History Buffs Reveal The Biggest Overreactions In History

History is always doomed to repeat itself, if it is not known. And we as a race may only learn from our mistakes if we reflect upon them.

We often frown upon the past. For their awful prejudices, for the lack of technology, for the things they seemingly didn't know--but are we any better than history? The answer is, no. We are our own point in history. We must really reflect in order to continue progressing. Some day, people of the future will probably make fun of us.

u/WiiKiil asked:

What is history's biggest overreaction?

Here were some of the answers.

The Battle Of Pie Hill


I think the "Pastry War" wins this one by a landslide (link is to 6 stupid wars).

In 1828, angry mobs destroyed large parts of Mexico City during a military coup. One of the victims of the rioting was an expatriate French pastry chef named Remontel, whose small café was ransacked by looters. Mexican officials ignored his complaints, so Remontel petitioned the French government for compensation. His request sat unnoticed until a decade later, when it came to the attention of King Louis-Philippe. The king was already furious that Mexico had failed to repay millions in loans, and now he demanded they pay 600,000 pesos to compensate the pastry chef for his losses. When the Mexicans balked at handing over such an astronomical sum, Louis-Philippe did the unexpected: He started a war.

In October 1838, a French fleet arrived in Mexico and blockaded the city of Veracruz. When the Mexicans still refused to pay up, the ships began shelling the San Juan de Ulua citadel. A few minor battles followed, and by December as many as 250 soldiers had been killed. The famous general Santa Anna even came out of retirement to lead the Mexican army against the French, and he lost a leg after he was wounded by grapeshot. Fighting finally ended in March 1839, when the British government helped broker a peace deal. As part of the treaty, the Mexicans were forced to shell out the 600,000 pesos—no doubt a large sum for a pastry shop at the time.


Kicking The Bucket

An entire war was fought over a bucket being stolen in 1325.

In this atmosphere of tension and hostility, some Modenese soldiers slipped into the center of Bologna, and stole a civic bucket filled with loot from the main city well in the center of Bologna. The humiliated Bolognese demanded the return of the bucket, and when that was refused declared war on Modena.


The Haley's Comet Panic

In 1910 [Haley's] comet made a super close pass. It was so close that the earth actually passed through the tail of the comet. It was also the first time the comet came around that we could collect spectroscopic data on it, and we subsequently learned that one of the substances that makes up the tail is cyanogen, a toxic gas. An astronomer made the claim that when we passed through the tail the gas would wipe out all life on the planet. People panicked and there was a spree of buying ridiculous inventions such as anti comet gas masks, anti comet pills, and anti comet umbrellas (yes, umbrellas).


Let's Get Down To Business

Genghis Khan, anyone?

Genghis sends a messenger to a city-state or wherever to propose a peaceful trade agreement.

They kill the messenger.

Ghengis Khan kills every single man, women, and child and burns their city to the ground.


The Opposite Of Overreaction


Y2K was a success. Folks in IT spent years working to fix the problems that would have, if ignored, caused tremendously expensive and possibly even dangerous problems. We worked our asses off and the reason it 'fizzled' wasn't because it was a scam or a hoax or an overreaction, it was because industry got its shit together for possibly the first time to Fix A Problem before it became a f*cking disaster.


In Parable And In Mass

I do maintain that Old Testament God really needed to chill the f*ck out.

But this was God being pissed off that His so-called 'perfect creation' was given free will then almost immediately used it to defy Him. Sort of like being sent to the naughty corner when you're a kid for drawing on the wall even after your parents say 'please don't draw on this specific wall, you can draw on any other wall in the house but not this one'.

God overreacted more to other stuff, like Moses, the tower of Babel, Jonah (not just the whale but literally everything he did to Jonah), Sodom and Gomorrah and the stuff that happened to Lot's family after that, the time he sent a bear to kill those kids for making fun of that bald guy...

Then God comes down in the form of Jesus because he feels bad about stuff and is tortured and killed for our sins and we're released from the naughty corner and allowed back into paradise. That's if you're Christian though.


Ah, 1929

The start of the Great Depression. It happened (or was definitely exacerbated) because of an overreaction, actually.

