FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Osama bin Laden is influential. We may not like it, but he is. We prefer to champion our heroes and relegate our villains to the dustbin of history.
But does influence only flow in the direction we approve? Inflection, the topical journal of AcademicInfluence.com, engages that question in
"When we shared our Most Influential People list of the past two decades, readers objected to a terrorist making the list. His picture among other, more acceptable influencers bothered them. But should it?" asks Dr. Jed Macosko, academic director of AcademicInfluence.com and professor of physics at Wake Forest University.
"This raises the question of the morality of influence. In a polarized time when more of us are sensitive to the morality of people, governments, activist groups, nationalistic organizations, and the like," says Macosko, "we bristle at the thought of influential people who promulgate ideas we despise. We don't want to admit that influence is at once both positive and negative. As an organization that monitors and reveals lines of influence, the Inflection team at AcademicInfluence.com felt it necessary to address this uncomfortable reality."
AcademicInfluence.com currently ranks Edward Snowden at the top of the influence list for the decade 2010–20. Is he a hero or villain? What do you think? Who else can you find using the AcademicInfluence.com Influence Engine whose views might thrill or offend you?
Founded in October 2016, with funding assistance from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Influence Networks created this proprietary technology—the Influence Engine—for use by AcademicInfluence.com. AcadmicInfluence.com now opens its user-customizable search capabilities so that students, researchers, and inquirers can discover the most influential people and institutions. The Influence Engine will continue growing its capabilities to explore a wider variety of topics and top performers.
"Asking difficult questions about the nature of influential beliefs and the people who espouse them is a meaningful, important task," says Macosko.
"AcademicInfluence.com endorses free speech, especially in higher education, where free, open discussion of the morality and worth of influential ideas is essential to personal growth and the development of wisdom."
AcademicInfluence.com is the preeminent technology-driven rankings site dedicated to students, researchers, and inquirers from high school through college and beyond, offering resources that connect learners to leaders. AcademicInfluence.com is a part of the EducationAccess group, a family of sites dedicated to lifelong learning and personal growth, including Influence Networks, InfluencePublishers.com (nonfiction publishing and publishers of Bright Notes), IntelligentEducation.com (instructional video library and easy instructional video creation with 3D elements), AlexandriaLibrary.com (free, online library and reader), and soon, Success Portraits (personalized strengths inventory for college and career).
Jed Macosko, Ph.D.