Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Padded? By whom?
Noam Chomsky, the American linguistics expert and US foreign policy critic, was named the world's top public intellectual, according to a new British magazine poll released.Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens (both of whom appeared on the Bill Maher show two Fridays ago!) made the top ten. The "highest-placed female intellectual" was Naomi Klein, who would certainly have our endorsement, if -- admittedly a longshot -- she wanted it.
Best known for his loud and consistent criticism of the Vietnam War and US foreign policy over the last 40 years, Chomsky, 76, decisively beat Italian novelist and academic Umberto Eco and third-placed Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins to top the poll.
Now an emeritus professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chomsky first became known for his theory of grammar developed at MIT in the 1950s, which held that the ability to form structured language is innate in the human mind . . . .
Chomsky was unimpressed with the honour, telling The Guardian newspaper that polls were something "I don't pay a lot of attention to," adding that "it was probably padded by some friends of mine."