Illustration by Michelle Thompson.

Prospect world's top thinkers, 2019: the top ten

Mathematician Caucher Birkar won by a landslide—but who else made the top ten?
September 3, 2019

Mathematician Caucher Birkar won by a landslide, getting more than half the total votes. Judging by the comments we received from his fans—many in Kurdish—it seems likely he tapped into support from that part of the world. No one ever said online polls were as rigorous as maths.

The full top 50

In silver and bronze positions are thinkers with different kinds of support networks behind them: Max Roser, whose online charts celebrate human progress; and Houman Haddad, whose blockchain work helps refugees. More surprising inclusions are Democratic politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg; but if changing people’s minds counts as thinking—as it surely does—then their position makes sense. He might not be as well known but Frans de Waal’s primatology is about being human, as well as being a chimpanzee. For their work in race studies and feminism respectively, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Kate Manne were popular; as was social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, a sceptic of the way he thinks universities indulge their students. The culture wars are alive and well, it seems. The other economist on the list, Dani Rodrik, is sceptical of globalisation. It seem that economists with an interest in where markets go wrong grab more public interest that those only interested in theorising why they are always right.

Read Prospect editor Tom Clark's interview with Caucher Birkar here.

The rest of the top ten

2. Max Roser Economist and data analyst
3. Houman Haddad UN adviser
4. Frans de Waal Primatologist
5. Jonathan Haidt Social psychologist
6. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw Legal theorist
7. Dani Rodrik Economist
8. Greta Thunberg Climate change activist
9. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez US politician
10. Kate Manne Professor of philosophy

Now read Sameer Rahim on the thinkers you told us we'd missed