I began writing this blog back in January 2008 as a riposte to TIME magazine’s person of the year. Every year since that time I have chosen a person who I thought did something that year that would still be remembered in 500 years. My definitional example is President John F. Kennedy versus Neil Armstrong. Kennedy, who launched the race to the Moon, will be forgotten but Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon, will be remembered.
In the current issue on page 116 of TIME magazine – The 100 most influential people – (April 30, 2018) they have selected Elon Musk. The article begins, “Suppose that in the year 3000, TIME publishes the 100 most influential people of the millennium. Who from our generation would make the list? Elon Musk has a shot. Because he is one of the few people who is not only thinking about the long-term survival of our civilization but also doing something about it: building the conditions for a viable colony on Mars.”
The number of years is arbitrary, but the idea of looking back from the distant future from the perspective of the influence of a person’s actions is the same as I have been doing in the first week of January since 2008.
The complete up-to-present list of – Probaway Person of the Year:
- 2017 – Albert Einstein for predicting black holes, their collisions creating gravity waves, and the laser for observing the gravity waves.
- 2016 – Xi Jinping for taking China from a backward economy to the most powerful one on Earth.
- 2015 – Peter Higgs and Alan Guth created theories that lead to proofs this year of mass and gravity sources.
- 2014 – Jennifer Doudna created a method for insertion of designed DNA precisely into existing DNA.
- 2013 – Plague Inc. is a computer game that explores the problems of creating a disease that will kill every last human being on Earth.
- 2012 – Zebrafish research-technique advances made it possible to observe drug interactions within living animals.
- 2011 – Craig Venter laid the groundwork for creating entirely new forms of life (greater than species) out of computer-generated DNA sequences.
- 2010 – Nadya Suleman (Octomom) and the society that created this travesty of good sense will be remembered into the distant future by many hungry people.
- 2009 – Jimmy Wales for Wikipedia, which will be still be used after our current computer operating systems are surpassed and forgotten.
- 2008 – Cesar Millan (the dog whisperer) because he shows people how to relate to dogs and people much better than anyone else. His videos and techniques will be remembered and used as long as there are people and dogs.
These may seem like strange choices but they are potentially long-term-memorable events which had a major tipping point the year before their selection.
Elon Musk is an excellent choice for TiME’s 100 most influential people and he gets 1/3 of a page. Xi Jinping (“Today he is the most powerful man on earth”) gets 1/3 of a page also. Okay, that sets a reasonable size to measure the relative influence for TIME to use. But what do they do? They give the rest of that page spread, 1-2/3 pages, to Sheich Hasina, the head of Bangladesh. I grant that she is very important but on a scale of relative power not one thousandth that of Xi.
It gets worse! I went through the entire list of TIME selections measuring the page coverage of each of the 100 individuals. The following get 1 1/2 pages: Tiffany Haddish, Parkland Survivors, Peggy Whitson, Prince Harry, Donald Trump, Sheikh Hasina, Shawn Mendes, Giuliano Testa.
The following people got 2 pages of coverage: Chloe Kim, a fantastic snowboarder; Kehinde Wiley, an artist; JR, a Parisian artist; Kevin Durant, basketball giant; Ronan Farrow, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, exposed Weinstein’s sexual power.
That’s 22 pages of people who have little power that will be remembered for a thousand years, versus Xi Jinping, 1/3 page, who is founding a Chinese dynasty that is surpassing the greatest dynasties. TIME is out of contact with reality and is warping the public’s reality.
It is unlikely that TIME ever will ever come to my view. Why should they?