Steven Skiena and Charles Ward have figured it out and report the results Who’s Bigger?: Where Historical Figures Really Rank.
Here is what the publisher, Cambridge University Press, wants us to read to entice us to buy the book. Any big names missing?
Is Hitler bigger than Napoleon? Washington bigger than Lincoln? Picasso bigger than Einstein? Quantitative analysts are rapidly finding homes in social and cultural domains, from finance to politics. What about history? In this fascinating book, Steve Skiena and Charles Ward bring quantitative analysis to bear on ranking and comparing historical reputations. They evaluate each person by aggregating the traces of millions of opinions, just as Google ranks webpages. The book includes a technical discussion for readers interested in the details of the methods, but no mathematical or computational background is necessary to understand the rankings or conclusions. Did you know: – Got a spare billion dollars, and want to be remembered forever? Your best investment is to get a university named after you. – Women remain significantly underrepresented in the historical record compared to men and have long required substantially greater achievement levels to get equally noted for posterity. – The long-term prominence of Elvis Presley rivals that of the most famous classical composers. Roll over Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news! Along the way, the authors present the rankings of more than one thousand of history’s most significant people in science, politics, entertainment, and all areas of human endeavor. Anyone interested in history or biography can see where their favorite figures place in the grand scheme of things. While revisiting old historical friends and making new ones, you will come to understand the forces that shape historical recognition in a whole new light.
Myra Adams read the book (or at least looked between the covers). She spills the beans for us over at BizPak Review. Here is the top ten list. As Myra puts it:
To measure, meme strength and historical reputations, Skiena and Ward devised an internet-based ranking system and here is their top ten:
3. William Shakespeare
5. Abraham Lincoln
6. George Washington
7. Adolf Hitler
9. Alexander the Great
10. Thomas Jefferson
Myra Adams takes it one step further:
Being a “fan” of “the most significant person ever” I am in total agreement with Jesus topping the chart. In fact, back in July of 2012, I authored a piece that fully supports Skiena and Ward’s research, but the context was the Shroud of Turin — what millions of others and I believe is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus:
But regardless of whether you believe Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected, it cannot be disputed that he was then and still is today the most influential being who has ever existed in all human history.
Jesus Christ’s influence on the world in terms of culture, history, kingdoms, religion, empires, war, art, music, architecture, printing, human relations, charity, literature, exploration, population relocation, medicine, education, holidays, etc., cannot be refuted.
In other words, if you live on this planet, Jesus has had an effect on your life whether you care to acknowledge Him or not. (An excellent book on this subject, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, was written by Dr. D. James Kennedy in 1994.)
Conversely, if Jesus had not been resurrected, the world’s largest religion, Christianity, would not have grown and thrived for centuries and Jesus’ influence on mankind would have been minimal or non-existent.
So that is why the mysterious Shroud, which could prove Christ’s physical resurrection — the foundation of Christianity, is still an open and active cause célèbre among believers in Jesus’ divinity and members of the scientific community who continue to study the Shroud and remain intrigued by its unique properties.
The shroud is more and more becoming part of the conversation. That’s good.
Hat tip to Joe Marino