What is an “intelligent person”

Mark Steyn says:

What is an ”intelligent” person? As defined by the media, it seems to mean someone who takes the media seriously. Someone wonkish on the nuts and bolts of particular topics of interest to media types, and able to sit around yakking about them till 3 in the morning. Ronald Reagan had a much rarer intelligence — a strategic intelligence. In 1977, he told Richard Allen, ”My theory of the Cold War is that we win and they lose.”
[…]
Those who disparage him say it would have happened anyway. It was obvious to all that the Soviet Union was on the verge of total collapse. After all, as big-time Ivy League history prof Arthur Schlesinger wrote in 1982, ”Those in the United States who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse” are ”wishful thinkers who are only kidding themselves.”
No, hang on, I must be thinking of Professor J.K. Galbraith, who in 1984 was marveling at ”the great material progress” of the USSR. In fairness to Galbraith, as the Associated Press would say, he has almost no schooling in economics, aside from being a Harvard economics professor for several decades.

Most of the “intelligent” people I know think Bush is an idiot. They though the same of Reagan when he was President. I don’t want this post to sound like Mark Anthony’s euology in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar but replacing “honorable” with “smart.” But I’m curious how my intelligent readers weigh various sorts of intelligence. Are the higher ups in their organizations more intelligent? How about their significant others? etc.

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One Response to What is an “intelligent person”

  1. ooghe says:

    hmm. an interesting question. I agree that economists in general, were they doctors, would be mired in malpractice suits. Also tend to agree that the media and many other social institutions would rather redefine mediocrity as intelligence than understand people’s abilities individually (I mean, do IQ tests really correlate to how individuals effect the world beyond giving them access to institutional privileges?)

    As for Reagan, I didn’t think he was an idiot, nor do I think Bush is an idiot. I’ve never counted myself among those who believed that the collapse of the USSR was inevitable (although I think there were factors in addition to Reagan’s brinksmanship- like the Soviet failure to anticipate the information age, containment in general, etc)- but for the most part, I agree detente wasn’t working under Nixon or Carter.

    It’s interesting to speculate on Bush as a person, to which I have no particularly strongly felt theories yet. I don’t think he is stupid, and I do think he possesses political acumen. Functionally, I think he is implementing a great strategic error, much in the way that even Winston Churchill- generally regarded as an intelligent man- would have been regarded differently had the Allies listened to him and tried to invade Germany through Europe’s soft underbelly and been defeated.

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