A group of researchers at the Laboratoire de Physique Th´eorique du CNRS, at the University of Toulouse has analyzed all Wikipedia pages and determined that, at least on the English language version of the site, Frank Sinatra is the world's most important person.
Never mind Jesus, Buddha, or Peter Gabriel, Wikipedia thinks that the world’s most influential person was a crooner with links to the Mafia.
Second place goes to alleged kiddie fiddler Michael Jackson, and third to Pope Pius XII which will probably come as a wtf moment to most people. Pope Pius XII is famous for selling Jews to the Nazis, baptising Jewish orphans as Catholics and preventing their families claiming them.
When factoring in all 24 language editions of the online encyclopaedia, the team found that Adolf Hitler ranked the most important person, while Michael Jackson was again second and Madonna third. Still pretty pathetic but it at least includes someone who totally shagged Europe for a decade…. and then there is Hitler.
The researchers said that the most important historical figures across Wikipedia language editions are born in western countries after the 17th century, and are male.
The researchers combined two algorithms to reach these conclusions. First, Google's PageRank algorithm, which determines a page's importance based on how many other pages link to it. In using PageRank on Wikipedia, the most important person in the world was 18th-century Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, likely because the pages of organism after organism link back to the "father of taxonomy."
The researchers added an algorithm called CheiRank, which determines importance based on the number of outgoing links, the thought being that an important person would himself be connected to other important people, things, and events. Using the two together—an approach they dubbed 2DRank—no one beat out Frank Sinatra on English pages or Adolf Hitler across all language versions.
It could have been worse, they could have said that Steve Jobs was the most important figure in the 21st century and that Justin Bieber was the most influential singer.