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40 Historical People that Everyone Should Know

Were you paying attention in history class? Name these famous historical figures!
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Clue
Person
Wrote "Hamlet"
Killed on the Ides of March
Christian Messiah
"Moonlight Sonata" composer
Invented the printing press
"Mona Lisa" painter
His "Great Leap Forward"
killed over 30 million
First female Prime Minister of the UK
"Discovered" the New World
First deaf and blind college graduate
Greek who conquered Persia
Started the Protestant Reformation
Lord Protector of England, 1653-1658
Led his elephants across the Alps
Father of the nation of India
Called the Liberator of Latin America
French woman who led troops
in the Hundred Years War
"Discovered" east coast of Australia
Gave the "I Have a Dream" speech
New Deal President
Clue
Person
First U.S. President
First man on the moon
"Discovered" evolution
Wrote "Great Expectations"
"Tao te Ching" author
"Discovered" gravity
UK Prime Minister during WWII
Wrote "Pride and Prejudice"
First Soviet leader
Founder of Islam
Virgin Queen of England
Supposedly wrote "The Iliad"
Aviatrix who disappeared
over the Pacific
French Emperor, 1804-1815
Creator of Huckleberry Finn
German WWII leader
Battle of Trafalgar admiral
U.S. Civil War President
Light bulb inventor
Refused to give up her
bus seat, in Alabama
Answer Stats
Clue
Person
% Correct
Your %
(39)
The printing press was not invented by Gutenberg. The earliest non-metal printing press was invented in China while the first metal printing press was invented in Korea.
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Jun 24, 2016
(43)
Gutenberg invented the first movable-type printing press, actually. The presses in Asia were fixed-type and so VERY hard to change for new text, which worked for Chinese literature, but with the European alphabets in the West having movable-type print meant that a huge amount of fast and efficient printing was now possible.
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Aug 3, 2016
(66)
There is no good historical evidence that this Jesus guy actually existed - you should either not lump him in there with people who definitely existed, or add a caveat like you did for Homer.
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Jun 24, 2016
(38)
Jesus definitely existed. There is no dispute about that.
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Jan 2, 2017
(36)
That's a big, fat lie. There's no proof of a historical Jesus. Here's one article on the subject: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/18/did-historical-jesus-exist-the-traditional-evidence-doesnt-hold-up/?utm_term=.a634379f1e50
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Jan 4, 2017
(61)
It's a thin lie now after a low-carb diet.
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Jan 8, 2017
(41)
He existed all right.
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Jan 26, 2017
(24)
And mister...Halebopp, is it? I would advise that you check the source links in your article. The scripture references are farcical, and the other references are all to various scholarly accounts affirming the existence of Jesus. The author obviously banked on the average person not checking their sources.
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Feb 2, 2017
(24)
For the record, the existence of Jesus was repudiated by several secular sources-try this URL: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/nonchristianaccounts.html.
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Feb 2, 2017
(48)
Jesus the person existed. If you don't believe all the other religious stuff, then he was just a prophet who defied the Romans.
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Feb 17, 2017
(40)
Yeah, like I'm really going to put more credence in some latter-day "scholastic" thesis than in the Holy Bible. (And, now I'll just stand back for all of you who are going to dispute the veracity of the Bible as well... to each his own)
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Feb 24, 2017
(55)
^ LOL What about every other religious text that contradicts the bible? Are those just stories made up by someone for the purpose of wanting people to believe their story over others? Could the same be said of the bible? And yes, you should put more credence in all scholastic theses than any unverifiable document.
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Mar 8, 2017
(28)
It is a well-accepted fact that Jesus existed. Whether or not he was the son of God, or if he was born in Bethlehem, or that he was resurrected, is another matter.
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Mar 20, 2017
(69)
Kudos to QuizMaster for fixing the Jesus clue! (well, most of the way, his existence and historicity still being a point of contention)
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Jun 24, 2016
(44)
My knowlege of history must be okay – got everything first time with 2:11 remaining.
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Jun 24, 2016
(39)
It has nothing to do with being to americentric, but Hellen Keller being in this quiz is an absolute joke.
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Jun 24, 2016
(53)
I agree she does not have the same significance as the other people on this list. What she accomplished is extraordinary, for sure, but it didn't have national or global ramifications the way everyone else's actions did. Even the writers on the list made works that are still studied and read the world over. Hellen Keller is inspirational, and the work she did in her adult years was important, but she is not on par with everyone else here.
