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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Who's bigger than Genghis Khan?

I had some doubts about this set of historical rankings at Time Ideas, "Who's Biggest? The 100 Most Significant Figures in History," particularly after I saw George W. Bush was ranked 36--ahead of Winston Churchill and Genghis Khan. I tweeted my skepticism to my friend Ryan Sager, who works at Time Ideas, and he tweeted back that G.W.B. was overweighted because he was president "when most of Wikipedia was written," data from that site being a factor in the algorithms used for the rankings.

The article does not give listings beyond the top 100, but the same authors, Steven Skiena and Charles B. Ward, have a website of such rankings, with a search function and lots of lists and categories. I see the top people in history list there is a bit different. I also looked up DeWitt Clinton, who in historical memory has had his ups and downs. (Interestingly, his Wikipedia mentions have gone up lately.)

Here's Skiena and Ward's book:

Who's Bigger?: Where Historical Figures Really Rank.


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