I confess that I have strong likes and dislikes in almost everything — concrete or abstract. That goes for people as well. Of course, I have my economist heroes — Hayek, Buchanan, Friedman, et al — and anti-heroes (who shall remain unnamed.) Among politicians, my greatest hero was Lee Kuan Yew and the greatest villain Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
I began to think about this today because a friend told me that Nassim Nicolas Taleb considers Edward Snowden to be a fraud. I liked NNT’s book Antifragile. He’s obviously very intelligent and highly opinionated (which is a good thing, in my opinion), has enough “f u money”, and is widely celebrated as an intellectual. But he’s often needlessly mean and vicious to people.
Caution: amateur psychoanalysis ahead. I think he’s most mean to people who he thinks are smarter than he is but he is unwilling to admit to himself. For example, he dismisses Steven Pinker as a journalist. I think that NNT’s disapproval of Snowden may have an explanation that is rooted in self-doubt.
NNT is good at what he does but I don’t admire him as a human being. Which brings me Stephen Fry. He’s someone whom I admire enormously. He would be in “My short list of 10 contemporary people I’d like to have a beer with.” The late Christoper Hitchens was on that list. I had the pleasure of having a smoke with him once in Berkeley. Another Brit on that list is Douglas Murray. Hitchens and Fry were friends, and Hitchens was a mentor to Murray. Small world.
Stephen Fry is extraordinary. I think his favorite word is “extraordinary.” Come to think of it, even Murray overuses that word. Anyway, here’s a video of the extraordinarily gifted and entertaining Mr Fry.
The image at the top of this post is from Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder TV series in which Stephen Fry plays a character named Captain Cook.
That reminds me, Rowan Atkinson does make it to my list of people I’d love to have a beer with. Well, that means too many Brits make that list.
Who are some of your favorite people?