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Jun 24, 2016
(69)
I wouldn't say that she is less significant than Thatcher (not such a good PM, notable mostly for lacking a penis), Cromwell, Hannibal (good general, sure, but as Yoda said, wars not make one great), Parks (inspirational figure but the civil rights movement would have happened without her), Earhart (quite similar to Keller. She achieved a lot. She's inspirational. But lasting global ramifications? Also noteworthy in part for not having a penis), or Austen. At least Keller is not less significant than some of these others by a large margin, if at all.

Besides, this quiz is not titled "40 People Whose Achievements Had Global Ramifications." It's just "40 Historical People You Should Know." Is Keller noteworthy? Worth knowing? Yes. You admit her achievements were extraordinary.
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Jun 25, 2016
(28)
Thatcher, although unpopular with lefties, achieved many things. There is an article on the net written by Jonathan Lea listing them.
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Oct 5, 2016
(69)
Were those achievements so great that they warrant a spot on a list of historically important people only 40 spaces long? I think not. At least not any more than Helen Keller's.
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Oct 9, 2016
(70)
Jane Austen is considered one of the greatest female writers. She took the novel from being melodramatic drivel to a realistic account of life peppered with wit and humor. She changed literature and certainly deserves to be on this list. Margaret Thatcher? I'm with you on that one. We probably wouldn't have remembered Earhart as much if she had actually succeeded, which is sad.
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Jan 5, 2017
(69)
Earhart succeeded at many things. She broke a lot of records and made several aviation firsts (mostly having to do with being the first female to do something, though, not in every case). She only got lost somewhere in the Pacific once.
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Mar 6, 2017
(2)
She isn't as well known as she deservedly should be, in my opinion.
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Mar 21, 2017
(30)
I feel like this list should be bigger, I mean no Benjamin Franklin come on..
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Jun 24, 2016
(67)
Shouldn't "man on the moon" be in quotes too?
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Jun 24, 2016
(60)
Chamberlain and Attlee were also Prime Ministers of the UK during WWII.
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Jun 24, 2016
(45)
Attlee wasn't there was an election just after
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Jun 25, 2016
(34)
The war was still going on in the Pacific when Atlee became PM.
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Mar 22, 2017
(62)
In the interests of being very pedantic, you should maybe allow Goebbels for the German leader, as he was Chancellor for a couple of days near the end of the war, but then admittedly you end up with a load of problems with Donitz being President etc. Good quiz though- and that's probably going to be the more controversial statement by the looks of things.
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Jun 27, 2016
(51)
FREAKING LAOZI
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Jun 27, 2016
(32)
Sorry, but edison did definitely not discover the lightbulb, by any definition. His workers did, he just patented it.
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Jul 4, 2016
(69)
whether or not this is true, the take-away here for me is... you believe that Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world and defeated the Persian Empire by himself? Wow. No wonder he was called Great. Also, you think that Mao Tse Tung killed 30 million people directly, in person, perhaps bare handed? His social calendar must have been even busier than Wilt Chamberlain's.
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Jul 24, 2016
(67)
By my estimate he would have had to kill someone every 87 seconds from the moment he was born till the moment he died. Busy man indeed.
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Aug 26, 2016
(61)
The first electric light was made in 1800 by Humphrey Davy, an English scientist. He experimented with electricity and invented an electric battery. When he connected wires to his battery and a piece of carbon, the carbon glowed, producing light. This is called an electric arc. Much later, in 1860, the English physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914) devised a practical, long-lasting electric light. He found that a carbon paper filament worked well, but burned up quickly. In 1878, he demonstrated his new electric lamps in Newcastle, England. The inventor Thomas Alva Edison and his employees (in the USA) experimented with thousands of different filaments to find just the right materials to glow well and be long-lasting.
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Jan 8, 2017
(69)
^ right. Thus inventing the common, modern, practical lightbulb.
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Jan 30, 2017
(61)
I'd call it "Improving" rather than 'Inventing.'
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Feb 3, 2017
(69)
The common, modern, practical lightbulb did not exist before Edison and his employees invented one. But I know what you're trying to say.
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Feb 6, 2017
(34)
Yuri Gagarin - The first man in space and Chamberlain was also the british PM for the first couple of years of WWII, and not Stalin? Castro? Abraham (the old testament and the leader of the monotheism religion before Jesus and Mohammed was born) ? ...
