Top 10 Most Misunderstood People

It’s human nature to form opinions about just about everything. It’s part of our defense mechanism, evaluating what’s going on around us to see if there’s anything dangerous going on.

We form opinions about people from the information we come across about that person. But sometimes, given new information, we might realize that we have misunderstood them.

10. George Walker Bush

George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, is often considered to be a bit dim, not the full quid. This perception probably comes from the numerous slip ups he made in various speeches (now known as ‘Bushisms’), a sometimes hesitant response to questions and his oft derided rural Texas accent and demeanour. However it should not be forgotten that George W. went to Yale and Harvard Business School, has been a very successful businessman, Governor of Texas and two term President. Love or hate the man or his policies, you cannot deny it must have taken some smarts to do what he’s done.


9. Alexander The Great

Alexander III was the King of Macedonia from 336BC to 323BC when the 32 ruler died of an unknown illness. During his spectacular reign, Alexander the Great conquered Greece, the Persian Empire, Egypt and eastward to current day Pakistan, expanding the Macedonian empire to become the biggest empire the world had seen. Alexander is rightly remembered as a brilliant military leader and his exploits are well documented. What is not so well remembered is his ruthlessness and penchant for torturing and executing his enemies.


8. George Armstrong Custer

Commander Custer is most famously known for the Battle of Little Bighorn, otherwise known as Custers Last Stand, where he led 250 of his soldiers to their deaths against a coalition of Cheyenne and Sioux Indians in 1879. Custer ignored orders to wait for infantry support and instead divided his force of over 600 Cavalry soldiers and attacked an Indian force estimated to be at least 2,000 braves and perhaps as many as 4,000. It was, clearly, a disaster of monumental proportions. From the moment of Custers death to this day there has been vigorous debate about his capabilities as a commander. There were a number of other serious mishaps in his career, plus a number of significant wins. It’s one case where, no matter what you think of the man, you may well misunderstand him.

7. Confucius

Confucius was a Chinese teacher, politician and philosopher around 500 BC. His philosophy’s were recognised by the Governments of the day and were developed into a system known as Confucianism. The principles of Confucianism were firmly centred in traditional Chinese beliefs and mores, with a strong focus on morals, family, respect for elders and the rights of others. Today it is often thought that Confucius was a religious teacher however that was certainly not the case.


6. Leonardo da Vince

Unsurprisingly Leonardo is primarily known for his paintings which include some of the most famous of all times: the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and the Vitruvian Man (one of his best known drawings) among many others. While painting was clearly an important part of his professional life, he was also an accomplished musician, mathematician, architect, engineer, inventor, anatomist, cartographer, geologist and botanist. He designed flying machines, tanks, an apparatus for concentrating solar power and various machines for use in manufacturing processes. He studied the human muscular-skeletal system, looking at the mechanical forces that exist throughout the body. His work was a precursor to the modern science of biomechanics. A bridge design he did in 1502 was resurrected and used for a bridge built in Norway in 2001. There are many other examples of Leonardo’s broad areas of expertise outside his better known work as a painter.


5. Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh is recognised today as one of the greatest painters ever. During his relatively short career (he died at the age of 37 and didn’t start painting until he was nearly 30) he produced over 2,000 paintings and drawings including Sunflowers (Vase with Twelve Sunflowers), The Potato Eaters, The Starry Night and Portrait of Dr. Gachet. These paintings now sell for many millions of dollars, however he was relatively unknown while he was alive and only sold one painting, The Red Vineyard, a few months before he died. He passed away as a poor, unknown painter with absolutely no idea that his works would one day become some of the most influential and expensive art works of all time.


4. Alexander Graham Bell

Bell is widely regarding as having invented the telephone, patented the technology and taken his invention to the mass market. In fact an Italian inventor living in New York, Antonio Meucci, made the first working telephone some five years before Bell. Not only did Meucci invent the telephone, he also lodged a ‘patent caveat’ which is essentially a precursor to a full patent. Crucially, he did not follow up converting the caveat into a full patent and the patent caveat lapsed. Not only that but the wording of the patent caveat was not complete in its description of the telephone. Meucci botched the patent application but five years later Bell made no such mistake with his patent and clinched his place in history.


3. Christopher Columbus

Columbus was a great Italian explorer, making four voyages across the Atlantic to the America’s in the late 15th Century. (He was in fact trying to find a short route to Asia, instead opening up central and south America to European occupation). Misconceptions about Columbus include that he discovered the America’s, that he discovered North America and that he was simply a well meaning explorer. Well he was certainly not the first European to explore the America’s, he did not even go to North America, and the only reason he conducted his voyages was an agreement he had with the Spanish Monarchy that gave him a percentage of the wealth he discovered. He was actively involved in slavery and the gross mistreatment of the mostly peaceful people’s that he came into contact with.


2. Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan led the brutal expansion of the Mongol empire in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This empire went on to become the largest contiguous empire the world has ever seen, spanning most of Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Russia). What is less well known was Genghis Khan’s political polish and ability to unite diverse groups of people. He in fact developed quite egalitarian societies in which everyone had an opportunity to climb the social ladder and create wealth. He put a common writing system in place (Uyghur script) and promoted a high degree of religious tolerance, protecting the rights of Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and other groups.


1. Richard the Lionheart

Richard I of England, more commonly known as Richard the Lionheart, is widely regarded as one of the great Kings of England and a morally upright character who distinguished himself during the Third Crusade in the Near East. The truth is he spent very little time in England, barely six months during a reign of almost ten years. He did collect taxes from his English territories however the country suffered due to the vacuum caused by his long absence. He spent much of his time in France where he worked hard to expand the areas under his control as well as brutally suppressing uprisings within the areas he did control. Rape and pillage were noted as commonly used by his forces. A great English King of moral and upright character? Probably not.


Top 10 Most Misunderstood People

Lyra Cam

Hi, I'm a marine biologist currently working in northern Queensland, Australia. I am fascinated by the amount of information we have access to and outside work I am addicted to researching unusual topics and summarizing my research in the form of lists.

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