The Edge World Question: Meet the New Boys’ Club, Same as the Old Boys’ Club

Every year an organization called Edge Foundation, which is not at all pretentious, publishes a World Question and asks "some of the most interesting minds in the world" to reflect on it. Edge is dedicated to promoting "the Third Culture", which it modestly describes this way: 

Throughout history, intellectual life has been marked by the fact that only a small number of people have done the serious thinking for everybody else. What we are witnessing is a passing of the torch from one group of thinkers, the traditional literary intellectuals, to a new group, the intellectuals of the emerging third culture.

That new group, in case you are wondering, would be the interesting minds invited by Edge.

Edge and its forerunner The Reality Club are single-minded in their search for these "interesting minds". It has "a simple criterion for choosing speakers. We look for people whose creative work has expanded our notion of who and what we are." Founder John Brockman describes it this way:

I see it as the constant shifting of metaphors, the advancement of ideas, the agreement on, and the invention of, reality. Intellectual life is The Reality Club.

So here is a simple non-intellectual question. Of the 160 or so "world-class scientists, artists, and creative thinkers" that Edge invited to answer its "World Question", how many do you think are women?

The answer is right after the break, and says everything that needs to be said about this self-described "intellectual" organization. Meet the new boys' club, same as the old boys' club.

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  1. It would also be interesting to see the proportion of western versus non-western contributors, as clearly this old boys club is not challenging anything about traditional concepts of “culture.” Here are 160 people conflating the word “culture” with “western culture”.

  2. I haven’t done the count. The list is here although the link to “responses” doesn’t work and you have to scroll down. But my guess is the same as yours: there would be one big column and a lot of little columns.

  3. i pretty much discount anything that is categorized via gender, or race, or nationality .. probably should have some extra-terrestrials, but we are just too local up ’til now ..

  4. Clearly they were drawing from a population of Asperger savants.

  5. Right. That must be what I missed. 🙂

  6. Ah yes. Best not to think about all those messy things. After all, who needs data?

    The Internet is Tom’s personal dataset. He can now scrape information from the web, import the data into a database, and graph the results. He can hone his Python, SQL, and Regular Expression skills while promoting social justice. The Internet is Tom’s oyster from which he continues to pull a never ending string of pearls.

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