Mental Floss

(2) Plato vs. (7) Stephen Colbert

Tournament of Genius

(2) Plato

Plato's record is another one that needs very little introduction. Student of Socrates. Mentor of Aristotle. Allegorist of caves. Writer of dialogues. Father of Platonic realism. Confuser of college philosophy students. Platonic friend to everyone. The guy's one of the titans of Western philosophy; there's not much more to say.

(7) Stephen Colbert

America's favorite ultraconservative political commentator may appear on a comedy network, but he's seriously a genius. He's got an incredibly popular and influential TV show, penned a book that hit number one on the New York Times Best-Seller List, made Time's list of the 100 most influential people, and is probably really nice to dogs. Colbert leveraged his 2008 run for the White House into thousands of dollars of viewer "campaign contribution" donations to needy schools.

The Breakdown

These two have more in common than you might think. Both were originally pupils of better known masters (Socrates and Jon Stewart), both express very clear ideas for how the state should be run, and both recorded smash hit Christmas specials. (Actually, we should probably double check on that last one.) Colbert might be well-armed and crafty, but don't mess with Plato. The philosopher's name might have come from a wrestling coach who was impressed with young Plato's broad physique. Plato had The Republic, while Colbert has a Nation. Find a friend, have a dialog, and figure out which one's the bigger genius.


[See the whole bracket here.]