We make mistakes from time to time, as that is the very nature of all human beings. And usually, owning up and apologizing for our mistakes is more than enough to fix whatever the fault is. But, people need to accept the fact that some mistakes cause unrepairable damages, and saying sorry can only help them feel a bit less guilty. We, humans, are proud of being able to change the whole world. But, with such great power, the consequence can be devastating if done wrong.
It’s not hard to find people doing such stupid things and causing horrible messes. Below is a list of more than 20 people throughout history that made such regrettable mistakes. Well, some of those mistakes caused irreversible consequences that affected millions of lives. Worst mistakes ever made? Surely! Let’s scroll down to learn about how these people messed up so badly.
#1 Allan Savory the ecologist who killed 40,000 elephants because it was believed that grazing was causing the desertification of Africa, only to find out later that elephants were essential to prevent desertification
#2 Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. There was no cause or direct threat, and it led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, trillions of dollars spent, and the creation of ISIS
#3 A bottle of wine over a painting
My great great grandfather, a carpenter, did some work for a poor painter in the neighborhood. The painter had no money, so he offered either a bottle of wine or a painting. My great great grandfather chose the wine.
The painter was Edvard Munch, and the painting would have been worth millions upon millions today, or even just a few decades later (if translated to today’s money)
#4 Single-use plastic teacup
“Hey, let’s create a coffee machine that uses a single-use plastic cup for every cup of coffee or tea. How bad can the trash from that really be?” I actually read that the creator of the K-Cup, John Sylvan, regrets inventing the pod system.
#5 Burning of the Library of Alexandria
#6 Mao Zedong
Pest campaign: He basically told his nation to take pots and pans to kill all the sparrows. However, the ecosystem was disturbed and the locust population skyrocketed.
Seeds: he thought that planting seeds 1 meter in the ground would result in greater roots and a better harvest. He also thought that putting tons of seeds in one compact area would cause a better harvest. All the seeds died, however. Around 30 million or so died from Famine under his rule.
“Hey! Look at the other nations industrializing! Let’s smelt all our metal to build better infrastructure. What? Does it create pig iron which is super unstable and impure therefore being ultimately useless? Oops!” -Mao
#7 Training 20,000 slaves only to be overthrown later on
How about the guy who bought 20,000 Albanian slaves, brought them to Cairo, trained them to be the greatest warriors of their time, and then got overthrown by said slave warriors because they were so well trained.
#8 The Trojan Horse
“Alright gentlemen we’ve successfully fended off the Greeks for 10 years, our great city of Troy still stands. If we keep this up surely they will realize the siege is fruitless and return home before long.”
“Yo captain there’s this big ass wooden horse outside”
“Oh rad bring it in”
#9 Eastman Kodak deciding not to go forward with their own newly invented digital cameras and instead of sticking with film because it made them so much money at the time
#10 Inalchuq attacking Genghis Khan’s trade caravan
Well, the decision of Inalchuq, the governor of the Khwarazmian city of Otrar, to attack Genghis Khan’s trade caravan was pretty bad. Khan was famous as a ruthless warlord, not the sort of guy you want to piss off.
But maybe they could have got away with it. Genghis sent three ambassadors to negotiate a settlement.
This is when Muhammad II, the Shah of Khwarezm, made the really bad decision to kill one of these ambassadors and send the other two back without their beards as a sign of humiliation.
Genghis Kahn was so enraged he assembled an army and destroyed the Khwarazmian Empire. Wiped out every town they had. He even re-routed a river to wipe out the village where the Shah was born, wiping it off the map. By 1120 there wasn’t much of anything left.
#11 Invading Russia. Always invading Russia
#12 Banning all members of the ruling Baath party
Here’s a recent one…
After successfully invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, the US decided that all members of the ruling Baath party should be banned from government and military positions in the new government. The result was a crop of knowledgeable bureaucrats and military leaders available to join a group of terrorists under Zarqawi to form a little group that would go on to become ISIS.
#13 Gavrillo Princip shooting Archduke Franz Ferdinand
On that day, a man acted upon his self-constructed vendetta against a non-tyrannical monarch, thinking the world would remember him as a symbol against foreign tyranny. A symbol of national sovereignty.
A year later, 10 million men were dead.
#14 Xerox and their Alto computer
Maybe the worst business decision ever made was by Xerox with their Alto computer.
Xerox invented the graphical interface modern computers use. Desktop, folders, copy/paste, etc. They basically invented the modern computer in the ’70s. But the problem was, that the people in charge at the time were businessmen without any technical knowledge so they didn’t realize what they had. They did nothing with it and gave it away to universities and showed other companies. The famous story is that Steve Jobs saw this and within 5 minutes realized this was the way computers would work in the future. He copied it because Xerox didn’t patent their invention and didn’t do anything with it and the rest is history.
#15 Thomas Midgley Jr
Thomas Midgley Jr can lay claim to three:
First, he discovered and helped popularize the use of lead in petrol/gasoline, causing unimaginable harm to the atmosphere and our brains. He contracted lead poisoning when working on the project but apparently neglected to draw any conclusions from this.
Second, he lead the team that discovered freon, the first chlorofluorocarbon, and helped popularize the use of CFCs in refrigeration and industrial applications, causing further unimaginable harm to the atmosphere. It’s suggested that he had a greater impact on the atmosphere than any other single person in history.
As for the third, well: in 1940, at the age of 51, Midgley contracted poliomyelitis, which left him severely disabled. He devised an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to lift himself out of bed. In 1944, he became entangled in the device and died of strangulation.
#16 The guy who rejected Hitler’s art academy application?
#17 John H. Sununu
He was an MIT-educated engineer, a brilliant guy with, Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. He even served on MIT’s Advisory Board of Technology and Policy. He remains a member of the National Academy of Engineering. More importantly, he was a governor of NH and later the White House Chief of Staff under George H.W. Bush.
As Bush’s adviser, he was the first one with a STEM background to doubt climate change. He publicly questioned the validity of James Hansen / NASA’s modeling efforts. In fact, the US was on the verge of signing a binding climate treaty with 65 other nations (in 1989!)
Prior to this point, the argument was “how do we balance emission reductions versus economic losses”, with conservative forces recognizing the danger but insisting we protect businesses from overreaching regulation. After Sununu’s public doubts, the entire debate shifted to “is climate change even real?”. It inspired the “everything’s fine” PR campaign that has been ongoing ever since. I honestly suspect treaty opponents didn’t even realize that pure denial would be a realistic strategy until Sununu called James Hansen a liar.
I guess in another 50 years we’ll see the true extent of the damage he did. Ironically all this falls not on some moron, but on a brilliant guy who decided to speak on something outside his expertise.
#18 The decision by the Scottish to invade England during Black Death must be up there
#19 Nintendo and Sony
That one time Nintendo had a partnership with Sony to develop a CD-based console but in the end, changed their mind and kicked Sony out cuz they decided to stick with cartridges. Sony then thought “screw this, We’ll make our own console, with blackjack & hookers” and created the PlayStation as a f**k you towards Nintendo…
#20 Blockbuster not buying Netflix
#21 Radcliff Line
Radcliff Line – The process to divide India and Pakistan boundary in 1947 was done hastily and without major considerations to local populace religion. Radcliff was not a geography guy and majorly messed up the process. Millions died.