May 13th, 2013
06:20 PM ET

The Influence of Public Figures

Scientist Stephen Hawking is at the center of an international controversy over a decision he made concerning the Middle East.  We cover the story in Tuesday's edition of CNN Student News.

Does it make a difference to you when public figures share their opinions on political issues?  How much influence do they have when they speak out about something outside of the field they're known for?

Carl Azuz, Anchor

Please remember to include only your first name when commenting.

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soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Maria

    I think that it does have a very large impact on what people think. Some people may automattically support what the politician is saying just because they like the politician, but others might oppose it just because they don't like the politician.

    May 13, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  2. Rylee

    When a famous person talks openly about politics, it seems as if everyone who loves the person agrees with him or her. Take Taylor Swift and bullying-she writes a song about it(Like she has done to bucket loads of unfortunate boys) and the world seems to agree.

    May 13, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  3. Oliver

    Yes, it does make a difference. If you are very famous and you have a lot of people behind you, what ever action you take your fans will also take.

    May 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  4. Kameron

    It really doesn't make a difference at all. I'd listen more to a specialist of a topic tell me something rather than someone else that doesn't know much about it. It's like The Humane Society talk about gun control; they don't know much.

    May 13, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  5. Sarah

    Yes, it does make a difference when public figures share their opinion on political issues, because often time the public figure is not just admired for their talents, but they become admired for everything else in their life. This would intern make a huge impact on society by leading people not to state their own opinions, but follow the public figures that they admire.

    May 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  6. Carly

    If younger kids see one of their favorite actors or singers say something, they might agree. Parents usually ignore them and go for what they believe in.

    May 13, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  7. Adin

    Public figures should keep their mouth shut about what type of boycott or political party they are in. But why bother when more than half the world dislikes jews and Isreal anyway.

    May 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Adin

      Jews have always been screwed over.

      May 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
      • Maddie

        I'm not Jewish, I'm Christian, but that is still offensive to me. Everyone is a child of God, and no religion is messed up. The Jewish folk are good people, and they have never done anything wrong, so stop tormenting them! I can't stand racism! We are all God children, so stop bullying people for their beliefs when they have done nothing wrong! ):(

        May 16, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  8. Mason

    I believe that public figures have an impact on political factors. Such as your hero or the person you look up to if they say something your more than likely to follow what they say and what their opinion is on the matter,

    May 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  9. Felicia

    It's definitely important that world leaders speak out because it DOES influence us, it makes us pay attention to what's going on. The Israel government is definitely like Malaysia's government. Sadly, it's corrupted there.

    May 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  10. Devon

    No. It does not really make a difference to me because he is speaking up for what he believes in and I think that's great.

    May 14, 2013 at 7:02 am |
  11. Devon

    No. It does not really make a difference to me because he is speaking up for what he believes in and I think that's great. w

    May 14, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  12. Nihar

    Think about it, everyone is just a person with their own opinions. If you are famous, that doesn't mean you shouldn't have an opinion and choose what to do with it.

    May 14, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  13. Lashell

    Well people can choose what ever they want so it is like voteing

    May 14, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  14. Katie

    I think that when more people hear he is not going more people will not go, sooner or later nobody will show up.

    May 14, 2013 at 8:45 am |
  15. Brian

    When someone who is famous speaks out about a cause, that's the only way that cause get's truly noticed. It shouldn't be that way, but I guess there's nothing we can really do...

    May 14, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  16. Maddie

    I think when a celebrity uses their fame to support a cause, they influence and inspire other people to support what they believe in. This has both a good side and a dark side. Good side: It could inspire people to help support victims of terrorist attacks, and protect their planet. Dark side: It could brainwash people into doing bad stuff, like drinking, smoking, and other things.

    May 14, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  17. Mason

    I believe it does make a difference, because if some people don't know about the cause, a public figure standing against it will bring more attention to it.

    May 14, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  18. sean

    Public figure DO influence people to do or not to do something. If your idol said that mountain dew was the best drink would you drink it

    May 14, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  19. Abigail

    Celebrities views do have an impact on people today. If you look up to someone, you are going to think their view is supreme.

