath, which is what we should expect for any agent for Critical Theory I suppose.

  • Thailover

    Dear Julie;
    I would hardly consider Jesus a great thinker. Resist not evil and if someone’s beating the crap out of your face, invite them to beat the other cheek too? Really? Be like the birds and lilies, don’t toil, don’t spin (wool into cloth) (in other words, don’t be productive) but rather rely on divine providence (heavenly welfare) instead? That’s attrocious advice. You can’t serve both god and mammon (earn wealth), so make yourself destitute and homeless, abandon your family and follow him around the desert? What? Don’t make personal plans for yourself or family, but “give no thought for the morrow”? ‘Come again?
    And that’s just covering mat 5 & 6. It just gets worse. I’m not even critiquing the idea of a loving father that threatens to burn his children for the “crime” of impossible imperfection, or even the idea of “the gilty” exploiting the sacrifice of an innocent preacher, asking that his unjust death penalty pay for their sin-crimes, so they can be admitted into a “paradise” they neither earned nor deserve.
    The idea that this is somehow wisdom makes my head and stomach spin.

  • Thailover

    Prospect magazine must be the UK’s version of America’s Salon magazine. Salon is such a leftist propoganda rag filled with utter garbage that they can’t even convince hardcore leftists to bother reading it. It’s personally financed by a radical leftist millionare and has never made a profit in any fiscal year of it’s existence.