After more than 10,000 votes from over 100 countries, the results of ProspectÔÇÖs 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.
1.┬áRichard Dawkins When Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, coined the term ÔÇ£memeÔÇØ in The Selfish Gene 37 years ago, he canÔÇÖt 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 followersÔÇöand 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, heÔÇÖs 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.┬áAshraf 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 countryÔÇÖs 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.┬áSteven 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 PinkerÔÇÖs previous books, it sparked fierce debate. Whether writing about evolutionary psychology, linguistics or history, what unites PinkerÔÇÖs work is a fascination with human nature and an enthusiasm for sharing new discoveries in accessible, elegant prose.