Category Archives: Lists

Think About It: The Greatest Philosophers Lists

As an introduction to my two new meta-lists of The Greatest Philosophers of All Time, I have one story and one list.

THE STORY: Almost 40 years ago, in my senior year of high school and the summer following, I had the same conversation over and over with multiple adults – mostly my relatives and my parents’ friends. It went something like this:

“Where are you going to college?”
“Oberlin.” If they recognized the name, they’d say something.  Some thought it was exclusively a music school, and I’d have to disabuse them of that idea. “It’s a small liberal arts school, about 30 miles from Cleveland – about 3,000 students. Only 500 of them are in the music conservatory.”‘
“What are you going to study?”
This is where I would get the skeptical looks, and inevitably, the question, “What are you going to DO with that?”
“I’m going to rent office space in a Manhattan skyscraper and hang a shingle on my door that says, ‘John M. Becker, Philosopher’.  And if someone needs me to do any thinking for them, I’ll charge by the hour.”
Just before I went off to college, a couple that were friends with my parents, the Frazzas, came to the house to visit.  They had a package for me.  We all sat in the kitchen while I opened it.  This is what was inside:
philosopher plaque

THE LIST:  Here is a list of some of the things I learned from majoring in philosophy:

(1) If you get to pick your premises, you can prove pretty much anything.
(2) It is much easier to find flaws in someone else’s theory than to come up with your own.
(3) Free will may be an illusion, but we have to act as if we have it.
(4) Inductive reasoning is an illusion, but somehow it still works.
(5) We don’t really know anything.
(6) Although the materialist view that only physical matter and energy exist is appealing, no philosopher has yet come up with an airtight materialist explanation for human consciousness.

Here, then, are the two new lists:

The Greatest Philosophers of All Time – Ranked
The Greatest Philosophers of All Time – Chronological

The first list is for folks who want to know which philosophers are considered the greatest of the great.  The second list is for folks who want to follow the history of philosophy from ancient times to the present.

New and Updated Meta-Lists: Guitarists and Scientists

I recently added two new meta-lists to the Make Lists, Not War website:

Best Guitarists of All Time – Ranked
Best Guitarists of All Time – Chronological

(Spoiler Alert: I did not make it onto the list! But if you want to hear me play and sing, check out this website.)

I also updated the Greatest Scientists of All Time – Ranked meta-list and added a new meta-list: Greatest Scientists of All Time – Chronological.

Feel free to check them out!

All That Jazz: Introducing the New Improved Jazz Meta-Lists

If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know. – Louis Armstrong (

I’ve completely revised the jazz meta-lists on Make Lists, Not War, removed an outdated list and added three new lists.  Here are the links:

Best Jazz Albums of All Time – Ranked
Best Jazz Albums of All Time – Chronological
Best Jazz Musicians and their Best Work – Ranked
Best Jazz Musicians and their Best Work – Chronological
Best Contemporary Jazz Musicians

In this post introducing these new lists, I’ve decided to forego writing an essay about jazz from my limited perspective and instead to include some quotes and definitions from other, more authoritative sources, as well as a very short jazz history timeline.

Jazz is the most significant form of musical expression in American culture and outstanding contribution to the art of music

Jazz: American music developed especially from ragtime and blues and characterized by propulsive syncopated rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, varying degrees of improvisation, and often deliberate distortions of pitch and timbre. –

The real power of Jazz is that a group of people can come together and create improvised art and negotiate their agendas… and that negotiation is the art Wynton Marsalis in Ken Burns’ Jazz.

Although jazz is considered highly difficult to define, at least in part because it contains so many varied subgenres, improvisation is consistently regarded as being one of its key elements. The centrality of improvisation in jazz is attributed to influential earlier forms of music: the early blues, a form of folk music which arose in part from the work songs and field hollers of the African-American slaves on plantations. … [J]azz is often characterized as the product of group creativity, interaction, and collaboration, which places varying degrees of value on the contributions of the composer (if there is one) and performers.In jazz, the skilled performer will interpret a tune in very individual ways, never playing the same composition the same way twice; depending on the performer’s mood and personal experience, interactions with other musicians, or even members of the audience, a jazz musician may alter melodies, harmonies or time signature at will.

