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Round 2 begins! Plato (1) vs. Mark Twain (4)

Yesterday we reached the end of round 1, and I’m sorry but we’re voting Bono off the island. There was no particular killer argument in favor of John Waters, but the forthcoming showdown between Judy Garland and the Baltimore icon is just too good to pass up.

So here’s what we have so far:


And now we’ve reached the second round! And we’re starting with a couple of heavyweights. Socrates vs. Tom Sawyer. Shadows on the wall vs. the jumping frog. So, whaddya wanna hear: the philosophical foundations of the modern world, or some stories about riverboats? You tell me.

P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Two fiction writers going head to head. I go with Twain though. He had the common sense and common decency to write stories about America.

    • Xi'an says:

      This is an inrrefutable argument against Plato. Why indeed didn’t he write about America?!

      I vote Plato, as a founder of epistemology and metaphysics, as well as the first Akademia.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Greeks had or could have made ships at least as seaworthy as the ones Leif Erikson used to sail to North America during the middle ages. Plato and his posse gets no points for laziness.

        • jrc says:

          You know, sometimes an argument just needs the right framing and the answer leaps out at you:

          “founder of Epistemology” vs. “USA! USA! USA!”

          Voting for Plato would be like voting for Qatar 2022, that is, just plain un-American, and bad for the world.

          • Anonymous says:

            Plato had his chance to write about the Lost city of Atlanta, but didn’t take it.

            Although, since Socrates wrote nothing and was killed, while Plato wrote much and lived, he’s arguable the discoverer of the “publish or perish” principle.

  2. zbicyclist says:

    I think we need to look at the common factor between Twain and Plato: caves!

    Twain gives us a fictional cave that as it turns out is a good description of a real cave (now called Mark Twain Cave, south of Hannibal. Of course, on the cave tour they are at pains to point out every spot that matches the description in the book.) So, from fiction we get reality, exceeding expectations.

    Plato would be classified as nonfiction, but only gave us an allegory of a cave. This is underperforming expectations.

    Might this not also be true of their seminar performance? I think so.


  3. Andy says:

    Twain would be funnier for sure. And Plato runs the risk of talking over the audience’s heads. My vote is for MT.

  4. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Plato, it should be remembered, was not only a philosopher, but a successful New York City entrepreneur with his Retreat, which only succumbed to narrow American puritanism and hygienic paranoia. Let’s see who the seminar attracts when everyone has to come naked.

  5. Hey, where’s the prediction market betting pool for this? Get on the horn to your buddies at Microsoft!

    Here are my predictions basd on the last round, which revealed a lot about Andrew’s predilection and willingness to go against the crowd.

    1. Twain (c’mon, he’s got to win the whole thing)
    2. Mohammed (Eddy’s followers are anti-science, whereas Mohammed’s followers are only anti-representational art)

    3. Thoreau (USA! USA! USA!)
    4. Camus (Kinkade’s in as a joke)

    5. da Vinci (everyone hates the French intellectuals)
    6. Turing (Andrew’s fanboy and would get to play running chess with him after the seminar)

    7. Rock (funny beats serious)
    8. Hobbes (he might bring Calvin)

    9. Gandhi (based on previous round comments)
    10. Dick (Gelman loves Dick [Zacky and Jakey should chortle at this one])

    11. Freud (because even after the first round, I can’t remember who Lee is)
    12. Popper (Gelman’s a fanboy)

    13. Marx (though they both sound like they’d be tediously preachy)
    14. Updike (authors beat philosophers)

    15. Carlin (see above; also Gelman’s a fanboy even if creeped out)
    16. Waters (ditto)

    • Andrew says:


      Sure, but, remember, I make my calls based on the best arguments I see in the comments!

      • Keith O'Rourke says:

        Relax, relax you are getting sleepy, no need to worry, just relax you have been fair and working hard…

        Its Plato’s time this time (and you owe to Freud).

        What, Freud won?!

        Listen to Bob, he is the only one who makes sense around this insane asylum.

    • I had to run before I completed the entire bracket guess.

      ROUND 3:












      Partly just wishful thinking because I’d just love to see Twain. I think Turing has the next best chance overall, followed by Marx and Carlin.

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