Who are the individuals you admire the most?

Yesterday a few of you asked me to run this poll.  Please leave your answers in the comments, I will report back.  I thank you all in advance for the wisdom of your responses.  And please restrict your answers to living people, or say anyone who has passed away in the last five years, so this should be about contemporaries, not Joan of Arc or Einstein.

Comments

From an economics PhD student's perspective: Barry Eichengreen and Thomas Piketty.

And if not restricted to living beings you'd add Karl Marx and Stalin.

And for you, Bill O'Reilly

Great one.

He may be a blowhard but not an evil thieving socialist.

GOOD POINT, BUT YOU FORGOT TO LEAVE ON CAPS LOCK!!!!!

No love for Lenin? Mao? And if you really want to go all out, you probably should mention Hitler.

Don't misunderstand, I really can't stand Thomas Piketty. There are many reasons why I find him obnoxious. Probably the most significant one is that, like so many middle-class 45 year olds, I hope to be rich when I grow up.

Were you born rich? Is either parent rich? And R U and that parent on good terms? If so, you've got a good chance of making it.

If not, your chance of being rich by 45 is only marginally better than buying a winning lottery ticket.

The man who spends his Sunday nights manually fixing "comprised of" on Wikipedia.

He has made over 40,000 edits.

Admirable or stupid? Why can't he write a script?

What makes you so sure he hasn't?

"manually"

He's written a script to find uses of the term, but he manually edits because there are situations in which the change is not appropriate.

He's a programmer if I recall correctly. And he has automated a lot of it. But he still must read every instance for context.

But he's wrong!

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/05/why-wikipedias-grammar-vigilante-is-wrong

Irregardless, he's a perfect example of why to avoid falling within the Schwarzchild radius of editing Wikipedia. You'll never get out!

Nice use of "irregardless" to signal that you were joking about him being wrong!

@Mark Thorson - differentiate between regardless & irre3gardless.

Irregardless, I see what you did.

More detail on his invented shibboleth:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=17636

This discussion of greats is comprised of many individuals, one of whom shouldn't be this fellow.

I'll go with Peter Thiel, with the caveat that I haven't vetted him enough to be fully confident in that answer.

Francis Collins, Pope Francis, Dolly Parton

Elon Musk

Seconded

Me too. I was surprised not to see him on the original list.

Thirded

I knew that Elon Musk would make this list. I could've nominated him myself. There is no one with a better claim to inherit Steve Jobs' ultimate cool-factor in Silivalley. He also seems to have a sense of self-awareness and humore (see the pando interview by Sara Lacy). If one includes Peter Thiel, than Musk would out-rank him in accomplishment and denting the universe.

The same Elon Musk who milks the government to invest in his private projects. Are you sure that a person who gets states to bid on a battery project, in effect investing in his business, is what you have in mind?

This makes me hesitate on him. But, he's a bit like Kaiser - if you have to give government money to someone, at least he gets results.

Yup - my favorite billionaire (and I'm not being ironic).

My favorite entrepreneur, Elon Musk, is even an African American.

Somehow I don't think he'll ever be getting a dedication in Black History Month.

If you're going to be a pedant, at least be correct. Elon Musk is South African. African-American is an term specifically for descendants of slaves who cannot trace their heritage to a specific country.

+1

Wow, I didn't know Elon Musk had such a fan following. I think we have a second Apple in the making.

Anyone wanna bet that his Hyperloop LA-SF mass transit thingy will never materialize? But I guess he'll stay cool nevertheless.

Bill Waterson for turning down 100s of millions of dollars to keep Calvin and Hobbes a cartoon strip and nothing else.

Bill Waterson for doing the best cartoon strip ever.

+1

Chris Kyle. No explanation necessary.

He's dead.

Less than 5 years ago.

Annoying little scolds should at least be right.

Walter Block & Linux Torvalds

Elon Musk, Thomas Piketty and Tim Cook

Paul Steinhardt, for calling bullshit on a large portion of the theoretical physics community, and still being part of it.

I'd add the theoretical physics community to the list then.
If here were part of the climate science group, he'd be blackballed.

Nate Silver - say what you will about the current incarnation of 538, he's the most successful face of the analytics era.

Bill James was arguably more influential, though Nate Silver deals with weightier topics.

Jean Tirole and Aviv Nevo. Robert Town and Carl Shapiro.

