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270Soft Forum Top 100 Most Influential Historical Figured of All Time!

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Here's the final list! Later, I'll show how our list adjusts an averaged list of similar lists: 

@vcczar @Reagan04 @Actinguy @Patine @Conservative Elector 2 @TheMiddlePolitical @WVProgressive @SilentLiberty @pilight @admin_270 @Hestia11 @Herbert Hoover @mlcorcoran @Leuser @upandaway @jvikings1 @Rodja @Edouard @jnewt @Nentomat @Kingthero @Sunnymentoaddict @RFK/JFKfan @Mr.Blood @Zenobiyl @Wiw @MBDemSoc @ThePotatoWalrus @Alxeu @Allyn @Cenzonico @CentristGuy @Ishan @billay @wolves @RI Democrat @lizarraba @lizphairphreak @TheLiberalKitten @MysteryKnight 



  270SoftForum Description
Jesus 1 Central figure in Christianity and Jewish preacher; According to Biblical tradition, the virgin-born incarnate Son of God and Messiah who was crucified to atone the sins of the world, resurrected, ascended to Heaven and will return on judgment day. Inspired the world's largest major religion, which has impacted the world in both benevolent and tragic ways; Also a revered prophet in Islam; Ironically, Judaism is generally critical of Jesus.
William Shakespeare 2 The most successful figure in world literature, and the primary figure in the development of the English language into a world language. He also wrote plays that have been translated, spread, and staged across the world, even to the present day. Probably the most well-known figure in literature, even after 400 years. Profound influence on all major writers since his death.
Albert Einstein 3 His theory of relativity is one of the pillars of modern Physics, which reconciled Newtonian Mechanics with the latest scientific discoveries; wrote the most famous equation; alerted FDR that Nazis were building an Atom bomb, and that US should make one first; pop culture icon whose surname is synonmous with "genius"
Isaac Newton 4 laid the foundation for classical mechanics, developed the field of optics and was one of the two independent inventors of calculus. He formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation. He also built the first practical refracting telescope. Arguably the most important man of science to have ever existed.
George Washington 5 first president of the United States, setting the precedents for the most powerful influential position in history. Presided over the Constitutional Convention, which created the oldest active constitution. Commanding general during the Revolutionary War.
Muhammad 6 the founder of Islam, which quickly spread throughout Arabia in his lifetime. As a political leader, he created the first Islamic state, and initiated the first Arab conquests. He was also the author of the Quran. Islam is currently the second largest religion. Like with Jesus and other religious founders, many false believers have carried out atrocities in the name of Muhammad’s religion.
Tim Berners-Lee 7 Invented the World Wide Web
Charles Darwin 8 for his contributions to the theory of evolution. He came up with the concept of natural selection, that all species come from common ancestors; Fundamentally altered natural science and how we think of human beings and Biblical history; the Darwinin concept of survival of the fittest comes from him, which has led to several sociopolitical movements or policies.
Thomas Jefferson 9 Primary author of the US Declaration of Independence; leader of one of the first two US political parties; co-wrote a resolution that led to secession down the road; 3rd president; presided during the Louisiana Purchase and the International Slave Trade Ban; democratized the presidency by ending European-style pomp and circumstance.
Franklin D Roosevelt 10 Longest-serving US president presided during the Great Depression and World War II; Forever changed the fundamentals of US government via the New Deal and strong executive actions; played a huge role in planning post-War Europe, establish relations with the Middle East, worldwide decolonization, etc.
Karl Marx 11 Arguably the most influential socio-economical-political theorist; Co-wrote the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital; Saw Socialism as the antidote for the self-destructive internal tensions caused by capitalism; fundamentally altered politics and political parties worldwide with his emphasis on class conflicts.
Bill Gates 12 Pioneer of the Microcomputer Revolution; Wealthiest person in the world for about a quarter of a century
Hippocrates 13 "Father of Medicine" developed medicine as an individual field of study; originator of the Hippocratic Oath, which is still recited by doctors today.
Moses 14 Most important prophet in Judaism; according to Jewish tradition, he was the author of the Torah. Huge impact on other major religions, such as Christianity and Islam.
Marco Polo 15 First European to detail a chronicle of his travels to Central Asia and East Asia; inspired worldwide exploration and cartography
Adolf Hitler 16 initiated World War II and created the holocaust. WWII led to a weaker, more peaceful Europe. The holocaust led to the creation Israel. Hitler’s Nazism is often used as an example to misrepresent both nationalistic conservatives ideologies and Socialism. Indirectly led to European Union, and United Nations. Synonym for evil and authoratarian rule or tendencies.