    May 14, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  20. Emilie

    it depends on how popular the person is. if they're really popular, like one direction it could make alot of difference. if they're not popular then it doesn't make all that big of a difference.

    May 14, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  21. Emily

    I believe when a famous person comments on something outside their field, their opinion should be considered but not taken too seriously. I think this because if that person does not know much about that field, then they may not be correct or may have a bias regarding that issue, especially if it is controversial. Our society today can be changed easily to believe whatever famous people say. These people we call celebrities don't even need to be influential, they can be the Kardashians, Lindsay Lohan, Justin Bieber, or Britney Spears, people who are not role models in my opinion.

    May 14, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  22. Jack

    I think that it does make a difference because most people look up and pay attention to what these famous people say.

    May 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  23. Ily

    I think that it does make a difference because fans of that person will want to do what they do, wear what they wear, and even believe in what they believe in. When someone that is famous puts their beliefs out there, their fans will want to believe it too even if their parents and other friends don't.

    May 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  24. Mark

    I beleive they can impact on a small scale, but it is ultimately up to the individual.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  25. Darren

    I don't think it makes a difference. Every person makes their own opinion.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  26. Jeffrey

    It makes a difference because people look up to those that are famous. It's like people listen to Lebron James instead of their teachers.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  27. Stephanie

    No opinions of public figures doesnt really affect me or my view point on topics.
    Also, their opinion on issues like that will most likely make people jump on the bandwagon of believing their favorite celebrity without having an opinion themselves.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  28. george

    i do think that famous people make an impact on public votes

    May 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  29. Peyton

    I dont really no

    May 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  30. ray

    they have a big influence because they have people that follow their example.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  31. Lexi

    they speak well

    May 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  32. Jerry


    May 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  33. Tris

    I think that a public figure's opinion does affect the decision of the public because people could be influenced by what that person does. It happens all the time nowdays, if someone famous or well known is seen doing something people follow in their foot steps. Anyone who shares their opinion has the option to persuade people to do something, we just need to know our own opinions.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  34. Gerald

    It does influence many people because they may look up to certain figures. The amount of influence they have usually depends on how popular they are.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  35. Mallory

    I think that if you are a public figure, your input does affect the people's opinion. I think that a famous scientist, or anyone famous, does have an influence on things that people do and how you set an example.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  36. Sigg

    I don't like to follow public opinions myself. I believe that what a famous person says shouldn't be supported because they are popular, but because you as an individual agrees with what they are doing. They could defiantly be trying to use their popularity to influence us, but I doubt that they are trying to do such a thing unless they bring attention to themselves. In this case, Hawking just did what he felt was right to him but didn't try to get it out there.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  37. ronaldo

    It doesn't really make a difference to me, they sometimes have an influence.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  38. Jahpehdo

    Depends what kind of mood I'm in. Or if its something I'm interested in then I listen to it and let it sink in and then act that way.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  39. Jacob

    It does make a difference to me when public figures share their opinions in political issues.And they have as much influence as they have.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  40. Joey

    I don't really care when famous people say stuff outside their field because they probably don't know anything about it. I'm not gonna trust Kobe Bryant to do my tax return.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  41. Mali

    I don't think it does make a difference when public figures share their opinions on political issues because it is my opinion on what I think is right and what is not right whether it is on politics or who should have gotten a strike in softball.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  42. carter

    i will play basketball with my brother Jeremy and he is only 19 years old and he is in collage

    May 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  43. jack

    if a famous person said that ice cream was bad i would never eta ice cream again.

    May 14, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  44. TYLER

    yes the person that influince me the most is eminem is good for you he may rap but he is nice

    May 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  45. Alyssa

    Someone famous would definitely make me think about the issue, but I would form my own opinion and not just go off theirs

    May 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  46. Erin

    It seems as though they want to get known outside their known field, and expand what people know about them. This makes perfect since to me, but it should not get in the way of their job.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  47. Jake

    I don't think it matters what celebrities or famous people have to say I mean it's their opinion not the worlds opinion.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  48. Dylan

    It doesn't really matter what the celebrities think, it really isn't my business what thy think

    May 14, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  49. Brandon

    It dose not make a difference to me but it might make a difference to some one else that follows those people.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  50. Tytianna