Robert Ingersoll.

Edward Snowden
Chelsea Manning
Tyler Cowen
Kathy Kelly
Enric Duran

Peter Thiel and Elon Musk

1) Charlie Munger
2) Charlie Munger
3) Charlie Munger

Agreed. Charlie Munger is one of the most brilliant investors I've ever come across. His decision-making framework is amazingly powerful and I've used it several times in my life to make decisions that I never would have been able to correctly arrive at if I'd never listened to/read the various speeches he's given.

Seconded.

Nassim Taleb

So "Rabbit" is your handle here Nassim?

Snowdon, Musk, Dr. Donald Coffey (Johns Hopkins),

My father. I still don't quite know how he juggled the demands of his large family, feeding us all the while being good to others and enjoying life to the full.

Mark Steyn. He took on the bien pensant meddling twits that make up the Canadian establishment, poked them in the eye and humiliated them. The country is far better for it. For a short while human Rights lawyer and professor of journalism had the same experience as devout Catholics did a few years ago; if you were capable of shame you felt it.

My former employer. I worked for him for almost two decades until he retired, wise, not pretentious except when popping pretention in others. We laughed every day, I learned the art of managing people, managing customers and getting paid for something where trust is one major component of the transaction.

There are others, but of little interest outside of those who know them. Few public figures garner my respect.

Nelson

Apologies I did not read first that the person in question must be living. Then I must change my answer to Lord Jellicoe

He died in 2008, so this might be stretching the rules, but Solzhenitsyn.

bernie sanders.

Ahead of Piketty? Must be hard for you commits to decide.

Talk about a tremendous running back.

I admire a great many individuals overall. Among the recently and lamentably deceased: Gary Becker, Ronald Coase, Gordon Tullock, and Armen Alchian.

Some living economists include George Akerlof, Steve Levitt, Thomas Schelling, David Friedman, and some other bloggers...

Living non-economists I admire are, in no particular order, John Randolph Lucas, David Byrne, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Bryan May, Haruki Murakami, Orhan Pamuk, Roger Taylor, Don Rosa, and Michael Huemer.

Lee kuan yew of Singapore. The most successful economist in recent times.

The sad truth is that I've given this so little thought that I'm sure if I had a few days to think about it I'd make numerous changes. Most of the people I admire are dead (as are two on this list, but within the five year limit).

Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, Larry David, George P. Mitchell, James Watson

I like people who take big risks in technical non-software startups. And win.

Elon Musk (obvious)
Saul Griffith, inventor/entrepreneur. Currently CEO of OtherLab.
Jeremy Conrad, founder of Lemnos Labs

Mariano Rivera-The man lives a good life and is simply the best at what he does.
Waterson-integrity
pope

, pope

I actually think "Integrity Pope" is a great title for Waterson!

Glenn Greenwald.

Sebastian Thrun.

Edward Snowden and Jared Taylor

Noam Chomsky

For being a socialist or an accidentally ironic incomprehensible linguist?

Both

Stanislav Petrov.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov

PS - add the man with the shopping bags who blocked the tanks on Tiananmen Square...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank_Man

I'm glad you included the wikipedia link, I'd have thought you meant the former Celtic and Aston Villa player otherwise.

When did he stop a tank?

Krugman. Obama. Bill gates.

I agree with all those choices. I would add Warren Buffett

Yeah, Buffett. Success, integrity, values (valued money for the good it could do and then gave most of it away) Tough to beat.

Elon Musk is admirable for his drive and intelligence, but other parts are lacking.

I'm a big fan of Bill Gates: not the software pioneer Bill Gates, but Bill Gates 2.0, the thoughtful philanthropist

Francis Bacon, Tom Selleck

Richard Linklater. Michael Pettis. Elon Musk.

People you don't know,

And never will,

And, therefore,

Will not win a popularity contest,

But are more important in my life and the lives of others.

+1

The man at my church who volunteers with the elderly almost every day and who treats them with such patience and love.

A couple I know who adopted 5 children over the last 20 years, and all the children are well loved.

Yes. These are the folks that civilization is built upon.

Forgot Elizabeth Holmes.

Legal scholar/professor: Richard Epstein

Judge: Richard Posner - he's better than all 9 of the Sup Ct Justices combined. Frank Easterbrook second.

