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Old 13th March 2023, 06:20 PM   #1
The Atheist
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Who is the Greatest Living Human?

It occurred to me a while back that the title probably goes to David Attenborough.

It's not just his enormous body of work, it's the massive number of people he's inspired over three generations. Even in his 90s, he's still coherently pleading for change for the better and inspiring kids 80 years his junior.

I've had a look around at other places who have asked the same question, and there's not a lot to go on, with this laughable list from 2008.

Reddit does no better, with a few suggestions ranging from "My dad" to the almost-sensible in Bill Gates.

It's definitely not related to fame, because the list of most recognisable names includes the dead, as well as PewDiePie.

And hurry with your suggestions, because I think the only potential contender is on his last legs - Jimmy Carter.
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Old 13th March 2023, 07:00 PM   #2
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Dolly Parton. She's twice as inspirational as Attenborough and she's better-looking.
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Old 13th March 2023, 07:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
It occurred to me a while back that the title probably goes to David Attenborough.

It's not just his enormous body of work, it's the massive number of people he's inspired over three generations. Even in his 90s, he's still coherently pleading for change for the better and inspiring kids 80 years his junior.

I've had a look around at other places who have asked the same question, and there's not a lot to go on, with this laughable list from 2008.

Reddit does no better, with a few suggestions ranging from "My dad" to the almost-sensible in Bill Gates.

It's definitely not related to fame, because the list of most recognisable names includes the dead, as well as PewDiePie.

And hurry with your suggestions, because I think the only potential contender is on his last legs - Jimmy Carter.
Bill is only The Richest Man in the World because IBM said to him, "We're not in the business of writing PC software. Why don't you take over ownership of MS DOS?"
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Old 13th March 2023, 07:32 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Dolly Parton. She's twice as inspirational as Attenborough and she's better-looking.
Dolly is a national treasure, and America should be proud of her.
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Old 13th March 2023, 07:41 PM   #5
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I like Attenborough, but "Greatest Living Human" seems like a stretch.

Perhaps first we need to define "greatness". A great humanitarian? A great scientist? A great philanthropist? A great athlete? A great businessperson? A great communicator? A great artist? A great politician? Are all of these different human endeavours to be given equal consideration, or do we weight certain achievements more than others?
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Old 13th March 2023, 09:49 PM   #6
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Attenborough is like 230lb. tops, I know several people greater than that.
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Old 13th March 2023, 11:53 PM   #7
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Old 14th March 2023, 12:21 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Perhaps first we need to define "greatness". A great humanitarian? A great scientist? A great philanthropist? A great athlete? A great businessperson? A great communicator? A great artist? A great politician? Are all of these different human endeavours to be given equal consideration, or do we weight certain achievements more than others?
I think that to be considered truly great, one has to excel in a number of different areas.
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Old 14th March 2023, 12:54 AM   #9
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I don’t think The Atheist would have started this thread without a New Zealander in mind. I’ll help him out.

Jacinda Ardern.

You’re welcome.
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Old 14th March 2023, 01:06 AM   #10
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Al Del Greco. Since he retired as the greatest living football player, he has only continued to add to his legacy.
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Old 14th March 2023, 01:16 AM   #11
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<- *cough* *cough*
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Old 14th March 2023, 01:46 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Bill is only The Richest Man in the World because IBM said to him, "We're not in the business of writing PC software. Why don't you take over ownership of MS DOS?"
True, but he has funded an enormous amount of medical research, has been behind a massive reduction in polio and has encouraged other billionaires to use their money for altruistic purposes.

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I like Attenborough, but "Greatest Living Human" seems like a stretch.
Well, I did ask for suggestions. To me, it shows how few truly great humans are alive right now.

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Perhaps first we need to define "greatness". A great humanitarian? A great scientist? A great philanthropist? A great athlete? A great businessperson? A great communicator? A great artist? A great politician? Are all of these different human endeavours to be given equal consideration, or do we weight certain achievements more than others?
They all work as long as the achievements are backed up by substantial other great work. Being good at sports, art or business on its own is rather irrelevant.

Muhammad Ali is the blueprint for athletes. "We must whup Mr Tooth Decay!"

Originally Posted by lionking View Post
I donít think The Atheist would have started this thread without a New Zealander in mind. Iíll help him out.
Nope. We've had some great Kiwis - Rutherford and Hillary are two obvious ones, and if he were still alive Hillary would be right up there. Famous for climbing a hill, but his work in education in Nepal has raised the standards of entire generations.

Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Jacinda Ardern.

