Famous 21st Century Intellectuals & Academics

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 21st Century Intellectuals & Academics

 1 Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky
49
Famous As: The Father of Modern Linguistics
Birthdate: December 7, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Regarded by many as the father of modern linguistics, Noam Chomsky has authored over 100 books on varied topics, such as politics, linguistics, and war. A multi-talented personality, Noam Chomsky is considered a popular figure in analytic philosophy. Apart from influencing a wide array of academic fields, he has also contributed to the development of cognitivism.

 2 Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell
20
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: June 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gastonia, North Carolina

One of the few personalities known for his disdain of self-promotion, Thomas Sowell is an important American social theorist and economist. Over the years, he has played a prominent role working as a faculty member of many prestigious universities, such as the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Cornell University

 3 Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen
12
Famous As: Economist & Philosopher
Birthdate: November 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India
Indian economist Amartya Sen was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to welfare economics and social choice theory. Sen is known for his development of more sophisticated measures of poverty, and also for his work on the causes and prevention of famines. He is considered an important contemporary liberal thinker for his views about the nature and primacy of liberty. 
Recommended Lists:

 4 Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey
5
Famous As: Zoologist, Conservationist
Birthdate: January 16, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: December 26, 1985
Zoologist, primatologist, and conservationist Dian Fossey conducted research on mountain gorillas in Rwanda from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985. She was part of the Trimates assigned to study apes by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. She wrote Gorillas in the Mist, which was later turned into a film.
Recommended Lists:

 5 Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman
8
Famous As: American economist and statistician who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history.
Birthdate: July 31, 1912
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman was an American economist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, Friedman was honored with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1976. One of the most influential personalities of the Chicago school of economics, Friedman mentored people like Gary Becker and Thomas Sowell who went on to become leading economists.

 6 Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman
8
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: March 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel

Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli economist and psychologist. He was honored with the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on behavioral economics. In 2011, Kahneman was named among the top global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. In 2015, Daniel Kahneman was ranked seventh in the most influential economist in the world list published by The Economist.

 7 Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura
4
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: December 4, 1925
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mundare, Canada
Died: July 26, 2021

Albert Bandura is a Canadian-American psychologist who has made significant contributions to several fields of psychology, such as personality psychology, therapy, and social cognitive theory. Regarded as the greatest living psychologist, Bandura is also counted among the most influential psychologists ever. He has been honored with over 16 honorary degrees. In 2016, Albert Bandura received the National Medal of Science.

You May Like

 8 Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek
17
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: March 21, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ljubljana, SR Slovenia, SFR Yugoslavia

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher whose works in subjects, such as continental philosophy, Marxism, Hegelianism, and psychoanalysis, has gained him international influence. Often dubbed a celebrity philosopher and Elvis of cultural theory, Žižek was named in Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers list in 2012. His work has had an impact on widespread public audiences and academic.

 9 Jürgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas
9
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 18, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

German philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas is counted among the most influential philosophers across the world and is identified with the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He influenced many disciplines through his work which addresses communicative rationality and the public sphere, and includes topics starting from social-political theory to aesthetics, language to philosophy of religion, and epistemology.

 10 Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson
50
Famous As: Clinical Psychologist
Birthdate: June 12, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edmonton, Canada

Canadian clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson, became internationally known in the 2010s for his views on cultural and political issues. He became active on YouTube in 2016 and shared many videos that have since received millions of views. He has faced criticism for his sexist and misogynistic views. Despite the controversies, he continues to be popular and is a bestselling author.

 11 Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall
8
Famous As: Primatologist
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England

Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

 12 Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo
10
Famous As: Psychologist, University teacher
Birthdate: March 23, 1933
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Psychologist and Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo is best known for his Stanford prison experiment, which proved how prisoners get abusive due to situational factors. He is also known for his books The Lucifer Effect and The Time Paradox and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Foundation.

 13 Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu
7
Famous As: Anti-Apartheid Activist, Theologian
Birthdate: October 7, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Klerksdorp, South Africa
Died: December 26, 2021
Desmond Tutu is known for his anti-Apartheid activism in South Africa. The first black Archbishop of Cape Town, he has also been the Bishop of Johannesburg. His efforts to eradicate AIDS, poverty, anti-LGBT sentiments, and human rights violations earned him the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 14 Maya Harris

Maya Harris
6
Famous As: Lawyer, Political scientist, Writer
Birthdate: January 30, 1967
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, United States

A lawyer, law professor, political analyst and a civil rights activist, Maya Harris’s list of achievements is huge. One of the youngest in the US to become a law school dean, Maya Harris has worked with Hillary Clinton and her own sister Kamala Harris in their respective presidential campaigns.

 15 Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice
10
Famous As: 66th United States Secretary of State (2005-09)
Birthdate: November 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama, United States

The 66th United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made history in 2005 when she became the first female black Secretary of State. She is also the first female to serve as National Security Advisor, a position which she served from 2001 to 2005. One of the most powerful women in the world at one point of time, she has been depicted in Hollywood films.