Economist: Gary Becker

Celebrity/Athlete: Barry Bonds and Bo Jackson

Politics: Putin and Erdogan of Turkey (though I would never vote for them)

+1 for Epstein

+1 Posner

Epstein: gave a visiting lecture at Boalt when I was there, spoke as eloquently as most would aspire to write, and utterly destroyed questioners who lobbed bitter leftist arrows.

Norman Borlaug, Gorbachev, Linus Torvalds, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Dalai Lama.

Agreed, the lack of Borlaug nods is surprising, he's #1 for me and everyone else is a taxi ride away down the list.

Germaine Greer

Steve Sailer.

+1

+ another 1

Thomas777

Snowden, Christopher Hitchens, Steve Jobs

Snowden would pee on Jobs' grave if he were allowed to visit.

grigori perelman. crazy dudes who quit mathematics in a huff after proving the poincaré conjecture just do it for me, what can i say.

Math guys are crazy, and often reclusive (numerous examples besides Nash and Perelman, some Frenchman who died a year ago also on list).

Andrew Wiles solved Fermant's Last Theorem in 1995

Grigory "Grisha" Perelman solved Poincare Conjecture in 2002 (turned down Fields Medal and $1M cash prize)

Tao, Terence, professor UCLA ("He and Lenhard Ng are the only two children in the history of the Johns Hopkins' Study of Exceptional Talent program to have achieved a score of 700 or greater on the SAT math section while just 8 years old. ")

Terry Tao -
1) astonishingly talented
2) astonishingly hard working and productive - he is utterly unlike the Bobby Fischer/Grothendieck style geniuses who spit the dummy and walk away. Talent is a responsibility.
3) Everyone who interacts with him remarks on how goddamn *nice* he is. In his position, he could get away with being an utter sociopath and be treated like a rock star.

Whether nice or eccentric, does it matter much in a genius of that caliber?

Related: Yitang Zhang

Vaclav Havel, Werner Herzog, Bill Murray, J.J. Watt.

Julius Caesar
Caesar Augustus
Charles Darwin
Francis Galton
Arthur Jensen
Francis Crick
James Watson
Steven Pinker
Greg Cochran
Aubrey de Grey

To future posters, separate the names with commas, not carriage returns. The carriage returns get removed.

Also, unlike me, read the whole post before responding. Tyler says no dead people.

Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk

Law: Richard Posner; Ruth Bader Ginsburg;
Science/Economic Development: Norman Borlaug;
Economics/Politics: Paul Volcker;
Literature and the Arts: Dave Eggers; Tom Wolfe; Tom Stoppard; Alexander Payne

Posner is an idiot.

Bob Dylan, Haruhiko Kuroda, and Marty Markowitz

This man: wapo.st/1vpuEWI

Cannot really pare it down. You have people in the military, in business, in police work, in politics, in academic life, in literature, in public discourse generally. Some people whose professional lives have been accomplished have had scandalous domestic lives or advocated lousy things..

Margaret Thatcher

expired

Within the last five years...still counts

Chess:

Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Tyler Cowen, Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So, Vishy Anand, Gelfand, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Ray Lopez

Surprisingly, to me at any rate, my admired list contains two lawyers:
Richard Epstein
Andrew McCarthy
Both rationally analyze the current with an appreciation of the historic; no transitory enthusiasm, just mature insights.

Jeff Bezos, G H W Bush, Pope Benedict XVI

Dierdre McCloskey

Norman Borlaug for his global impact.

One part of me is in the Snowden/Manning/Assange Camp, another in the Bezos camp.

Steven Pinker

Thomas Schelling, Tom Stoppard, Daniel Kahneman.

And two thumbs down for the person who choose Czar Putin.

Mark Zuckerberg

The founders of The Enlightenment. As part of the rising commerce, trade, and cosmopolitanism beginning at least as far back as Machiavelli, they suffered and overcame the malicious ignorance of those who held worldviews supportive of the religious wars of the 15th and 16th centuries. They instead argued for rights not limited by tribe, ethnicity, or religion, but for Universal Rights and tolerance for all mankind.

The founders of the evolutionary sciences of human behavior. As part of the rising accumulation of knowledge about animal behavior (animal ethology in zoology) and the growth of the marketplaces of ideas enabled by the growth of science research funding, they suffered and overcame the malicious ignorance of recycled quasi-creationist arguments and worldviews. They argued for the scientific findings and principles established in the studies of evolution and animal behavior to be extended to mankind as well. Hopefully their findings might someday bring about a further enlightenment about tribal prejudices and the origins of old and modern religious wars and a greater tolerance for all of mankind.

