(2) Plato vs. (15) P.T. Barnum

Tournament of Genius

(2) Plato

Plato's record is another one that needs very little introduction. Student of Socrates. Mentor of Aristotle. Allegorist of caves. Writer of dialogues. Father of Platonic realism. Confuser of college philosophy students. Platonic friend to everyone. The guy's one of the titans of Western philosophy; there's not much more to say.

(15) P.T. Barnum

He may have a reputation as America's greatest huckster, but even if Barnum was always on the hunt for a new rube to lure into his attractions, it's tough to overstate his influence on show business. From 1842 to 1868 he ran the American Museum in New York City, which exhibited a wide array of real and fake "wonders" and drew 82 million customers. Later in his life, he helped popularize the traveling musical concert and the three-ring circus that bears his name. According to some estimates, he may have been show business' first millionaire, all for embracing the simple truth that people will be drawn to curiosities and spectacle.

The Breakdown

Plato's imprint may loom large in philosophical debates, but Barnum was just so darn entertaining. How many times have you fallen asleep while trying to read one of Plato's dialogues? Now, how many times have you fallen asleep while watching a circus?


[See the whole bracket here.]