World Thinkers 2013

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After more than 10,000 votes from over 100 countries, the results of Prospect’s world thinkers 2013 poll are in. Online polls often throw up curious results, but this top 10 offers a snapshot of the intellectual trends that dominate our age.


THE WINNERS

1. Richard Dawkins

When Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, coined the term “meme” in The Selfish Gene 37 years ago, he can’t have anticipated its current popularity as a word to describe internet fads. But this is only one of the ways in which he thrives as an intellectual in the internet age. He is also prolific on Twitter, with more than half a million followers—and his success in this poll attests to his popularity online. He uses this platform to attack his old foe, religion, and to promote science and rationalism. Uncompromising as his message may be, he’s not averse to poking fun at himself: in March he made a guest appearance on The Simpsons, lending his voice to a demon version of himself.

2. Ashraf Ghani

Few academics get the chance to put their ideas into practice. But after decades of research into building states at Columbia, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins, followed by a stint at the World Bank, Ashraf Ghani returned to his native Afghanistan to do just that. He served as the country’s finance minister and advised the UN on the transfer of power to the Afghans. He is now in charge of the Afghan Transition Coordination Commission and the Institute for State Effectiveness, applying his experience in Afghanistan elsewhere. He is already looking beyond the current crisis in Syria, raising important questions about what kind of state it will eventually become.

3. Steven Pinker

Long admired for his work on language and cognition, the latest book by the Harvard professor Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature, was a panoramic sweep through history. Marshalling a huge range of evidence, Pinker argued that humanity has become less violent over time. As with Pinker’s previous books, it sparked fierce debate. Whether writing about evolutionary psychology, linguistics or history, what unites Pinker’s work is a fascination with human nature and an enthusiasm for sharing new discoveries in accessible, elegant prose.

Written By: Prospect
continue to source article at prospectmagazine.co.uk

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  1. I swell with pride at my nearly insignificant contact with some of these “World Thinkers”!…

    Now, just imagine how they must feel! Congratulations to you all, and your magnificent minds! You make the world a better place, and I’m grateful for your contributions.

  2. Slightly disgusting to see Slavoj Žižek on this list, who famously jokes about his support of the death penalty “because Sam Harris is alive” (get it?), and Niall Ferguson, who claims that declining Christianity (and hence growing Atheism) is to blame for empowering religious fanaticism.

    To paraphrase Sesame Street, “some of these thinkers are not like the others, some of these thinkers just do not belong…”

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