Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Karnick, Kahn, and Cold War

The shadowy figure of S.T. Karnick once lurked in an organization founded by a mental superstar. The genius: Herman Kahn. The organization: The Hudson Institute. It was there that Karnick founded a magazine that combined ultra-high quality content with a low profile. See, it wasn't how many people read it. It was WHO read it. Kind of like the Reform Club.

In any case, Kahn, who was once supposed to be the highest IQ on record, lived an amazing life and produced a fascinating body of work, primarily on nuclear war. It seems he put his talents to better use than the person now claimed to have the highest IQ, one Marilyn vos Savant, who answers trivia questions and brainteasers in the pages of Parade Magazine, a Sunday newspaper insert. (Get a white coat and go cure cancer, Marilyn.)

Read all about the amazing Kahn here.

6 comments:

Tlaloc said...

Intelligence Quotient is a meaningless metric. It cannot of course measure intelligence, only facility with the paticular types of questions and subjects the person writing the test favored.

Anonymous said...

Well, that settles that!

Hunter Baker said...

Me and my 98 agree.

Anonymous said...

I agree too. When somebody is lauded as having a high IQ, alarms should go off in your head. It's not totally meaningless, but not useful.

Kathy Hutchins said...

I also worked at the Hudson Institute for a couple of years, not nearly as long as Sam. When I was there Kahn had been dead for seven years, but there were still some staff that had known him, and his legend still loomed large over the place (I suppose nothing of Kahn's could loom other than largely.) Sylvia Nasar's otherwise flawed biography of John Nash, A Beautiful Mind, contains an intriguing portrait of the culture and personality of RAND, including Kahn. (I notice the article omits any discussion of John von Neumann, the father of game theory and another reputed element of the composite Dr. Strangelove character.) Kahn's strategic thinking is still of interest -- in fact, I've recently been rereading On Escalation and daydreaming of ways the Senate majority might use some of its insights to open a can of whup-ass on Harry Reid.

Trivia item: the Oxford English Dictionary credits Herman Kahn with the first use of the word "scenario" in its modern sense of 'prediction of a sequence of events.' (It was previously theatrical jargon.)

Hunter Baker said...

Okay, now I'm smitten, too. This is simply terrible, Mrs. Hutchins.