Our Biggest Mistakes In History

Us humans have erred our way to this present. With all the great successes and accomplishments we have achieved let us recollect our catastrophic failures. Our mistakes have almost destroyed us time and time again. But that’s what we enjoy, living on the edge. 

To recollect our stockpile of idiocracy we will enlist the help of the wonderful book Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up. 

Mao’s Four Pest Campaign

What do you get when you mix an autocracy, a leader who thinks he is smarter than god himself and a bunch of “Yes Sir’s” in his government? 1 billion sparrows dead, and 45 million humans too! (Hitler managed a measly 17 million compared to this madlad) 

So how did he manage to do this? One fine day Mr. Mao was overlooking the fields from the might of his palace and noticed a few sparrows in the fields. He saw them pecking on fields and as the revolutionary thinker he is, came to the conclusion sparrows are eating our crops and reducing the food supply. So as 2 + 2 = 4, no sparrow will lead to more food for the citizens. In these few seconds of thought he managed to make one of the biggest mistakes ever made. 

He gave the executive order to kill all sparrows from the great land of China. None, to be spared, the citizens found great joy in sparrow hunting. Millions of people organized into groups to kill the sparrows. The banged pots and pans non-stop near their nests so they could not rest and often dropped dead due to exhaustion. Their eggs were destroyed, chicks killed. They were simply shot from the sky and almost driven to near extinction. What he did not realise was the sparrows used to eat locusts in the field which were the real crop killers. Once the sparrows nearly disappeared, the locusts population increased multifold and destroyed most of the grain crops of China that lead to massive food shortage and the Great China Famine. In the end China had to import 250,000 sparrows from the Soviet Union. A big oopsie in my opinion. 

Thomas Midgley Jr. 

Thomas has had more negative impact on this world’s atmosphere and any other organism to ever exist. He is solely responsible to deplete the ozone layer by 80% and expose millions of Americans to lead poisoning. All unintended ofcourse!

He discovered adding TEL to gasoline in vehicles prevented it from knocking. As a savvy businessman he realised he could have greater margin selling this than ethanol and quickly patented it. Side note : he casually forgot to mention TEL contained lead in it. 

After numerous people died in the factory due to lead poisoning and he himself had lead poisoning he disapproved the claims it was harmful. This decision affected thousands as it was very harmful to use TEL. He even poured TEL on his hands as a public demonstration to prove it’s safety. Of Course he was absent from work a week later due to “health reasons”. 

Affecting thousands is not a big enough goal. So when the government banned his additive he moved on to greener pastures. Air conditioners. With mixing unstable chemicals which he claimed were safe were actually toxic, flammable and explosive. Also responsible for destroying the ozone layer. With this he affected millions if not billions. 

During both these inventions he was awarded numerous times. Later in life 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. A poetic end, if I may. 

These are a trailer of how colourful our history is. Better to learn from it than to repeat it.

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