2013 Top 65 World Thinkers!

Last month Prospect Magazine  asked its readers and online followers to vote for their choice of the 2013 top 65 World Thinkers. Online  polling produced 10,000 responders from over 100 countries.

The results for the top 10 are: all MEN, all OVER 50 (4 are over 80!!!), and the winner is very active on Twitter (it is Richard Dawkins who has over 600,000 followers)!

OK, so perhaps you feel “sniffy” about this way of straw-polling, but maybe it is worth thinking about both for reflecting about ourselves individually and also the implications for our network:

1. One of the MB50’s network main aims is to help older men who are feeling isolated, irrelevant and invisible stand up and be seen. The whole picture for older men is a rich mosaic, and looking at the success stories is important to see what they tell us. I am not so much interested in the ‘top thinker’ focus of this poll, but I am excited and curious about the social networks that support all these men and find out what are the crucial difference that this makes in their lives.

2. The most popular thinkers are the most contentious, but I am also aware of the shadow side of this in an all male list. The top woman thinker was Arundhati Roy who ranked 15 (the novelist who now works now as a leading activist for social justice and campaigner against inequality in modern India). The MB50 network is very conscious of the need when it comes to elderhood and speaking out that this is about men and women finding a common maturing voice together.

3. The polling process demonstrates the growing importance of Social Media for older people: over 50% of  the 10,000 voters used Twitter or Facebook to register their vote

4. Absences from the list are as revealing as the familiar top names. Scientists and Nobel Prize winners dominate the list, but environmental thinkers and climate scientists are conspicuously absent from the top ten list (…but then so were leading thinkers on internet technology!). There was also nobody from Africa, China, or indeed from Latin America, reflecting both cultural bias (as well as the particular distribution of Prospect Magazine readers)

Here is Prospect’s list of Top 10 World Thinkers 2013:

1. Richard Dawkins

Evolutionary biologist,he thrives as an intellectual in the internet age: 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 promote his secularist views, and to promote science and rationalism. However, 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

Economist specialising in state building, conducting research at Columbia, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins, followed by a stint at the World Bank. From Afghanistan he has also served as the country’s finance minister and advised the UN on the transfer of power to the Afghans. 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

Psychologist and Harvard professor with a long list of popular books to his name. In his latest – “The Better Angels of Our Nature” he takes a scientific view of history to argue that humanity has become less violent over time. Much debated!

4. Ali Allawi

Economist at the World Bank and then at Princeton. From Iraq, he has also served as  minister of trade, finance and defence there after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Since then he has written a pair of acclaimed books, most recently The Crisis of Islamic Civilisation.

5. Paul Krugman

Economist, Nobel prize winner and fierce critic of the economic policies of the right. He is leading voice today against fiscal austerity and advocate of Keynesian economics. Regular New York Times columnist with a big following, and so widely discussed!

6. Slavoj Žižek

Intellectual and philospher renowned for activist approach and comic one-liners (“If you ask me for really dangerous ideological films, I’d say Kung Fu Panda,” he told one interviewer in 2008). He divides opinion, being regarded as hero or villain.

7. Amartya Sen

Social Scientist and development economist, receiving the Nobel prize for economics in 1998, he was praised for having “restored an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems.”

8. Peter Higgs

The English physicist Peter Higgs lent his name to the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle discovered last year at Cern that gives mass to other elementary particles.

9. Mohamed ElBaradei

The former director general of the UN’s international atomic energy agency and winner of the 2005 Nobel peace prize, Mohamed ElBaradei has become one of the most prominent advocates of democracy in Egyptian politics over the past two years.

10. Daniel Kahneman

Psychologist with focus on behavioural economics (Nobel prize 2002), Thinking, Fast and Slow  (2011) about the irrational elements built into our decision making has become a bestseller.