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The History of Thought Leaders

Daniel Drezner's Thought Leader Talk Examines the New Intellectual

— July 20, 2017 — Keynote Trends
Theory and academics often get derided for their impracticality, but as Daniel Drezner notes in his thought leader talk, not all ideas remain stranded on the page. Indeed certain ideas come to shape the history of the world, from democracy to communism, and today's so-called thought leaders position themselves as the arbiters of that change. Drezner's talk dives into how thought leaders have come to represent the modern intellectual voice.

For Drezner, there are two types of intellectuals: public intellectuals and thought leaders. Public intellectuals represent a more traditional form. They're the voices who would have columns in high brow publications in which they would write on a variety of topics — essentially anything that was relevant for that issue of 'The New Yorker' or whatever other magazine or paper. Thought leaders, on the other hand, are the modern iteration. They speak at TED Talks or get interviewed on Vox, and they tend to focus intently on a single idea. The issue with this modern version is that thought leaders tend to explain every problem that gets thrown at them through their single idea.
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