Nothing makes sense in biology (or psychology) except in the light of evolution ~~ paraphrasing Theodosius Dobzhansky

Some fanciful admiration (hero-worship) based on little knowledge of the person (and not really wanting to know more):

Martina Navratilova
Freddie Mercury
Clint Eastwood
George Lucas

As with essay exams one should always re-read the question before finalizing one's answer. So .. specific persons - Leda Cosmides. John Tooby. Don Symons. Steven Pinker. (And many, many more.)

Gary Becker
Daniel Kahneman
Judge Robert Conrad
Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal
John Finnis
Witold Pilecki (admittedly long deceased; still awesome)
The female Kurdish snipers; Staff at the Taj Hotel; Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart
Theodore Dalrymple

Christopher Hitchens,
Camile Paglia,
Charles Simic (poet),
Harold Bloom,
Charles Murray,
Tyler Cowen,
Megan McArdle ,
Bill Murray

Margaret Thatcher

deceased

Emilio and Gloria Estafan.

Predictably, my list was too long and detailed, so I wrote a whole post, and am now linking to it in a comment section like a jerk.

http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2015/02/who-do-i-admire-most.html

Jon Stewart? Please reconsider. He is hyper partisan political "analysis" personified, but dumbed down for the undergrad crowd. I know he "destroyed" Crossfire, but all he put in its place was … himself.

His show is intellectually shallow. Do you really find him to be fair-minded, with respect to both parties?

I thought this was a great article about Stewart: http://www.mischiefsoffaction.com/2014/04/rush-limbaugh-is-correct-stephen_16.html

I'll give it a look! PS -- I like your Bloomberg posts.

Thanks!!

the novelists Richard Ford and Marilynne Robinson; the poet Richard Wilbur (I hope he is still alive); the philosopher Robert Spaemann; the religious figure Pope Francis. Actually there are quite a few people to admire once you try to find them.

Glenn Stevens of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The worlds best central banker in my view.

Eliezer Ben Yehuda

dead

Terence Tao http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_Tao

Aaron Chwatt

Scott Sumner for economists. He's relentless, reasonable, and patient.

Warren Buffett. There is so much wisdom in the Berkshire annual reports.

[Affluent white male], [affluent white male], or [affluent white male].

You: You're being absurd! I honestly think [affluent white male] is hardworking and brilliant - why should I have to play affirmative action with my opinion to please the politically correct police??

Me: So it's just a random chance that 85%+ of the people listed here are white men, who comprise about 35% of the U.S. population?

You: You know, I've thought about the advantages white men have accumulated at the expense of others, and while I still greatly admire [affluent white male] - I'm thinking about changing my answer to Iraq war veteran/amputee/mother/U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth. Or maybe Bryan Stevenson who could have used his Harvard Law degree to be rich but instead started the EJI in Birmingham, Alabama and fights on behalf of some of the most disadvantaged individuals in the criminal justice system.

Me: That's awesome!

+1 Duality is either a sign of a broad mind, or schizophrenia.

Steven Landsburg, Sean McIndoe, Bill James. Scott Alexander may be a candidate eventually.

These are all writers and scholars. I'm sure there are people who would supplant these if I knew more about them. Norman Borlaug, almost certainly, if I knew more about his work. And there are millions of people who would admire for courageous acts if they were brought to my attention. For example, should I really admire Sean McIndoe more than those people who risked their own lives to hide Jews during the holocaust (of whom I'm sure some are still alive)?

But the question asked whom I *do* admire, not whom I think I *would* or *should* admire.

Satoshi Nakomoto
Ai Wei Wei
Sam Harris

Myself, Tyler Cowen

Francis Collins; Peter Thiel; James MacMillan

Doug Engelbart

Elon Musk

Eugene Fama, Mandelbrot

Rick Perry and Rush Limbaugh

Jesus Christ, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, Noah Smith

All but one long dead, so your answer per this list's parameters is Noah Smith

I definitely admire Sebastian Thrun and am proud to have him as my nemesis.

I admire Greg Egan for being that comparative rarity, a science fiction writer whose fiction is actually driven by science or technology in a significant way.

I also think Al Gore is under-rated.

