A Meta-Poll -- Re: Most Famous _______

The surprising results of A Poll: The Most Famous _______ which was started 03-18-2007, 08:53 AM and which has had (as of this post) 123 replies, prompted **MadTheSwine ** to start A Poll: The Most Famous_______ Take II Yesterday, 05:09 PM and thus far (again, as of this post) it has had 26 replies.

If you haven’t participated in those threads, and would like to, please do so before continuing in this thread. Unless you do participate in them, the basis for this thread won’t make as much sense, not that it will anyway.

Two courageous Dopers, Gangster Octopus and tiger lily (who is still a Guest as of this post), tallied the answers of the first poll through the tenth question and the associated answers of the first pages’ responses and posted their results in that first poll. It was quite clear that except for the Painting, which was almost unanimously The Mona Lisa, there was a fairly broad range of answers to the other categories in both polls. I predict the remaining responses (by those who follow the instructions – not to look at other Dopers’ answers before posting one’s own) will continue to bring disparate results.

I can only assume that the fault of these results lies with the selection of categories. Either that, or the wording used in the OP could be strengthened so that it is abundantly clear that the point to the poll is to predict what will be the consensus of “Most Famous” answers.

Given the failure to get anything like a consensus yet, the point of this thread is to decide what categories should be used. Let’s keep it simple: let’s have just 10 categories.


What ten categories are most likely to produce nearly unanimous answers to the basic question What’s the Most Famous ______?

Please give it some thought, but please also provide your response to this question ** before you look at other posts**.

Is it even possible for Dopers to agree on something at this level? Let’s see!

“Who’s the most famous playwright?” should yield a healthy consensus of Shakespeare

ETA oh bugger did you want ten?

Yes. Ten ought to be at least fun. Twenty may be too many, unless they’re really well chosen.

FWIW, I agree with the Shakespeare item.

Here are some possibilities to consider:

  1. Rock guitarist
  2. Major league pitcher
  3. Democrat Senator
  4. TV Drama Series Headliner
  5. Nationally syndicated print columnist
  6. National anthem outside USA
  7. Ocean liner – passenger ship
  8. Desert
  9. Star – besides the Sun
  10. Breakfast meat

In short, more highly defined categories. The ones we’ve used thus far seem (in retrospect) to be way too broad or way too poorly presented.

There may be a delicate balance between too broad and too trivial.

They should at least be fun, IMO.

I loved your other thread. I enjoyed reading the responses, and would like to thank all the people that compiled results.

That being said, we could not get unan… unnan…um, complete agreement on even the Mona Lisa, and that’s pretty damn famous. Some choices are going to be flavored by what you like, even though it’s not what the poll asks, because that’s the way we are.

Take the playwright example, I thought Sophoclese first, and I’d probably stick with him. He wrote a play that was so enduring that there is a “complex” names after the main character. At least with old to ancient suff you have a chance because everybody has had the opportunity to be exposed. Anything new like atheltes, unless very specific by sport, are going to get fannish responses, and generational differences.

Seeing your list, OK, we can probably get close on Ocean Liner, we’d probably get closer if it was “Ocean liner that sank and had several movies made about it,” but I think that violates the spirit of the poll.

But, the responses, and seeing the wide variety that is the Dope makes me believe that even though you can drive to any city and find the same store, the landscape that makes up our minds is still varied.

Ten most famous categories with a probable consensus?

1: soft drink

2: dangerous animal

3: rifle

4: cryptozoological monster

5: sigarette

6: word

8: car

9: pastry

10: computer game

Thinking about it, the car category is really not going to bring a consensus, there are too many feelings involved to give a true answer.

Well reasoned there, brownie55. I tend to believe your basic theme. In the several to many threads I have put up in an attempt to find “common ground” the closest I can get is the conviction that predicting what will happen to a thread, an idea, a question, or any other topic of conversation, is essentially fool’s work. The diversity of ages, geographical regions, education levels, persuasions of all sorts, not to mention tastes, makes it hard to zoom in on any topic that would get anything close to a unanimous reaction.

BTW, thanks for the kind words.

