Monday, June 16, 2014

History's Most Influential Person?

On Wikipedia, there is a rule that you can start at any innocent article and be fewer than 7 clicks away from Adolf Hitler.  The mass-murdering bastard played such an important role in the 20th century that eventually any object, place or person with a Wikipedia page is inevitably linked to him.  But is he the most influential person in history.  Clearly, the founders of modern religions have great influence on today's Wikipedia - Jesus, Abraham, Mohammad.  America's Founding Fathers must be important - Washington, Jefferson, Franklin.  But who tops the list?

Carolus Linnaeus: Most Influential Person
New Scientist featured an article about research by Young-Ho Eom, from France that attempted to answer just that.  He looked at Wikipedia links from 24 languages to determine the answer.  And at the top of the list sits:  Carolus Linnaeus!  The Swedish botanist that devised sciences modern system of species classification.  Any Wikipedia article about a living object must include its scientific name, and thus a link to Linnaeus.  That and of any person, Linnaeus has the most species named in his honor.  To round out the list of most influential people:
  1. Carolus Linnaeus
  2. Jesus
  3. Aristotle
  4. Napoleon
  5. Hitler
  6. Julius Caesar
  7. Plato
  8. Shakespeare
  9. Einstein
  10. Elizabeth II
Things were a little different in the English with Napoleon, Obama, and Linneaus taking the top three spots.  Interstingly, he also did a 2DRanking of Wikipedia that measures both incoming and outgoing links.  In this case, the extra layer produced this global result:
  1. Hitler
  2. Michael Jackson
  3. Madonna
  4. Jesus
  5. Beethoven
  6. Mozart
  7. Pope Benedict XVI
  8. Alexander the Great
  9. Charles Darwin
  10. Barack Obama
Again, the English version differed with Sinatra, Jackson, Pope Pius XII leading the way.  Does this prove anything?  Probably not.  But it always makes for a great debate!

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