Forbes released today their list of the most powerful people in the world today--71 people out of a total world population of 7.1 billion or 1 in 100 million. Generally the list highlights politicians (Obama #1, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, #2) and business people (Bill Gates #4, Carlos Slim #11). One segment of the population notably omitted is academics and intellectuals. Thought leaders apparently are a group that Forbes does not deem sufficiently powerful.
Perhaps the President of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust, warrants a position given the number of people on the list who have strong ties to the university. Perhaps the historic and future contribution of the Harvard student body is a better reason. Using this logic, L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, would deserve to be on the list. He might also deserve to be on the list given the 60 Nobel Prize winners that are either faculty or in some other way affiliated with MIT. Thoughts on public intellectualism are here and here.
Other groups noticeably missing are:
- Large hedge fund operators, e.g. George Soros
- Scientists, e.g. Stephen Hawkings
- Writers, e.g. certain Pulitzer Prize winners
- Religious leaders, e.g. Billy Graham (although Pope Benedict XVI ranked #5)
- Nobel Prize winners excluding politicians (835 individuals since 1901)
Add other notable groups missing in the comments. The complete list from Forbes is here.