Monday, 23 June 2008

Now you're just being silly

Some questions for you:

1) Who is the world's top intellectual?

2) What the hell does that question even mean?
3) How could we answer it?
4) Why should we care?

Prospect magazine have had a stab at 1) and 3) recently; they should have thought more about 3). Their online poll, for God's sake, was widely publicised in Turkey, which has possibly skewed the results. I know what you're thinking - who could have predicted a skewed response to an open online poll? Well, not Prospect: "Prospect's editor, David Goohart, admitted to not having previously heard of Gülen and said his supporters had 'made a mockery' of the poll."

"Made a mockery"? Of an online poll? An epistemic methodology slightly less likely to reflect reality than "She loves me, she loves me not?" How would that even be possible? In any case, if Goohart has some good reason to believe that Gülen is not the world's top intellectual, why the hell did he need to run a poll? Wouldn't it be great if the editor of "the most intelligent magazine of current affairs and cultural debate in Britain" had just come out and said:

"This meaningless exercise failed to reflect my own opinion, so I'm disowning it forthwith."

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