A new survey of university students in 37 countries around the world has determined who young people admire the most, of all figures throughout history — and who they really can’t stand.
The survey canvassed about 7,000 students with an average age of 23, distributed in countries worldwide, including the United States. Other countries covered by the survey included Italy, Argentina, Pakistan, and South Korea. The students were asked their opinion of 40 significant historical figures, some recent, other dating back decades or even centuries.
Some of the results were hardly surprising. On the list of most hated figures in all of human history, the number one villain among the university-age respondents was Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Nazi Germany responsible for the Holocaust, the systematic murder of about six million Jews and another six million human beings considered “undesirable” by Hitler and his Nazi Party.
The number two and three slots were perhaps not surprising, but as the researchers responsible for the study noted, the youth of the participants clearly influenced their choices. Second-most-hated Osama bin Laden was likely directly responsible for only a few thousand deaths, but the significant role he played in the history of the past two decades would seem to indicate that his selection was not unexpected.
Saddam Hussein, the deposed and executed former dictator if Iraq comes in third, probably for the same reasons.
But Number Four may come as a surprise, at least to many Americans. The fourth-most-hated man in history according to the survey of young people worldwide, is this guy:
Yes, former United States President George W. Bush ranked as more universally despised than such legendary villains and mass murderers as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, founder of Chinese Communism Mao Zedong, and Mongol marauder Genghis Khan.
While opinions about the heroes of history were relatively uniform around the world, researchers said that the view of villains varied from country to country.
“The same figure may be very negatively rated in one country, or not very negatively or even very positively in another part of the world,” said Darío Páez, one of the researchers and a faculty member at Spain’s University of the Basque Country. ‘That would be the case of Osama bin Laden, for example.”
The top five most admired historical figures were, in order: Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Sir Isaac Newton.
Unlike the most hated men, who were mostly political figures, the most admired were primarily world-changing scientific innovators and peace activists. Jesus Christ, by the way, ranked sixth on the most-admired list.
[Images: Getty Images]