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chefl's avatar

Who said "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people"?

Asked by chefl (917points) May 29th, 2022
16 responses
“Great Question” (2points)
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
But, I don’t see how you can’t ever discuss events, events can be natural disasters, etc.
By “discuss people” does it mean gossip?

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raum's avatar

Your details literally answer your own question?

Eleanor Roosevelt

chefl's avatar

Now I have to post another question. I really meant to ask the part in the detail:
But, I don’t see how you can’t ever discuss events, events can be natural disasters, etc.
And by “discuss people” does it mean gossip?

raum's avatar

You could edit this question?

chefl's avatar

Too late @raum
But I hope people read the whole detail part and answer it anyway.

LostInParadise's avatar

One way to look at it is to think of it as a hierarchy. Typically discussing ideas relate to events and to people. Similarly, discussing events usually involves discussing people. Finally, discussing people does not require that you discuss events or ideas.

chefl's avatar

What would be good examples?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@chefl Like entertainment news.

Patty_Melt's avatar

@chefl you are trying to make it too literal. Nowhere does the quote use the word, “exclusively”.

JLeslie's avatar

I think of it as “people” means focusing on what a particular person said or did. Trump, Obama, Reagan, your church leader, a celebrity, a spouse, etc. Sometimes the person discussing the topic is accepting a thought process because of who said it, and so they might be succumbing to the cognitive bias called Halo Effect. Putting too much weight on the speaker’s opinion, especially when that person has no real expertise on a topic, but rather you like them for one reason and decide they are smart and good in all realms.

Discussing “events” is usually reacting to something that has happened. Natural disasters isn’t what I think of, but definitely can and should be included. I think of mass shootings, covid, elections, protests, significant Supreme Court rulings, that sort of thing.

Discussing “ideas” is more abstract, but also is trying to understand how society works and hopefully better it. More on the lines of philosophy, but hopefully paired with positive actions.

That’s what it all means to me.

JLoon's avatar

I like the idea of having a great mind, so it’s possible I said that.

Maybe at the Memorial Day event yesterday – which had record attendance and included marching bands from several local schools that were able to continue their music programs after voters passed levy measures that were on the special ballot.

But I probably wouldn’t have said anything about my mind in front that cute girl from the parks department. She’s so gorgeous, and I think she likes me but I don’t want her to feel that I’m stuck up.

You’re probably right about Eleanor Roosevelt though. She was definitely above average.

zenvelo's avatar

I think the operative word(s) is not “ideas, events, people” as much as it is “discuss.

When a hurricane approached Florida, great minds discussed climate change. Average minds discussed the hurricane. Small minds discussed an idiot president marking a weather map with a sharpie.

JLeslie's avatar

Discussions are always better than arguments, because an argument is to find out who is right, and a discussion is to find out what is right. Morgan Freeman said that. I just put it on Facebook a few days ago.

smudges's avatar

I think of it as intelligence. Bright people and geniuses talk about ideas and philosophies. Average people talk about current events. Small-minded, shallow people talk about other people, as in gossip.

Jeruba's avatar


(a) “I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to get people to change when changing means they have to give something up.”

(b) “Have you been following the news about the massacre in Texas?”

(c) “My neighbor’s cousin knows one of the families that lost a child in the shootings.”

There’s nothing about “can’t ever.” This is not a rule. It’s an observation.

Dinner with my husband’s parents typically consisted of remarks such as “I had a note from your cousin Janet. Norman just got promoted to district manager.” There was never anything remotely like “I’m reading a book by a Russia expert that’s been giving me some tremendous insights into what the Russian people are willing to sacrifice in exchange for their idea of stability.”

smudges's avatar

@Jeruba Good examples. After I wrote my response, but too late to edit, I realized that I should have added that they aren’t exclusive rules. People talk about many topics which fall into all of those categories.

Jeruba's avatar

@smudges, thanks. I can easily imagine a conversation starting with my example (b) and eliciting both (c) and (a) responses. I also think you can have—and discuss—ideas of all kinds without being a “great mind.” Greatness of mind is not in what you discuss but in how you conceive it and conceptualize it, whether you ever discuss it or not.

The OP began with a false assumption—that this observation amounts to a rule of some kind—that acted as a red herring. In the conversation I was imagining, anyone could make any of the three kinds of comments without necessarily belonging to a certain category of mental acuity.

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