  • Stock market falls a bit, whatever... it happens.
  • People notice stock market falling more than regular. People decide to stop borrowing from banks and stop investing in the stock market. (Stock market does climb back up in early 1930 though)
  • People generally start spending less, but wages remained the same, resulting in a steady economic deflation, standard for a recession.
  • Bank interest rates stayed inflated so everyone started withdrawing money from the banks.
  • Banks can't give people their money because they don't have that much physical liquidated currency, it's mostly just money on the books or cash being loaned out.
  • People panic and more people try withdrawing from banks.
  • Banks close across the nation as more and more people are withdrawing money with no help from the Federal Reserve.
  • Problem is exacerbated and people find themselves without money when they had a large savings in the bank previously.
  • People can't spend money they don't have, so businesses go under and people find themselves jobless and moneyless.
  • Welcome to the Great Depression, ladies and gents.

A Fan By Any Other Name

The Fan Incident (27 April 1827), Houssein Dey (The leader of Algeria at the time), told the French ambassador to leave Algeria while pointing a hand fan at him. (Or that's what they said)

Later the French government claimed that the Dey hit their Ambassador with the fan and took it as an insult to the glorious kingdom. They sent hundreds of ships to Algeria 3 years later.

This is how the French occupation of Algeria started in 1830 and ended in 1962 (132 years).

This is called the Fan Incident.


Helen Of Troy

Have you read the Iliad? Basically most of greek mythology is about demigods with an incredible sense of entitlement. The Trojan War was started over a woman abandoning her husband because she was magicked into loving another man.


Can't Rage If I Can't Hear You


The War of Jenkin's Ear.


"The War of Jenkins' Ear (known as Guerra del Asiento in Spain) was a conflict between Britain and Spain lasting from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1858,refers to an ear severed from Robert Jenkins, a captain of a British merchant ship. There is no evidence that supports the stories that the severed ear was exhibited before the British Parliament.

The seeds of conflict began with the separation of an ear from Jenkins following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731, eight years before the war began. Popular response to the incident was tepid until several years later when opposition politicians and the British South Sea Company hoped to spur outrage against Spain, believing that a victorious war would improve Britain's trading opportunities in the Caribbean. Also ostensibly providing the impetus to war against the Spanish Empire was a desire to pressure the Spanish not to renege on the lucrative asiento contract, which gave British slavers permission to sell slaves in Spanish America.

The war resulted in heavy British casualties in North America. After 1742, the war was subsumed by the wider War of the Austrian Succession, which involved most of the powers of Europe. Peace arrived with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. From the British perspective, the war was notable because it was the first time that a regiment of colonial American troops (Oglethorpe's Regiment) was raised and placed "on the Establishment" – made a part of the regular British Army – and sent to fight outside North America."

Not only was it an over-reaction deliberately, but it took 8 years for it to go off...


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Here are a some people admitting strong opinions they no longer have, and what it took to change those views. Redditor u/segafarm asks:

What is the strongest opinion you once held but no longer hold, and what make you change your mind?

Jade-Colored Glasses

I used to think that being cynical/negative was realistic and somehow smarter than being positive. I've since realized that a "be prepared for the worst but expect the best" is far better. We can't control the outcome of anything in life. Being negative makes you miserable rather than protected from bad things happening.


Cant' Have A Conversation With A Parrot

I used to be a conspiracy theorist. Believed that 9/11 was committed by the US government and that we never landed on the moon.

Once I started looking outside of the echo chamber I was in and started looking at alternate explanations, theories and listening to different viewpoints I soon realized how ridiculous those notions were.


A Big, Mysterious Universe

I used to be a strict, hardline atheist. I was the kind of bastard that would bring the subject up for no reason, just to argue. I don't know what the hell my problem was. Now I feel like, the universe is big, I don't know what all might be out there, I don't really care. I live as if there is no afterlife, because that makes sense to me. But if you don't, and you believe in one, that's perfectly fine, and maybe you're right. Who knows?


Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Man

I used to believe anyone can be a successful artist if they just put the time and effort into it. There is no such thing as talent, only hard work.

What changed my mind: Art school. There were quite a few people that tried hard, but just weren't able to achieve professional level art.


