Saturday, April 27, 2013

World Thinkers 2013: The Economist Speaks

Thinking Aloud



World's Public Intellectuals: (left to right): Ashraf Ghani, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker.
The Economist writes: “Most striking of all is the lack of women at the top of this year’s list, which
numbers 65. The highest-placed woman in this year’s poll, at number 15, is Arundhati Roy, who
has become a prominent left-wing critic of inequalities and injustice in modern India since the
publication of her novel The God of Small Things over a decade ago.”
Photo Credit: ©US Embassy, Kabul; © Rex Features
Source: The Economist


An article in The Economist has come up with a list of the top-ten thinkers of 2013, whose ideas on humanity, religion, poverty and public economic policy have become well-known; whether they are accepted, particularly by world governments and the masses of people within the global community, is another matter altogether.

Each of these public intellectauls, from Richard Dawkins, to Paul Krugman, to Steven Pinker to Daniel Kahnemann, have contributed ideas that often challenge conventional thinking, through thoughtful rational arguments that offer nsights in bettering the human condition.

Here are a few of the thinkers on The Economist's list of ten:
1. Richard DawkinsWhen 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 GhaniFew 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 PinkerLong 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.
The top-three women on the list are Arundhati Roy, novelist, at 15; Martha Nussbaum, philosopher, at 19; and Anne Applebaum, journalist, at 24. I have read the writings of all three of these women, and their contribution to the world of ideas is outstanding.

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You can read the rest of the article at [The Economist]


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