Otto von Bismarck 17 Masterminded German unification, which laid the strong foundation for their military, economic, and demographic power for the later World Wars.
Dwight D Eisenhower 18 Supreme Allied Commander during World War II that saw the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, and their allies; As president, established NASA.
Virgin Mary 19 According to Biblical tradition, the only virgin woman to give birth in human history; said to be the mother of Jesus Christ; venerated in Christianity, most notably by Catholics.
Adam and Eve 20 Whether biblical Adam Eve or the hypothetical DNA common ancestors, Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosmal Adam, they are the most recent common ancestors of all living human beings.
Alexander the Great 21 Arguably the most successful military commander of all-time and king of one of the world's largest empires, which created cultural diffusion and syncretism by Hellenizing Asia Minor, North Africa, the Middle East, and sections of Central Asia; Led to the Hellenization of Judaism, which made the transition to Pauline Christianity possible.
Buddha 22 Founder of Buddhism, one of the largest religions in the world.
Genghis Khan 23 First Great Khan and Emperor of the Mongol Empire, arguably the largest Empire in human history, although the empire was split after his death; conquored China and committed genocide, altering the genetics of East and Central Asia.
J Robert Oppenheimer 24 The "Father of the Atomic Bomb" by developing the first used atomic bombs as part of the Manhattan Project
Leonardo da Vinci 25 Painted some of the most popular and most reproduced works of art; considered the epitome of a "Renaissance Man" for being arguably the most diversely talented person in human history; made several unrealized scientific discoveries and innovations in a variety of field, but had little impact on the independent discoveries as he never published his findings and they remained unknown for a long time.
Galileo 26 The "Father of Modern Science" for his laws of motion and improvements on observational astronomy; went against traditional and religious thought that the Universe was perfect by showing that celestial objects were imperfect spheres and they moved in imperfect circles.
Walt Disney 27 Arguably the most influential figure in the animation industry; Disney theme parks have spread worldwide
Christopher Columbus 28 His exploration of the New World led to the permanent European colonization of the Western Hemisphere and the direct or indirect extermination of the majority of the natives of the New World; all sort of goods, plants, animals, etc. were traded between the hemispheres after Columbus.
Joseph Stalin 29 Rapidly industrialized Russia into a superpower that both helped end World War II and led to another conflict, as one of the two major powers during the Cold War. Stalinism has often been used as an example to misrepresent Socialism. Russia’s relative strength today is due in part to Stalin’s regime.
St. Paul 30 Most important figure in the spread and survival of Christianity by hellenizing it and making it palatable to non-Jewish Roman citizens; all major sects of Christianity today are Pauline, rather than Jamesian, Gnostic, etc., which were prevalent in Paul's time.
Mao Zedong 31 Founding father of the People’s Republic of China, the most populated Communist government in history. He laid the foundations for China as a world power through reform policies. His form of communism, known as Maoism, is often an example to misrepresent Socialism.
The Beatles 32 The most influential and best-selling band of all time; fundamentally changed pop music and the music industry worldwide; had large impact on sociocultural movements; arguably the most diverse and experimental band as well, mastering a range of inventive styles.
Niels Bohr 33 Made the foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory
Alexander Hamilton 34 Laid down the foundations for America's economic system, arguably the greatest economy in world history; Co-wrote the Federalists Papers, which helped ratify the Constitution; Leader of the Federalists, one of the first two national political parties.
Abraham Lincoln 35 Prevented the breakup of the United States with stellar leadership during the Civil War. Laid the foundation for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Centralized the United States, which made America’s dominance in the 20th century possible. Injected Federal power into the daily lives of its citizens via homestead acts, education land grant acts, etc; first Republican president.
Neil Armstrong 36 First human to land on a celestial body outside of Earth--the Moon
Pericles 37 Presided during the Golden Age of Greece; fostered Athenian Democracy, the world's earliest known Democracy
Mikhail Gorbachev 38 Reformed the USSR towards social democrazy and Western tolerances, including limited market capitalism; arguably the most influential figure in the breakup of the USSR, despite his intentions to keep it together.
Aristotle 39 Philosopher who dominated Western thought all the way up to the Enlightenment; first to formally study logic; huge impact on the Islamic Golden Age, early Christian theology, theories of literature, physical sciences, etc. Taught Alexander the Great.
