OFF-TOPIC: Which side of the great divide is more intelligent and civilized?

Apparently Gywnny’s dissing her heritage

But the question remains: was Gwyneth Paltrow on to something when she noted (or didn’t) that “the British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans,” and that “people here don’t talk about work and money; they talk about interesting things at dinner”? Whether Britons are objectively cleverer and more amusing than Americans, or whether they just sound that way, is one of the deep mysteries of British life for expatriates like Ms. Paltrow, who lives in London with her husband, the British rock star Chris Martin, and their children, Apple and Moses.

Of course I have my own opinions and can legitimately talk out of both sides of my mouth on this one. But then again, I can introduce you to some extremely uncivilized and unintelligent citizens of both nations!

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6 replies »

  1. As someone with British and American degrees, and over twenty years in each country, I feel have to weigh in here(!)
    In general, Britain is a middle-class, socially liberal country, so dinner conversations trend around civilized, ‘nice’ (non-work) topics. Britain also has a tradition (like many European and some Asian cultures) of after-dinner storytelling, salons and the like.
    America, being truly diverse, has *lots* of non-intellectual people engaging in non-intellectual discussions – mostly about money, *except* in places where intellectual people hang out (e.g. Cambridge, MA, Princeton, NJ, Ann Arbor, MI, and possibly Palo Alto, CA – though I’m not convinced about the last one.) I’ve had conversations in all of these places that were every bit as witty and sparking as the ones I’ve had in the U.K. Also, as one of the other commentors noted, America naturally attracts money-seekers from around the world.
    My conclusion? – excellent photo of Gwyneth.

  2. > Nice picture of her, though…huh?
    I’m sure it’d be difficult to take a bad one.
    We have had a great convulsion in this country and have rejected cultured behavior and culture itself on the ground that any expectations of us are repressive. This is where radical egalitarianism has led us: we delude ourselves that one culture is as good as another, and label every fad a “culture”. Then we come face to face with a people who managed to preserve some of their traditional culture built-up over centuries, and discover that something is missing here.

  3. Naming your kid Apple destroys your credibility when opining on which countries are smart and which are dumb. Also, her husband is stoopid (with two o’s).

  4. I make these two observations:
    1) Intelligence has nothing to do with where you are
    2) Britons act more civilized because they live on a small island and it pays to be polite, whereas, in the US, there’s too much space to run off and hide in.
    There is, also, the theory that the US is where every nation exiles the people who simply won’t stop talking about work and money. I like that one.