Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Re-ranking the Pantheon

At the suggestion of Cesar Hidalgo, the leader of the Pantheon project, we repeated our previous analysis restricted to the top 1000 people in the Pantheon rankings.   This better captures the people their rankings think are important, so differences in our relative rankings become more meaningful.

First we look at the people from this pool who our methods rank higher than Pantheon.  By definition, all of these people will be highly regarded by both of our rankings.  It is clear that we favor American and British leaders higher than they do, because we analyze only the English Wikipedia :


860      907     47      Woodrow Wilson                    U.S. President 
841      996     155     Edward I of England              British King
776      961     185     Leonhard Euler                       Mathematician
674      697     23      Theodore Roosevelt                 U.S. President
634      799     165     John Milton                             British Poet/Philosopher
600      985     385     Alexander II of Russia            Russian Czar
583      789     206     Edward VI of England           British King
556      666     110     Dwight D. Eisenhower           U.S. President
553      970     417     John Dewey                            American Educator
550      954     404     Alexander I of Russia             Russian Czar
542      636     94      Harry S. Truman                      U.S. President                    
539      654     115     Bill Clinton                              U.S. President
538      889     351     Francis I of France                  French King
536      936     400     Soren Kierkegaard                  Danish Philosopher  
530      563     33      Charles Dickens                       British Writer
524      594     70      William the Conqueror             British King
509      815     306     Jacques Cartier                         French explorer of America
505      742     237     Henry IV of France                 French King
503      677     174     Geoffrey Chaucer                    British Writer
498      616     118     Lewis Carroll                           British Writer
495      762     267     Alfred the Great                       British King
486      962     476     Eleanor of Aquitaine                French/British Queen Consort
446      809     363     George H. W. Bush                  U.S. President
442      983     541     Archduke Franz Ferdinand      Proximate cause of WWI
441      900     459     John Wayne                             U.S. actor and "Duke"
439      545     106     Alexander Graham Bell           Inventor of the telephone


Still, these are figures who are generally quite familiar to me: I've heard of all of them, although I would not be confident in my ability to tell one Alexander from the other.  By contrast, there are several figures among the ones they rank much higher than we do who I could not place, or place as celebrities more than historical figures:

-7960    673     8633    Justin Bieber                             Teenaged popular singer
-8008    943     8951    Haruki Murakami                     Japanese novelist
-8460    850     9310    Carus                                          Short-ruling Roman Emperor
-8463    765     9228    Antisthenes                               Greek Philosopher
-8601    880     9481    Jenna Jameson                          American porn star
-8630    734     9364    Anacreon                                   Greek Poet
-8746    363     9109    Anaximenes of Miletus          Greek Philosopher
-8836    352     9188    James   son of Alphaeus         One of Jesus' twelve apolstles
-8932    919     9851    Polykleitos                                Greek sculptor
-9008    934     9942    Lysippos                                    Greek sculptor
-9674    851     10525   Carinus                                     Roman Emperor with Carus (above)
-9866    671     10537   Hor-Aha                                    Egyptian Pharaoh
-10628   920     11548   Kaka                                         Brazilian soccer player
-10696   775     11471   Orhan Pamuk                          Turkish novelist
-11153   839     11992   Abu Nuwas                              Classical Arabic poet
-11722   906     12628   Trebonianus Gallus               Short-ruling Roman Emperor
-11771   560     12331   Praxiteles                                 Greek sculptor
-11834   368     12202   Vitellius                                   Very short-ruling Roman Emperor
-13291   607     13898   Gaius Maecenas                      Roman political advisor
-14507   701     15208   Milan Kundera                        Contemporary Czech novelist
-14571   843     15414   Emir Kusturica                        Bosnian filmmaker
-16783   610     17393   Paulo Coelho                          Brazilian novelist
-19060   820     19880   Monica Bellucci                     Italian actress and model
-21652   737     22389   Francois Villon                       French poet of the Middle Ages
-22604   974     23578   Pedro Almodovar                   Spanish Film director
-22754   935     23689   Quintillus                                Short-lived Roman Emperor
-26427   963     27390   Jean Reno                                French actor

This roster makes clear the differences in our models for aging historical reputations.   About half of these historically-overvalued people are relatively minor figures from ancient times: short-lived Emperors and second-tier philosophers/poets/artists.  Many of the rest are contemporary celebrities who don't really belong in anyone's top thousand historical figures, like porn star Jenna Jameson.

There are also a few international artists of real stature (including Orhan Pamuk, Milan Kundera, and Pedro Almodvar) who might be undervalued by the English Wikipedia relative to international editions.  Still, I think our rankings place them in the right order of magnitude.