Plato 40 Founder of Western Political philosophy and Western Spirituality, crucially impacting the theories of government, religion, and common thought; founded the first institute of higher learning in the Western World; teacher of Aristotle; inspiration for Neoplatonism.
Confucius 41 His ideas were developed into a system known as Confucianism, which form the basis of Chinese tradition, culture and belief. He came up with the “Golden Rule” about 500 years before Jesus did. His direct influence is also in Korea and Japan. Indirectly, he influences the world, primarily because of China’s present influence.
James Madison 42 "Father of the US Constitution" for his role in getting the convention organized; co-wrote the Federalist Papers; architect of Jeffersonian Republicanism; wrote a Resolution that laid the Foundation for secession; 4th US President; presided during War of 1812.
Deng Xiaoping 43 Initiated the economic-market reforms that made China the production capital of the world by the 21st century and a major power
Mohandes Gandhi 44 Pop culture figure; arguably the most well-known practitioner of non-violent resistance; led the movement that eventually saw Indian gain independence from the UK; inspires worldwide Civil Rights and freedoms.
Wright Bros 45 invented the first successful airplane.
Martin Luther King Jr 46 the predominant figure in the African-American civil rights movement, and a leading inspiration for the rights of worldwide minorities. He was also, along with Gandhi, a chief practioneer of nonviolent civil disobedience.
Immanuel Kant 47 Arguably the most influential philosopher since Aristotle; Categorical Imperative has huge impact on moral philsophy; Thing in Itself has a huge impact on the concept of reality, reason, and interpretation; Critique of Pure Reason on rationalism, reason, etc.,; had impact on politics for his belief that greater Democracy mixed with international diplomacy will lead us to perpetual peace.
Henry Ford 48 Developed assembly-line mass production, which allowed for cheap automobiles that the middle-class could afford; saw consumerism as the key to world peace.
Napoleon Bonaparte 49 Most studied military figure in human history; directly involved in the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire, the expedition that discovered the Rosetta Stone, creation of the Napoleonic Code, the Louisiana Purchase, and more; Inspired European nationalism which would later see the unification of Germany and Italy; Inspired the concept of the Great Man theory; nearly conquered continental Europe; his defeat led to the Concert of Europe/Balance of Power, a long period of relative peace.
Hammurabi 50 for the earliest specific code of laws for a large centralized state. Also, the Law of Retaliation (“Eye for an eye”).
Augustus Caesar 51 Rebuilt the collapsing Roman Republic into a Roman Empire; First Roman Emperor; greatly expanded Rome; initiated Pax Romana, which saw relative peace throughout the empire.
Benjamin Franklin 52 America's first celebrity; famous inventor, printer, statesman, civic advocate; invented the lightning rod, bifocals and a stove; secured the alliance with France that was necessary in winning American Independence from Great Britain.
Martin Luther 53 Crucial early figure of the Protestant Reformation when he protested against the corruptions of the Catholic Church; Argued that the Bible was a greater authority than the Pope; Translated the Bible into the vernacular so that it could be accessible for those unschooled in Biblical languages; Inspired Lutheranism, a major protestant denomination, and the other Protestant movements.
John Locke 54 the father of liberalism. He may be the key philosopher in influencing the American Revolution, including the language of the Declaration of Independence.
Pope John Paul II 55 First non-Italian Pope in over 450 years; played a leading role in ending Communism in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland
Michelangelo 56 Considered by many as the "Greatest Artist of All Time" for his paintings, frescoes, architecture, and sculptures; Painted the Sistine Chapel and was one of the architects for St. Peter's Basillica. Triggered the Mannerism art movement; also a famous Italian poet.
Archimedes 57 Discovered the laws of levers and pulleys, allowing us to move heavy objects with little force; estimated the value of pi; huge mathematical influence on a range of mathematic and physics.
Theodore Roosevelt 58 Crucial figure in the development of the power of the presidency, which was used as an advocating force for social, domestic policy to improve the quality of the lives of US citizens; inspired the conservation movement, business regulations, labor laws, etc; expanded the US navy into a competitive worldwide power.
Ernest Rutherford 59 Considered the "Father of Nuclear Physics" for his discovery of radioactive half-life, the element Radon, and differentiating alpha and beta radiation.
Omar Khayyam 60 Laid down the principles of algebra and created the theory of proportional geometry
Ludwig Van Beethoven 61 Revolutionary composer that created the bridge from classical music to romantic era music by breaking free of classical tradition in music; Arguably the "Father of Modern Musical Composition" for doing so.
