What is an "intellectual"?

Further to my post yesterday:

In his usual memorable way, the delightful Dr. Spooner once said: "I have in my breast a half-warmed fish". I suspect that the definition I am about to offer is little better than a half-warmed fish but here goes: I think an intellectual is someone who defends popular ideas in a particularly persuasive way -- which is why the label is usually attached only to people who are much in the public eye. There are many scholars and scientists labouring away at making a contribution to knowledge and understanding but it is only when they get into the public eye that they become "intellectuals". And if the ideas they espouse are complex or difficult to follow they will simply not get into the public eye. The ideas concerned have to be readily comprehended by the intelligent layman.

And one reason why most intellectuals seem to be Left-leaning is that Leftist ideas are the ones most in need of defending. Some Leftist ideas -- such as the belief that you can provide more and better accomodation for the poor by instituting government rent-control -- are so obviously mad that not even an intellectual could defend them (except in NYC of course). But other ideas -- such as the desirability of universal government healthcare -- are attractive enough to warrant defending. And if you have been to a government hospital lately, you will very likely feel that only an intellectual could defend that idea. I am sure that Hillary Clinton goes to private hospitals.

So I think I can safely say that I am not an intellectual. I get no mainstream media exposure at all. Since I would much prefer to be regarded as a scientist or a scholar, however, I feel rather pleased about that. Most "intellectuals" seem to me to be very poor scientists and scholars -- Noam Chomsky, for instance.


Brookes News Update

US economy, interest rates and recession: It's beginning to look like Bernanke's interest rate policy is pouring more fuel on America's inflationary economy. All in all, from last August to last January the fed rate fell by a massive 43 per cent. This looks to be stoking manufacturing output. Sooner or later, this reckless monetary policy must come to an end
Economic policy: Is something out of nothing possible?: In the real world, an artificial boost in demand that is not supported by production leads to the dilution of the pool of real savings and, contrary to the Keynesian view, to a shrinking in the flow of real wealth
Is monetary policy destroying manufacturing?: Americans and Australians have a right to be concerned about the state of manufacturing in their respective countries. But raising tariffs is no solution. It must be considered that a country whose currency has been overvalued for sometime might find its industrial structure has not only become more domestic oriented but that part of it has been shifted abroad in response to the differences in international prices cause by the inflated exchange rate
Why congressional Democrats and their fellow-travellers sabotage US intelligence programs: Those Democrats who screamed for an investigation of Bush and the CIA never thought to criticise what went on under Clinton's watch. The intelligence situation is now worse than ever because Clinton took the opportunity to place committed Democrats in the CIA. I guess the mass of Americans just cannot grasp that to these Democrats party loyalty trumps patriotism
Economic growth, immigration and Say's Law: A great many misconceptions about immigration, population size and the nature of economic growth abound, particularly among businessmen. Unfortunately some economic commentators are not much better
Scientists denounce global warming hysteria: Many scientists are now protesting against greenhouse hysteria that the greens and much of the media have been whipping up. In doing so they have exposed man-made global warming to be a fraud
Smugness of perpetuating Holocaust: The current enemies of Israel, including the Palestinian Authority, in spite of their acts of aggression and terrorism, have the full support of UN Human Rights commission. Israel is the only country which is singled out as a gross violator of human rights

Posted by John Ray

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