Jazz, to me, is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul – the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile. – Langston Hughes (

Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time. – Ornette Coleman (

Jazz stands for freedom. It’s supposed to be the voice of freedom: Get out there and improvise, and take chances, and don’t be a perfectionist – leave that to the classical musicians. – Dave Brubeck (

A Very Short History of Jazz

1890s-1910s: Jazz is born in New Orleans from a mix of pre-existing musical styles: ragtime, early blues, spirituals, marching bands, vaudeville, dance bands.

1900-1930: New Orleans Jazz, Trad Jazz, Dixieland Jazz (Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke, etc.)

1920s-1930s: Classic female blues (Bessie Smith, etc.)

1930s-1940s: Swing and big band jazz (Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Billie Holiday)

Mid-1940s: Bebop arrives (Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell)

Late 1940s-early1950s: Cool jazz and West Coast jazz are born (Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck)

1950s-1960s: Bebop evolves into hard bop (Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Lee Morgan,
Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane)

1950s: Third stream mixes cool jazz and classical music (Gil Evans, Modern Jazz Quartet, Miles Davis)

1950s: Modal jazz appears (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans)

1959: Free jazz appears (Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane)

Late 1950s-early1960s: Soul jazz arrives (Jimmy Smith, etc.)

Late 1960s-1970s: Jazz-rock fusion and funk-jazz arrive (Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report)

1980s-Present: Revival of older styles (neo-bop), continuation of newer styles. Crossover jazz.

Enjoy the lists, jazz lovers.  And please remember: These are meta-lists, which are compilations of lists I collected, not lists I made.  THESE ARE NOT MY PERSONAL OPINIONS.  I HAVE NOT LISTENED TO ALL THIS MUSIC.

Soft Cel: Announcing the Animated Films Meta-Lists

I’ve created two new meta-lists of the best animated films of all time (both feature-length and shorts), so if that’s a topic that interests you, click on the links below:

Best Animated Films of All Time- Ranked
Best Animated Films of All Time – Chronological

As always, these meta-lists are not my personal opinions; they are the combined opinions of many other people. But if you are curious to see what my favorite animated movies are, I made a list of my top 10 (in chronological order):

  1. Fantasia (Ben Sharpsteen, David Hand, et al., 1940)
  2. One Froggy Evening (Chuck Jones, 1955)
  3. What’s Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones, 1957)
  4. The Hand (Jiří Trnka, 1965)
  5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (Chuck Jones, 1966)
  6. The Wrong Trousers (Nick Park, 1993)
  7. A Close Shave (Nick Park, 1995)
  8. Waking Life (Richard Linklater, 2001)
  9. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
  10. Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, 2015)

Funny How? The Stand-Up Comics Meta-List

I first compiled a meta-list of the Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time back in 2013, and I thought it was time for an update.  I’ve collected nearly 20 lists of Best Stand-Up Comics from all over the Internet.  Here are the results: every stand-up comic on three or more of the original source lists.  They are organized by rank, that is, with the comics on the most lists at the top.

NOTE: These are not my personal opinions.  If they were, then Maria Bamford would definitely have been on here.

On 18 lists
George Carlin (1937-2008)

On 17 lists
Richard Pryor (1940-2005)

On 16 lists
Steve Martin (1945- )

On 15 lists

Eddie Murphy (1961- )

On 14 lists
Lenny Bruce (1925-1966)
Jerry Seinfeld (1954- )

On 13 lists
Bill Hicks (1961-1994)
Chris Rock (1965- )

On 12 lists
Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004)
Robin Williams (1951-2014)
Louis C.K. (1967- )

On 11 lists
Bill Cosby (1937- )
Dave Chappelle (1973- )

On 9 lists
Don Rickles (1926- )

On 8 lists
Bob Newhart (1929- )
Steven Wright (1955- )
Mitch Hedberg (1968-2005)

On 7 lists

Redd Foxx (1922-1991)
Jonathan Winters (1925-2013)
Woody Allen (1935- )
Sam Kinison (1953-1992)

On 6 lists
Bob Hope (1903-2003)
Phyllis Diller (1917-2012)
Albert Brooks (1957- )
Eddie Izzard (1962- )

On 5 lists

Johnny Carson (1925-2005)
Mort Sahl (1927- )
Billy Connolly (1942- )
Dick Gregory (1946- )
Lewis Black (1948- )
Paula Poundstone (1959- )