You're Not Your Emotions

For the longest time, I thought my emotions were in a sense the most "real" part of me. I was always a very emotional person and I didn't make a real effort to control it as I thought it was a good thing, that I was just being honest with myself. Over time though, I started to become very depressed and the negative emotions just keep adding on and on. I thought "this is just how I am I guess". Unfortunately it started hurting other relationships I had, and everything changed when my girlfriend broke up with me. After a lot of reading I found that emotions are not who we are at all. They're just reactions and there's nothing that requires us to act on them or feed them. I'm learning to let it go through me instead of hanging on like I used to.


Don't Forget Big Willie Style

I used to think that hip hop was bland, repetitive, and all about clubbing and sh*t. Then one of my friends pointed me towards people like Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Nas and Run The Jewels, who all have great songs and clever lyrics, and I realized that Hip Hop is pretty great.


The A**holes Will Always Find A Way

I used to think that the catholic church was responsible for all of the hateful people in it. I gave people the chance to challenge my opinion and someone explained it very nicely to me. Basically, the hateful people use the church as an excuse, if you remove the church they will gladly find another excuse.


High Times


I used to tell myself that I would never stop smoking weed, and that I'd be happy if my kids grew up to be pot smokers... Now I have a kid, don't smoke, and realize what an idiot I was when all I did was smoke all day. I could probably be in a much better position if I hadn't smoked all through college.

But I mean, I still think pot's okay... Just in moderation.


The Road Less Traveled

"All taxation is theft, man! I made my money without any help from public institutions or the infrastructure they support, I should be able to keep every last dime of it!"

Naturally that was when I was 18, living at home rent free, and working at Pizza Hut as a delivery driver who relied upon public roads for pretty much every cent I made.


All Those PSA's Didn't Do Much

The whole D.A.R.E anti-drugs. Yes crack and heroin is bad, but they over dramatized what happens when you do smaller drugs. Weed isn't even a gateway drug, alcohol is more of a gateway drug. When I saw weed for the first time I thought it was tobacco (This was after all the D.A.R.E training too). Letting the government teach you your morales and philosophy is a thing that sheep do. Don't be a sheep.


Where Would We Be Without The Kindness Of Strangers

I used to think people on welfare and state assistance just weren't trying hard enough. I grew up spoiled and entitled and it seemed like any kind of charity was a stigma.

Then, my husband became chronically ill, and the economy took a shit. My family has been close to homelessness more than once, and have relied on state insurance and assistance off and on throughout the past few years. There are definitely people out there who abuse the system, but some just get stuck in a horrible cycle of poverty.

I also work in a school that has a high number low income and refugee families. It has really opened my eyes to the struggles that some people face.


He's Still There For You, The Best He Can Be

I could go through life and could seek meaningful advice from my Dad who has always been there for me.

Now he has been reduced to a feeble condition, I am starting to understand I'm out there on my own, and even what he's sure of is suspect given his mental and physical facilities have been rapidly deteriorating in his late seventies. I feel horrible that I have noticed this long before he did - or at least admitted as much.


Clear Your Mind

This was before I received an ADHD diagnosis. When my doctor referred me to an ADHD specialist, first of all I refused to believe him and was kind of slighted that he even suggested that I could possibly have ADHD.

I had a very strong opinion that if I get a diagnosis that I would refuse to take prescribed amphetamines because they are "bad" and "addictive" and that they would ruin my life.

Then I actually tried the prescription and it was like magic.


Going Through The Whole Spectrum

Used to be fairly open with my views on immigration policy. Then I worked for a while down near Corpus Christie doing immigration work. I'd say one out if every hundred people that came through our office was going to somebody who actually wanted to work and try to make a living here. So many people simply wanted to exist enough to get welfare. Many were young men who we would later defend against exportation as a result of their criminal activity. I began to despise the work of defending these men and wished they would be deported.

Now, I'm dating a foreign girl and we are in the legal immigration process. She has advanced degrees and skills, so that makes things a little easier. But it does make me resent people who just bypass the system. We can't bypass the system because I imagine my participation in immigration fraud could get me disbarred.


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