Essel on Russia’s Best and Brightest

Where the Best Minds Gather

Dave Essel

One of our moron troll vistors commented in response to one of my translations recently that “American T.V. is the basic reason why less than 10 per cent of your nation reads books daily” – of course with no source to back up his claim. This, of course, was silly nonsense, but I wondered if something could be done to counter the concept. (Be warned, the text after the jump contains profanity as translated from the Russian web.)

I know from experience that Russians do have the appearance of being somewhat educated but that this ability to quote from books they appear to have read (actually taught synopses) and their outline knowledge of the plot of works of literature is only superficial. In fact most Russians are as woefully ignorant (usually more so) as our own lumpen proletariat and Russian TV is worse – far worse – than the worst Western TV because its level is as low if not lower while at the same time far more uniform in its hypocrisy and trashiness.

The country’s intellectual level is dire. Because I love Russia and many Russians, I usually translate honourable exceptions, sadly few in number. Here, however is a translation of a short thread about LR in a Russian forum. This is far more representative of what most Russians are like these days, of how they talk and “think”. This is the real political and intellectual level Russia today.

Er.DS:  Now here’s a good site. Full marks just for the name! Site’s cram-full of links, text, and even letters. Comrades, be on your guard, the enemy snakes are trying to shit in your brains.

BNR34: I couldn’t understand a word of it. Probably no one has shat in my brains before.

Er.DS:  Quote: “I couldn’t understand a word of it” All right then, I’m prepared to help.

Jag Mort: So it’s got links to anti-Putin sites. Does that make them enemies?
I myself don’t agree with our dear government sometimes. Does that make me an enemy?

Er.DS:  To each his own. Why read it it if you don’t like it?

Atomic:  It’s not opinions, it’s propaganda. And anyway, out abroad, you can land yourself in prison for denying a far less obvious holocaust and no one is surprised.

Jag Mort:  Arse. It’s from America so it’s what you can expect. Look what we write about the wankers.

BNR34 :Well I’m not going to read it anyway. I don’t care what Western clever clogs. I’ve got my own thoughts on the matter.

Jag Mort:  All right. Let’s clarify: are you for or against Putin?

BNR34: What difference does that make? =) More for than against, I reckon.

Jag Mort:  OK, that’s clear: undecided.

BNR34:  You in the FSB?

Jag Mort: I ask the questions here.


I have therefore come to realise that our trolls stand head and shoulders above their compatriots in that they can actually string what passes for a sentence, if not a thought, together – and in “foreign” too!

Dear trolls, I apologise for calling you morons, since I can think of no word several ranks lower to attribute to your compatriots quoted above and the designation must go to them. I now realise that you are the flower of the FSB’s propaganda department with years of special training behind you. Not good enough, of course, but that’s neo-Nazi Russia for you. One can’t really expect you not to fail in the particular task you have been given: that’s the Russian way. Sadly for you and your masters you manage at the same time to make Russia and Russians look worse in the eyes of the world than if you had stayed away. Do you realise this? Probably not, since you will not look about you but only inside your walled-off country, where you are somewhat more advanced than the general run of the mill quoted above.

Measurements of intellect are difficult to make, but in the spirit of LR’s tennis coverage – the Shamapova annals – here, courtesy of Wikipedia, is a Shamapovite quantification of intellectual achievement. Presumably one has to read a few books and the right ones must be available in order to reach heights that can get you a Nobel prize. How does Russia fare in these stakes?

I made a few charts, taking only the G7 + 1 countries (no G8 for me!) to keep things manageable. And we see:


Russia has made a contribution to important world knowledge but it is moderate to say the least and, of course, disproportionate to its claims and the size of the country. By the way, in these figures where a person is born in one country but did the work that gained the Nobel in another, he is counted twice – once in country of birth and once in country of prize. Three Russians won their Nobel in the USA. It is notable that in all 74 people from 28 countries did work leaving to a Nobel in the USA. Only 1 person born outside Russia did work leading to a Nobel in Russia and he was a Russian whose parents emigrated early in the 19th century and foolishly returned to Russia with their child and eventual Nobel prizewinner in 1923. There must be something in the air in America that leads to her success in practically every field of human endeavour. And the whole world knows exactly what that is, though it cause some to go into denial – the principles on which the United States were founded. (Happy July 4th, by the way!)

They eye cannot but be struck by the high chart bars for the UK and the USA. If Moron Troll is right that we don’t read, then at least we are not reading the right things if it leads to results such as these! Conversely, in that “nation of readers – Russia” they must definitely be reading the wrong stuff in order to get their dismal results.

In fact the Anglo-Saxon (not forgetting the Saxons are an old Germanic tribe) education system must be doing things pretty well, particularly if one looks at the same figures from a different angle. How many Nobel prize winners do we produce proportionate to our population:


Finally, to cut the cake in yet another way, I thought it would be good to join the cousins’ hands, as we always do when push comes to shove, and compare us Big and Little Satans with the Heartland of the Axis of Evil:
So there you have it. Pick your system!

8 responses to “Essel on Russia’s Best and Brightest

  1. “Dear trolls, I apologise for calling you morons….

    I don’t.

    BNR34: You in the FSB?

    Jag Mort: I ask the questions here.

    Well. I guess that was an affirmative.

    Good catch, Dave.

    • “Dear trolls, I apologise for calling you morons….

      I don’t really either, of course.

      Notable for their absence from this thread at the moment, aren’t they! (Despite having visited and left their poo elsewhere today.)

  2. Well done Dave. Your points about the abysmal quality of Russian tv are, if anything, understated.

  3. Dave, Thank you for an excellent article.

    However, there is one thing I would like to point out: of 23 “Russian” Nobel prizes 17 were won by Soviet Union which had a much larger population than Russia. So your chart “Nobles per million population” is actually unfair to other countries.

    And according to Wikipedia, “Russian” Nobel laureate Hurwicz is actually American, Prigogine was Belgian, Bunin French, Tamm Estonian, and Brodsky died as American.

    Futhermore, Pasternak was foreced to decline his Nobel prize by his own country, Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn got their prizes only because they were opposing their own government, and Gorbachev got it for leading the demolition of the Evil Empire.

    • Thank you, Suomalainen. All true points but it would have gotten complex without actually changing the overall picture in any significant way if I had tried to be totally accurate.

      The “Nobels per million” would make a real statistician furious – all I did was divide the number of of laureates by the country’s current population.

      That does not stop the chart from being a perfectly good *rough* guide.

      And I didn’t want to mean to Russia: her showing was sufficiently p*ss-poor as it was!

  4. According to UN Russia is way behing G7 countries in education:

    Russia is also behind Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States.

  5. The facts are probably correct, but I would dare to doubt your figures. The extremely low intellectual level of discourse in the www has nothing to do with the general level of education in Russia. It just shows that in that country being rude is seen as a sign of masculinity and toughness.

    The number of Nobel Prize winners also doesn’t allow to judge about the level of education of the average citizen. It says a lot about the level of the top-notch scientific institutions. No doubt that the US is a world leader here.

    In Russia, there are a lot of bright scientists but the abysmal bureaucratic system kills any innovation.

    As far as the annoying Russian habit of quoting literature is concerned, I fully agree with you. Especially if it comes to “Ilf and Petrov”

  6. and as i like the title “where the best minds gather” is like author is shooting himself in the foot :D as is normal that an economical power gathers while the charts are about native ability – i don’t want to introduce word intelligence in the discussion – ‘per capita’ on a geographical area ;)
    2nd point is the www-(in)culture – that is absolutely opposite to the reading books phenomenon – that author tried to discuss.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s