The 100 Most Influential People in the World?

Time Magazine has put out its list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2011. But, I have to admit that it’s hard to take such a list seriously when it includes people like the following. The sad thing is that maybe these are among the most influential people on earth. How long do you think it will be before they have viable colonies on Mars?

  • Peter Vesterbacka (developer of Angry Birds)
  • Amy Poehler (actress in Parks and Recreation)
  • Kim Clijsters (tennis player)
  • Rob Bell (apparently it only takes one book)
  • Justin Bieber (no comment)
  • Blake Lively (actress in Gossip Girl)
  • Bruno Mars (singer)
  • George R. R. Martin (I like his books, but he really doesn’t fit here)
  • Sting (seriously?)
  • Mark Wahlberg (Marky Mark made the list?)

The list might be even worse than this, but I didn’t bother to click on too many of the names I didn’t know – a surprising number given their apparent influence in the world.


About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on April 21, 2011, in Culture, Humor. Bookmark the permalink. 135 Comments.

  1. This is a dire list. Rob Bell is more influential than the Pope?

    My question after seeing this punch line of a list: If influence is what matters, why even have all real people on here? Why not have Don Draper? Yes I know Matthew Weiner is on the list, but men want to be like Don, not Weiner.

    • Good point. A few years back Bart Simpson probably should have made the list as well. Actually, now that I think about it, he would have been better than some of the people on this list.

    • It astounds me that we have got to the stage whereby people such as Justin Bieber and the inventor of Angry Birds, have become 2 of the 100 most influential people in the world. I really hope this isn’t realistic, else it is a poor reflection of what our societies are now influenced by.

    • I’m surprised to see Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or even the reality show, “American Idol” on this list (not saying my choices if asked). I’d love to learn what criteria Time used to gather this list. Interesting post and Happy Easter! 🙂

  2. …the creator of Angry Birds??? Really???

    Very discouraging, indeed.


  3. I’m with Mikalee – the creator of Angry Birds!? How sad. Thanks for sharing this info… ridiculous as it may be 🙂

  4. LOL no comment for Justin Bieber? I was listening to one of my friend’s infamous stories of her 5th grade class; they were talking about their favorite artists. She says the kids believe whole heartedly believe that Justin is the new king of pop LOL it was TOO cute.

    • That’s not cute. I find it disturbing, unnerving and extremely scary. I weep for the future if Justin Bieber is the king of pop.
      He makes me embarrassed to be Canadian.

  5. there was a woman from des moines listed as well. she’s a scientist that studies apes and does a great deal of work in regards to communication. although I realize she’s not well-known outside her field, it’s sad that she’s below justin bieber on the list. at least the cast of jersey shore didn’t make the cut.

    • I think it’s almost worse that there are some truly influential people on the list. It’s painful to see them next to some of these others.

      • I think what’s worse is people like Justin Bieber are so incredibly famous and the people that SHOULD be influential are almost completely unknown. Household names 100 years ago were the people that were doing good things, scientifically or educationally etc… Now, thanks partially I suppose to the media, household names seem to be purely entertainers. I suppose entertainment and the arts are a great part of life but shouldn’t people like the one Eva mentioned be the ones we talk about? A really enlightening post – glad I came across it!!

  6. 2011 is not even over. How can they make this list? What if someone super influential crosses our paths from now till the end of December? Justin Bieber?…oh dear. where’s all the people that actually DO something for the people, or for the earth. Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  7. Please tell me there are 100 people more influential than a young teen music star in this world.

  8. Mark Wahlberg. Seriously? Wtf? Why?

  9. Egads! Suri Cruise didn’t make it??? Is there no justice????

  10. Wow, this is sad and disappointing. What has happened to our society that mainstream and pop superstars are the most influential…especially people who aren’t supporting some important cause. Hopefully things turn.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, and thank for the interesting information! 😀

    • Thanks!

      And, I agree that this wouldn’t be so bad if they’d stuck with pop figures who were at least using their influence in important ways. I almost commented on Colin Firth as well – even if you’re movies are good, that doesn’t make you influential – but from what I understand, he’s actually doing something with his fame.

  11. I wonder how Time Magazine measured these people’s influence? Did they just get their data from online results or from personal testimonies all over the world?