Walt Whitman 62 The "Father of Free Verse," his unrhymed poetry, which often embrace the democratic, self-reliant, and inclusive nature of America, influence later generations of poets, almost all who write in free verse primarily
Charles Goodyear 63 Invented the process for vulcanizing rubber, allow it to be used for practical purposes.
Pier Giorgio Perotto 64 Led in the creation of the first personal computer
Sergey Brin & Larry Page 65 Created the search-engine Google
Catherine the Great 66 Oversaw the revitalization and expansion of Russia into a Great Power
Socrates 67 One of the founders of Western Philosophy and the first "moral philosopher."; Left no writings of his own, but was a teacher and major source for Plato's philosophy; Known for the Socratic Method and Socratic Irony.
Louis Pasteur 68 “Father of Microbiology.” He was crucial to the development of immunization,. He also disproved the theory of spontaneous generation. He also invented the process called Pasteurization, which kills bacteria in liquid food.
Hernan Cortes 69 Conquistador who destroyed the long-lasting and immense Aztec Empire and brought New Spain (future Mexico) under Spanish rule.
Charles II 70 Restored the British Monarchy after the Civil War; arguably the first British monarch to accept Parliament as the predominant governmental power
Johannes Gutenberg 71 Invented the first practical printer, which sparked a printing revolution, increasing knowledger, literacy, education, and usher in a more modern age of information; Gutenberg Bible was the first mass produced Bible; His press was central in spreading vernacular languages and reducing the importance of Latin as a written language; The Protestant Reformation was greatly aided by Gutenberg's press.
Thomas Edison 72 invented the first practical incandescent light bulb and the phonograph.
Homer 73 According to tradition, the author of the Illiad and the Oddyssey, which are often called the beginning of the Western literary tradition. Crucual to Ancient Greek culture and education. They still inspire the arts today.
Gregor Mendel 74 "Founder of Modern Genetics" for discovering the rules of inheritance
Samuel Colt 75 Invented the mass production of commercially available hand guns
Winston Churchill 77 the earliest and leading advocate against Nazi Germany and Cold War Soviet Russia, ensuring the containment of both expanding powers.
Adam Smith 76 Laid the foundation of free market economic theory with his book, Wealth of Nations; "Father of Economics" and "Father of Capitalism."
Arthur Conan Doyle 79 For creating Sherlock Holmes, arguably the most influential and popular literary figure of all time.
Mark Zuckerberg 78 Inventor of Facebook, arguably the most influential social media and social networking service
Cicero 80 Possibly the greatest orator; Had a major influence in the late Roman Republic; the rediscovery of his letters is said to have initiated the Renaissance over 1,000 years after his death.
Mother Teresa 81 Pop Culture figure became a symbol of charity and patience; won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in aiding the impoverished in India
John Calvin 82 Founder of Calvinism, which is the chief philosophy of numerous protestant churches, such as Presbyterians, Congregational, Reformed. As such, Calvin has gained many more adherents than Luther. Some scholar give Calvin credit for the rise of Capitalism, since he inspired the “Protestant work ethic” and allowed the charging of interest on loans, which was condemned by other Christians.
Elizabeth I 83 inspired the flowering of English literature and language, especially drama. Set the foundation for English colonialism, and the concept of the British Empire. Reestablished England as a protestant state.
Queen Isabella I 84 Unified Spain through marriage and Reconquista; financed Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage, which led to the colonization of the New World and to the establishment of Spain as a major power.
Saint Peter 85 According to orthodox Christian belief, served as the first Christian leader after the death of Jesus and as the first pope; Christian folklore states that Peter holds the keys to Heaven.
Queen Victoria 86 Popular monarch who presided during her namesake age--The Victorian Age, possibly the most influential era since the Renaissance or since Antiquity; Called the "Grandmother of Europe" since a large portion of later monarchs are directly related to her.
Nelson Mandela 87 The most famous anti-Apartheid leader; South Africa's first elected black head of state.
Blaise Pascal 88 Created the first successful mechanical calculator
Vincent Van Gogh 89 Arguably the most well-known contibutor to the foundations of Modern Art; His work is routinely the most expensive sold worldwide.
Niccolo Machiavelli 90 "Father of Modern Political Science" for his political theories; argued that political leaders can brush aside morality and use deception, treachery, violence, etc., if the intention and result is beneficial for the country; Argued it is better for a leader be feared than loved, if you cannot be both; his surname has come to mean deviousness or deceit.