 16 Terry Jones

Terry Jones
9
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: January 21, 2020
Starting his career as a comedy writer, actor-director Terry Jones later soared to fame as part of the Monty Python comedy team. An avid historian, too, he wrote several books and presented TV documentaries on the topic. In his later years, the BAFTA Cymru award winner struggled with dementia. 

 17 Danica McKellar

Danica McKellar
9
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 3, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: La Jolla, California, United States
Danica McKellar is best known as Winnie Cooper from the series The Wonder Years and as the voice of Miss Martian from the animated series Young Justice. She has also starred in many Hallmark movies and written several math books, such as Math Doesn't Suck and Kiss My Math.

 18 Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin
6
Famous As: Naturalist Who is The Owner of Australia Zoo in 'Beerwah, Queensland'
Birthdate: July 20, 1964
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Eugene, Oregon, United States

American–Australian naturalist Terri Irwin is best known as the co-host of The Crocodile Hunter, along with her husband, the late animal expert Steve Irwin. She has also been part of shows such as Croc Files and Crikey! It's the Irwins, and helped in the development of Australia Zoo.

 19 David Harvey

David Harvey
6
Famous As: Professor of Anthropology & Geography
Birthdate: October 31, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Gillingham, Kent, England

David Harvey is a  Marxist economic geographer, podcaster, and a fellow of the British Academy. He is currently a distinguished professor of anthropology and geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He has authored many books and essays and is one of the most cited authors of books in the humanities and social sciences.   

 20 Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman
6
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: August 12, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Albany, New York, United States

 21 Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco
7
Famous As: Medievalist, Philosopher and Author of 'The Name of the Rose' and 'Foucault's Pendulum'
Birthdate: January 5, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alessandria, Italy
Died: February 19, 2016

Italian novelist Umberto Eco is best remembered for his novels The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum. He also taught at the University of Bologna and had released quite a few children’s books and translations. He was also known for his work on semiotics and medieval studies.

 22 Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal
7
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 3, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: West Point, New York, United States
Died: July 31, 2012

Gore Vidal was an American intellectual and writer. He served as a major inspiration to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals as he was openly bisexual and often incorporated LGBT characters in his novels, which was very unusual at the time. He was also known for his debates with William F. Buckley Jr., which inspired the 2015 documentary film Best of Enemies.

 23 Bruno Latour

Bruno Latour
7
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beaune, France

Holberg Prize-winning French sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour had initially studied theology and even received his PhD in the subject. His later research Ivory Coast drew him to anthropology, and he soon gained fame as a renowned academic in the field, having co-written iconic books such as Laboratory Life.

 24 Richard Thaler

Richard Thaler
7
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Economics (2017)
Birthdate: September 12, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: East Orange, New Jersey, United States

 25 Peter Navarro

Peter Navarro
9
Famous As: Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy (2017-21)
Birthdate: July 15, 1949
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Economist and writer Peter Navarro has served as the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy and the Director of the National Trade Council under former president Donald Trump. He has also authored books such as Death by China and taught at the University of California.

 26 Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker
5
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: September 18, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada

Steven Pinker is a Canadian-American linguist, cognitive psychologist, and popular science author. He is also a supporter of the computational theory of mind and evolutionary psychology. His works have earned him awards from organizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the American Humanist Association. In 2013, he was named in Prospect magazine's World Thinkers list.

 27 Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan
17
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: March 6, 1926
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Washington Heights, New York, United States
Economist Alan Greenspan chaired the U.S. Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006. It is believed that his easy money policies had caused the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. He now works as a consultant through his organization Greenspan Associates LLC. He was also trained in clarinet at the Juilliard School.

 28 Eric Weinstein

Eric Weinstein
6
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: October 26, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Apart from being the MD of Thiel Capital, mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein is also a researcher at Oxford. The Harvard alumnus had quit academia for 20 years before he returned again. He coined the term “intellectual dark web” and works on topics such as gauge theory, risk management, and immigration.

 29 Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley
5
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Reading, Berkshire, England, UK

British historian and author Lucy Worsley is not just a curator at the charity Historic Royal Palaces, but is also a famed TV presenter, popular for her work on series such as A Very British Murder and If Walls Could Talk. Suffering from a speech disorder, she pronounces “r” in a peculiar way.

 30 Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh
14
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of India
Birthdate: September 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gah, Punjab, British India (present-day Punjab, Pakistan)

The 13th Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh became the first Sikh in office when he took office in 2004. A prominent economist and academic, he held several key posts in the Government of India in the 1970s and 1980s. Known for his humility, he  has been described by the media as "one of the world's most revered leaders."

 31 Zbigniew Brzezinski

Zbigniew Brzezinski
6
Famous As: United States National Security Advisor (1977-81)
Birthdate: March 28, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: May 26, 2017
Polish-American diplomat Zbigniew Brzezinski had been a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson and the National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter. He believed in the realist school of international relations. He also taught foreign policy and was seen in programs such as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

 32 Drew Pinsky

Drew Pinsky
4
Famous As: Radio personality, Addiction medicine specialist
Birthdate: September 4, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States

 33 Veronica Porché Ali

Veronica Porché Ali
5
Famous As: Muhammad Ali’s Ex-Wife, Psychologist
Birthdate: December 16, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States

 34 Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
4
Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: 1960 AD
Birthplace: Amioun, Lebanon
Lebanese-American scholar and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb is known for his work on risk management through uncertainty and probability. His five-volume essay Incerto included his bestselling book The Black Swan. Named to Forbes’s Most Influential Management Gurus list, he is the co-editor-in-chief of the academic journal Risk and Decision Analysis.