    To claim that these people are the most influential (whether in a positive or negative way) in the world today is too ambiguous a piece of information for me.

    • Tech in general seems underrepresented on the list. Gates, Jobs, Bezos, Ballmer, and other big names are all missing.

  12. Influence and recognition aren’t the same thing…but I would think that the most influential people in the world would be pretty well-known. Unless all those underground conspiracy nuts are right. 😉


    • Hmmm, good point. Since we don’t know their names, it’s hard to include the Illuminati on the list – even though we all know they control everything.

  13. We just have to do the best we can and trust the greater plan. Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  14. These lists have no impact on anything.

  15. I think I should make the list. I haven’t done anything terribly worthy of international recognition or made any real music, but I think I’m pretty influential. At least my 5 blog subscribers think so.

  16. People magazine is most disappointing with this list. I hate living in a society were fame makes you more influential then compassion and knowledge.
    No one talks about the Nobel Peace prizes or global scholarship anymore.

  17. Wow, this is sad and disappointing.

  18. There were two on the list that got my attention:

    the Egyptian youth that supposedly single-handed triggered the recent fight for freedom in Egypt.

    the first female Brazilian president who ended up in jail while she fought the then military rule.

    In my mind, this makes the list worth having, and heros worth honoring.


    • Thanks for the reminder that we shouldn’t just focus on the more disappointing aspects of the list. Some of these people are meaningfully influential.

  19. Apparently I was on vacation and did not recieve TIME Magazine’s phone trying to seek my permission to be included, thus the glaring omission of my name on this year’s list.

    Taking my sarcasm above aside, I do agree with your blog! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.



  20. If you look at the people on the list; influential is synonymus with popular.

  21. I wouldn’t put too much blame on the people who named them influencial. I would blame the people out there who give these “celebrities” influence over their lives. Remember, they are considered influencial in OUR society. Yes, it’s sad, but some of those unfortunately are true.

    It’s a bad list, but maybe we need to reevaluate the people we support in the world. If our values and tastes change, this list will change too.

  22. That list is a joke.

    First, half those people are unknowns.

    Sting is the last person I’m going to be influenced by. Mark Wahlberg as well (though I do like his acting)

    Justine Bieber? ROFLMAO Hardly!

    Bruno Mars? I don’t think so!

    A tennis player?

    I’m going to check out the other 90. I need a good laugh tonight.


  23. Agree! Thanks for listing out !

  24. Maybe they should rename this list to, The 100 Most Influential People in Entertainment!

    • i totally agree! they should put people who are trying to make a change in the world in the list of ‘Most Influential People’, not these actors and actresses.

  25. Well Marc since I came to your blog you have more influence on me than any on the list! And also some of your commentators! They got some good ideas.
    Congrats on being FP!
    Most of those on the list would have to introduce themselves to me if I ran into them on the street. I would say nice to meet you and continue on my way. “Nothing to see here”, moving along now!

  26. Sadly, if they made a list of people who are truly making a difference . . . no one would recognize the names.

  27. noway, not the above list

  28. None of these people influence but then again I am not the rest of the world. 😀

  29. Like it or not, these people HAVE all been influential.

    Blame ourselves for giving them the influence.

    Really, though, it’s just an excuse for running a sales-bumping list of celebs.

    • That’s the scary part. If I could just dismiss these people as not really having any influence on the wold, I’d sleep better.

  30. But Justin does influence me – I am influenced to gag every time I hear one of his songs! I guess Time doesn’t stipulate if this influence is for good or evil!

  31. well, I am proud that an Indian cricketer MS Dhoni is also featured in top 100.

  32. they seem like the most influential people in the editors’ mind. haha. any parameters in their assessment? maybe they are big fan of Sting, bieber and clijster, though i am a fan of them too. have no idea what the else are…

  33. Blake Lively?? In what way does she became that influential? Did they know that even my neighbors here are not aware that she is an hollywood actress? I have nothing against her but I think the title or it’s too much to include her in that list.

  34. Consensual reality at its best. Buy into the nightmare and you’ll never find your way out.

  35. I think we’re looking at the list the wrong way. Bieber and Sting and Poehler are on the list because they’re popular and Time needs popular to get people to buy the magazine.

