This week, we’ve considered the latest Gallup survey of the most-admired man and woman living in the world. We expanded our focus to consider the most-admired man and woman since Gallup started polling about this topic in the 1940s. Today, we widen our focus to maximum view:
Who’s the most influential person in history?
Sitting American presidents usually take #1 in Gallup’s annual poll, and so it was no surprise to learn that Obama nabbed the top spot in the latest results. But as we discussed, Clint Eastwood also made the top-ten list for most-admired man. Hillary Clinton is, once again, the most-admired woman; and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the top-ten list of women, as well. But “nobody”—that is, “none” or “no opinion,” actually took first space, getting more mentions than either Obama or Clinton. Looking over the past 60 years or so, Rev. Billy Graham is the most-admired man, and Queen Elizabeth II the most-admired woman.
But who’s the most influential in world history?
This seems like an impossible question to answer, and any attempted answer is certain to be controversial. But I did find two attempts: The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History by Michael H. Hart, and Who’s Bigger? Where Historical Figures Really Rank by Steven Skiena and Charles Ward.
Hart’s top five are Muhammed, Isaac Newton, Jesus, Buddha, and Confucious. Skiena and Ward’s top five are Jesus, Napoleon, Muhammed, Williams Shakespeare, and Abraham Lincoln.
What’s your reaction to these lists of top-five most influential people in world history?
Do you agree with their lists, in whole or in part?
Is there anyone else you would have in the top five?
- Our Heroes: Do you still admire Clint Eastwood? (Someone does.)
- Our Heroes: Is Angela Merkel one of yours?
- Our Heroes: What name tops the list, by far?
- Our Heroes: All-time top 10?
- Our Heroes: Who’s the most influential in world history?