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Jul 26, 2016
(34)
Forty people - in the history of the world, that's a small number. There is always going to be individuals that are missed off such a list. Why on earth do people carp on so much on these such lists? It's not definitive, and it's not to be taken too seriously either. Get some perspective! If you want a list with people you think are worthy, why not make one yourself?
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Mar 22, 2017
(44)
Such a shame that no notable Africans (good or bad) were included on the list. Pretty sure everyone at least knows Mandela
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Aug 3, 2016
(22)
Darwin "discovered " evolution. Why the inverted commas?
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Aug 15, 2016
(26)
Cause you cant discover something that already exists
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Sep 14, 2016
(34)
Huh? Sure you can! You do know what discovered means right?
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Oct 5, 2016
(33)
because it's not fact
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Dec 22, 2016
(36)
Who do you think it was then? It is true that Darwin formulated the theory and published it in On the Origins of Species.
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Jan 4, 2017
(58)
I think he's denying that evolution is fact. Which is not an argument I'm inclined to get into.
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Jan 27, 2017
(42)
Just typed Zedong and got it wrong
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Sep 19, 2016
(57)
Because that's his first name, all you need is Mao.
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Sep 24, 2016
(49)
Bah bah bah-dah-daaah
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Mar 16, 2017
(17)
finished with 1:53 remaining and I'm 13
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Sep 19, 2016
(56)
Darwin received a joint credit for the theory of evolution along with Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace should be an acceptable answer for this question.
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Sep 21, 2016
(42)
I am surprised Cromwell is guessed so infrequently...
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Oct 6, 2016
(28)
The clue is perhaps a little ambiguous...
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Mar 20, 2017
(34)
Who is Helen Keller???
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Oct 8, 2016
(69)
If only you had access to the Internet you could probably find out.
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Oct 9, 2016
(70)
She's an American who became deaf and blind while very young. She was the subject of the play and movie, "The Miracle Worker" which tells how her teacher, Annie Sullivan, taught her to communicate. She eventually became the first deaf and blind person to graduate from college, and she became an author and political activist in the early 1900s.
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Feb 3, 2017
(44)
Damn it; second attempt (though i dint remember the first); Amelia Earheart was the only one i missed; and i did a project on her in primary school! I mean that was 20 years ago... I could remember Charles Kingsford Smith but it helps when you've got an airport named after you
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Oct 9, 2016
(32)
Darwin did not discover evolution, what he discovered was "evolution through natural selection". Before Darwin, there were other scientists who were working on evolution, like Lamarck.
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Oct 14, 2016
(44)
Edison borrowed, stole, or bought patents from a lot of other inventors - Joseph Swan invented a light bulb several months before Edison (it just didn't catch on because it was less efficient)
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Oct 17, 2016
(34)
All this quiz taught me is how self centered Europeans are. As an American, I already knew how Americans usually focus on themselves. But now, I can say that most of the Europeans here making comments are just as self centered as Americans.
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Oct 17, 2016
(7)
score is ok, 35
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Oct 18, 2016
(23)
Alexander the great was Macedonian, greek educated but still Macedonian
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Oct 19, 2016
(61)
Since Macedonia was one of the many states within the Greek world at the time, and its capital (and Alexander's birthplace) was inside the current frontiers of Greece, I don't understand why you feel the distinction necessary.
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Oct 21, 2016
(61)
Keller, Earhart and Thatcher are definitely not someone that everyone should know about. The effect of their deeds and popularity is mostly limited to their respective countries. I'd say that the rest are reasonably famous historical figures, although as usual, the choice is very skewed (Cook but not Magellan or Vasco da Gama. Dickens, Austen or Twain but not Dante, Moliere or Ghoethe. Elisabeth I but not Louis XIV or Catherine the Great). It's very telling that out of those 40 historical people, only 19 did not have English as their language. The World is bigger than that. four writers in English, four US Presidents, two UK Prime Ministers,... . I'd say that Dante, Moliere, or Ghoethe would have made for a more diverse setup. It would also have been nice to include figures such as here are four presidents from the UK and two prime ministers of the UK.
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Oct 21, 2016
(69)
It doesn't say anywhere that these are the only 40 people you should know.
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Oct 22, 2016
(56)
rocamorar: I get it - 1) too many women; 2) replace some Europeans and Euro-Americans with other Europeans. And this adds up to greater diversity.
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Dec 18, 2016
(33)
But Adolf Hitler wan't German
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Oct 29, 2016
(62)
That's not the point. It means he was the leader of Germany, not that he was German. But even at that, he still was German. He was born in Austria, yes, but in case you did not know, people can become citizens of other countries. Which he did.
