Who is history's most well-known individual?

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I reread the question posted by Caesar (not Reodor. My apologies to both parties.) and it occurred to me that J.C. may have been asking us to consider the opinions of people past and present. But if I'm right, it's an unfair question because the fame of a person can not be rated among people who died before he/she was born. Even if you chose to compare the fame of people within their respective eras, those in the 20th Century have an advantage because of mass media. Not only do people in the 20th Century know who Hitler was. They know what he looked like. That can't be said of all celebrities before the 20th Century, even in their lifetimes.

Cap, do you know how the Smollett story played out?
Last I heard he had all charges dropped by the Prosecutor's Dept. (He had 16 Grand Jury charges.)

The Chicago police have called for an investigation of the Prosecutor's Dept., and for it's head, Kim Foxx to step down.

They also wanted Smollett to pay the city for the police investigation of his hoax which was several hundred thousand dollars, but which his lawyers say he will not pay.

As yet no word on the related case of Smollett allegedly mailing himself a threatening letter containing powder - this could be a much more serious federal charge involving mail fraud and terrorism.

Smollett maintains he's told the truth from the beginning... which is extremely difficult to take seriously on any level since he's made differing claims that keep changing (first he claimed his attackers were white Trump supporters, now he claims his attackers were his two close friends & co-workers who are black body-builders from Nigeria, one of whom was Smollett's personal trainer and whom he knows very well).
There are now so many conflicting stories coming from him and the two men who claim he paid them to participate in the hoax.



I reread the question posted by Caesar (not Reodor. My apologies to both parties.) and it occurred to me that J.C. may have been asking us to consider the opinions of people past and present.
Indeed, it appears people have interpreted the question as to which individual is known by the highest amount of people living today, rather than the actual question asking which individual has been known by the highest amount of people throughout history.

I see your points regarding unfairness, but it isn't really relevant here as the question is addressing a specific number. I intentionally worded it to "well-known" rather than, say, "infuential" or "significant" for this reason.

Come to think of it, the better way to word the question would have been: Who is history's most-known individual?



...Come to think of it, the better way to word the question would have been: Who is history's most-known individual?
Hitler. Unless you mean most-known by the percentage of people who knew of them during their life times.



For today's generation the most famous name is Lady Gaga. Gawd that's a stupid name
Did you know she got it from Queenís song Radio Gaga? Not so stupid really.
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You ready? You look ready
Adam & Eve.

They weren't religious figures. Just nudists.
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Most-known, as in known by more people than anyone else in history. Hitler is a brave guess when you consider the amount of people that has lived before him.
Say with Julius Caesar, right now if you stopped a person in the street of any major city and asked them who Julius Caesar was, a lot of people wouldn't know. But almost everyone knows about Hitler, and have known about him since the late 1930s. Seeing how the worlds population is at an all time high, and information is readily spread by media and the internet, I say Hitler would be the most known.

For most of history the emperors of Rome were not known except during their own time and within the Roman empire. Once Rome fell western society entered into the dark ages and all of that history was forgotten by the common person. Not to mention that during Julius Caesar's lifetime there were less people on the planet and people in other parts of the world wouldn't have known who he was. Their leaders would know, but say the average person in China would have not known. So I'm going with Hitler as most known.



Before you go "well, that's easy", the question disregards religious figures. The all-too-evident answer would be Jesus, then Muhammad, then Buddha etc.

I was asked this by my wife yesterday, to be exact: If you took every human that has ever lived throughout history and the people they have known of, which single person would most people have known of, not counting religious figures?

I'm an Ancient Rome type of guy, so I'll always endorse the likes of Augustus, Caesar and Cleopatra. But what do you folks reckon? Would you say it's more likely it's someone from Ancient Greece, such as Alexander, Aristotle, Plato or Socrates? Could it be someone more recent like Columbus, Da Vinci, Galilei, Lincoln, Mozart, Napoleon, Newton, Shakespeare, Washington? Or even Einstein, Elvis, Hitler?
I would guess in the world today the most famous person alive is Lionel Messi.

