Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

My big problem with Big Think is the highly unimpressive gender makeup of its chosen experts.

Here are the current gender mix of talking heads for five randomly chosen topics:

Philosophy (1 woman 6 men)America (no women 17 men)Democracy (2 women 6 men)Family (1 woman 3 men)Fundamentalism (2 women 7 men)

I'm not impressed!

I thought the idea was to find "the brightest, most creative thinkers alive" on any subject. Does Big Think really think that men are disproportionately bright and creative? That's both offensive and absurd. Or is Big Think simply reproducing the current pundits' old boys club from whom we already hear quite enough in the media?

I can believe that there are more *famous* men to quote on any number of subjects than women, but to imagine that their fame is based purely on merit is to willfully ignore the mechanisms by which fame (even, and perhaps especially, intellectual fame) is achieved in the US.

I was excited to hear about Big Think. I had hoped that they might offer an alternative route to fame for, indeed, the truly bright and creative. But so far, at least, it seems to be just giving us more of what we already have.

Simon Firth

Palo Alto, CA

Apr 3 2008 - 10:57pm

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.