Does 'admire' in this case mean 'to be grateful for this person's contribution to the world' or 'to see this person as embodying traits/values/personality aspects we should try to emulate' or 'to generally like'?

James Buchanan, Camille Paglia and Václav Havel.

Patrick J. Buchanan. His articles prior to the Iraq war were as if he could actually see the future. Last political candidate that actually cared about the plight of American workers.

Norman Borlaug

Margaret Thatcher (died in 2013, so still a valid pick)

Warren Buffett

Glenn Greenwald; Daniel Dennett; Stephen Pinker; Deng Xiaoping - responsible, whatever the faults with his country, for essentially the greatest improvement in human welfare in all of history; and, if the rules had permitted and many have stated, Norman Borlaug.

Vernon Smith and Joan Didion

Tupac's hologram.

Clearly any answer that doesn't include Dan Bilzerian is incorrect.

This seems like a really difficult question to ask, mostly, because you feel like you should mention people who other people are likely to mention or perhaps omit and so on.

What does it mean anyway to admire someone? Choices are not very informative if you cannot see the constraints. And if you can, are you then just saying that you agree with their preference orderings? Meaning you are working towards having the same ordering (e.g. Buchanan's Natural and Artefactual Man) or you've already achieved it?

Having seen the Theory of Everything, I'd have to go with Hawking's first wife, Jane. She could have chosen to end his life and be free to go off with her new love, yet she did not. Nobody would have blamed her given the odds, and the doctor basically recommended it and almost urged her. She could have divorced him, left him, or not even married him when she heard of his disease. She could have cheated on him, yet by all accounts she apparently did not. Hawking's thanked her for this by running off with the nurse. And she basically seems to have forgiven him at the end off the movie.

Mandela.

This seems like a really difficult question to ask, mostly, because you feel like you should mention people who other people are likely to mention or perhaps omit and so on.
What does it mean anyway to admire someone? Choices are not very informative if you cannot see the constraints. And if you can, are you then just saying that you agree with their preference orderings? Meaning you are working towards having the same ordering (e.g. Buchanan’s Natural and Artefactual Man) or you’ve already achieved it?
Having seen the Theory of Everything, I’d have to go with Hawking’s first wife, Jane. She could have chosen to end his life and be free to go off with her new love, yet she did not. Nobody would have blamed her given the odds, and the doctor basically recommended it and almost urged her. She could have divorced him, left him, or not even married him when she heard of his disease. She could have cheated on him, yet by all accounts she apparently did not. Hawking’s thanked her for this by running off with the nurse. And she basically seems to have forgiven him at the end off the movie.

Entrepreneur--Elon Musk
Poet: Glyn Maxwell
Technologist: Satoshi Nakamoto
Scientist: Ed Boyden
Philosopher: Hubert Dreyfus
TV Showrunner: Matthew Weiner, Amy Sherman-Palladino, David Simon
Playwrights: Tom Stoppard & Mamet
Novelist: Ian McEwan, Neal Stephenson, Edward St. Aubyn
Screenwriter: Aaron Sorkin, Wes Anderson
Director: Scorsese

Sam Harris has a calm, rational voice, speaks with integrity, and is fighting the good fight against religious zealotry. Once I consider him as an admiree, I'd also have to pop Doug Stanhope, the comedian, into the admiration camp, since he lives with seering honesty and dark wit.

Entrepreneur: Elon Musk
Poet: Glyn Maxwell
Scientist: Ed Boyden
Technologist: Satoshi Nakamoto
Philosopher: Hubert Dreyfus, Derik Parfit
Playwright: Tom Stoppard and Mamet
Mathematican: Andrew Wiles
Novelist: Ian McEwan, Neal Stephenson, Edward St. Aubyn
TV Showrunner: Matthew Weiner, Amy Sherman-Palladino, David Simon
Screenwriter: Aaron Sorkin, Wes Anderson
Daredevil: Laird Hamilton
Director: Scorsese
Pop star: Taylor Swift

Some of the people being mentioned here are really smart. Some are hardworking and accomplished. But few seem to really be noble, elevated, or really worthy of high esteem.

Steven Spielberg

Edward Snowden

Janet Yellen is high on my list.

I admire people who can teach you something that is so important that it will stay with you for the rest of your life and what you will remember on the moments you need it.

