I've been a wreck lately.
True & Honest Fan
Did they ever in the first place? And not been a laughingstock? We've had famous public scientists, who were known both inside and outside their fields like an Einstein or a Hawking who used their fame to promote science, but an "intellectual" always seems to be using science to promote themselves.Do real public intellectuals even exist anymore? The intellectuals are probably hidden in some R&D department somewhere, cranking out papers while the pseuds do the talking, with pains taken that they don't get any fame outside their field lest they become addicted to social media and tank the entire department's productivity.
"Intellectual" as a label seems to me to have always been a pejorative, a way of saying "Uses big words to appear smarter" and "perpetuates their opinion for opinions sake, but dresses it up as proven scientific fact" , the human equivelant of "neutrino flux" technobabble on Star Trek about why the warp core malfunctioned - "sounds" right and sounds like "science" to laypeople, but ultimately is of no applicable use to anyone outside the world of the fictional story because it's just that... smart-sounding babble.
Like you said, the REAL smart people have jobs and titles like "Chief Reasarch Director" or "Head of Applied Laser Divison" , "Intellectual" is almost a polite way to say "manchild playing doctor"
So, going by that definition, I'd put Elon Musk up as the biggest intellectual I hate - constantly claiming he's invented things that were already invented, taking credit for the work of hired engineers smarter than him, and then throwing tantrums when anyone isn't amazed... though the media shares 3/4ths of the blame by not doing their homework and realizing what a hack he is.
Remember, this is the guy who showed up, uninvited, to rescue those kids from the cave - with a submarine that was too long to go around the corners inside the cave... and when those on scene told him it wouldn't work and to buzz off, he got mad, called them pedophiles and ended up sued in court for it.