    Yes, it does make a difference, but only a small one. If there not speaking about the field they are known in, then they wont have nearly as much influence, because they are less likely to know what they are talking about.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  51. Joe

    I do listen to what famous icons's positions are on things and if I dont have a position on the subject I and think that they are correct then it dose effect what position I may take in the future

    May 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  52. Maija

    I think it does make a difference when public figures speak out on an issue. I don't think it affects people's opinions, specifically, but it makes their fans more aware of the issue.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  53. Antoinette

    Well they do have much influence in the world, but their word should be as loud as my own.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  54. zabrina

    Sometimes just because someone you really like likes something you pretend to like it also. You do just so that you can be like the person you admire.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  55. Alec

    I like when people from other fields talk about political things because they have a realistic opinion and not a scientific opinion and because they more then likely have an anonymous thought about it, they don't pick a side just because other people say this one is the best one because of a few reasons, all choices have a downfall in one way or another.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  56. Cam

    Well, It doesn't really affect me that much but it could positively or negatively affect many people that don't know a lot about the subject

    May 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  57. Phil

    I think that those kinds of figures have a major influence on everyday life. Many people make these people their idols and listen to a lot of what these people say to influence their lives.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  58. Hayden

    Yes there are people out there that look up to them, and maybe they want to know what they havet to say about it. It depends if you look up to that character.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  59. Jakara

    Yes, public figures can have a big influence on our world today. Well they are not well known in the world of politics so they can offend others and also might not even know what they are talking bout.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  60. Brendan

    not really i have my opnion and my own bias and dont always think celebritiesare the best people to folow after.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  61. Jared

    It definitely defines them as a person in my mind when they share their opinions. It helps you find out where they stand in other opinions, not just their field of interest. You can find out whether they are worthy of praise or not.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  62. Derek

    Some are intelligent. Some are not. Public figures should keep their opinions. If they talk about U.S. problems or even other countries' problems, the media blows up. That's how it works.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  63. Andrew

    Well not really, it just depends on what their opinion is, because it might offend someone. If they are in a different field than politics then they do not really need to be talking about it.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  64. Blake

    Public figures influence people's opinion because most people look up to public figures.

    May 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  65. Alyssa

    When celebrities and famous people discuss their opinion about an issue, it draws attention. People who look up to that person tend to begin to agree with the celebrity, when they wouldn't have really cared otherwise. Celebrities should be able to speak their opinion, but their fans need to realize that they can have different opinions.

    May 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  66. Solon

    When public figures give their opinions on things, it makes only a small difference. However, it makes more of a difference than if it was just a normal person.

    May 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  67. Jazzy

    No. People should be able to speak about their opinions on political issues if they want to. If that's what Stephen Hawking wants to talk about, then let him.

    May 14, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  68. Maretha

    I believe when public figures and celebrities state their opinion to the public their trying to get a reaction and since many people admire them they get what they expected a reaction negative or positive either way I could care less about their opinion even if they speak out against things I like i just shrug it off

    May 14, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  69. shelbi

    i think its fine if someone wants to speak for what they think is right or wrong everyone should speak for them self
    even if people dont go with it its not there opinion!!!!

    May 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  70. Heather

    No I don't believe it does. They are people too and I think it makes the same difference as if a middle-class man stated his opinion. I believe it has a big influence because if they're going to speak out they must have a strong opinion, therefore they know what they're talking about.

    May 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  71. Breanna

    I think it helps promote the cause ,because they are so well known. It might change peoples views of him or the cause.

    May 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  72. Sal

    I believe that famous figures, such as the respected Mr. Hawking, are entitled to their opinions. These opinions should be looked at equally because afterall they are human beings and should be treated with fairness and respect.

    May 14, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  73. Rachel

    Yes, I do believe celebrities have an influence on people because people look up to celebrities and want to be like them.

    May 14, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  74. Sal

    I think that people in general, no matter their occupation, should be allowed to express their opinions without being victimized by people who share a different point of view.

    May 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  75. Sal

    I think people should leave Mr. Hawking alone just because he is famous and has spoken his opinion. No matter what people say there is going to be critisism and we can at least try to stop most of it.

