I Was Named as One of the Top 10 Science and Technology Writers

Someone named me as one of the top 10 science and technology writers of all time. Flattering though it is, I don’t think I belong in the company of Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Asimov.

Posted on May 7, 2010 at 1:35 PM28 Comments


GK May 7, 2010 1:45 PM

I disagree! You’re a great writer and prolific in many fields of science/technology, yet make it easy to understand and it’s applicable. The late Thomas Kuhn was great also and I’m very surprised he didn’t make the list. Either way, out of all the current writers/researchers – IMO you’re at the top of the list.

Iain Thomson May 7, 2010 2:04 PM

We put you on the list because it wasn’t only about advancing scientific knowledge and debate, but being able to explain that to a wider audience was well.

It’s the same thinking behind the Dawkins placement – science needs people who can both advance ideas and communicate them. Looking back a week on I wouldn’t have put Newton so high for that reason and I still think Carl Sagan should have made the list.

We’re doing science fiction writers today – I suspect there’ll be trouble.

RL May 7, 2010 2:12 PM

Afraid its a law of diminishing returns here Bruce, you won’t make the shaping contributions your peers have made; however still very valid. Keep up the good work.

Peter E Retep May 7, 2010 2:29 PM

It may be that the sum of your writing consists of many things:

a–your omnibus books on crypto –
truly clear and unique for their time –

b–your continuing outreach to communicate with all levels of tech understanding –
the blogs

c–your clear commentary on security policy –
accessible to all persons –

d–the invited hosting of all the persons who contribute varieties of writing to your blog site –
us –

e–so in a sense it is a shared title –
– (clive will, as will we all)

Bill May 7, 2010 2:33 PM

Sorry Bruce, your instincts are pretty dead on for this one. Its yet another bull crap article from the internet “technology press” cesspool. It would be better to not be named in that list than named. I’m insulted they besmirched the names of Einstien, Newton, and Darwin.

These same numskulls would probably review my new ROT-13 encryption engine and give it a 7.5, due to a lack of flash support.

peri May 7, 2010 2:54 PM

I’m not surprised that you were recognized in this way but I can’t take such a list seriously if they missed — of all people — Neil deGrasse Tyson but I personally have a problem with lists. In my opinion there are two kinds of lists:

1 Obvious e.g. planets ranked by distance from sun.
2 Capricious e.g. falsely dichotomous lists that suggest they enumerate every kind of list

George H. H. Mitchell May 7, 2010 2:55 PM

Since the authors of the article, Shaun Nichols and Iain Thomson, have names which suggest they are male, I am wondering about how they decided to come up with their list (quoting their article) “after much gestation.”

Gweihir May 7, 2010 3:39 PM

Well, no. You are definitely the best IT Security writer at this time and one of the best writers on general security, but not “best all time” in science and technology. Still very impressive, though.

BTW, I will be in the audience in your talk on Monday at noon. Lookig forward to it and hope you enjoy your stay in Switzerland!

Roxanne May 7, 2010 3:39 PM

Maybe you could come up with your own Top Ten list, especially something like “Ten Hard Science books everyone should be required to read.” (I’d put “Beyond Fear” on that list, if I made one.)

Meanwhile, Newton, et. al, went a lot more in-depth, but you’re able to express your ideas succinctly and to a wide audience. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Fuzzy May 7, 2010 3:48 PM

As with most “top 10” lists, it is fairly ridiculous. If you are talking technical writers who are able to make technology approachable then what about W. Richard Stevens (UNIX Network Programming, TCP/IP Illustrated)? If you are talking scientists who are able to make science more approachable then what about Stephen Jay Gould (Ever Since Darwin,The Panda’s Thumb, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes) or Richard Feynman (Six Easy Pieces, The Feynman Lectures on Physics)? If you are talking about scientists who are foundational to mathematics or science then what about Euclid (geometry)?

The Mailman May 7, 2010 3:50 PM

“I don’t think I belong in the company of Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Asimov.”

Damn straight. Those guys never even had blogs.

mcb May 7, 2010 4:10 PM

@ yb & Fuzzy

“I’m rather astounded that Carl Sagan isn’t mentioned.”

