Influential The Most Influential Contemporary Minds  

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292 votes 52 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
15 1
Elon Musk is listed (or ranked) 1 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

2
16 3
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
16 3
Noam Chomsky is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
10 1
Ta-Nehisi Coates is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
9 2
Paul Krugman is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
11 4
Sam Harris is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
8 2
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
8 3
Ronan Farrow is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
9 4
Richard Dawkins is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
10 5
Naomi Klein is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
9 5
Fareed Zakaria is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
8 5
Alison Bechdel is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
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

13
5 2
Steven Pinker is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
8 6
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
6 4
Thomas L. Friedman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Commentator, Journalist, Television producer
Thomas Friedman appeared in The Revenge of the Electric Car documentary film.

16
4 2
Jeffrey Sachs is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Professor, Scientist, Author
Jeffrey David Sachs is an American economist and director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. One of the youngest tenured economics professors in the history of Harvard University, ...more

17
3 1
Malcolm Gladwell is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Journalist, Screenwriter, Author
Malcolm T. Gladwell, CM is a Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has written five books, The Tipping Point: How ...more

18
3 1
Michael Kimmelman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Journalist, Pianist, Screenwriter
Michael Kimmelman appeared in the 2007 documentary film My Kid Could Paint That.

19
3 2
Roxane Gay is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Roxane Gay

20
3 2
Daniel Dennett is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
2 1
Michael Pollan is listed (or ranked) 21 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.

22
2 1
Jake Halpern is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Radio producer, Commentator, Journalist
Jake Halpern is an American writer, commentator, and radio producer. He was born in Buffalo, New York, where he attended City Honors School. Halpern later attended Yale University, where he ...more

23
4 4
Andrew Ng is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential Contemporary Minds
Professor, Computer scientist
Andrew Y. Ng is Chief Scientist at Baidu Research in Silicon Valley. In addition, he is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical Engineering ...more

24
4 4
Peter Singer is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
2 2
Arianna Huffington is listed (or ranked) 25 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