Distribution of Talent


William Shenstone (1714 – 1763), an eighteenth-century poet, once remarked that if the public is divided into a hundred parts, the corresponding distribution of talent may be estimated in this way:

Fools: 15
Persons of Common Sense: 40
Wits: 15
Pedants: 15
Persons of Wild Taste: 10
Persons of Improved Taste: 5

Just for fun, assuming that this measure was relatively correct during Shenstone’s time, how far do you think this list would differ these days?

But then again, the number for Common Sense was overstated to me.

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

5 thoughts on “Distribution of Talent

  1. If the news media were to be believed, the persons of improved taste are down to 1% whom the other 99% are angry at. Though perhaps those who believe the preponderance of output of the ones engaged in commercial journalism today fit into Shenstone’s first 15% category which has apparently grown much larger as a result.


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