If the last 18 months haven’t got you thinking, then thinking probably isn’t your thing. We have witnessed microbes’ revenge on civilisation, seen the limits of the “politically possible” being reset and come to revere vaccinologists. We have learned how an economy can keep going after “business as usual” stops, and endured an enforced pause in which we could reconsider life’s priorities. Some of us were conscripted into teaching our children. Some may even have got round to reading the books they had always meant to. Many others didn’t, and got lost instead in armchair epidemiology.
There has been plenty to think about—but what sorts of thought are most important in a world emerging from a pandemic? In consultation with the experts who write for us, Prospect presents the world’s top 50 thinkers for this moment. In lively and occasionally heated discussions about who should make the grade, our criteria were not only originality and eminence within a field, but the singular pursuit of an identifiable idea and an ability to gain traction for it. We also insisted on some form of “intervention”—be it a book, speech or a public stand—over the past 12 months.