    I hope that the sixth graders who buy the magzine becuase Bieber’s on the cover (I haven’t seen the cover, but if they put anyone on, I assume it will be him) will glance at the Giffords or Lt Gen Pasha write-ups and learn something.

  36. Rats, I thought sure the pug in the Super Bowl commercial would make it, or the clydesdale horses. I mean don’t they contribute as much to humanity as some on the list?

  37. Rocket Dog (Ergo Proxy)

    I’m more influential than most the people. I wrote a book of poetry when I was 16 and had it just published. It’s not yapping emo poetry, nor is it easy poetry. It is poetry without being poetry. ther’s more about it on my blog, but I don’t want to appear as a promoter. This list that TIME has compiled shows you how bad they think.

  38. I guess TIME did good. They concentrated on Egypt revoution, games, Japan catastrophy.,28804,2066367_2066603_2066605,00.html

    Peter Vesterbacka (who does not play angry birds?? It’s a killer app)

    Justin Bieber (he is practically the reason American Idol had so many 15 year old contestants)

    Blake Lively (she certainly does not influence, totally agree with you)

    Bruno Mars (Great singer, great Grammy performance, has influenced music)

    George R. R. Martin (Great screenwriter, left it, moved to novel writing, has published 4 novels of “a song of ice and fire series”, pure fictional, the high budget series by HBO – love it)

    Mark Wahlberg (His Fighter is phenomenal, a departure from the same old “boxing”, its dramatic. Further, has changed television, the series ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is great, it won the golden globes )

    People make it to the list. Its difficult to draw the line on influence, they did influence their area of work.

  39. I clicked on the link and sadly I recognized only a few of the people on the list. Although, I know most of the people who made your short list….they aren’t influential in my life. Where was my Dad’s name? 😀 Most of us are more influenced by the close relationships in our lives.

  40. Justin Bieber can influence teenagers on how to be stupid.

  41. It is indeed a sad statement of society in general, that what has become meaningful or “influential is merely that banal. I’ve long lost faith in the world.

  42. I like checking out the blogs.
    Check out my blog sometime.
    “Whatcha need Got you covered in Northwest Houston”
    I read Freshly pressed almost daily.

  43. Hmm. I’ve never heard ANY of these people before. Forgive me (i do not watch much tv)


    Christ Jesus: IT IS HOLY WEEK! 🙂
    Martin Luther King jr: none violence
    Gandhi: None violence
    Geronimo: simply becuas he defened his people Apache tribe from the English for over 25 years.
    Mother Teresa: the one i look up to when I struggle with people. she always taught about love no matter what.

  44. The one visits the blog almost daily. The person does not like to become influential man as published above.

  45. I don’t know the criteria for the list, but it seems to me that influence can be defined in different ways. I suspect that Blake Lively is influential in fashion, not influential in a general way. They probably calculate this influence by internet searches, so that everyone has a number.

  46. Cool, Kim CLijsters on the list 🙂

  47. I suppose I should be glad I don’t know about half of the people on the list…

  48. this list made me doubt on what Influent mean……took out my Larousse i don’t trust the internet anymore lol.
    im wondering did the Mob wives made it on the list?

  49. Soon TIME Magazine will stop being on the 100 most influential magazines in the world.

  50. I can’t stand that Lady Gaga is usually on the list. Really? Really.
    We are so impressionable.

  51. I even dont know who is Vesterbacka. I only know Bieber, Bruno Mars and… Sting. :mrgreen:

  52. What’s interesting is that the list is possible all true. These people probably do have quite an influence–in their respective arenas of power. For example, Justin Bieber definitely has a lot of influence over preteen girls.

  53. In the beginning was a bird and, boy, was it Angry. So God made a catapult and pigs to aim at and lo there was light and iPhones.

    These lists often have entries you can argue about, this one actually is unique in the fact that it doesn’t have anyone who you could not argue against!

  54. looks like we need a proper definition of “influential”…

  55. It’s very funny that anyone cares about Time Magazine and their inane lists. I love a post that gets people talking. Congrats on FPressed! x

  56. Wew… You Surprise me friend

  57. Rob Bell has written more than one book and heads a “mega” church called Mars Hill. The promo video of his latest book – Love Wins- caused such an outcry that Rob Bell was trending on twitter.
    He also created a series of videos called Nooma way before this latest saga- “All it take is one book” is somewhat inaccurate.

