Thursday, March 10, 2011

Now We Know: The Beatles More Popular Than Jesus, And 110 Other Things Too

On this week's VRT our news featured a story about the 45th anniversary of John Lennon's comment that, while it has been variously quoted different ways, suggested that the Beatles were more popular than Christianity.

In 2011 we can get a snapshot which while not rigidly statistical, is at least good for a laugh. The website keeps a daily scoreboard of different "stuff" all default sorted to a running total of fans or "likes". If you use Facebook, you know that for everything from cheeseburgers to the Dali Lama you can press a button called "Like" and updates about that subject will appear in your timeline. This act of "liking" also scores a sort of "point" for the subject matter.

From this we can get an idea of just whether John Lennon was correct.

First thing to consider is that subjects have numerous fan pages duplicating activity. For example, all subjects relating to Christianity, from Facebook's imported wikipedia page for Jesus Christ to pages offering daily prayers of the Christian variety, total many dozens of pages. The Beatles themselves have about a half dozen different fan pages including the official version. does not take this into account, and keeps statistics for each unique page only.

So understanding that, we first took an effort to total all "likes" of the many pages related to Christianity and The Beatles. Now there is likely crossover in that some users "liked" across multiples pages, so the numbers are on the high end of possible unique users. Too much work to weed out, so screw it, vote early, vote often.

What we came up with was roughly this:

The Beatles: 15,000,000 "Likes"
Christianity: 9,000,000 "Likes"

Now compare the above to the top five pages from

1. Texas Hold'em Poker - 38,139,591
2. Facebook - 35,179,657
3. Eminem - 30,013,135
4. Lady Gaga - 29,795,290
5. Michael Jackson - 29,707,338

Not even The Beatles come close to the top of the list. In fact, The Beatles rank right around Skittles and Avril Lavigne. And Christianity and Jesus appear to be about as popular as Dr. Pepper and Ashton Kutcher, and would rank around 110th on the Allfacebook list when all "likes" on Christianity related pages are totaled.

So 45 years later John Lennon's observation proves, in a way, to be true. Though taken in context, what Lennon meant by his comment was, more or less and simply stated, that something fun but trivial has more appeal than something arduous and meaningful.

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