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Idiot Mistakes That Changed The Course Of History

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10:23   |   Jun 06, 2019

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Idiot Mistakes That Changed The Course Of History
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  • Mistakes happen.
  • Sometimes, truly idiotic mistakes happen that result in awful consequences, like centuries
  • of persecution and racial hatred.
  • But other times, idiotic mistakes can be a force for good.
  • Just be glad you didn't cause these problems.
  • The French Revolution was a bloody period in France's past where lots of unrest led
  • to lots use of the guillotine.
  • "Look at that bad boy.
  • Isn't it a beaut?"
  • King Louis XVI took a final trip to the dreaded device in 1793, Marie Antoinette followed
  • a few months later, and France changed forever.
  • Their deaths kicked off the Reign of Terror and led to thousands of executions and the
  • rise of Napoleon.
  • But here's the thing they didn't need to die at all, and probably wouldn't have if Louis
  • XVI hadn't made a whole series of dumb decisions.
  • It started when thousands of people stormed the Bastille in July of 1789 looking for weapons.
  • In October they captured the royals, but they weren't locked up; Louis and Marie Antoinette
  • both could have walked out the door any time, but they simply didn't.
  • It wasn't until around two years later that they finally snuck out, but despite having
  • years to plan, they planned their escape pretty impractically.
  • They traveled together in a large, conspicuous wagon laden with things like a complete dinner
  • service and wine chest, and Louis sent away the one person who probably could have helped
  • them: his wife's lover, Count Axel Fersen.
  • Not surprisingly, the royals were captured again after being easily recognized along
  • the way thanks, in part, to poor disguises and the fact they loved to socialize.
  • "It's not too much, is it?
  • No…."
  • Then, Fersen organized an escape with help from Sweden's king, broke into the palace,
  • and hung out with Marie for a day until Louis sent him away again.
  • Following some other ups and downs, the king was sent to the guillotine about a year later.
  • By now, everyone knows what a horrible person Christopher Columbus was, and what his arrival
  • in the New World started.
  • But he was only there in the first place because he was bad at math, and made errors in his
  • navigational calculations that gave him a little extra convincing power when it came
  • to getting financing for his voyages.
  • Let's start with latitude calculations.
  • While the ancient mathematician Eratosthenes came up with the standard that 1 degree of
  • latitude was about 59.5 miles, Columbus decided he liked the findings of a medieval geographer
  • from Persia better.
  • Alfraganus thought 1 degree was 56.67 miles, and that's not too much of a difference, right?
  • Only, Columbus forgot that Eratosthenes was working with a Roman mile, which was 4,856
  • feet, and for the Persian geographer, a "mile" was the Arabic mile, which translated to 7,091
  • feet.
  • That's a huge difference, and he wasn't done yet.
  • Columbus then mashed together the numbers and distances of explorers from Ptolemy to
  • Marco Polo, added a bit of his own estimations, and completely screwed up the location of
  • the Indies.
  • By the time he was done, his calculations came with an impressive 58 percent margin
  • of error, but they sounded good, he got his funding, and went off to "discover" the Americas.
  • To this day, Columbus is still known for his many errors and inadequacies.
  • "Christopher Columbus was the ISIS of his day."
  • Erwin Rommel is a fascinating figure, one of Nazi Germany's most prolific commanders
  • and someone the International Churchill Society has called "a thoroughly decent man," mostly
  • for his tendency to ignore many of Hitler's most horrible orders.
  • He was a brilliant general, and briefly headed a unit nicknamed the Ghost Division because
  • it was so fast, so targeted, and so efficient.
  • He was also supposed to be in Normandy for D-Day.
  • In the days leading up to the Allied invasion of the mainland's coast, he went deer hunting,
  • and he also went into Paris to buy shoes for his wife's birthday.
  • After looking at the tide tables and the approaching storms, he decided the Allies probably weren't
  • going to attempt a Channel crossing in such unfavorable conditions.
  • Instead of staying on what would very, very quickly become the front lines of the war,
  • he headed home to Germany for his wife's June 6th birthday.
  • The LA Times says he was at his country house in Germany when he heard about the invasion
  • happening hours away.
  • He got to Normandy as quickly as he could, but one of Germany's most prolific generals
  • was essentially taken out of the action to attend a birthday party.
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the defining moments of the '80s, and it only
  • happened because of two easily avoidable mistakes.
  • Tensions were already at a breaking point, and in November 1989, East Berlin Politburo
  • members decided they needed to make some concessions if they wanted to keep anything resembling
  • peace.
  • They took to the airwaves to make an announcement that was supposed to say there would be an
  • ever-so-slight relaxation of travel rules, but that they would retain the right to deny
  • anyone passage at any time.
  • The press conference was completely botched, though, and the reading of the announcement
  • was garbled save a few phrases, including that free travel would be, quote, "possible
  • for every citizen, right away, immediately."
  • Chaos quickly followed.
  • The second mistake was even more insane.
  • When thousands of people converged on border crossings they thought were open, Stasi officer
  • Harald Jager called for backup somewhere around 30 times in a single night.
  • When his superiors didn't believe him about the mess he was facing and, at one point,
  • called him, quote, "simply a coward," Jager kicked open the doors, allowed people to pass
