Richard Dawkins has comfortably topped Prospect‘s poll of the top 100 public intellectuals in Britain. Over a thousand people voted for their top five public intellectuals from the list of 100 published in the July issue of Prospect.
It’s interesting to note that the very first edition of Edge in December, 1996 featured a talk by Dawkins entitled “Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder”. The site began in part as an extension of my 1991 essay on “The Emerging Third Culture” which stated that “The third culture consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are.”
In Edge #1, as an introduction to the Dawkins piece, I wrote: “Richard Dawkins enjoys the high regard of his peers both for his writing and his thinking. Sir John Maddox, editor emeritus of Nature, notes that “Climbing Mount Improbable has the grandeur of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, but that’s not surprising—it covers the same ground. Nobody can look at this book and then put it down unread—and nobody who reads it can fail to understand what Darwin is all about.” According to Danny Hillis, “notions like selfish genes, memes, and extended phenotype are powerful and exciting. They make me think differently. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time arguing against people who have overinterpreted these ideas. They’re too easily misunderstood as explaining more than they do. So you see, this Dawkins is a dangerous guy. Like Marx. Or Darwin.”
Congratulations to Richard Dawkins!