‘Values? What Values?’ The Most Admired People In The World

This depressed and discouraged me, so you might as well be discouraged too. Here’s the list of the 20 most admired men and women worldwide, according to a YouGov.com survey.

The  study surveyed “more than 42,000 people” in 38 countries and territories, and who knows how accurate it is. I would assume that the relative standings are pretty meaningless. However, I offer these observation based on the fact that we are supposed to admire people based on what they have accomplished that we regard as good, right and beneficial to humanity, and the values they exemplify in their lives. Envy is something entirely different. Thus my first observation is that the lists demonstrate that a decisive number of those surveyed do not comprehend the distinction between admiration and envy.

My second is that I see little evidence that values played a major role in the choices at all, and maybe any role.


  • That Barack Obama leads the list, as he has often in the past 13 years, is  testimony to relentless media hagiography. The same is true of Michelle Obama, indeed even more so. What has Michelle Obama accomplished that justifies her being so “admired,” or admired at all?
  • The nations with the largest populations are apparently well-brainwashed, at least regarding men.  The two most-admired world leaders are China’s and Russia’s. Is it their power people admire, or their values? Let’s hope it’s the former.
  • On the women’s list, there is exactly one elected leader who is still in power: #20, the prime minister of New Zealand. Whatever that says, I don’t think it’s good.
  • The fact that Kamala Harris and Hillary make the list at all suggests to me that those surveyed had a hard time coming up with “admirable” women of any definition.
  • Ignorance is the most prominent feature of both lists.
  • Obsession with celebrity is the second most. Actresses, singers and models make up the largest group on the women’s list
  • On the men’s list, Ronaldo and Messi are soccer players; Modi is the PM of India; Jack Ma is a Chinese tycoon (wealth appears to be widely admired); Tendulkar and Kohli are cricket players; T. Khan and Bachchan are India actors; Lau is a Hong King actor.
  • No novelists. No playwrights. No composers. No philosophers. No judges. No scientists. No scholars. No historians. No journalists, news anchors or pundits. No soldiers. No doctors (not even Dr. Jill).
  • On the bright side, no Karhashians or reality stars made either list. No members of “The Squad.” No NFL or NBA players. No members of Congress. No criminals, as far as we know.

I admire living people who exemplify ethical values and make society better and life more livable. Who would make your top 20? OK, let’s just shoot for ten. I’ll post my list later.

14 thoughts on “‘Values? What Values?’ The Most Admired People In The World

  1. It struck me during the height of the Clinton era that contemporary society is essentially governed by the same principles as those governing classical Greek mythology. The characters with the most power, wealthy or beauty are idolized, admired and feared. Their bad behavior is taken for granted and ignored.

  2. I admire Dolly Parton. She’s done some really great things. Temple Grandin comes to mind. Jordan Peterson. Ray Dalio. Michael Jordan. Condi Rice. Johnathon Haidt. I do admire Jeff Bezos, not for the person, but for the courage and devotion it took to build Amazon. That took vision. Carl Diekler, Beachbody’s CEO, whose corporate mission is to fight the obesity epidemic. Brene Brown. Gabby Reece, for being a healthy role model when I needed one.

      • Whatever else he’s done, he was a great ball player and knew how to be part of a team. That’s something I think is admirable. We tend to blacklist people for their failings, but he was amazing to watch play. As a athlete he deserves a nod.

        • I could sub out John Elway if you prefer. Same reasoning. No one is without flaws, and they were both great athletes and had some humility to them. I’m not much of a sports person, but even I could see they were good at what they did.

        • Left his wife and children for a Cuban cutie and hanging out smoking cigars and playing golf in Miami.

          “When you’re a ballplayer, there ain’t much to bein’ a ballplayer.”

          — Rogers Hornsby

          • Ha. He’s not wrong, I suppose. I can’t be a ball player. Can you?There’s a lot of hours to being a ball player at that level. Like Jeff Bezos, I’m not admiring his private life. Just one facet that he was famous for. Plus I don’t follow athletics anymore, I can’t name a single player on any team. I was inspired as a teen though. That little diver who won gold in platform women’s diving was amazing too. How about this. Strike Michael Jordan and add the talented athletes that have been part of a team and been moderately humble about it, because that’s what I respected about MJ and Elway and others.

  3. Living people I admire? Hmmmm. Gary Sinise, for all his work with veterans. Victor Davis Hanson, conservative scholar. Donald Trump (grudgingly) for being the last president whose policies worked. Tommy Franks, the last great captain, or close to one. William Bratton, last of the traditional police chiefs who actually believed in keeping order. Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida. Daniel Rodriguez, policeman turned tenor. Margaret Ericsdottir, founder of the Golden Hat Foundation autism charity. Edward the Duke of Kent, last royal to actually be a career military officer and actually do much. Buzz Aldrin, last of the first mission to the moon.

    I’m sure I could think of more, but, for the moment, I’ll stop there. I’m pretty disgusted with these frankly ridiculous lists, especially the women. Once you stuff the younger generation’s heads, already full of holes from social media and social promotion, with critical race theory and hatred of one race and one gender, you eliminate a good chunk of the admirable, including most of the best. Once you eliminate those who the woke won’t allow, the list of admirable people becomes thinner still. There’s something to be said for admiring people closer to home than those in DC and Hollywood, but I’m not sure even that’s possible. You can’t admire parents if they’re demonized for daring to stand up to educators who want to turn the kids against them. You can’t admire the emergency services if they’re deemed racist, especially the police. You can’t admire doctors or lawyers or other professionals because they are too wealthy.

    Honestly, I think society is headed towards admiring nobody and finding fault with everybody. Despite what the Bible says about all having sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (one of the most abused passages in the book), that’s really not a good place to be. When you teach that all are sinners or that no one is admirable you teach that life is without meaning or purpose. You teach that achievement doesn’t count, so there’s no point in trying. You teach that virtue doesn’t count, so there’s no point in acting virtuous. You teach that honor doesn’t count, so there’s no point in being honorable. Might as well just do the minimum, cut corners where you can, ignore rules that no one bothers to enforce in the first place, and go home to drink yourself into insensitivity or get as much sex as you can. Why aspire to more?

    The men of the Age of Discovery (are you still allowed to call it that?) discovered new worlds. Now we applaud “discovery” that you were born the wrong gender. The white man’s burden used to mean bringing civilization to the uncivilized. Now it means that white men owe everyone who isn’t a huge debt and permanent shame. Two decades ago everyone wanted to be a cop or fireman. Now everyone wants to murder them. Admiration indeed.

  4. In no particular order:

    My wife
    My parents
    David McCullough
    Ron Chernow
    Jon Meacham
    Tim Wakefield
    Dale Murphy
    Tony Heller
    George Strait
    Denzel Washington
    Paul Washer
    Voddie Baucham

    A handful of celebrities and athletes in there, but not because of their fame/talents.

    And Jack, your writing and your readers’ responses have taught me a great deal, so you make my list as well.

  5. Depressing and discouraging indeed! Excellent points here but I doubt, “No criminals, as far as we know”.
    “God gave them over to a reprobate mind…” this is my only explanation for people’s thinking.

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