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Nov 1, 2016
(69)
and German can also be an ethnicity.
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Nov 1, 2016
(69)
and ethnicity and naturalization aside, it doesn't matter, because the clue could just as easily be read to mean "leader of Germany" as "leader who was German."
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Nov 1, 2016
(53)
"Germany" was a pretty new concept at the time anyway - when Hitler was born, the German Empire was only a couple of decades old, and for centuries before that Austria had been the leading German power. Someone looking at the situation in 1750 would have more than likely guessed that if a unified German state was formed, Austria would be the place it would happen. National identity has historically been pretty fluid - German-speaking Pan-Germanist Adolf Hitler leading Germany is much less ironic than Italian-speaking Napoleone di Buonoparte becoming Emperor of France.
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Dec 12, 2016
(69)
^exactly. It's such a common source of errors that people just assume that these fabricated divisions like nationality, race, or contemporary nation states existed forever and go back for all time. They certainly did not.
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Dec 25, 2016
(3)
smh some of these seem liberal
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Oct 31, 2016
(53)
I don't even....what? It's a list of famous people. Are you sad that Reagan isn't on it? Thatcher and Churchill aren't good enough? What kind of absurd comment is this?
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Dec 21, 2016
(47)
Missed the messiah question
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Nov 24, 2016
(29)
mandela*
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Nov 30, 2016
(35)
The only reason I know Laozi is because of an Epic Rap Battles of History
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Dec 15, 2016
(20)
Where's Sun Tzu, Ghengis Khan, George Patton, Joesph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, Nelson Mandela, Asoka, Franklin Roosevelt, Leaf Erickson
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Dec 16, 2016
(53)
Roosevelt is on the list. The rest of them are playing poker in Heaven's smoking room.
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Dec 21, 2016
(44)
They're on the follow up quiz you are going to write. I propose making it more comprehensive, say 'Twenty Thousand People Everyone Should Know'. Please allow adequate time.
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Mar 20, 2017
(34)
Will ten minutes be enough time...? ;-)
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Mar 22, 2017
(34)
Write a quiz with the people you want to see then, if you don't like this one. Everyone is a critic, aren't they.
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Mar 22, 2017
(27)
I study at Johannes Gutenberg University :)
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Dec 21, 2016
(34)
?
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Mar 22, 2017
(33)
*theory of evolution
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Dec 22, 2016
(49)
Missed one. That was Laozi
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Dec 30, 2016
(5)
Newton didn't discover gravity, he explained it. Same for Darwin's Evolution.
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Jan 4, 2017
(61)
Not quite right, at the time nobody was aware of Gravity as such. That is why it would not be possible to 'Explain it'. It was Newton that realised what drew one body to another, and why the planets and sun etc. behave the way they do. He also called this force 'Gravity'. So the question 'Who discovered Gravity?' is correct.
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Jan 8, 2017
(40)
To JMellor 13. Right'em strike'em. History did indeed begin in 1776 for the riff raff and rejects which were expelled from their one country and sent over here to loot and rape this land as they had their own.
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Jan 5, 2017
(4)
I wish I could spell!
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Jan 9, 2017
(7)
i feel you brother
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Jan 25, 2017
(48)
The Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years but history is pretty much the accomplishments of a few American and British men in the last 300 years. We're really living right at the start of history relatively speaking.
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Feb 20, 2017
(33)
However, humans weren't civilised if you like until about 10000 years ago and no 'history' really begins until the Roman time, just before and after 0 A.D.
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Mar 2, 2017
(61)
There's no such date. What you call 0 A.D. is actually 1 B.C.
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Mar 6, 2017
(30)
Really fun puzzle - great job. But I am gonna nag for more time!
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Feb 25, 2017
(32)
who are the 9% who didnt get george washington and the 12% who didnt get hitler?
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Feb 26, 2017
(25)
I spelled Helen Keller wrong. Your kidding me...
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Mar 6, 2017
(32)
Surprised to see no Harriet Tubman
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Mar 14, 2017
(44)
Yeah, right? In fact there are several thousand people I'm surprised didn't make the list.
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Mar 20, 2017
(23)
I got 31 first try. I missed 3 I SHOULD HAVE GOT! Great quiz though
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Mar 21, 2017
(2)
I like the fact that this test seems, for the most part, a very fair test. The characters listed I felt was quite diverse.
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Mar 21, 2017
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