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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Alarms and diversions for the thinking person

Saturday, April 15, 2017 12:01 am

The reading list

“It is the best of times for Thought Leaders. It is the worst of times for Public Intellectuals. It is the most confusing of times for those of us in the academy.

“Let me unpack these terms. Public Intellectuals are experts, often academics, who are well-versed and well-trained enough to comment on a wide range of issues. As Friedrich Hayek put it, Public Intellectuals are “professional secondhand dealers in ideas.” Think Paul Krugman or Jill Lepore. A Thought Leader is an intellectual evangelist. They develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize to anyone within earshot. Think Robert Kagan or Naomi Klein.

“Both Public Intellectuals and Thought Leaders engage in acts of intellectual creation, but their style and purpose are different. To adopt the language of Isaiah Berlin, Public Intellectuals are foxes who know many things, while Thought Leaders are hedgehogs who know one big thing. The former are skeptics, the latter are true believers. A Public Intellectual will tell you everything that is wrong with everyone else's ideas. A Thought Leader will tell you everything that is right about his or her own idea.”

— From “Triumph of the thought leader” at chronicle.com

A quiz

What two countries have the highest number of Catholic citizens?

Wisdom of the ages

“There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all. — Peter Drucker

Current wisdom

“I made a mistake by trying to make a comparison that was completely wrong. I don't even know how to explain it. It was a straight up mistake.” — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, after taking heat for saying not even Hitler attacked his own people with chemical weapons the way Syria's Bashar-al Assad did.

Quiz answer

No. 1 is Brazil, and No. 2 is Mexico.

Snob words

ostensible (ah-STEN-suh-buhl), adj. — outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended, as in: “Despite all his ostensible charm, the politician was a ruthless partisan.”

Today in history

On this date in 1910, William Howard Taft became the first U.S. president to throw out the first ball at a baseball game; how come no president has ever done the NFL coin toss?

Now you know

Cigarette filters take 12 years to biodegrade. An aluminum can takes between 200 to 500 years. Plastic diapers and sanitary pads take between 500-800 years.


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