Have you ever participated in a debate about who are the most influential people in history? This is a topic that usually leads to further discussion and debate on who is the strongest, the smartest, the most beautiful, and a series of unresolved questions that nobody can answer with absolute certainty.
Pantheon, a project developed by the Macro Connections group at the MIT University Media Lab collected and analyzed data on historical and cultural popularity and tried to give answers to these questions. A multi-ethnic team of decorated designers, engineers, and scientists working collaboratively to quantify, analyze and measure global culture delivered the most academic and enduring list of the most popular and influential human beings in history. Since the top 100 is heavily dominated by philosophers, military personnel, politicians, scientists, and religious figures, we decided to deliver a roster of the 25 Most Influential People In History By Attribute and Profession.
Bruce Lee, Martial Artist - Overall Rank #229
Kung Fu superstar Bruce Lee was more than just a martial artist, more than just an actor and entertainer. He was a pioneer who trained in both striking and grappling, in standing and ground fighting, in an era when most martial artists only focused on one area. He used modern, progressive training methods, didn’t rely on tradition, and emphasized physical fitness, a rarity in the martial arts community.
He became an international icon and managed to enter the houses of millions around the world and popularized Asian martial arts in the West more than any other martial artist in history. He became the idol of countless kids around the globe during the sixties and seventies, and his legend continues to gain many fans from today’s younger generations, over forty years after his death. Recently, the most powerful man of Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC’s president, Dana White, stated that Bruce Lee has influenced the fastest-growing sport in the world more than anyone else and called him the “father of MMA.”
George Washington, US President - Overall Rank #190
George Washington, considered by historians to be one of the most significant and prominent American historical figures, perhaps except for Thomas Jefferson, who penned the Declaration of Independence. Washington was the first president of the United States and one of its founding fathers. He was also the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and contributed the most to the country’s freedom. He was also one of the men who helped replace the outdated Articles of Confederation with the Constitution, which remains the supreme law of the nation. According to MIT, he’s the most influential and famous American president even though his general rank here is quite disappointing.
Walt Disney, Business - Overall Rank #168
We have no doubt that if this list’s standard and measure of greatness was children’s love from around the world then Walt Disney would have the top spot. The man who gave birth to some of the most adored cartoon characters in all animation, including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, is the most influential and effective businessperson of all time, and we can’t argue much with their logic on this one.
Walt Disney holds the record for winning the most Academy Awards with twenty-two, but the most important thing he achieved is a business empire based on the visions of his creative imagination. Since his time, his characters have been entertaining millions of people, young and old, all around the world, regardless of their socioeconomic background, religious beliefs, skin color, or nationality.
Louis Pasteur, Chemist - Overall Rank #146
His overall rank is quite disappointing considering his immense contributions to humankind, preventing illnesses and saving the lives of millions. But, in a society that values wealth, political power, entertainment, and technology more than science and its life-altering breakthroughs, the “father of microbiology” is ranked only at number 146, even though he gets the nod as the most influential chemist in history. He’s best remembered for inventing the process of pasteurization that is named after him and has helped billions of babies around the world to grow up healthy by drinking fresh milk without bacteria.
Marilyn Monroe, Actress - Overall Rank #141
Marilyn Monroe is widely considered to be the most famous sex symbol in the world and one of the very first globally known female celebrities in history. Her legacy and incomparable influence on the entertainment world can be traced to a long list of female celebrities who tried to imitate her look and sex appeal.
According to MIT’s study, she’s the most popular and influential actor of all time, beating even the male giants of the big screen Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino, among many others.