On 4 lists
Jack Benny (1894-1974)
George Burns (1896-1996)
Milton Berle (1908-2002)
Joan Rivers (1933-2014)
David Letterman (1947- )
Andy Kaufman (1949-1984)
Garry Shandling (1949-2016)
Jay Leno (1950- )
Freddie Prinze (1954-1977)
Gilbert Gottfried (1955- )
Denis Leary (1957- )
Ray Romano (1957- )
Ellen DeGeneres (1958- )
Jim Carrey (1962- )

On 3 lists

Moms Mabley (1894-1975)
Henny Youngman (1906-1998)
Joey Bishop (1918-2007)
Buddy Hackett (1924-2003)
Alan King (1927-2004)
Jackie Mason (1931- )
Flip Wilson (1933-1998)
David Brenner (1936-2014)
Richard Belzer (1944- )
Richard Lewis (1947- )
Billy Crystal (1948- )
George Wallace (1952- )
Roseanne Barr (1952- )
Dennis Miller (1953- )
Tim Allen (1953- )
Larry Miller (1953- )
Dana Carvey (1955- )
Sandra Bernhard (1955- )
Bill Maher (1956- )
Richard Jeni (1957-2007)
Bernie Mac (1957-2008)
Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay (1958- )
Damon Wayans (1960- )
Jon Stewart (1962- )
D.L. Hughley (1963- )
David Cross (1964- )
Wanda Sykes (1964- )
Martin Lawrence (1965- )
Adam Sandler (1966- )
Patton Oswalt (1969- )
Sarah Silverman (1970- )
Kevin Hart (1979- )

Longer Isn’t Always Better: Introducing the Best Bridges Meta-Lists

I’ve created two new meta-lists of the best bridges in the world.  To do this, I collected over 20 lists that I found on the Internet of the best, greatest, most amazing, most spectacular and most famous bridges in the world and combined them into two meta-lists: one organized by rank (that is, with the bridges on the most lists at the top) and one organized chronologically.  I’ve included information about the bridges along with lots of photographs. Some of these bridges have to be seen to be believed!

Click on the links below to go directly to the lists:

Best Bridges of All Time: Ranked
Best Bridges of All Time: Chronological

Some of these bridges also appear on the Best Architecture Lists and the Best Works of Civil Engineering lists, and those lists contain some bridges that are not on the Best Bridges lists. Click on the links below to go to the other lists:

Best Architecture of All Time: Ranked
Best Architecture of All Time: Chronological
Best Works of Civil Engineering
Best Works of Civil Engineering: Chronological

I didn’t included “highest”, “longest” and other superlatives in the descriptions of the bridges for a number of reasons.  For one thing, new record-breaking bridges are always being built, so these designations tend to be short-lived.  In addition, I think emphasizing which bridge is the longest, tallest, highest, etc. can take away from the achievement that each bridge represents. After all, the third, fourth or fifth longest (or tallest) bridges may be as impressive and even more stunning than numbers one or two.  Finally, dimensions alone do not define every bridge; many of the bridges that made the list are there because they are beautiful, dramatic or unusual in some way.  Some are there because of how scary they look.  To me, that’s as good a reason as any to name something one of the “best” bridges of all time.

For those who crave to know the biggest, longest, here is an (uncut) list of some of the current record holders:

