Here’s a selection of my favorite public intellectuals. I love how these guys talk, write, and generally everything they do. Might be worth checking them out 🙂
Sam Harris is an author, philosopher, and neuroscientist. Among his most notable books are The End of Faith, and The Moral Landscape. He has a blog, is on Twitter, appears on many TV shows as guest, has been on many debates, as well as lengthy talks, and has written numerous articles in respectable magazines such as The New York Times.
His topics mostly concentrate around religion, faith, morality, and science.
What I like about Sam Harris the most is the way he conveys very complex and nuanced ideas in a very effective way. He is very precise with words and has the patience to go on for ages in order to explain his ideas, but also, he is very witty and can deliver crushingly funny one-liners.
In the following video Harris is in a debate with a religious apologist and shows with very funny train of thought the ridiculousness of believing in things without evidence.
This is a quick talk at TED in which he explains how science can answer moral questions, which is the main idea behind The Moral Landscape.
Finally, my favorite talk, in which he basically destroys the idea of free will. Every minute in this hour long talk is pure gold.
Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is best known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology, and the computational theory of mind.
Being an expert of language, the way he communicates in every medium is simply superb. Aside from linguistics, he goes into other topics, such as the history of violence, religion, and reason.
Here Pinker explains why taboos are bad, and political correctness can be dangerous.
This is a quick video where Pinker explains the importance of language in order to understand human nature.
Here’s a much longer version in which he goes into a lot of detail to explain language, and what we know about it.
Noam Chomsky should need no introduction, he is a linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, anarcho-syndicalist activist. He has hundreds of books, countless articles, has been in many debates, constant talks all around the globe, in fact, he has done so many things in his life that there is even a documentary devoted to him; Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without a Pause. Not content with defining the whole field of modern linguistics at an early age, he devoted his life to political activism, even risking the well being of his own family. Today he is considered the most influential living intellectual, and the most cited author alive, right after Plato. Even at his advanced age and after losing his wife of almost 60 years, he continues to tirelessly inform the public about what happens in the world, and as he stated before, he will continue to do so as long as he is ambulatory.
Chomsky might not be the most entertaining public speaker, but what he lacks in charisma, he provides in full of content. He is basically a human encyclopedia, and he rarely states his opinion, everything he says is basically facts gathered from one place or another, and for every fact he says, he knows the reference where you can verify it.
It’s hard to find a short video that shows Chomsky’s brilliance, but this interview seems to do the job perfectly. Watch this interviewer get completely owned by Chomsky. Don’t forget part two.
Manufacturing Consent is one of Chomsky’s most powerful ideas, and if you are not in the mood of reading the book, this documentary explains the idea very well. It’s long, but you wouldn’t regret watching it.