  • both ways, and started the real fall of the Berlin Wall … all because his superiors
  • made the stupid mistake of underestimating just how much of their garbage he was willing
  • to take.
  • In 1977, New York City lost all electricity for 25 hours, and the consequences were devastating.
  • Around 800,000 people were reportedly stranded in the subways and elevators, while others
  • set to looting and pillaging on a medieval scale.
  • There were about a thousand fires set, more than 1,500 businesses were looted, and by
  • the time the lights came back on, there were damages that cost about a billion dollars.
  • Also, some have credited the blackout as the catalyst that sparked the hip-hop movement,
  • which is a nice bonus.
  • And it all happened because someone didn't know what buttons to push.
  • "I am Groot."
  • “Uh hun.”
  • "I am Groot."
  • “That’s right.”
  • "I am Groot."
  • “NO!
  • That’s the button that will kill everyone!"
  • Schneider Electric looked at just what happened on that hot summer night in '77, and it started
  • with a few lightning strikes.
  • That's not uncommon, they say, and most substations are prepared for it.
  • This one wasn't.
  • After lightning tripped the breakers, Con Ed tried to restart the station's generators.
  • The problem?
  • No one was there.
  • When employees finally got there and started running system-wide procedures to get everything
  • back up and running, they ran the wrong procedures.
  • Instead of dumping the necessary 1,500 megawatts of load, they ran one that got rid of only
  • a few hundred.
  • The station shut down, and the Big Apple went dark.
  • About 17 percent of the U.S. viewing audience watched the Challenger disaster live in 1986,
  • and it was a horrifying moment that shaped how everyone from NASA to the American public
  • thought about the space program.
  • Only 73 seconds after liftoff, dreams of space travel became a little less romantic and a
  • little more terrifying, and if it wasn't for that disaster our commitment to exploring
  • the nearest reaches of space would have been very different.
  • The Challenger disaster happened for one ridiculously simple reason: because a series of O-ring
  • seals were never tested in the cold.
  • The morning of the launch January 28th, 1986 was freezing cold, which led to the failure
  • of the seals and ultimately ripped the shuttle apart.
  • And that brings us to the mistake.
  • It wasn't until 2016 that NASA engineer Bob Ebeling came forward after carrying his guilt
  • for three decades.
  • Ebeling and four other engineers had been working at NASA contractor Morton Thiokol
  • at the time of the launch, and when they heard of the conditions the shuttle was going to
  • launch in, they tried to stop it.
  • They argued, very accurately, that the rubber seals wouldn't work in the extreme cold, that
  • the shuttle would explode.
  • Tragically, they were overruled by both their managers and NASA.
  • He told NPR:
  • "NASA ruled the launch.
  • They had their mind set on going up and proving to the world they were right and they knew
  • what they were doing.
  • But they didn't."
  • In 1989, the Exxon Valdez dumped 42 million liters of crude oil into Prince William Sound,
  • devastating the coastline for hundreds of miles.
  • Thousands of animals died immediately, and the effects are still being felt decades later.
  • According to research reported in Scientific American, oil that settled into the sound's
  • sediment has shorted the life span of fish, birds, and local mammals, and in 2018, Marine
  • Insight looked at some of the farthest-reaching consequences.
  • Tourism plummeted, more than 26,000 people had their jobs impacted, and even after $3.8
  • billion was poured into cleanup efforts, the oil is still there.
  • Yes, even after decades.
  • The majority of area species including orcas and the Pacific herring have never recovered
  • and likely never will.
  • That's a huge deal, as the Pacific herring is a cornerstone species that numerous other
  • animals rely on for food.
  • So, why did it happen?
  • Because the crew made some extraordinarily dumb mistakes.
  • Captain Joseph Hazelwood was deep in alcohol-induced slumber at the time of the crash, and he'd
  • left the ship complete with non-functional radar in the hands of a third mate.
  • The third mate was absolutely not trained to take command and drove the ship right onto
  • a reef he never saw.
  • They were also severely under-crewed and had strayed from the normal shipping route, all
  • compounding into a tragic disaster that changed the ecosystem forever.
  • In 1770, James Cook claimed Australia for Britain, and we all know how well that worked
  • out for everyone living there.
  • He wasn't the first European to set foot on the continent, though, and if it wasn't for
  • a stupid lack of foresight, Australia might have been a Dutch colony.
  • According to the National Museum of Australia, Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon was actually
  • the first European to make recorded, official contact with Australia.
  • He landed there in 1606, on a ship that was part of the Dutch East India Company.
  • Having spent some time along the trade routes in Asia, he was dispatched on a mission to
  • explore a largely unknown southern land mass to see if the Dutch might be able to harvest
  • any gold or resources there.
  • There weren't, but there were some understandably hostile native peoples that made them think
  • twice about the whole endeavor.
  • Susan Broomhall, a history professor at the University of Western Australia, says not
  • everyone thought it was a worthless piece of land.
  • Some argued for using Australia as a stepping-stone sort of colony along the Europe-Asia trade
  • routes, and others said it was pretty much perfect for wine-making.
  • Dutch East India Company officials weren't convinced, decided it wasn't worth the bother,
  • and left the entire continent up for grabs.
  • "Stop just gesturing around like they’re everywhere are they everywhere?”
  • “Yes.”
  • “Why did we come here?"
  • Check out one of our newest videos right here!
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Description