As most Americans do not watch soccer they are unaware that many of the people that are well known worldwide are soccer players. Messi, for instance, is certainly much more famous worldwide than American historical figures such as Reagan, Roosevelt, MLK etc, who are universal known in the US and to a lesser extent in other English speaking countries.

Most famous person who ever existed? I would guess Jesus, assuming that he is a historical figure (which is not quite proven).

Most famous person in the 20th century? Hitler, without question. The fact is that Hitler is more famous in the US than most American historical figures speaks a lot about his fame. Although I am not sure a lot of people in India and China know who Hitler is (and today most people in China and India know Messi).

Pele might be a runner up. My dad was living in East Germany in the 1980's and he meet several people from Africa there and everybody knew who Pele was and everybody asked him, as he was Brazilian, if he saw Pele play personally (he did).



Most-known, as in known by more people than anyone else in history. Hitler is a brave guess when you consider the amount of people that has lived before him.
If you ask a Chinese on the street if they heard about Hitler they will probably know. Most Chinese do not know anything about Caesar or Alexander the Great. I think Hitler is more famous than any ancient or medieval historical figure (besides religious figures like Jesus or Mohammed).

Most Americans heard of Caesar but Americans are only ca. 4.3% of the world's population (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...United_Nations)), most of the other 95.7% might not be well acquainted with ancient Western history, especially in non-western countries like India, Indonesia, and China, where the majority of the world's population lives.

This logic applies particularly to American historical figures like Churchill, Roosevelt, JFK, Reagan, and MLK. Most people in the world today (as 94% of the world's population live outside English speaking countries) have no idea who these people were. In Brazil, I think the most famous American would be Michael Jackson.

About the most well-known people throughout history then the question becomes even harder.

Maybe the first Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang might be the most famous person who ever existed because China was 25% to 35% of the world's population over the last 2,500 years and Qin Shi Huang has been universally known in China for about 2,250 years. It is true that most Americans have not heard of this person but similarly most Chinese have not heard of Caesar.



The shockingly many of you that think Hitler is the most well-known person in all of human history:

The widely accepted estimate for people who have lived since the days of Christ, year zero, 2000 years ago, is roughly 50 billion people. Since Hitler became well-known to masses around year 1930, under 10 billion people have lived. In other words, since year zero, over 40 billion people never had a chance to know who Hitler was, because they didn't exist yet.

This means that with your Aristotles and Caesars who existed before Christ, there is a pool of 50 billion people. With Hitler, there is a pool of 10 billion people. Now I can agree that of those 10 billion people, there is a very good chance Hitler is the most well-known of all. But consider that of the remaining 40 billion people, billions of people will have known who your Aristotles and Caesars were --- and none of them will have known of Hitler.
I heard estimates that about 110 billion people had lived over the past 5000 years of history.

Among these, roughly 15 billion lived over the last 100 years, so about 95 billion people never had the chance to hear about Hitler. Thing is that before the last 100 years literacy was very low so most people did not have access to information to hear about important historical figures: if you went to medieval Europe most people who knew how to read knew about Aristotle or Caesar but 95% of the people were illiterate (for example, in England: https://www1.umassd.edu/ir/resources...n/literacy.pdf, universal literacy was only achieved in the 19th century, even in 1800 about 50% of the population was still illiterate).

My guess would still be Qin Shi Huang, because he lived around 250-200 BC and became emperor of China and unlike the Roman Empire, after Qin, China was always a single "country" so most people had this conception of being part of the same people and he was the founder of a unified China around 220 BC. Of the 95 billion people who lived before Hitler, about 25 billion probably heard of Qin.



Say with Julius Caesar, right now if you stopped a person in the street of any major city and asked them who Julius Caesar was, a lot of people wouldn't know.
While I agree with your other reflections, I'm inclined to disagree with this statement. Considering he's a recurring theme in early school history teaching, I would think the vast majority of people today knows who Julius Caesar was. Compared to Hitler, they may not know as much about the man, but if you stopped a person in the street of a major city and asked them who Caesar was, you'd have to imagine most would know. I'm aware my name is literally Julius Caesar, but look past that and think of why the man has a month, titles, casinos, cafťs and restaurants named after him.



