The respected and famous here led others astray when they turned away from God to idolatry. An entire nation wandered into sin based on the actions of a few influential people. Nothing has changed from then to today, has it? In our culture, we are still influenced by those in power, by celebrities, by those who get 'air time'...we are influenced by them for better or worse, though it seems the influence of those in power is nearly always for the worse. Ironically, in spite of their influence, from the eternal perspective of God, these people are "like chaff blown off from a threshing floor and like smoke from a chimney" (Hosea 13.3).
I don't often comment on passages from Acts. This is a wonderful book detailing the life of the early church, but I confess it is not always easy for me to connect it to contemporary life. In this well-known passage today, Paul encourages and instructs his ship mates in the midst of the nor'easter. What is remarkable is the influence he has, as a prisoner, over the professional sailors and crew of the ship. "The prisoner had become the captain, for he is the only man with any courage left...The man of God somehow made others sure that God was in charge of things. The most useful people in the world are those who, being themselves brave, help others to be brave; and who, being themselves calm, bring to others the secret of confidence. Paul was like that; and all the followers of Jesus must be steadfast when others are in turmoil" (William Barclay).
When he sends the Apostles out, Jesus gives them authority over demons. Again and again in Jesus' ministry, he and the disciples battle the demonic. Interestingly, in the remainder of the New Testament and much of church history, the fight against what is overtly demonic has been at a much smaller scale. Some people are quick to find demons everywhere (so they think), but the consistent testimony of the church paints a much different picture. Why? As Pastor Mark Surburg points out here (quoting from Jeff Gibbs' commentary on Matthew), one explanation is that the Adversary fought a desperate battle against Jesus during his earthly ministry, throwing essentially everything he had at Jesus and the disciples, only to be beaten back at the cross and bound to a point in the present age (Matthew 12.22-29 and Rev 20.2). I like this explanation a lot--it explains the difference we see between the time of Jesus' ministry, the early church, and today, while still accounting for Satan's attacks and influence, which continue. It's a perspective worth considering.