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as determined by experts in the various fields in which these great people worked
on November 16, 2014
You can think of Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment as the winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, as determined by experts in the various fields in which these great people worked. Some of the winners will be surprising, others not terribly surprising at all. In the combined sciences, the man who experts think had the most important contribution was ... [drum roll] Isaac Newton. In Western philosophy, Aristotle beat Plato by almost 10 percentage points. The giants of Western music are Beethoven and Mozart, who basically tied for first place. And in Western art, the most significant figure is Michelangelo. You can buy the book for the other results.
I'll tell you a little about the author Charles Murray's method to determine who the most significant figures are in the arts and sciences. He did a statistical analysis across English-printed and foreign-printed textbooks in the arts and sciences, calculated who the most frequently cited were, and the amount of pages were devoted to those figures. And these were the figures that emerged. It's a pretty cool concept, and it made for a pretty fun read. I think it's definitely an important book.