Monday, September 26, 2005

Vote for Your Favorite Public Intellectuals

Thanks to Minipundit for pointing to Prospect Magazine's ballot of 100 of the world's public intellectuals, from which we are all invited to pick our five favorites. They have an accompanying article explaining why lists like this are inherently flawed and biased. And of course, self-selected polls are notoriously unreliable. (As Dr. Free-Ride says, numbers don't lie... unless they're statistics.) But, they're still fun.

I have only a couple of rules for anyone using the links provided above to vote:

1) You can only vote for people you have heard of.
2) You can only violate rule #1 a couple of times.

I think it would be a scream if they threw in about four or five non-existent ringers to see how many votes they garnered. Advertising execs used to call this effect "spurious awareness." For instance, they would conduct a study to see how people "recognized" certain name brands. I'd ask you to tell me how many of the following toothpastes you have heard of: Aim, Crest, Dentyne, Colgate, Arm & Hammer, Sparklewhite, Ultra Brite, Aquafresh, etc. Then I'd calculate how many people picked Dentyne, which is not toothpaste (to my knowledge, anyway) and Sparklewhite (which doesn't exist at all, as far as I am aware), correlate it to other data, and then draw conclusions about how people react to advertising, lists, polls, etc.

But anyhow, since Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf is not one of the options given on the Prospect ballot (And yes, I know the definition of a public intellectual is subjective, while the definition of toothpaste is objective), I guess I'll just play it straight and pick my five faves. I'll share them with everyone later this week, after I vote. (I don't want to just rush into this and throw my votes away, you know.)

Update: I guess this poll is actually co-sponsored by Prospect and Foreign Policy. Here's the way FP presented the list, thanks to Unlocked Wordhoard.


Blogger getalife said...

Guess I'm not too bright - I don't think I'm familar with the work of five on that list!

(But I may be smart enough to hack in there and make myself a finalist...)

9:03 PM  

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