Most Influential Thinkers (who the fuck are you kidding)

Speaking of Marie-Anne Slaughter,  Karin Frick, Detlef Guertler, Peter A. Gloor just released a paper titled Coolhunting for the World’s Thought Leaders. 

This charming exercise in identifying the most influential thinkers in the world resembles those “Most Likely to Succeed” votes in high school. It largely based on who gets cited and linked on the Intertubz. I suppose if you want to say that influential = google page rank statistics, then indeed these guys are influential.  I like io9’s version of the second level analysis “This list was subsequently sanity-checked by a select group of 50 thought leaders who named their most important influences.”

Their main conclusion is that there are not a set of “great leaders” but a conglomeration of many specialists. But is this really true? Its a qualitative conclusion from the results. Yet today, we have  a bigger population and rapid dissemination (disovulation?) making it for more people and ideas to be seen, heard and linked to. Does that mean there aren’t just a bigger set of great leaders, 71 out of 3 billion?

They have a section heading of “Economists Rule” and include the caveat “A thought leader’s importance depends on the one hand on whom you ask and on the other, on how one measures it.” They also mention my personal favorite statistic, the one, who if I took it out, I would expect to pick up the tab for single malt scotch, the h-factor. To paraphrase someone far wiser than me: lots of people are very popular and respected thinkers, and dreadfully wrong. I do suppose it is to be applauded that this is not about movie stars or rock stars or sports players (I by and large hold the latter in higher respect than the two former).

And of course… the first woman (Anne-Marie Slaughter) turns up at 18, and Esther Duflo is at 39. There are a few people of color/URM that I recognize by name, and one person who is physically disabled/challenged (Stephen Hawking, of course). Damned if those folks can think, right?

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