London - Jesus has been named the most significant person in human history, followed by Napoleon and Shakespeare, as determined by the internet.
The list was based on the impact on opinions certain individuals have had over time, and how that has reflected on their Wikipedia pages.
Steven Skiena and Charles Ward use quantitative analysis to rank more than a thousand historical figures and prominent people, from Elvis to Beethoven, Stalin and Queen Victoria.
With Jesus as a front runner, it comes as no great surprise that the prophet Muhammad is ranked at No 4.
Leaders of empires are prominent on the list with Napoleon as No 2 Alexander the Great at No 9.
Alexander’s teacher and the founder of Western philosophy, Aristotle, is listed as No 8 on the list.
The list sees three US presidents, two of whom were the founding fathers of the US, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. They are both outranked by Abraham Lincoln, who is listed as number five.
The top 10 only lists one Briton, the formidable William Shakespeare, author of Romeo and Juliet and responsible for centuries of unreasonable expectations of love.
The only entry on the list that serves as a person of impact “lest we forget” is Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, who is ranked as the seventh most significant person in human history.
There is an unmissable absence of women on the list, which the authors explain is a result of centuries of inequality meaning the impact of female figures has not been as great.
In the book Who’s Bigger? Where Historical Figures Really Rank, Skiena and Ward compare their ranking to Google’s system of ranking web pages in a search.
By collection millions of opinions on famous and infamous figures throughout history they have calculated, how successfully the idea of each person has spread in society through time.
“We would call Jesus ‘the most significant person’,” Skiena told Pacific Standard.
“With over 2 billion followers a full 2 000 years after his death, Jesus is an incredibly successful historical meme.”
The pair use English Wikipedia as a base for their algorithm, which has led to some figures ranking higher than they “should”, Skiena says.
“Our rankings will continue to evolve with Wikipedia, and people can move up or down over time.
“The highly ranked fellow most on the bubble is George W Bush, who our algorithms put too high at 36. This is an artefact of his having dominated coverage during eight years of Wikipedia’s rapid growth.
“Objectively, he belongs in the main body of presidents we rank at around 200 or so,” says Skiena. – Daily Mail
THE TEN MOST SIGNIFICANT FIGURES IN HUMAN HISTORY
2. Napoleon Bonaparte
3. William Shakespeare
4. The prophet Muhammad (SAW)
5. Abraham Lincoln
6. George Washington
7. Adolf Hitler
9. Alexander the Great
10. Thomas Jefferson