Mistakes happen. Sometimes, truly idiotic mistakes happen that result in awful consequences, like centuries of persecution and racial hatred. But other times, idiotic mistakes can be a force for good. Just be glad you didn't cause these problems.

The French Revolution was a bloody period in France's past where lots of unrest led to lots use of the guillotine.

King Louis XVI took a final trip to the dreaded device in 1793, Marie Antoinette followed a few months later, and France changed forever.

Their deaths kicked off the Reign of Terror and led to thousands of executions and the rise of Napoleon. But here's the thing they didn't need to die at all, and probably wouldn't have if Louis XVI hadn't made a whole series of dumb decisions.

It started when thousands of people stormed the Bastille in July of 1789 looking for weapons. In October they captured the royals, but they weren't locked up; Louis and Marie Antoinette both could have walked out the door any time, but they simply didn't. It wasn't until around two years later that they finally snuck out, but despite having years to plan, they planned their escape pretty impractically. They traveled together in a large, conspicuous wagon laden with things like a complete dinner service and wine chest, and Louis sent away the one person who probably could have helped them: his wife's lover, Count Axel Fersen.

Not surprisingly, the royals were captured again after being easily recognized along the way thanks, in part, to poor disguises and the fact they loved to socialize.

Then, Fersen organized an escape with help from Sweden's king, broke into the palace, and hung out with Marie for a day until Louis sent him away again. Following some other ups and downs, the king was sent to the guillotine about a year later. Keep watching the video to learn more idiot mistakes that changed the course of history!

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette | #
Columbus is bad at math | #
Erwin Rommel's ill-timed trip home | #
Oopsies bring down the Wall | #
New York City's 1977 blackout | #
They tried to stop the Challenger | #
Drunk captain causes oil spill | #
Dutch traders aren't impressed | #