I would guess in the world today the most famous person alive is Lionel Messi.

As most Americans do not watch soccer they are unaware that many of the people that are well known worldwide are soccer players. Messi, for instance, is certainly much more famous worldwide than American historical figures such as Reagan, Roosevelt, MLK etc, who are universal known in the US and to a lesser extent in other English speaking countries.
If you're asking what individual is known by most people living today, a soccer player is not a bad guess. Cristiano Ronaldo is likely the better bet though as he's known by a large share of the general public here in the US, and not only by your average sports enthusiast. I assume Ronaldo's the bigger athlete everywhere else too, so he's a likely candidate when asking who's the most well-known individual in today's world.



Maybe the first Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang might be the most famous person who ever existed because China was 25% to 35% of the world's population over the last 2,500 years and Qin Shi Huang has been universally known in China for about 2,250 years. It is true that most Americans have not heard of this person but similarly most Chinese have not heard of Caesar.
Even if he came over 1000 years after Huang, I would have to think Genghis Khan has been known by more people throughout history. The amount of people that know of Khan in the Western Hemisphere very likely outnumbers the amount of people that have known of Huang in Ancient China by a fair margin. But I agree, there's a good chance the most-known individual to have ever lived is of Asian origin.



But you're not asking everyone who ever lived who is most well known. You're asking people living today who is most well known, at least I think you were.
For example, last Christmas I was telling someone that Bing Crosby was once as famous as Madonna, with top-selling records, movies and his own radio show (the equivalent of TV then), but now many people know him for his Christmas music.
Fame can shift from generation to generation and vary from culture to culture.
Exactly, I had no idea he was a silent film star until recently. But everyone today knows him for that one Christmas hit song.



Exactly, I had no idea he was a silent film star until recently. But everyone today knows him for that one Christmas hit song.
Not me. I know Bing's volume of music and film work way more than I know Madonna's.



Before you go "well, that's easy", the question disregards religious figures. The all-too-evident answer would be Jesus, then Muhammad, then Buddha etc.

I was asked this by my wife yesterday, to be exact: If you took every human that has ever lived throughout history and the people they have known of, which single person would most people have known of, not counting religious figures?

I'm an Ancient Rome type of guy, so I'll always endorse the likes of Augustus, Caesar and Cleopatra. But what do you folks reckon? Would you say it's more likely it's someone from Ancient Greece, such as Alexander, Aristotle, Plato or Socrates? Could it be someone more recent like Columbus, Da Vinci, Galilei, Lincoln, Mozart, Napoleon, Newton, Shakespeare, Washington? Or even Einstein, Elvis, Hitler?
I suppose it depends on each persons interests. Like you say, you are a Roman history person so you would naturally lean towards prominent people from that part of history.
Hitler came to my mind first, like a few others who posted on this thread.



Not me. I know Bing's volume of music and film work way more than I know Madonna's.
Nice, I know a little bit about Bings music and films, which is still more than I know about Madonna.



Julius Ceasar
Genghis Khan
King Henry VIII
Joan of Arc
Mother Theresa
Gandhi
King Richard The Lionheart
William Wallace
Augustus
Tiberius
Catherine de' Medici
King Charles I
Emperor Justinian I
Adolf Hitler
John F Kennedy
Thomas Jefferson
George Washington
Paul Revere
Abraham Lincoln
Harry S Truman
General Douglas McArthur
Joseph Stalin
Winston Churchill
Margaret Thatcher
George S Patton
Albert Einstein
Stephen Hawking
Charles Darwin.
Richard Dawkins
Carl Sagan
Queen Elizabeth 1
Queen Mary of Scots
King James I
Socrates
Marcus Aurelius.

Just to name a few..........