    May 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  76. Eliza

    Public figures like Stephen Hawking usually have fans on their side on anything, including politics. For me, depending on who it is, different political views can have influence on my opinions.

    May 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  77. Sue

    Definitely public figures influence a lot to a society and to us.

    May 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  78. Colton

    I think no, because I think a public figures are just the same as you or me. Yes they have an opinion but it shouldn't over power my opinion because this person is well known.

    May 14, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  79. Ton

    Kids are too influenced by famous people these days. Anyone remember that Kim Kardashian wedding? Tada!

    May 14, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  80. Tristan

    Yes, I think that when a public figure speaks out their opinion, it influences people who look up to them and can change their thoughts on the manner.

    May 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  81. Chandler

    I think that if celebrities want something, they can speak out about what they feel isn't right no matter what anybody else thinks.

    May 14, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  82. Brielle

    I do believe that celebrities can use their fame to influence people because kids and teenagers look up to celerities and idolize them.

    May 14, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  83. Hannah

    I think that when a public figure speaks up it does make a difference. Especially if we look up to or think the public figure is intelligent because we are more likely to subside with them if we already think highly of that figure.

    May 14, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  84. Anushka

    I think when a great known person makes a decision like that, people usually think that that is right because they may think that he is smarter than him. If Einstein knocked on my door and said you should replace you stairs. Most, people would do it because they think Einstein is smarter than them. Even, if they think they should not.

    May 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  85. Kayla

    Yes, because any voice can make a difference in your community. It can make a great influence when they speak out for something they believe in because other people might agree with them and also help to make an everlasting impact on the world.

    May 14, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  86. Joe

    It makes no difference to me when public figures share their opinions on political issues expecially when it is about something outside of the field they're known for. For me, they are just expressing their point of view lile everyone else.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:41 am |
  87. Eugene

    Just because you are well respected in your field, as Hawking is, doesn't mean you can't voice your opinions in other fields, such as politics.

    May 15, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  88. Rion

    I believe that they do because if they have lots of fans, they will follow him in what he does and believes in. Like in baseball.

    May 15, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  89. Brontavius

    Public figures should be able to voice there opinions; just because there famous, doesn't mean they don't have opinions too.

    May 15, 2013 at 8:40 am |
  90. Rozel

    I believe that hawking is well respected in his field, and some people don't realize that he has opinions in other fields too. For example, I'm a great dancer... but that doesn't mean I can't play soccer too.

    May 15, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  91. Rosaleen.

    I like cheese with butter. Some people don't. That is just their opinion and people have the right to voice that.

    May 15, 2013 at 8:45 am |
  92. Chrissy

    Yes, I think that when public figures speak their thoughts about a political issue that many people will be influenced. People look up to the public speakers and will take their opinion seriously.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  93. Gavin

    Yes, I think when public figures opinions are spoken out that it influences people to see there thoughts and feelings.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  94. Grace

    I think it depends on who is hearing them speak out. Let's say that someone likes to flow with the crowd. They are more likely for this to have an effect. They are using their love for that person to help influence their decision.

    May 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  95. John

    Yes, you never now how that public figures's opinion can change (for better or worse) the matter of the issue. But to have an influence you must have an opinion representative of the beliefs of the people in what should be done. Also it can make people wonder if you are talking about a field your not known for, are for are you the right person to get an opinion from?

    May 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  96. Mo

    I do believe that it makes a difference when public figures speak out, because some (most) people don't really care about something unless is is put and discussed directly in front of them, but some also think that you only know about what you're best at.

    May 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  97. Ashley

    Yes, I think public figures influence peoples thoughts and feelings. They are role models for so many people, so those fans are going to consider every word they say; some more than others. If you specialize in a specific field, that doesn't mean you don't have opinions in others.

    May 16, 2013 at 6:32 am |
  98. Sierra

    Yes, it does make a difference to me when public figures share their opinions on political issues because I respect Stephen Hawking and his intelligence and would probably agree with him on most topics. I think that the more we respect someone famous, the more likely we are to follow them and be influenced by their actions.

    May 16, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  99. Michael

    I think they should be entitled to their opinion on any matter.

    May 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm |