As today seems to be the day of cool visualizations on this blog, so on this note I’d like to highlight a really cool way of analyzing the influence of various people (philosophers, coding languages, etc) on history.
One of the basic strategies is to feed the information in Wikipedia info-boxes into a computer program called gephi that creates graphs of influence. The more connections a particular node has the bigger it appears, and distinct groupings of objects have the same color. I won’t reproduce the images here because they are typically so big (>10MB) but they are quite fascinating so here is a list of links to the relevant posts.
Graphing the history of philosophy by Simon Raper. Note how the the algorithm successfully manages to recognize distinct schools just by analyzing the number of connections within them. The biggest nodes are those of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx and Schopenhauer which is broadly consistent with general informed opinion on the greatest voices in Western philosophy.
Following up on the The Graph of Ideas by Griff’s Graphs (who is also the author of all subsequent graphs linked to here). It goes beyond the above by also including authors (including sci-fi/fantasy) and comedians. We get an idea of the most influential authors – Hemingway, Kafka, Dostoevsky, Faulkner, Borges, Nabokov, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft; though the Big 7 philosophers both within philosophy and overall.
This was followed up by a Graph of Ideas 2.0 in which nodes were sized not by direct influence but by the total number of other nodes with which they were connected with (so, theoretically, an obscure ancient Greek philosopher with just one connection to Plato would also have access to Plato’s entire network). This results in a pretty meaningless graph in which the influence of ancient philosophers is over-weighed.
Graph of Mathematicians isn’t very useful because too many outright philosophers creep up and achieve prominent (Bertrand Russell? Avicenna?). There is no clearly dominant grouping.
The Graph of Programming Languages is more interesting; Haskell, Java, C dominate, followed by a dozen or so of the likes of Algol-68, C++, Fortran, Perl, Python, Lua, Ruby, Smalltalk, Pascal, and Lisp. I do not have the background to assess if this is an accurate representation of reality, though I’ve never heard of Haskell, and would have guessed Fortran and Lisp would be higher.
There is clearly a lot of scope to continue building on these graphs, especially involving ideas (philosophers, politicians, economists, sociologists, authors, etc) though finding or building the requisite databases is a time-consuming endeavour. Interesting patterns will also emerge. For instance, now that I think of it, the most influential person in history is Jesus Christ, and Karl Marx is surely in the top ten. Amazing really how deep Jewish over-achievement goes even on the biggest historical scale.
Another interesting project would be to build a graph of influence in the blogosphere perhaps based on some combination of blogroll connections and visitor numbers. This will of course be a very computationally demanding project given that there are something like 100 million blogs in existence today.
The reason that some go on about Jewish financial dominance is that because in some sense it actually exists (although unlike the anti-Semites/ZOG’ers I see no evidence that it is achieved with under-handed, coordinated, or conscious methods on the part of Jews as a group). The blogger race/history/evolution notes recently compiled two tables analyzing the ethnicity of the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. The first two columns describe their share of the Forbes 400 list in 1987 and 2010, while the third calculates their total wealth as a share of everyone on that list.
Immediately striking of course is the presence of American Jews, who constitute more than a third of The 0.0001% by both wealth and number. We know of course that there is a correlation between intelligence and income though it’s not overly strong (about 0.3). An IQ of 120 or at most 130 is typically assumed to be the cutoff point at which additional gains in intelligence cease to have much of an effect on earning power.
Via The Audacious Epigone: IQ scores by US ethnic groups. It is not very useful I think in theoretical or practical applications but it is interesting as a showcase of why IQ is more than just genetic inheritance, incorporating also Flynn, sampling issues, sense of popular identity, selection bias, etc.
Wordsum is basically a vocab test of 10 words (example). While one might not expect such a quick and simple test to accurately reflect IQ it actually does – the correlation between Wordsum scores and IQ is about 0.71. Respondents got to choose the one or two ethnic groups to which they belong. (See table below)
By and large, the results are as we would expect:
(1) Many of the Russians (about 50%) are, of course, Ashkenazi Jews. Explained.
(2) At first puzzling is the fact that Germans score considerably below the Irish, Mediterraneans (Italians, Greeks, French) and Slavics (Poles, Czechs). This is an inversion of European PISA results in which native Germans got 105 compared to France’s 101, Poland’s 100, Italy’s 98, Greece’s 96, etc. There are two reasons for this I think:
While writing this post on Da Russophile about why Russians do not (for the most part) hate Jews – a post that will also be of interest to AKarlin readers – I came across very interesting historical data on literacy and educational accomplishment by ethnic groups in the USSR.
Per 100 people of respective nationality
50 and older
This table shows the literacy rate among different groups from the 1926 First All-Union Census. Coming less than a decade after the Revolution this table is of course a reflection of the Tsarist education system, not of the Soviet one. Apart from puncturing one Communist myth, that the Tsarist regime didn’t do anything for people’s literacy and that it was all a Soviet achievement, it also demonstrates that Jews had the highest literacy rate of all the peoples in the Empire.
The Economist lies about Russia, it has beef with France, and in general it is far more useful as a barometer of Anglo-Saxon elite opinion than as a good source of objective information on the real world. Nonetheless, it does have the occasional gold nugget, and even one gold vein – its Daily Charts blog.
After all, one can rarely argue with cold, raw statistics, and opinion polls.
Above is a chart from early April about the importance Europeans attach to being rich. It’s funny the extent to which it confirms almost every relevant stereotype in the book (in general, the act of stereotyping is very much maligned, but that’s for another post). Russians and Ukrainian gold-diggers, oligarchs, mafia. Israel – Jews LOL. Greeks have a reputation for being a very mercantile people. Czechs are individualists, so it makes sense that they’re high up there too.
At the other end of the scale, you have the Scandinavian countries that operate under the self-effacing principles of Jante Law, and the French with their rich anti-capitalist intellectual traditions and love for existentialist philosophy. In the middle we have quintessentially bourgeois nations such as the UK, and Germany – they love themselves some money, but Protestantism has long encouraged them to be low-key about it.
During one conversation at Sean’s Russia Blog, the commentator Evgeny referred me to a work by Russian political analyst & nationalist KonstantinKrylov, Поведение (“Behavior”). In it he tries to classify the world’s civilizations into four ethical systems (South – tribal, East – collectivist, West – individualist, North – kind of like communism?, and not yet reached anywhere). He makes some good observations, though they are certainly not new to sociology and he simplifies too much. However, I found his last chapter, Civilization and its Enemies, to be a really incisive characterization of two major social groupings “outside” conventional civilization – international diasporas and barbarians. [Go here for Google translation].
Krylov characterizes the diaspora mentality thus:
Мне нет дела до других, как и им – до меня. Как другие ведут себя по отношению ко мне, пусть так себя и ведут. Как я веду себя по отношению к другим, так я и дальше буду себя вести. Все действуют так, как считают нужным, и я тоже действую, как считаю нужным.
[I don't have any cares for others, just as they have no cares for me. Let others continue to behave towards me just like as already do; as for me, I will continue behaving towards them just as I always have. Everyone acts as they consider necessary, and I too act, as I consider necessary.]