 35 Jens Stoltenberg

Jens Stoltenberg
4
Famous As: Economist, Politician
Birthdate: March 16, 1959
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oslo

Jens Stoltenberg is a Norwegian politician who served as the Prime Minister of Norway between 2000 and 2013 in two separate terms. An influential politician, Stoltenberg also served as the Minister of Industry and Energy from 1993 to 1996 and Minister of Finance from 1996 to 1997. Jens Stoltenberg is the current Secretary General of NATO.

 36 Alice Roberts

Alice Roberts
6
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: May 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bristol
Biological anthropologist Alice Roberts has taught at the University of Birmingham and led the charity Humanists UK. She gained fame as the presenter of shows such as Dr. Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young and The Incredible Human Journey. She has also authored books such as The Complete Human Body.

 37 Queen Máxima of the Netherlands

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands
5
Famous As: Queen
Birthdate: May 17, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina

The queen consort of the Netherlands, Queen Máxima is the daughter of Argentine politician Jorge Zorreguieta. She initially worked in the sales departments of HDFC and Deutsche Bank. She apparently didn’t know she was meeting a prince when she met her husband, King Willem-Alexander, at the Seville Spring Fair.

 38 Cornel West

Cornel West
17
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 2, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States

Cornel West is an American philosopher, social critic, political activist, and author. He is renowned for drawing intellectual contributions from several traditions, such as Marxism, Christianity, transcendentalism, and neopragmatism. West is credited with authoring many influential books, such as Democracy Matters and Race Matters.

 39 Gary Becker

Gary Becker
5
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: December 2, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pottsville, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: May 3, 2014

 40 Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs
10
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: November 5, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

 41 Katharine Gun

Katharine Gun
8
Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Birthplace: Taiwan, Taiwan

 42 Joe Medicine Crow

Joe Medicine Crow
5
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: October 27, 1913
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lodge Grass, Montana, United States
Died: April 3, 2016

The last Crow war chief, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow was part of the Whistling Water clan of Native Americans. The legendary indigenous hero was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A published historian, too, he is remembered for his research on the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

 43 Robert Reich

Robert Reich
12
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA

Economist and University of California, Berkeley professor Robert Reich has also been the U.S. secretary of labor. His rare bone disorder made him a victim of bullies in childhood, but he later won the Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. His bestselling book Saving Capitalism was made into a Netflix documentary.

 44 George Osborne

George Osborne
6
Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: May 23, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England

Conservative Party politician George Osborne is the son of Osborne & Little co-founder Sir Peter Osborne. He initially aspired to be a journalist but started his career as an MP from Tatton and later served as the Chancellor Of The Exchequer and the First Secretary of State of the U.K.

 45 Joseph E. Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz
6
Famous As: Economist & Author
Birthdate: February 9, 1943
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gary

Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz is best known for his work on the theory of markets with asymmetric information. The MIT alumnus has taught at prestigious institutes such as Harvard and Stanford and currently teaches at Columbia University, He has been an economic advisor to the U.S. government, too.

 46 Kenneth Arrow

Kenneth Arrow
5
Famous As: Eonomist
Birthdate: August 23, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: February 21, 2017

 47 Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo
4
Famous As: Chinese Human Rights Activist
Birthdate: December 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Changchun, China
Died: July 13, 2017

Liu Xiaobo was a Chinese activist, literary critic, and philosopher. He is best remembered for organizing campaigns that aimed at ending the one-party rule in China. He was honored with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle for human rights in China. Liu is the first Chinese citizen to be honored with a Nobel Prize while residing in China.

 48 Scott Adams

Scott Adams
5
Famous As: Comics artist, Economist, Journalist
Birthdate: June 8, 1957
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Windham (town), New York

Best known for his iconic comic strip Dilbert, Scott Adams has an MBA degree and has worked in banks and tech firms earlier. The character Dilbert first appeared in Adams’s office presentations and was inspired by his co-workers. His social-media video series, Coffee with Scott Adams, too, was quite popular.

 49 Lola Van Wagenen

Lola Van Wagenen
4
Famous As: Historians
Birthdate: November 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Provo, Utah, United States

Lola Van Wagenen is an American historian who is credited with co-founding non-profit educational organizations like Consumer Action Now (CAN) and Clio Visualizing History, Inc. Consumer Action Now went on to establish several environmental education and consumer-oriented programs in an attempt to raise awareness about the effects of consumers' buying habits on the environment.

 50 Lawrence Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow
6
Famous As: Director of the National Economic Council
Birthdate: August 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Englewood, New Jersey

Lawrence Kudlow began his career as staff economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then served as financial analyst at Wall Street, before joining the Ronald Reagan administration. Later he became an economic media commentator with National Review, and hosted several shows on CNBC. During the Trump administration, he served as Director of the National Economic Council.