Youíre welcome.
Wouldn't be in my top 10,000, although she'd be in front of a lot of politicians.
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Old 14th March 2023, 01:49 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Al Del Greco. Since he retired as the greatest living football player, he has only continued to add to his legacy.
Maybe humourous if I'd ever heard of him, but suggesting a player of a sport confined to one country shows a serious US-centric bias and not worthy of having his name on the same page as any great living human.

Entirely in keeping with the equally-absurd Dolly Parton suggestion, though.
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Old 14th March 2023, 01:57 AM   #14
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The polymath US President Donald J Trump.
  • The greatest memory, indeed the greatest brain, that has ever lived
  • The greatest businessman of his generation
  • The greatest television star of all time
  • The greatest politician to walk the Earth
  • The greatest statesman since Bismark

and for those of us who cannot forget *that* photo of him playing tennis
  • The greatest Corinthian sportsman that has ever bestridden the Earth

I literally cannot think of anyone who has achieved so much in so many fields.
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Old 14th March 2023, 02:17 AM   #15
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It is obviously the violinist Julia Fischer.
She is just as good on piano, but harder to differentiate pianists one from another. Julia was the youngest professor appointed in Germany at 29. I am working from memory.
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Old 14th March 2023, 02:19 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Dolly Parton. She's twice as inspirational as Attenborough and she's better-looking.
Put me down for the Dolly Parton vote too.
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Old 14th March 2023, 04:06 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
True, but he has funded an enormous amount of medical research, has been behind a massive reduction in polio and has encouraged other billionaires to use their money for altruistic purposes.
All fine. But given a similar random fluctuation in the Universe, I would do the same.
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Old 14th March 2023, 06:07 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Dolly Parton. She's twice as inspirational as Attenborough and she's better-looking.
I'll sign up for Team Dolly. She helped give us both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Moderna the COVID Vaccine.
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Old 14th March 2023, 06:35 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
<- *cough* *cough*
You're only Great, not the Greatest. Sorry.
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Old 14th March 2023, 06:43 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Disbelief View Post
You're only Great, not the Greatest. Sorry.
And, honestly, I'm skeptical of the "living' part...
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Old 14th March 2023, 06:50 AM   #21
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Yeah, no Gandhi around, and no Mandela. That is what would be great, to not want to butcher the folks that have been systematically screwing over your people for years and years, and to work, at great cost to yourself, to liberate your people, sure, but with goodwill, genuine goodwill, for the very folks that had been screwing you over. That's ******* superhuman. Me, I cannot even conceive of actualizing such breadth of spirit and of vision.

But I don't think we've got anyone remotely approaching those two. Can't think of anyone, really, that answers to what the thread asks for. Yeah, Bill Gates, sure. Dawkins I admire. I might vote for those two, except we're taking now of a category very different than what might describe Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
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Old 14th March 2023, 08:02 AM   #22
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Elon Musk. Just ask him, he'll tell you.
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Old 14th March 2023, 08:36 AM   #23
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Attenborough was the person I first thought of when I saw the thread title, before opening it. On the other hand, he has been in the news very recently, with his latest series.

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I think that to be considered truly great, one has to excel in a number of different areas.
In addition to his wildlife programmes, Attenborough was a very successful administrator at the BBC, in charge of TV output on BBC2 and then both TV channels in the UK, commissioning many successful and long-running shows, including another that's been in the news recently, Match of the Day.

I'd agree that Dolly Parton is in with a shout for the title, too.
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Old 14th March 2023, 08:37 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Elon Musk. Just ask him, he'll tell you.
I don't think you even need to ask him.
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Old 14th March 2023, 10:00 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
All fine. But given a similar random fluctuation in the Universe, I would do the same.
I give away my nowhere-near-billions, so I would too.

On the other hand, a hell of a lot of them don't. I'd list them but they piss me off too much.

Originally Posted by Upchurch View Post
I'll sign up for Team Dolly. She helped give us both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Moderna the COVID Vaccine.
I thought the first Dolly Parton suggestion was just TM being his normal silly self, but I think some of you actually think she could be the greatest living human. And she did not "give the world the covid vaccine".

If Dolly is the greatest living human, then the species is in more trouble than I believe it is. The fact that people think she genuinely could be is sad enough on its own.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Yeah, no Gandhi around, and no Mandela.
No MLK, no Churchill, no Einstein, no Sagan, not even a Muhammad Ali.

That's kind of why I started the thread - there are a lot of contenders for greatest person of the 20th century, but I come up with very little for the 21st.

Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
I'd agree that Dolly Parton is in with a shout for the title, too.
Her husband, I'd accept as a nominee. Any bloke who still hangs onto a bag of silicon and bleach who ****** as many other blokes as she has is a saint.

Or really stupid.