Qin Shi Huang 91 Created the first centralized state and initiated Chinese civilization.Additionally, he standardized the written language of China, instituted the first large scale censorship in history, and initiated the Great Wall of China, which is the only human-made object observable from space.
Rene Descartes 92 Father of Modern Western Philosophy and the father of analytical geometry. His contributions to critical thinking have made all universities, more or less, Cartesian institutions.
Florence Nightingale 93 The founder of modern nursing; laid the foundations for the first nursing school
Leo Tolstoy 94 Arguably the greatest novelist in World History; Considered the pinnacle of realist fiction.
Miguel de Cervantes 95 Author of the first modern novel (Don Quixote), arguably the most influential novel in world history; regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language.
Henry Bessemer 96 His steel-making process made steel affordable and quicker, launching a revolution in structural engineering
Constantine the Great 97 Roman Emperor who greatly reformed Rome; Shifted the center to Constantinople (named after himself); Converted to Christianity and sponsored the relgion, being influential in the creation of the Nicene Creed.
Charles Babbage 98 originated the concept of the programmable computer.
Norman Borlaug 99 The "Father of the Green Revolution" credited with saving over 1 billion people from starvation.
Vladimir Lenin 100 Led the Russian Communism party to victory during the Russian Revolution; founded and led the Soviet Union and remained an icon for them after his death.
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I thought I'd bump this back up and add a few thoughts below; @vcczar @Reagan04 @Actinguy @Patine @Conservative Elector 2 @TheMiddlePolitical @WVProgressive @SilentLiberty @pilight @admin_270 @Hestia11 @Herbert Hoover @mlcorcoran @Leuser @upandaway @jvikings1 @Rodja @Edouard @jnewt @Nentomat @Kingthero @Sunnymentoaddict @RFK/JFKfan @Mr.Blood @Zenobiyl @Wiw @MBDemSoc @ThePotatoWalrus @Alxeu @Allyn @Cenzonico @CentristGuy @Ishan @billay @wolves @RI Democrat @lizarraba @lizphairphreak @TheLiberalKitten @MysteryKnight 

Thoughts, mostly on the more unusual positioning: 

  • Jesus as the first choice is rather consistent with these kinds of lists. I've seen Muhammad and Isaac Newton at #1. 
  • Shakespeare at #2 is rather a shocker, although as a huge fan of plays and poetry and Shakespeare it's warming to see this. 
  • The only time I've seen George Washington within the top 20, and he's top 5 here, is in a military top 100. 
  • Muhammad at #6 is a huge drop from every list I've ever seen. It was rather odd that he wasn't unanimous for inclusion in the top 100 during the earlier phases of this exercize. His influence should be equivalent to Jesus's influence and it is odd to think that some people think that 100 known figures of history are more influential than him. So much of the world's history is guided by a reaction to or inspired by Islam, the 2nd largest world religion, soon to be the largest. 
  • We have three US presidents in the top 10, which might show a cultural bias in our ranking. 
  • Saint Paul at #30 is rather strange. Most lists have him in the top 10 since without St. Paul, Christianity would possibly never been a Western Religion, and possibly would have never survived. All major sects of Christianity are Pauline or are a reaction to Pauline Christianity. The New Testament is Pauline. Non-Pauline sects are very few with the Gnostic sects being the most prominent. 
  • The Beatles beat all of the classical music composers. However, this might make sense considering fewer people listen to classical music and even fewer have a harder time knowing who composed what piece. 
  • Mikhai Gorbachev at #38 is unusual. One would think he'd be closer to 100. 
  • Aristotle at #39--less influential than Gorbachev!--is shocking. He's usually top 20, generally top 10. His influence on philosophy was so strong that thinkers more or less thought Aristotle had thought of everything already, which caused a sort of dark age of philosophy for hundreds of years. He basically remained unquestioned until the earliest part of the Renaissance. 
  • Gutenburg is often in the top 10. For us, he was #71. He was actually #1 on a list of the most influential of the last 1,000 years. 
  • Glad to see Norman Borlaug make the list at #99. The peaceful and non-violent infrequently make these lists. Another guy I wish I had added as a nominee is Stanislav Petrov, who arguably saved the world from nuclear annihilation. If anyone needs statues it is these two. 

Overall, it was a lot of fun. The results are interesting because of all the debate it could lead to. At some point I'll show a comparison with other lists. 

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52 minutes ago, vcczar said:
  • Shakespeare at #2 is rather a shocker, although as a huge fan of plays and poetry and Shakespeare it's warming to see this. 


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