My choice will probably mean nothing to 99,999% of the MR readers:

Elie A. Shneour, a neurochemist and biophysicist, and lifetime fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

I thank him for the following article I read almost two decades ago. Wise words I will never forget. It's as relevant now as it was then.

"planting a seed of doubt"

"Skeptics should forego any thought of convincing the unconvinced that we hold the torch of truth illuminating the darkness. A more modest, realistic, and achievable goal is to encourage the idea that one may be mistaken. Doubt is humbling and constructive; it leads to rational thought in weighing alternatives and fully reexamining options, and it opens unlimited vistas.

----
Theodore Newton Vail (1845-1920) was twice president of the pioneering U.S. Telephone company, as the Bell Telephone Company (1878-1887) and again as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (1907-1919). The story of his life and accomplishments is an extraordinary one, and not relevant to this essay, with but one exception. During his early tenure as president of the telephone company, Vail assembled his management staff to analyze and answer one central question: What is our business?
...
"
(A good question, see the link for the answer)
http://www.csicop.org/si/show/planting_a_seed_of_doubt

P.S.
Good to see some of the "silent heroes" like Norman Borlaug pop up. Sadly no longer with us.

My father. He's always worked very hard to overcome adversity and be the best dad I could ask for.

I suspect that Warren Buffett is the greatest exemplar of the virtues our society is best at cultivating. I think that's the best way to answer this question. None of our artists, intellectuals or statesmen will rank all that high compared with earlier generations and societies. If you want to know what was best in the early Republic, study Lincoln. If you want to know what was best in Ancien Regime France, study Voltaire. Buffett strikes me as our most exemplary figure in that sense.

I'd give Thiel the nod over Mr. Musk. Theil is more of an iconoclast, and I appreciate that in my eccentric billionaires. And I'll give a shout out to the guys who indirectly made this blog possible: Charles and David Koch.

William Felton Russell

Ray Lopez - a man of myriad talents and wealth

Bill Gates

Charles Murray

And Arthur Jensen, of course, even more so than Murray even if Murray is more versatile.

Nelson Mandela, Helmut Schmidt, Andrew Sullivan, Dick Marty, Bill Clinton (well, this one is a leftover from my youth), Larry Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Neda Agha-Soltan

Pope Francis, a kind, humanity-loving, down-to-earth example of what a Christian leader should be.

Complicated question, especially for me, but for some sense(s) of "admire"...

Bill Gates, Vaclav Havel, Norman Borlaug

Dr Ben Carson
Ted Cruz
Rush Limbaugh
Steve Jobs
Elon Musk
Barbara Bush

Tony Bennett (Virginia Basketball coach) and C. David Allis (epigenetics)

I'm gonna go with Werner Herzog. He's like a real life version of "The Most Interesting Man in the World", except even cooler. His name is an adjective! Exceptional writer, filmmaker, philosopher, and conversationalist.

Victor Niederhoffer.
Huston Smith.
Peter Thiel.
Mark Cuban.

Elon Musk

John Bogle for popularizing index funds and pushing down investment costs, Scott Kelby for being an incredibly prolific popularizer of photography knowledge, J K Rowling for inspiring so many children (and quite a few adults) to read books, and Scott Sumner.

Robert Mundell

Mark Steyn. James Taranto. Neil Peart. Bill Belichick (now more than ever).

I can't believe no one has mentioned Dennis Ritchie yet.

Richard Dawkins, Richard Epstein, David Friedman, Jonathan Haight, Christopher Hitchens, Steve McIntyre, Eric Snowden, John Tooby & Leda Cosmides, Bill Watterson

Watts Humphrey and Bill James

Judith Curry and Steve McIntyre, for their contributions to the preservation of science.

bell hooks, Chelsea Manning, Tyler Cowen, Douglas Massey, Michelle Alexander, Alison Bechdel, Susan Moller Okin, Hilary Putnam, Mia McKenzie, this is already pretty long so I won't start listing musicians too

David Foster Wallace and Richard Rorty both died more than 5 years ago, but they should both count as "contemporaries" in my view

Aubrey De Grey, Ed Snowden, Peter Thiel.

Bill Gates

Keith Richards
Gary Young, founder of Young Living, essential oils maker in Utah
Michel Houllebecq

Raj Chetty.