  1. Longest bridge: Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge (China, 2011) 102.4 miles
  2. Longest road bridge: Bang Na Expressway (Thailand, 2000) 33.52 miles
  3. Longest bridge over water (aggregate): Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (China, 2011) 25.84 miles
  4. Longest bridge over water (continuous): Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (US, 1969) 23.89 miles
  5. Longest bridge in US: Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (Louisiana, 1969) 23.89 miles
  6. Longest bridge in Latin America: Rio-Niterói Bridge (Brazil, 1974) 8.26 miles
  7. Longest bridge in Europe: Vasco da Gama Bridge (Portugal, 1998) 7.67 miles
  8. Longest wooden bridge: Lake Pontchartrain Railroad Trestle, Louisiana (US, 1883) 5.82 miles
  9. Longest suspension bridge: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (Japan, 1998) main span: 6,532 ft.
  10. Longest suspension bridge in Europe: Great Belt Bridge (Denmark, 1998) main span: 5,328 ft.
  11. Longest suspension bridge in US: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (New York, 1964) main span: 4,259.84 ft.
  12. Longest suspension bridge in Latin America: Angostura Bridge (Venezuela, 1967) main span: 2,336 ft.
  13. Longest stone bridge: Rockville Bridge, Marysville, Pennsylvania (US, 1902) 3,820 ft.
  14. Longest cantilever bridge: Quebec Bridge (Canada, 1917) 3,239 ft.
  15. Longest swing bridge: El Ferdan Railway Bridge (Egypt, 2001) 2,100 ft.
  16. Longest pedestrian suspension bridge: Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge (Switzerland, 2017) 1,620.72 ft.
  17. Longest transporter bridge: Newport Transporter Bridge (Wales, UK, 1906) 594 ft.
  18. Longest lift bridge: Railway bridge over Arthur Kill Channel, NJ/Staten Island, NY (US, 1959) moveable section: 558 ft.
  19. Longest plastic bridge: Bridge in Aberfeldy Golf Club (England, UK, ) 370.75 ft.
  20. Highest bridge:* Duge Bridge (China, 2016) clearance: 1,854 ft. above Beipan River
  21. Highest bridge in Latin America: Baluarte Bridge (Mexico, 2013) clearance: 1,710 ft. above Baluarte River
  22. Highest bridge in US: Royal Gorge Bridge (Colorado, 1929) clearance: 955 ft. above Arkansas River
  23. Highest bridge in Europe: Millau Viaduct (France, 2004) clearance: 886 ft. over Tarn River Valley
  24. Tallest bridge:* Millau Viaduct (France, 2004) 1,125 ft.
  25. Tallest bridge in Asia: Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (Turkey, 2016) 1,056 ft.
  26. Tallest bridge in Latin America: Mezcala Bridge (Mexico, 1993) 774 ft.
  27. Tallest bridge in US: Golden Gate Bridge (California, 1937) 746 ft.
  28. Oldest bridge (still in use): Stone arch bridge over Meles River in Izmir, Turkey (c. 850 BCE)
  29. Oldest bridge in Europe (still in use): Stone arch bridge over Erasinos River near Xirokambi, Laconia, Greece (c. 150 BCE)
  30. Oldest bridge in US (still in use): Frankford Avenue Bridge over Pennypack Creek in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1697)

* Q. What is the difference between “Highest” bridge and “Tallest” bridge?
A.  “Highest” measures the distance (clearance) between the deck of the bridge and the ground (or body of water) below.  “Tallest” measures the height of the physical structure of the bridge from its highest to lowest point.

You can find out more about the bridges in bold type on the new lists. Click on the links below:

Best Bridges of All Time – Ranked
Best Bridges of All Time – Chronological

The Biggest and Best Movie Meta-List in the History of Cinema

Sorry for the over-the-top title, but hyperbole can be effective in getting your attention. I’ve just created a new movie meta-list – it’s the largest one I’ve ever made (791 movies) and, for the first time, I’ve arranged it in reverse chronological order so that the most recent movies are at the top. Click here to go directly to: The Big Movie List.

To make this list I put together all the movies on three other movie meta-lists from Make Lists, Not War: Best Films of All Time – Ranked; Best Films of All Time – Ranked (Older Version); and Top 200 Movies of All Time – Using a New Methodology.  Then, I took the meta-lists from Best Films – Year by Year (which covers 2002-2016) and added the top 10 movies (or more, in the case of ties) from each Year by Year list.  The result is a comprehensive list of the best movies ever made, as determined by film critics, scholars and journalists.  Since the typical “best films of all time” list tends to skimp on recent movies, the addition of the Year-by-Year lists has infused the overall list with a large number of movies from the last 20 years.

Of course, as with all lists, many will find glaring omissions (how could they leave that out???) and a few clunkers (how could they put that in???).  But that is of course the fun of lists.  Note that these are not my personal favorite 791 movies – I haven’t even seen many of them.  I did add my personal 1-10 rating for all the movies on the list that I have seen.  If you want to see a list of my favorite films, go HERE.

If you have strong opinions one way or the other, please feel free to add a comment.

If you think this list is pretty cool, feel free to share it.