(In-) validating the ‘Who is Bigger’ algorithm

Cross my heart: Before a few hours ago I hadn’t heard about the website WhoIsBigger.comIt appears to be a project by Steven Skiena of SUNY Stony Brook. He and his team rank topics and not just internet pages. I have been an admirer of Steven’s work since his combinatorica package for Mathematica that I use a lot, especially in my book Voting Theory for Democracy (VTFD)(2001, 2011). My admiration for Steven however isn’t total so I lost out on his other activities. I now can advise the short movie with him on that website.

Independently, as a teacher of mathematics I looked at archeology, astronomy, astrology and the origins of Christianity to widen the classroom scope from numbers, functions and geometry with their application to gravity etc. to new topics that some students might find more appealing. This resulted in the book The simple mathematics of Jesus (SMOJ)(2012).

Punchline: Jesus turns up as number 1 in Steven’s list of “Top people in History”. Call it coincidence or a good intuition. Another case of this is that both Lincoln and Washington appear on the cover of Voting Theory for Democracy.

creenshot of the website WhoIsBigger.com

Check Jesus on this screenshot of the website WhoIsBigger.com

I am a bit amazed though that Jesus is listed as a historical figure. There simply is no historical evidence. The evidence that exists suggests that his persona was created as a theologico-literary concept. It appears that historians do not apply proper scientific methods but they act as judges about history. They hide the uncertainty while scientists should emphasize the uncertainty.

This weblog already has various entries on this: see for example the sieve of realism, the review of the book by Maurice Casey and the question what the probability is that a preacher has the name Jesus and is crucified.

I may admit that I felt a bit awkward at times for spending so much attention to Jesus on this weblog. Seeing Jesus appearing as no 1 on Steven’s list however gives some comfort.  This namely gives some indication that it really is an important question for many people whether Jesus has existed or not.


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