Even Dolly's musical status is built on the back of rednecks and truck drivers - she's had exactly two top 10 hits outside country charts, and only one of those two is more than drivel: Here You Come Again.

Willie Nelson has probably done more charitable work and at least you could sit and have a spliff with him.
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Old 14th March 2023, 10:21 AM   #26
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Dude, lighten the **** up. Did an ex-girlfriend look like Dolly or something? Everyone else seems to be light-hearted about the topic.
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Old 14th March 2023, 11:34 AM   #27
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How you gonna hate on Dolly? Did she pull a Jolene with your man?

Especially after the way you're trying to launder Bill Gates' reputation.
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Old 14th March 2023, 11:38 AM   #28
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Dolly is not just a singer. She is a writer/poet, and good at administrating her fortune.

Hm, maybe a Donald/Dolly ticket on 2024?
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Old 14th March 2023, 11:45 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
And she did not "give the world the covid vaccine".
That isn't what I said. What I said is that she helped give us the Moderna vaccine, by which, I mean she helped fund its research. Much in the same way she helped give us Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

You're welcome to not share the opinion that Dolly Parton is not the Greatest Living Human, but you can't make **** up on a skeptics' forum.
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Old 14th March 2023, 11:46 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by casebro View Post
Dolly is not just a singer. She is a writer/poet, and good at administrating her fortune.

Hm, maybe a Donald/Dolly ticket on 2024?
Only if you mean Don Cheadle and Dolly Parton. I could go for a little Dolly- War Machine combo.
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Old 14th March 2023, 12:16 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by TheGoldcountry View Post
Only if you mean Don Cheadle and Dolly Parton. I could go for a little Dolly- War Machine combo.
Don't under-value his take on Captain Planet.
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Old 14th March 2023, 12:19 PM   #32
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Volodymyr Zelenskyy ?
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Old 14th March 2023, 01:12 PM   #33
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Probably someone most of the forumites (and the plebiscite in general) have either never heard of or regard as a pariah.
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Old 14th March 2023, 01:18 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Al Del Greco. Since he retired as the greatest living football player, he has only continued to add to his legacy.
1. Never heard of him

2. Messi is still alive and he's the greatest footballer ever excepting maybe Pelť and Maradonna.
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Old 14th March 2023, 01:37 PM   #35
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Dolly. Saw her on the Pyramid Stage and she somehow made it feel intimate like she was singing and chatting between numbers just to me. She's done amazing charity work, been a champion of childhood literacy and has really big tits
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Old 14th March 2023, 03:20 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by TheGoldcountry View Post
Dude, lighten the **** up. Did an ex-girlfriend look like Dolly or something? Everyone else seems to be light-hearted about the topic.
It's disbelief, not acrimony towards her. I think Here You Come Again is a masterpiece, but suggesting she's the greatest human alive is a point of absurdity I can't entertain. Laurene Powell Jobs does more with less ceremony than Dolly, and is much better to look at and I wouldn't have her in my top 10.

If nothing else, people seriously suggesting Dolly is clear evidence Attenborough wins. I wondered if I'd missed anyone in my thinking and that answer is a resounding no.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Volodymyr Zelenskyy ?
Now there's someone you could make a case for.

He's without doubt the greatest politician alive.

If he defeats Putin, he'll be a serious contender, and Attenborough can't live forever.
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Old 14th March 2023, 03:49 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by jeremyp View Post
1. Never heard of him

2. Messi is still alive and he's the greatest footballer ever excepting maybe Pelť and Maradonna.
If I have to explain it...

Nike had a series of silly commercials in the 1990s where the tagline was "Al Del Greco, the greatest football player of all time." Of course they were referring to real football, not that silly game where the players spend most of the time falling down spectacularly and appealing to the ref.

Del Greco was a kicker for the Tennessee Titans and a pretty good football player (the Titan's all-time leading scorer), but not even a Hall-of-Famer and certainly nowhere near the greatest.
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Old 14th March 2023, 04:21 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Dolly is a national treasure, and America should be proud of her.
No, Dolly Parton is an international treasure (although I agree that America should be rightly proud of her).

She makes it very hard for me to maintain my generally misanthropic outlook, which is annoying, but I can't bring myself to hold that against her, because she is properly fantastic.
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Old 14th March 2023, 04:56 PM   #39
IsThisTheLife
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Sadly, I think the days of "great" people are long gone. We're now just wallowing in our own filth and waiting for that (long over-due) giant comet to put us out of our misery.
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Old 14th March 2023, 05:10 PM   #40
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I hereby surrender my misanthrope card*, and accept that i am just sometimes mildly annoyed by people.

*it was never an official thing anyway, I made it myself (like I would trust anyone else to not **** it up).
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