Jeff Bezos. He started one of the most innovative and disruptive companies in the history of humanity, and unlike much of the tech start-up field he started this company after he was already well into adulthood (not to mention had a good career in finance). The opportunity cost associated with being an entrepreneur grow considerably once you're past your 20s.

This Krugman?
http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2006/06/paul_krugman_th_2.html

Edward Snowden

The creator of Dwarf Fortress, Tarn Adams, and everyone who makes free software just for fun.
Bill Waterson
People who aren't just trying to get a lot of cash from what they do.

Contemporaries that I think matter and admire, because I think they are making the world a better place.

Radley Balko is first on my list. I'm hard pressed to think of a better critic of American law enforcement. He's a nut puncher that gets ones attention.

I have a soft spot for a few lawyers. Timothy Sandefur and Richard Epstein are at the top.

Edward Snowden and Greenwald. Maybe I don't exactly admire them, but they matter.

I have to put Ta-Nehisi Coates up for opening my eyes to a few things that were shrouded from me. He complicated stuff.

Hernando de Soto. Maybe he doesn't have all the answers, but I like his efforts.

Martin Cooper, Steve Jobs, Wozniak, Bill Gates 1.0.

Bjorn Lomborg. Thomas Sowell. Charles Krauthammer.

Anyone who stands up for the taxpayers.

Noam Chomsky, Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz

Steven Pinker

Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Louis Kaplow, Tom Waits, Bill Callahan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Coen Brothers, Werner Herzog, Hank Williams III, Asghar Farhadi, Larry David, Louis CK, Lena Dunham, Charlie Brooker, Peter Singer...

Pope Francis, Peter Thiel, Wendell Berry.

Dan Gurney, Ralph Stanley, Mark Steyn, Mario Vargas Llosa, Paul Johnson, Thomas Sowell, Bob Dylan, the late Margaret Thatcher, Ferdinand Piech, and a gentle lady you have never heard of who survived the camps in the Holocaust

Peter Thiel and Elon Musk

for faithful scholarship, Christopher Tolkien, for devotion to their poetic talents, Transtromer and Gene Wolfe, for being a stand-up guy, Ben Stein, for being very smart, Robert Michael Pyle and Samuel Alito, for being the best musicians I have ever heard, Hilary Hahn and Anna Netrebko (although I wish Hilary Hahn would work a little bit more on artistically leaning into the music - if a violin player is reading this, imagine standing and singing towards the ocean as the gentle waves wander in, rather than singing towards the shore from the same place). And, verb. sap. sufficit, Enoch Patriarch, Elijah Prophet, Miriam Theotokos.

Aphex Twin

Paul Graham: his collection of essays http://www.paulgraham.com/articles.html several times I've come up with an idea and have later found out I must have gotten them from one of his essays which presented my idea in a clearer and simpler way than I ever could. I found his essays through MR so I guess Tyler Cowen deserves some credit too.

Ben Bernanke

Larry Page

Jeff Bezos

Bill Gates

John Bogle

Andy Grove

Steve Jobs

Note: it is heavy on technology but that is how we live now-a-days.

Although he died quite a while ago, Norman Borlaug should also be on the list.

Yikes, I forgot:

Linus Torvalds

Ken Thompson

Dennis Ritchie

The majority of the software upon which we rely is running on software that these three men helped will into existence.

Simon Schama

George Mitchell, recently deceased, for starting the shale revolution and changing geopolitics.

Muhammad Ali.

Jim Webb. Decorated combat veteran (Viet Nam, Navy Cross), Georgetown Law grad where he started his first novel - Fields of Fire. Has published 8 or 9 novels. Journalist. Screenwriter. Secretary of Navy (under Reagan). Early and vocal opponent of invasion of Iraq. Switched parties. Ran against powerful incumbent and won. Left senate after one productive term. Fascinating, versatile, guy with integrity.

By far , Ray Kurzweil.

He knows something only 0.1% of humanity knows (and Tyler doesn't) that like the Earth, technology isn't flat, but on a curve.

I still think Cowen wrote his The Great Stagnation to gain attention.

He can't really be that stupid.

(I should have instead written "He can't really be that blind to the data"... i.e. very long term productivity trends that clearly show the U.S. has been on an upward trend since colonial days.)

Richard Stallman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Brian Spaly

Original Thinking: Nassim Taleb. Teaching: Russ Roberts. Prolific Intelligence: Tyler Cowen. Music: Itzhak Perlman. Politics: Tank Man. Courage: Tank Man. Of course, Tank Man may not qualify.: He may be dead.

