Chomsky has been known to vigorously defend and debate his views and opinions, in philosophy, linguistics, and politics. He has had notable debates with Jean Piaget, Michel Foucault, William F. Buckley, Jr., Christopher Hitchens, George Lakoff, Richard Perle, Hilary Putnam, Willard Quine, and Alan Dershowitz, to name a few. In response to his speaking style being criticized as boring, Chomsky said that "I'm a boring speaker and I like it that way.... I doubt that people are attracted to whatever the persona is.... People are interested in the issues, and they're interested in the issues because they are important." "We don't want to be swayed by superficial eloquence, by emotion and so on."
In early 1969, he delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford University; in January 1970, the Bertrand Russell Memorial Lecture at University of Cambridge; in 1972, the Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi; in 1977, the Huizinga Lecture in Leiden; in 1988 the Massey Lectures at the University of Toronto, titled "Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies"; in 1997, The Davie Memorial Lecture on Academic Freedom in Cape Town, and many others.
He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. In addition, he is a member of other professional and learned societies in the United States and abroad, and is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, the Dorothy Eldridge Peacemaker Award, the 1999 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, and others. He is twice winner of The Orwell Award, granted by The National Council of Teachers of English for "Distinguished Contributions to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language" (in 1987 and 1989).
He is a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Department of Social Sciences.
In 2005, Chomsky received an honorary fellowship from the Literary and Historical Society. In 2007, Chomsky received The Uppsala University (Sweden) Honorary Doctor's degree in commemoration of Carolus Linnaeus. In February 2008, he received the President's Medal from the Literary and Debating Society of the National University of Ireland, Galway. Since 2009 he is an honorary member of IAPTI.
In 2010, Chomsky received the Erich Fromm Prize in Stuttgart, Germany. In April 2010, Chomsky became the third scholar to receive the University of Wisconsin's A.E. Havens Center's Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship.
Chomsky has an Erdős number of four.
Chomsky was voted the leading living public intellectual in The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll conducted by the British magazine Prospect. He reacted, saying "I don't pay a lot of attention to polls". In a list compiled by the magazine New Statesman in 2006, he was voted seventh in the list of "Heroes of our time".
Actor Viggo Mortensen with avant-garde guitarist Buckethead dedicated their 2006 album, called Pandemoniumfromamerica, to Chomsky.
On January 22, 2010, a special honorary concert for Chomsky was given at Kresge Auditorium at MIT. The concert, attended by Chomsky and dozens of his family and friends, featured music composed by Edward Manukyan and speeches by Chomsky's colleagues, including David Pesetsky of MIT and Gennaro Chierchia, head of the linguistics department at Harvard University.
In June 2011, Chomsky was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize, which cited his "unfailing courage, critical analysis of power and promotion of human rights".
In 2011, Chomsky was inducted into IEEE Intelligent Systems' AI's Hall of Fame for the "significant contributions to the field of AI and intelligent systems".