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We can’t say we weren’t warned. Plenty of people—including many friends of the magazine—tut-tutted at the very idea of the Prospect/Foreign Policy global public intellectuals poll (the unexpected result of which you can find here). They saw it as a capitulation to glib, list-making populism. How can you compare the work of a scientist and a novelist? How can you sit in London or Washington and make a sensible judgement about thinkers in Asia or Africa? How can you take seriously a list with such a fuzzy definition of its subject, and which stretches it to include political celebrities? All…

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