Original Thinking: Nassim Taleb. Teaching: Russ Roberts. Prolific Intelligence: Tyler Cowen. Music: Itzhak Perlman. Politics: Tank Man. Courage: Tank Man. Of course, Tank Man may not qualify: He may be dead.

Ed Yong, Steven Pinker, Carolyn Hax, Bill Gates, Brittany Maynard.

I'll save a little admiration for the dedicated individual who compiles all these results.

(1) Nicholas Nasim Taleb
(2) Daron Acemoglu
(3) Russ Robert of EconTalk
(4) Malcolm Gladwell (Newyorker)

John Dehlin.

You, who reads this, for using birth control--7 billion plus are you serious?
Tony Stark, played by Elon Musk, a cartoon character in my mind.
Obama who keeps on with all that hate--his EQ bounce-back-factor is higher than Bill Clinton's.

Bill Gates 2.0 (Philanthropy esp. Polio eradication), Norman Borlaug, M S Swaminathan (agricultural scientist, green revolution India)

Aubrey De Grey (Working on the most promising approach for aging that can be used by people currently alive)

The entire team behind givewell. Effective altruism and comparison by QALY's are memes that should catch on more.

Narendra Modi, Amit Shah (Amit Shah is an interesting fellow. The former stockbroker is the BJP numbers guy , later promoted to president. Narendra Modi wouldn't have made it if not for his calculations). The way that they took power over the centre in India is admirable. They should hopefully script a turnaround for India. Let's check back on this in 5 years.

Satoshi Nakamoto - The innovations unleashed by bitcoin will change the face of the web, forever.

Eliezer Yudkowsky - Working on a very important problem, Friendly AI.

Scott Sumner, Scott Alexander - Wonderful, patient bloggers, changing the world one post at a time.

Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Robin Hanson - Seeing things in a very different way.

Daniel Kahneman, Steven Pinker, Walter Williams, Russ Roberts, Thomas Sowell, Neal Degrasse Tyson, Elon Musk (all titans of industry are really statists, but he's as good as it gets) , Bill Gates, PJ O'Rourke, Matt Drudge, Edward Snowden, Dan Carlin, Penn Jillette.

Deirdre McCloskey and David Boaz

Really surprised to see so many folks nominate Snowden. The characteristic that most comes to mind when he is mentioned is cowardice. Do the crime, do the time.

Edward Snowden

Kaci Hickox (The ebola nurse who refused to quarantined herself after coming back from Africa)

If you had told me that a South African would win this poll, I would not have been surprised. If you had told me that it would be a South African other than Nelson Mandela, I would have been astonished. I'm astonished.

I wasn't.

Snowden

Snowden should be pardened in my view and given the respect for risking his life (whether that's purely figuratively as in cannot return to the states or not) to point out the abuses.

I'd also add someone like Mike Rowe to the mix.

Last, while no doubt a lot of people could be named here, those who work and provide support for a numbe rof the free, open source products such as FreeCAD do a great service to driving creativity, knowledge and does for not pay and though a sacrifice of their own time and energy.

If he were still alive I would put Julian Simon near or at the top of the list.

George Gilder.

Arnold Kling. I'm someone who thinks confirmation bias and lack of disparate groups's ability to effectively communicate across tribal lines are the most prominent political challenges we face. I also don't think anyone else has as good a grasp on or as deep an appreciation for the challenge as Kling does.

Along those lines, I'd add Haidt for being willing to buck the biases of his entire profession (and of his own political preferences) to try to genuinely advance the field of moral psychology.

An additional nod must go to John Tomasi for his unique ability to bridge ideological divides and see connections where others find division.

I believe these three folks are at the forefront of work that stands to genuinely advance mankind's understanding of politics and social ideology.

Jack Bogle

Easy one

Miriam Weeks
David D. Friedman
Edward Snowden

The person who I admire the most has to be my guru / mentor or whatever you call him as I learned Forex trading from him and the reason I am successful not only that he also recommended me the broker of the century OctaFX, it really has turned my life into a luxurious journey and I can never thank him enough especially with broker he suggested as I was able to trade so smoothly without even my trades ever getting reqoutes.

Nelson Mandela
Michael Jordan
Daron Acemoglu

Easy.

Jack Bogle.

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