It strikes me that this would be a contender for “which category will give rise to an exact fifty-fifty split”. :wink:

I don’t think it would be even that close. I’d go for at least four major responses: Coke, Pepsi, Diet something, and funny-flavored something else. In fact, I saw nothing on Kotick’s list, with the possible exception of “dangerous animal” (for which lion, tiger, cobra, tarantula might be a top 4 grouping) that would even constitute majority groupings.

I still believe things need to be quite specific before the majority of Dopers would be channelled into a same response mode.

But then you wind up with the trivial questions along the lines of brownie55’s Titanic, which is almost forced. (I bet there’d be one in 20 responses that would veer away from Titanic, though :slight_smile: ).

Why would people even vote for Pepsi, it just tastes wrong :wink:

Well yes, its hard to find something eveyone would agree upon. But then again, it wouldn’t be much of poll if everyone answered what you expected from your question would it?

It would be like asking for the most famous answer to everything :wink:

Part of the problem is the notion of “famous” as I see it. Things are famous, that is they have fame, because a large number of people know about them. Just because I like some things doesn’t make them famous. And there a whole lot of famous things that I don’t care for.

But if the idea is to get a list of Most Famous things, I’d expect the answers to be in the same general ballpark, not scattered about all over everywhere.

Assuming its ok to use a category off the other polls

  1. Painting
  2. Superhero
  3. Mountain
  4. Soft Drink
  5. Fast Food Restaurant
  6. Prize Fighter(boxer)
  7. Musical Group(Pop-Rock)
  8. Classical Composer
  9. Awards Ceremony
  10. Comic Strip

Most Famous:

  1. American President
  2. Country music singer
  3. Dictator
  4. Tabloid whore
  5. Hockey player
  6. Basketball player
  7. American speech
  8. Play writer
  9. U.S. Supreme Court case
  10. lawyer

Most of these look pretty good to me. Can “tabloid whore” have more than 10 good solid answers? :smiley:

More than ten? The tabloid industry does not run on only ten celebrities. :slight_smile:

Still, there is no way you can think “tabloid whore” and not think about Paris Hilton.

I grant you that’s likely #1, but I would also bet that among the first 50 responses to such a question you’d see:

Britney Spears
Angelina Jolie
Jessica Simpson
Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Aniston
Scarlett Johanssen
Lindsey Lohan
Supermodel du jour
American Idol du jour
Rehab Attendee du jour

Based on the results of the two previous threads, I think there are three easy ones:

  1. Painting - Mona Lisa
  2. Baseball Player - Babe Ruth
  3. Football (Soccer) Player - Pele

After that, it gets tricky. The “best” ones seem to me to be a bit too specific, like “Most Famous brand of facial tissue” or “Most Famous manufacturer of reprographic equipment”.
Trying to keep the categories broad enough to be “fair”, I came up with:

  1. Software Company Microsoft
  2. Superhero Superman
  3. Mouse Mickey
  4. Astronaut Neil Armstrong
  5. Baseball Team New York Yankees
  6. Type of Cheese Cheddar
  7. Champagne Dom Perignon

I’m really only happy with about half of them.

I believe as long as people focused on “Most Famous” and not “First thing you think of” or “Personal favorite” your choices would be in the top two or three in each case.

Maybe Batman, Mighty Mouse, and Swiss cheese might be in the running.

Still, these are decent shots at categories, I believe.

This thread that I started a few years ago seems related.

Indeed it does. Several months before I arrived here in June. 2003. I’d post a reply there were it not for fear of having the thread locked as a zombie.

Any particularly salient points you feel like bringing to this thread from there?

I liked a lot of those, and I agreed with most, but not all, of your answers. While in a blind poll, just listing one’s own answers and not looking, I don’t think you will have any unanimous picks. I do think this is heading into the zone where maybe with discussion you could come to a real dictionary consensus on maybe 5 or 6.

To nitpick, I think that any category where the choices are as limited as they are for Mouse should be disregarded. I think you need at least 4 or 5 realistic options that the most famous still stands head and shoulders above.

With that in mind, I offer Planet.