Influential

The Most Influential Contemporary Minds  

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733 votes 88 voters 38 items

List Rules Vote up the thinkers and influencers who you think are most leaving their mark on the world.

With major threats to world stability like climate change, nuclear war, and mass extinction mounting, the world needs public intellectuals more than ever. World thinkers help guide the public in the right direction by illuminating problems and proposing viable solutions. Whether they work in technology, philosophy, art, or literature, the great thinkers of today are vital to our future. Who is the most influential contemporary mind? Help decide below! 

As issues like racism, sexism, and systemic oppression in general continue to be topics of public concern, there are many invaluable living intellectuals that contribute to that conversation. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie provide nuanced takes on such issues in their acclaimed writing, for example. Famous modern philosophers, like Noam Chomsky and Martha Nussbaum, encourage critical thinking on a wide array of topics. Given modern concerns about the health and sustainability of the planet, scientiests and engineers like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk are incredibly important public figures. Vote up the most influential contemporary minds below and feel free to add any great thinkers you feel are missing! 

list ordered by
1
Richard Dawkins is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Evolutionary Biologist, Professor, Screenwriter
Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and writer. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford's Professor for ...more
2
Neil deGrasse Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Astrophysicist, Author, Actor
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose ...more
3
Ta-Nehisi Coates is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Author, Writer
Ta-Nehisi Coates is an American writer, journalist, and educator. Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, and blogger for that publication's website where he writes about cultural, social ...more
4
Elon Musk is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Businessperson, Investor, Entrepreneur
Elon Reeve Musk is a South African-born, Canadian-American entrepreneur, engineer, inventor and investor. He is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, and ...more
5
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Novelist, Author, Writer
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist and short story writer. She has been called "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors ...more
6
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah
7
Martha Nussbaum is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Professor, Philosopher
Martha Craven Nussbaum is an American philosopher and the current Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, a chair that includes appointments ...more
8
Sam Harris is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Neuroscientist, Author, Science writer
Samuel B. "Sam" Harris is an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and the co-founder and chief executive of Project Reason, a non-profit that promotes science and secularism. ...more
9
Fareed Zakaria is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Editor, Commentator, Journalist
Fareed Rafiq Zakaria is an Indian-born American journalist and author. He is the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS and writes a weekly column for The Washington Post. He has been a columnist for ...more
10
Lindy West is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Lindy West Writer
Lindy West is an American writer and film criticism editor. West won the 2013 Women's Media Center Social Media Award.
11
Peter Singer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Professor, Philosopher
Peter Albert David Singer, AC is an Australian moral philosopher. He is currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for ...more
12
Noam Chomsky is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Linguist, Cognitive scientist, Historian
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, social justice activist, and anarcho-syndicalist advocate. Sometimes described as ...more
13
Niall Ferguson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Historian, Professor, Author
Niall Campbell Douglas Ferguson is a British historian from Scotland. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus ...more
14
Naomi Klein is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Journalist, Political writer, Author
Naomi Klein is a Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of corporate capitalism. She is best known for No ...more
15
Steven Pinker is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Linguist, Cognitive scientist, Professor
Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-born American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family ...more
16
Kate Moore is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Kate Moore
Kate Moore was an American lighthouse keeper noted for the longevity of her tenure. The daughter of Stephen Moore, keeper of the Fayerweather Island Light in Connecticut since 1817, she ...more
17
Rebecca Solnit is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Author, Essayist, Writer
Rebecca Solnit is a writer who lives in San Francisco, California. She has written on a variety of subjects, including the environment, politics, place, and art. Solnit is a contributing editor ...more
18
Arianna Huffington is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Editor, Commentator, Politician
Arianna Huffington is a Greek-American author and syndicated columnist. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post. She was a popular conservative commentator in the ...more
19
Daniel Dennett is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Cognitive scientist, Professor, Author
Daniel Clement Dennett III is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, ...more
20
Alison Bechdel is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Alison Bechdel Novelist, Cartoonist, Author
Alison Bechdel is an American cartoonist. Originally best known for the long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, she came to critical and commercial success in 2006 with her graphic ...more
21
Ronan Farrow is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Commentator, Journalist, Official
Ronan Farrow is an American activist, journalist, lawyer, and former U.S. government advisor. He is the son of actress Mia Farrow. He is also the legal son of filmmaker Woody Allen but may ...more
22
Paul Krugman is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Commentator, Journalist, Professor
Paul Robin Krugman is an American economist, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Centenary ...more
23
Michael Pollan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Journalist, Author, Science writer
Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
24
Michelle Alexander is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Michelle Alexander Professor, Author
Michelle Alexander is an associate professor of law at Ohio State University, a civil rights advocate and a writer.
25
Orhan Pamuk is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Novelist, Writer
Ferit Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish citizen who born to Circassian parents novelist, screenwriter, academic and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. One of Turkey's most prominent ...more