The Atlantic released a list of 22 “brave thinkers” as part of the magazine’s annual series that celebrates people all around the world who risk their lives and reputations to pursue big ideas.
“We’re looking for unconventional thinkers—people who are willing to take some sort of a big risk to their reputations or careers or, in some cases, to their very lives in pursuit of the big idea that this is the theory that this is what drives society and culture forward,” said Atlantic editor James Bennet on Jansing & Co. Monday.
The magazine’s cover features New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who Bennet said received the “brave thinker” title as a “lifetime achievement award” for his career.
Bennet cited Bloomberg’s ban on soda containers larger than 16 ounces among his other “brave thinking.”
Despite being “widely mocked for his campaign,” Bennet said Bloomberg has managed to change the national debate on the subject of obesity and its effect on the country’s healthcare system.
Bennet also spotlighted Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman who filmed herself driving and then posted the film online. She was arrested and held in jail for several days, and, although women still are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, brought global attention to women’s rights in the country.
“She started a national movement around this idea that’s resulting in some increased women for freedom there,” Bennet said.
The list ranges from politicians to activists to pop culture icons, from Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng to singer Frank Ocean to psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer, who made headlines earlier this year for recanting a landmark study he published in 2001 that validated “gay-to-straight conversion therapy.”
“One of the things we set out to do when we started doing this list was to identify people who are publicly willing to change their mind, announce they were wrong about some matter, and it turns out that’s a very hard category of people to find,” Bennet said. “Robert Spitzer fits that.”
The full list can be found online at The Atlantic.