    • That’s true. But, of course, that one book is really why he’s on this list. There are other pastors who have written more books that have sold more copies and lead larger churches. But, they’re not the pastors that everyone is talking about right now.

  58. OMG – that is pretty ridiculous.

  59. I was wondering about Mark Wahlberg as well.

  60. And does not include Steve Jobs.

  61. bieber? really? damn what is the world coming to when we look up to a 17 year old pop star who doesnt know anything about life yet

  62. it takes something to get into this list!

  63. it takes something extraordinary to get into this list

  64. If by influential, Time Magazine means money-making personalities or people who have the ability to philosophically affect the masses, then this list may be spot on. But I think the easiest way for Time to increase its readership is by flattering 100 people with countless fans.

  65. Some of them really irritated me at first; to see names like Blake Lively and Mia Wasikowska in the list – young girls (younger than me!) who are ‘influential’ because of their good looks and luck in breaking into movies. However, I then thought about this: we have to remember that many people are influential in a huge variety of ways and on different segments of society. They can’t all be named for one type of person, class, country etc. etc. to be influenced by. Some we’ll never have heard of – and won’t care about – others will have a slight impact on our lives, others will be more influential still. A huge variety of human beings on Earth means a huge variety of influences – whether we agree with them or not.

    Justin Bieber is still a plonker though…

  66. To quote Chuck Klosterman, “Culture is never wrong. Culture is just there.” I might be in the minority here, but I don’t think that list is disappointing at all. I mean, yes, it might be upsetting that these are the people that are influencing our culture, but we can’t arguing that they ARE influencing our culture, nonetheless. If it was a list called ‘The 100 most intelligent people of 2011’ or ‘The 100 people who should be sainted of 2011,’ you’d be getting a different list. I know tons of people who play Angry Birds nonstop, a lot of little kids who have Bieber Fever, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t admired some of Blake Lively’s outfits. They’re influencing our culture, and if you don’t agree with that, just try to make your own culture and be happy with it.

  67. wow i don’t know where this world is going

  68. Excellent point, courtneyryanne.

    Let’s also be honest – Just how did Gaby Giffords influence anyone or anything? She got shot. If her influence is the discussion on “civility” that resulted, her assailant was the one who influenced that.

  69. Joan Goldstein, Ph.D.

    Most influential, eh? What criteria are they using? Fame? Money? Hits on the Internet? The idea of fostering influence may have different meanings throughout history. For example, would the English Queen Elizabeth I, (Henry VIII ‘s daughter) have appeared on “Desperate Housewives”? Probably not – she wasn’t elected by the populace anyway.
    In a recent article in The New York Times, (4/18/11) the author , Michael Winerip noted that most if not all leaders of influence actively reforming the nation’s public schools were themselves products of private schools. So what might give them the power and/or influence to change public education to their own vision? Why not change private education? That, at least is a system that might have molded their thinking. Doesn’t influence have something to do with affluence?

  70. In the era of internet, blogs and youtube it’s possible to have influence in people you will never even meet. Being famous is no longer a requirement I think.

    But yea, those people aren’t really what I would call Influential.

  71. Most of these I don’t even know.
    I therefore doubt their influence, at least over me.

  72. Hey Marc et al.,

    I came across your blog today… yeah, it was the Freshly Pressed thing. (Congrats!) I’ve been poking around and it looks quite interesting. I’ll definitely be back. Meanwhile,…

    Not that I have much respect for Time these days, but this list is laughable. Maybe they are confusing true global influence with social impact or popularity?

    Neither Glenn Beck nor George Soros is on it?! Yeah, THEY’RE not very influential…


    • Sorry, your comment got caught in the spam filter for a bit. But, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks!

  73. it’s great!

  74. I noticed that the list progressively gets worse as you work your way down. The icing on the cake, Marky Mark. I have no words…

  75. Aaron J Schieding

    Bieber? Seriously?

  76. mesi, lionel, influyente??? jajajajajjaja,
    si por lo boludo , puede ser que algun incauto crea que es talentoso, mientras hay miles de seres anónio estudiando vacunas, remedios para el cancer, etc.
    dejemos de joder, messi a quien puede influenciar a un pendejo que quiere ganar guita facil
    vamos dejemos de vivir en la pelotudez

  77. Julio Eiffelt R R

    interesting post.. I opened this post when i was surfing in wordpress site. the headline made me curious.

    i have no idea, when list was appereanced. no body, i found on the list familiar. activist, political, actor, i dont know. hmm….,

  78. I choose Sting out of all of them.

  79. Bieber fever makes Times delusional?

  80. how the hell is Klijsters influential. Is this a joke?