“…what about Stephen Jay Gould…or Richard Feynman”

Hear, hear. We could bump Dvorak, Cringely/Stephens, and Kewney in favor of these more deserving authors and still leave Bruce in esteemed company…if it were our list.

blurk May 7, 2010 9:08 PM

Another vote here for that being a pretty bogus list. My first reaction at reaching the end was also “what, no Feynman?” and the list writers themselves admit that Darwin was difficult to read. IMO, halfway through the list they got confused between greatest science writers and greatest scientists.

Nick P May 7, 2010 10:20 PM

I think they should have dropped Stephen Hawking and put Michio Kaku on the list. Nobody would have even understood the work of Hawking and others if it weren’t for writers like Kaku (in books like Hyperspace). His books and presentation style are awesome.

As for you, Bruce, I agree with your own assessment. If I had to pick a replacement, I’d be leaning towards Ray Kurzweil. We can’t put Feynman on the list because he is sometimes thinks he’s talking to Ph.D.’s in mid-sentence, but he’s otherwise my favorite physicist.

Bob Alley May 7, 2010 10:20 PM

What about Arthur C. Clark. 2001: A space Odyssey is still futuristic, after hakf a century. What SciFi writer can boast that.

Matthew May 8, 2010 7:09 AM

“I don’t think I belong in the company of Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Asimov”

Agreed, you don’t, but kudos for the honesty on your part.

Porlock Junior May 8, 2010 12:52 PM

At first I thought I’d disagree with Bill about the list being coplete crap, but he’s right. Computerz and Internetz Rool!!!! Well, um, at least, that’s pretty much all we’ve heard of.

But there are other problems. Newton, for instance: his problem is that he wasn’t a science writer. Not as the term is mostly understood, which the authors rightly express as those “who do most to popularise and educate about science”.

It’s weird that people who mention Newton and even allude the “shoulders of giants” thing have never heard of Galileo, who did write clearly and eloquently for non-specialists and eventually was so daring as to write in a language that people who weren’t scholars or priests could read!

Darwin absolutely belongs, because he really was a science writer and his stuff was that good.

That makes him one of 2 unequivocally right choices on that list, iirc, the other being obviously Asimov; Einstein is arguably a good choice too. BTW, did you notice that 90% of the greatest ever were American or British?

Dawkins would belong if they had had the breadth of mind and the nerve to make a joint item for him and Gould. The concept reminds me of one in The Screwtape Letters in which religious zealots of different kinds are made to stew together in Hell for all eternity, to the great amusement of the devils. Not that Dawkins or Gould deserves that fate, but some of their followers would fit right in.

Oh, and this Schneier guy? His inclusion is a benign and well-considered result of the silly choice to make it an Anglo-Saxon computer-geek list. If you do that consistently and unabashedly, he definitely belongs, and right near the top.

Tamara May 8, 2010 9:20 PM

From Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, 1602:

"In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."

It would be way off to ignore your influence and effect on the world of computer security and sanity, not to mention your influence on so many of us with regard to the simple logic of life. Reside within the reasonable sigmas.

In my opinion, you are to Technology and the Internet what Feynman is to Physics, what Sagan is to public appreciation of Astronomy. Same things, different arenas. Keep doing what you do best: educating all of us in logical thinking and technical awareness. 🙂 Don’t be modest when the crowds cheer. But also, don’t let the world p@wn you. 🙂

I have no idea who Malvalio was. 🙂 But those words ended up being used in a lot of places—and they are very appropriate here.

Congratulations to you!

Willi May 9, 2010 9:20 AM

You’r one of the best security writers I’ve ever read.
That doesn’t mean, I ever agree with you ;-).



TonyK May 9, 2010 3:54 PM

In my opinion there are two kinds of lists:
1 Obvious e.g. planets ranked by distance from sun.
2 Capricious e.g. falsely dichotomous lists that suggest they enumerate every kind of list

Nice one, peri! Which of your categories does your own little list belong to?

AC2 May 9, 2010 11:59 PM

Bruce, if they can include Asimov they sure as hell can include you…

I think everyone has covered the most obvious lapses above so I will rest my case that this is a dumb list…

Lowell May 10, 2010 12:39 AM

It is a silly list. Newton and Einstein were great scientists. Darwin was a mighty darn good scientist.

I really enjoy your writing. It may have affected my life, in a personal way, more than Einstein and Darwin’s writing. (but not more than Newton’s writing)

And you inspired my daughter in her choice of a career. What could be more important that that?

Ken Williams May 11, 2010 10:17 AM

So in a single day, you were named a top writer, and you had to clarify something somebody misunderstood in one of your writings. 😉

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