View Poll Results: Who was the most influential person in the 20th century?

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  • Henry Ford

    7 11.48%
  • Albert Einstein

    20 32.79%
  • Norman Borlaug

    3 4.92%
  • The Wright Brothers

    5 8.20%
  • Deng Xiaoping

    2 3.28%
  • Joseph Stalin

    4 6.56%
  • Franklin Roosevelt

    6 9.84%
  • Jonas Salk

    0 0%
  • Vint Cerf

    0 0%
  • Other (please name below)

    14 22.95%
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Thread: Most influential people of the 20th century

  1. #1
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    Most influential people of the 20th century

    I'm making a list of the most influential people of the 20th century, and I'm interested in getting your input. Right now my top 10 list is:

    1. Albert Einstein (for the theory of relativity which created virtually all of our modern world)
    2. Norman Borlaug (for the Green Revolution which helped much of Asia become self-sufficient in food production and saved the lives of a billion people)
    3. Margaret Sanger (for promoting birth control which radically reshaped the demographics of the entire world)
    4. Henry Ford (for popularizing the automobile)
    5. Alan Turing (the father of the modern computer)
    6. Max Planck (the most important physicist in the quantum mechanics revolution)
    7. Deng Xiaoping (for implementing the economic policies which began the process of lifting China's 1 billion+ people out of poverty)
    8. Jonas Salk (for the polio vaccine which nearly eradicated one of the world's worst diseases)
    9. Mahatma Gandhi (for the liberation of India from the British Empire and independence for nearly a billion people; also as a model for protestors in the US, South Africa, and Eastern Europe)
    10. Alexander Fleming (for the discovery of penicillin, the first effective anti-bacterial drug)


    What do you think? Who else was extremely influential in the 20th century? Who on my list is overrated? Generally I consider scientists and technologists to be far more influential than politicians in the long run, but I'm interested to hear some other views on this.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    Bill Gates
    Steve Jobs
    Martin Luther King
    Robert Goddard
    Mahatma Gandhi
    Winston Churchill
    The Wright Brothers
    Adolf Hitler
    Elvis Presley

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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    Gavrilo Princip. /thread

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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    Quote Originally Posted by Cardinal View Post
    Gavrilo Princip. /thread
    Meh, I doubt World War I or the subsequent events would have progressed much differently if Archduke Ferdinand hadn't been assassinated. Europe was a powder keg waiting to explode; that just happened to be the spark.
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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Meh, I doubt World War I or the subsequent events would have progressed much differently if Archduke Ferdinand hadn't been assassinated. Europe was a powder keg waiting to explode; that just happened to be the spark.
    You could certainly make that argument.

    You could also argue that the Cold War was a powder keg just waiting to explode and wasn't it always inevitable that one of us was going to launch icbms at the other? But that didn't happen, in spite of some pretty breathtaking odds. I think you've just got to go with how we know history unfolded.

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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    Like it or Not John Moses Browning has to be on that list

  7. #7
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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    I have trouble picking from these three.

    - Franklin Roosevelt
    - Albert Einstein
    - Henry Ford

    On one hand, the idea behind FDR's policies arguably still shape the role of government today, not to mention his importances in WWII. Henry Ford on the other hand can also claim an incredibly large amount of influence on modern industry. Albert Einstein's "E=mc^2" equation led to the nuclear bomb which led to the Cold War, another extremely influential event. Einstein would definitely lose to Ford if not for the fact that I'm far more inclined to believe that someone else would have taken Ford's place, rather than Einstein's, and that Einstein's discoveries were further ahead of his time.
    "In the long run, a hierarchical society [is] only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance." - George Orwell

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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    A list of the 10 most influential people of the 20th century...without Hitler? That has to be intentional.

    I doubt anyone could make a rational argument as to how this guy is not in the top 3, if not THE most influential individual of the past 100 years.

  9. #9
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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    Quote Originally Posted by evangambit View Post
    I have trouble picking from these three.

    - Franklin Roosevelt
    - Albert Einstein
    - Henry Ford

    On one hand, the idea behind FDR's policies arguably still shape the role of government today, not to mention his importances in WWII. Henry Ford on the other hand can also claim an incredibly large amount of influence on modern industry. Albert Einstein's "E=mc^2" equation led to the nuclear bomb which led to the Cold War, another extremely influential event. Einstein would definitely lose to Ford if not for the fact that I'm far more inclined to believe that someone else would have taken Ford's place, rather than Einstein's, and that Einstein's discoveries were further ahead of his time.
    I agree about Einstein being less replaceable. I'm sure someone would have eventually discovered the same theories, but it could have taken decades longer. I agree with your thoughts on Henry Ford too; he was extremely influential, but probably replaceable. I didn't include FDR on my list, because even though his domestic policies were significant, they only affected the United States. IMO, I think he shares the credit for WWII with too many other people to make the cut.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Most influential people of the 20th century

    Quote Originally Posted by Gipper View Post
    A list of the 10 most influential people of the 20th century...without Hitler? That has to be intentional.

    I doubt anyone could make a rational argument as to how this guy is not in the top 3, if not THE most influential individual of the past 100 years.
    Meh, Hitler might be in my top 20 but definitely not my top 10. I don't even think he was that influential of a political leader compared to some of the big names of the 20th century. He killed fewer people than either Stalin or Mao, he left almost no lasting political legacy on his country unlike Stalin or Mao, and his actions in WWII probably affected fewer people than Imperial Japan's did. If I was just doing a list of the most influential political leaders of the 20th century, I think I'd go with: 1) Deng Xiaoping, 2) Mao Tse-Tung, 3) Joseph Stalin, 4) Jawaharlal Nehru, 5) Mikhail Gorbachev, 6) Franklin Roosevelt, 7) Adolf Hitler, 8) Indira Gandhi, 9) Dwight Eisenhower, 10) Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

    Hitler is certainly far less influential than some scientists, technologists, and social leaders, in terms of the impact that they left on the world.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 08-14-12 at 05:21 PM.
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