  81. unbelievable. i don’t even listen to beiber.

  82. These people made the list because of POPULARITY but I don’t believe they can be really considered ‘Influential’ :p
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts :p

  83. The point of the list is not popularity, but influence.

    You and I may think Justin Bieber is a waste of space, but that doesn’t mean hordes of 13 year old girls don’t. Want to know which is the most-watched movie on YouTube of all time, with over 500,000,000 views? One of Bieber’s songs.

    Julian Assange is hardly what I’d call popular – controversial is more like it. Mark Wahlberg is in fact producer on a lot of HBO’s best television series, the excellent Entourage and Boardwalk Empire among them.

    According to Time, their list is not about popularity, nor should it be considered an award, rather a statement of fact. Last year, Mark Zuckerberg was number one because he invented Facebook, easily one of the most widespread, life-changing and influential inventions of recent times.

  84. i can make a song about this

  85. I’m more influential than most the people. I wrote a book of poetry when I was 16 and had it just published. It’s not yapping emo poetry, nor is it easy poetry. It is poetry without being poetry. ther’s more about it on my blog, but I don’t want to appear as a promoter. This list that TIME has compiled shows you how bad they think.

  86. Influental in what way? To have influence on a mass of people. Actual recognized influence, or just a minor effect on their daily routines (like with the angry birds)? Who would have thought that any of the celebrities actually have influence on more people than the 100 most super rich people do? When the latter group of people makes desicions on other peoples lives, the reprecussions are far more serious to the affected.

    There is a big difference, if we let ourselves be influenced by the celebs we admire, or if a corporate stockholder decides to move a production line we used to work on into a nother country. I bet most of the Chinese, Indian or Indonesian people have never even heard about allmost any of the people on the list. Certainly not of the so called celebrities.

  87. If these are the most influential people on Earth I would be a bit scared on meeting the people who wrote this list. At least people from the Jersey Shore didn’t show up on it.

  88. Please can someone tell me where does Justin Bieber fit into this? He’s not influential, he’s a popstar who got lucky. Besides like all big men Justin Bieber sings like a smurf!

    Besides the number one person being influential in 2011 and any year for that matter is God who is either female or asexual.

    However it’s the Times so I’m not surprised about the list.

  89. Wow – quite revealing, and most disappointing. I wonder what will future historians have to say about this era. On second thought, I’m not sure I want to wonder what they might think…

  90. soaringdragons

    The lists of popular culture cannot be to everyone’s liking, of course. Maybe if they expanded it to a thousand, or even ten-thousand, we’d find less fault with it. Cheers!

  91. Thanks!

    And, I agree that this wouldn’t be so bad if they’d stuck with pop figures who were at least using their influence in important ways. I almost commented on Colin Firth as well – even if you’re movies are good, that doesn’t make you influential – but from what I understand, he’s actually doing something with his fame.

  92. Well our country is really going somewhere!

  93. it’s because the media make some “popular think” become influental,… it’s the media which make influent not the person itself.

    hey,.. what about the most influental drink in the world.
    please check:

  94. I can understand why the dev of Angry Birds would be so influential.
    As soon as I saw Justin Bieber, I nearly gagged. Well, maybe his influence exists amongst the thousands of crazed 12 yr old girl fans, but in the world? I think he’s NADA.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  95. it is sadly amazing…weirdly amazing …infinitely sad what the world is going for…something to ponder. thank you for this. i hope you dont mind me reblogging this. thank you new friend.

  96. i recon elvis presley is one of the most of the most influential people and im ten years old iv’e looked up web sites of him and he had a whole list of people over 100 people if you dont belive talk to some people that know alot about there music they will tell you rip rest in peace elvis

  97. I clicked on the link and sadly I recognized only a few of the people on the list. Although, I know most of the people who made your short list….they aren’t influential in my life. Where was my Dad’s name? Most of us are more influenced by the close relationships in our lives.

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