Prospect magazine has an utterly risible list of “top 100” intellectuals (via Bryan Appleyard and Frank Wilson, both of whom offer their opinions at the links provided). Like Susan Baleé (see comments at Bryan’s blog), I have heard of only one out of the first ten named people, and I’ve only heard of him because he got a Nobel prize for literature recently (I hadn’t heard of him before that). I have, however, heard of numbers 11 and 12, Noam Chomsky and Al Gore. I would call Noam Chomsky an intellectual (whether or not one agrees with him) but I would not call Al Gore one. I would also call Richard Dawkins (who features in the list) an intellectual. Although it is fashionable to despise him, one does not have to agree with someone’s views for that person to be considered an intellectual, and Richard Dawkins surely qualifies on the basis of a superb body of work.
However, returning to the main point, Frank Wilson and Bryan Appleyard are, of course, founder members of the Failed Intellectuals Society. I don’t make it into that exalted group, but here are my top ten Failed Intellectuals (in no particular order), all of whom I can recommend highly:
Frank (link above)
Bryan (link above)
Ian McEwan (not a popular choice among some fellow FIs, I realise)
There, you can’t do better than that — you read it here first.