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Here at Prospect, we are much concerned with intellectuals—a word that has graced our cover several times, from this July’s symposium on Gordon Brown back to our October 2005 report on the world’s top 100 intellectuals. As such lists suggest, it is a term that inevitably invokes ideas of hierarchy and exceptionality, as well as that most troubling of black boxes, “taste.” An intellectual is more than a brilliant investigator of facts: he or she is an evaluator and a generator of ideas.

Clearly, discernment is a vital skill in any field, and the truly discerning are to be cherished.…

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