Time's 100 Most Influential People

For the last few years, Time magazine has compiled a list of the 100 people who “shape our world.” In the past, they’ve made some pretty questionable choices.

Economists have not figured very prominently on the previous lists; there has been roughly one economist in the top 100 per year, including people like Jeff Sachs and Larry Summers.

This year, things might change.

Although the official list has not been announced, anyone who wants can cast votes for the 203 finalists at Time.com. Remarkably, there are loads of economists among those in the running. As I write this, my friend Roland Fryer is ranked 38th. Ben Bernanke is at 133, Tim Geithner is at 152 (does he count as an economist?), Nouriel Roubini is at 161, Paul Krugman is at 168, Nate Silver is at 181 (not an economist, but close enough), and Richard Thaler is at 184.

One lesson from the Time.com voting is that you will get absurd results if you let internet votes decide anything. The top two vote getters right now are Moot and Rain — whoever or whatever they are.

And completely predictably, Ron Paul is the third-ranked vote getter.


i have no idea who Moot is, but Rain is a Korean pop-star. it would be extremely weird if a Korean Pop star made it to the person of the year because the web-voting decided this to be the case.


Online voters would vote for anything ... given the opportunity. I'm surprised Darth Vader or Yoda hasn't made the list.


Rain is Stephen Colbert's Korean nemesis.


Absurd results is right, and it seems that the ranking system is only going to prop up the oddball first three choices. Simply, Rain, currently at number 2 is much more likely to be ranked than someone much lower on the list who is more deserving (say Paul Krugman). And if you look at the average rankings, it is obvious that many people ranking the first few names are doing so because they feel those choices shouldn't be listed first (their average is much much higher).

The catch seems to be that many, many rankings and, say 99, trumps just a few rankings at, say, 2.

They should have asked the guys at Freakonomics to design the method.

Hall Monitor

Based on the current list, I would say whoever the individual is that invented internet voting deserves a nod on this one.

Hall Monitor


I hope you are not calling Ron Paul's high ranking absurd. Remember he has predicted all of this economic chaos even saying in 2003 on the house floor that Fannie and Freddie would be insolvent disasters. I think in a year or so from now you will wish he was running things.


Sigh. The fact that i know this is sad, but moot is the founder of 4Chan, that weird online message board that is the source of both the Anonymous thing and every annoying Internet meme ever.


moot - founder of 4chan.com.

I expect the masses of anonymous have shown to show their support.


Oops, make that 4chan.org. How embarrassing.


moot is the founder of the website 4chan.

Wall Street Journal did a writeup on him last year: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121564928060441097.html


Time's mistake was in thinking online demographics = normal demographics, and went the cheapest route to collecting votes. You must surely be impressed with the cohesiveness of 4chan, though. Like the Earth 4 billion years ago, life springs out of pure chaos: in this source, the source of many memes.

4chan - A possible swing vote?!


I think the rating scale is not transparent. For example Ben Bernanke's average rank is 5. People are interpreting the top 100 scale to mean 1 is the highest and 100 is the lowest. I think the rankings are looking for influence. With 100 being the highest.

I think the voters are confused. Or I am...


That list is hilarious. T-Pain is #4. How cool is that?

Seth MacFarlane at #12 is perfect though. That guy is awesome.


^Yeah, 4chan.com is kind of like somethingawful.com, which has been the pusher of many internet phenomenon over the past number of years.

Eric M. Jones

Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods invented Top Ramen, the food that feeds half the world. Surely he deserves a place on the list.


Another year where I get passed over, Time are losing more and more credibility every day.


Their slider system paradigm needs an explanation! I started by sliding toward 1 to say the person has less influence (like 1%) and toward 100 for more influence.... Also, in left-to-right reading countries, the left side is less, the right is more. Now I think it's ranking that the slider indicates, not "influence" as the text indicates.... So I just gave up, not understanding the paradigm.


First off this list does not provide whether it is positive influence or negative, should we foster negative influence, I am happy that this presidental election fostered record voting, but it did foster research, people were mainly voting on one factor. in which case, Obama, Clinton & Palin should be considered highly influencial, but not positively due to using a primary aspect of pandering for the 'minority' vote. All pop-culture icons also follow this pattern of negatively influencing our youth to be mindless sheep following whatever corperate America and Hollywood tells them. We need people that force our society to think, use the resources available to us to make a logical and clear decisions, not to be easily swayed by commericals. If we want to put somebody who is truely subversively influencial lets give the awards to this who have increased the coffers of corperation through perfect advertising that has everybody running to purchase such a product.


Mr. Econotarian

Ron Paul is the only person to be honest about the silly bailouts (CNN American Morning 3/20/2009):

"These bonuses are outrageous. 165 million dollars is a lot of money, but so is 700 billion dollars of unconstitutional appropriation, that's where the problem came from. So yes, people are concentrating on these bonuses right now, but they're missing the point. The point is that we shouldn't be in the business of bailing out all these companies, and we don't even know where the rest of the money went. We just discovered, probably inadvertently, that there were some bonuses. Now everybody is outraged, which they should be. So what do they do? They pass 700 billion dollars' worth of unconstitutional appropriations. Then they come in and they discover this. The public gets notice of it, so the Congress has to act and feel outraged, so they pass a bill which is an ex post facto bill, as well a bill of a tenor, which is unconstitutional. They're using the tax code to punish people.

So they do one thing wrong, they create a problem with an unintended consequence, then they go back and solve the problem by more of the same. That's essentially what we are doing with our economy."



@MCU, 4chan actually started on the SA forums before growing to become rather larger than its 'birthplace'; now they are very separate entities, with the memes beloved of 4chan banned from SA, on pain of probation or a ban.

And with an SA membership costing $10 a pop, getting banned means rather more than it does on other forums, meaning that moderators are heeded, and most posters stick to the rules (with the occasional hilarious - or otherwise - exception, of course).

The Time poll reminds me of when Greenpeace opened up the naming of a whale it was tracking to the internet. The result, following a concerted effort by certain websites: Mr Splashy Pants.

To its credit, Greenpeace has embraced the rather absurd name, and have produced a range of Mr Splashy Pants merchandise. A case of pwning the attempted pwners, perhaps?

I can't believe I know all this. I have a job and don't live in a basement and don't have spots, I swear. Although I do think that "White and Nerdy" by Weird Al Yankovich is hilarious. Eek.