The RSA Events team asked some friends and famous faces one question: What should everyone know?
Find out what Bill Nighy, Shami Chakrabarti, Richard Curtis, Nicholas Christakis, Rebecca Goldstein, Lord Bingham, Desmond Tutu, Robin Dunbar, Steven Pinker and others think we should know.
Robin Ian MacDonald Dunbar is a British anthropologist and evolutionary biologist, specializing in primate behavior. He is best known for formulating Dunbar's number, roughly 150, a measurement of the "cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships".
Professor Dunbar is a director of the British Academy Centenary Research Project (BACRP) "From Lucy to Language: The Archaeology of the Social Brain" and is involved in the planned BACRP "Identifying the Universal Religious Repertoire".
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein grew up in White Plains, New York, and graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College, receiving the Montague Prize for Excellence in Philosophy, and immediately went on to graduate work at Princeton University, receiving her Ph.D. in philosophy. While in graduate school she was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship and a Whiting Foundation Fellowship.
After earning her Ph.D. she returned to her alma mater, where she taught courses in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, the rationalists, the empiricists, and the ancient Greeks. It was some time during her tenure at Barnard that, quite to her own surprise, she used a summer vacation to write her first novel, The Mind-Body Problem.
More novels followed: The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind; The Dark Sister, which received the Whiting Writer's Award, Mazel, which received the 1995 National Jewish Book Award and the 1995 Edward Lewis Wallant Award; and Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal, and Quantum Physics. Her book of short stories, Strange Attractors, received a National Jewish Book Honor Award.
Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world's foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association. He has also received seven honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and often writes for The New York Times, Time, and The New Republic. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine's "The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals," Foreign Policy's "100 Global Thinkers," and Time magazine's "The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today." His most recent book is The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. (photo credit: Max Gerber)
Reverend Desmond Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.
In 1984, Tutu became the second South African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu was elected and ordained the first black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa).
Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is currently the chairman of The Elders. Tutu is vocal in his defense of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed.
Tutu also campaigns to fight AIDS, poverty and racism. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007.