London Was Almost Destroyed By A Burnt Pie: The Worst Screw-Ups In Human History.
From leaving a pie in the oven too long to issuing an order to attack the Soviet Union, we have all of the biggest mistakes and screw-ups in history right here. Cutting for a 5000 year old tree? A battle consisting solely of allies? And it gets even more wild.
We picked 22 of the most astounding screw-ups in history, as submitted on AskReddit. Check them out! Sources to even more can be found on the last page.
A Khwarezmian governor executing members of a Mongol caravan, and then executing diplomats sent to ask, "Why did you do that?". The Mongols slaughtered 1.25 million people (a quarter of the Khwarezmian population) in retaliation, executed the governor by pouring molten silver into his eyes and ears, and according to legend, diverted a river to completely wash away the home city of the Khwarezmian emperor. It also drew the Mongols west, and they proceeded to screw up the Islamic caliphs in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and also brought the Black Death to Kaffa, which then spread to Europe. So one dude executed the wrong merchants, and 100 million people died.
Submitted by: JustASexyKurt
NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because a Lockheed Martin engineering team used English units of measurement while the agency's team used the more conventional metric system for a key spacecraft operation.
Submitted by: Kaaaol
Hyperinflation in post-WWI Germany. Basically, hey, we got stuck with the bill after war, what happens if we just print more money? People were taking wheelbarrows of money to the store and being told they didn't have enough for a loaf of bread. It led to mass political turmoil, which led to Hitler.
Submitted by: angruss
World War I was a disaster. The different nations went into it with a frenzy, and were for the most part believing it would all be over by summer.
Instead of the fastly paced wars of the Napoleonic era and German and Italian wars of unification, it dragged out into a brutal trench war in the West, with colossal loss of life. There was famine in Russia and food shortage in other places, and a virulent flu attack. In Russia, you got the Bolsheviks getting into power, civil war and then dictatorship of Stalin. The war destroyed a lot of wealth, and the vengeful reparations on Germany caused such economic stress that right-wing groups such as Hitler's NSDAP became popular and military conspiracy theories blaming failure on the Jews got credence.
Some of the boundary redrawing after the war was not too good as well. Probably some of the reorganisation of former Ottoman provinces should have been done along more rational lines, and without colonial overtones.
Submitted by: BorrowdaleBillbo
In terms of the entertainment industry: Blockbuster turning down an offer to buy Netflix.
Henry Clay's life goal was a desire to become the president of the United States. When his party, the Whigs, ran the candidate William Henry Harrison, he was offered the position of Vice President. Clay didn't accept, and John Tyler ended up being the Vice President candidate.
The Harrison Ticket won. Harrison died a month later.
Submitted by: Puffinator-0
Torrey Canyon oil spill, 1967. Oil supertanker struck rocks and broke up, spills 25-36 million gallons of crude oil, causing huge amounts of environmental damage. For some reason no-one had considered this sort of thing would really happen, so there was no contingency plan to contain it, so the bright idea they came up with? Send in Royal Navy aircraft to BOMB the oil spill. As imagined, never worked very well. They also tried to use new forms of detergent, but those were poisonous to sea life as well.
Submitted by: JustAboutCrazyEnough
Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines launched a promo called the Number Fever in 1992. It instantly became a hit. Basically, the promo works like a lotto. The company would announce a number, and if the number in the bottom of the caps matches the drawn number, the cap holder wins. The highest amount to win was P1 million. Other smaller prizes were 100, 1000, 10 thousand, 50 thousand, and 500 thousand.
Other Pepsi drinks such as Mirinda, Mountain Dew and 7 Up were also part of the promotional activity.
Winning 3 digit numbers were announced daily. The sales was booming, it increased up to 40%. Everyone was happy, until on May 25, 1992, Pepsi announced the wrong number 349. The prize was the whooping 1 million. Only one lucky person should win this.
It turned out there were other 490,116 winners. Pepsi had printed the 349 number on 800,000 caps.
The Company refused to pay the full 1 million prize to each of the thousands of 349 cap holders. Imagine, for example 1 million to 1,000 winners. Thats 1 billion pesos. And there were 490,116 winners. Pepsi had only a budget of 100 million for the Number Fever promo.
As a result of Pepsis refusal to pay the full amount of the prize, the company faced thousands of lawsuits civil, fraud and criminal. Riots and attacks from angry claimants also ensued.
Pepsis 37 delivery trucks were razed. A grenade was thrown into their Davao warehouse. The company had to hire armed guards protecting their trucks during the delivery of their products.
Some accepted the settlement prize of P35,000. Others were willing to go the extra mile, even more than a decade of lawsuit.
But on June 20, 2006, the Supreme Court handed a decision nullifying the complainants claim of the prize of 1 million. Meaning claimants could not get a single centavo of the highest prize. The Courts decision said that the winning caps should contain the security code that matched the winning number.
Pepsi got more than what they bargained for in a negative way. Revenue losses for sure and a tainted image. They still could not surpass Coca-Colas dominance in the Philippine market since then.
Submitted by: kramzazuki
Operation Barbarossa. Going to war with the USSR eventually turned out to be Hitler's biggest mistake. I know he needed the oil, and he was able to kill about 20 million Soviets, but still, it sealed the fate of the European war.
Submitted by: Prehistory_Buff
Captain who sunk his own submarine because he was embarrassed about a stinky poo.
Note, it doesn't explicitly say this was the cause in the wikipedia article, but on U-boats there was specific personnel in charge of discharging the latrine. They know the sinking was caused by a misuse of the latrine, which would not have happened if the trained personnel were running it, so the leading theory is the captain took it upon himself to run the controls because he was embarrassed.
Submitted by: NolanSyKinsley
When Air Canada took delivery of its first Boeing 767, on one of its first flights they forgot to convert from Imperial to Metric and put X litres of fuel on the plane, instead of X gallons.
The plane ran out of fuel over Western Canada. Fortunately, the pilot had experience flying gliders and brought it down safely in Gimli, Manitoba. The plane became known as the "Gimli Glider."
Submitted by: JournalofFailure
The Austrian army once attacked itself.
Battle of Karansebe, Austrian Cavalry went scouting for some Ottomans but instead found some peasants selling alcohol. When another part of the Austrian army asked for some the drunk Austrians sent up fortifications around the alcohol.
Long story short 10,000 dead and the Ottomans came a day later and took the city of Karansebes. Brought to you by the country that is recognized as the one that looks like a turkey leg.
Submitted by: devils-philosophy
In American history, there's General George B. McClellan in the Civil War. The dude led the Union army in the Battle of Antietam, and General Lee brought the Confederate army into a retreat. All McClellan had to do was keep moving forward and he could have breached the Confederate's capital in Richmond, Virginia. But he decided to turn around and march back to Washington.
Understand that? He was sitting in front of the Confederate capital, with the Confederate army running away, and he backed off because he wasn't sure enough that he could win. The civil war carried on for three more years after that! Three more years of the bloodiest death toll on American troops in the country's history. Included in those three years is the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle in the war and the battle with the highest death toll for American soldiers in history to date.
So much bloodshed that could have been avoided, if only McClellan had found his spine in 1862.
Submitted by: CrazyPlato
The Maginot Line.
"While the fortification system did prevent a direct attack, it was strategically ineffective, as the Germans invaded through Belgium, going around the Maginot Line. The German army came through the Ardennes forest and the Low Countries, completely sweeping by the line, causing the French army to surrender and conquering France in about six weeks."
Submitted by: U_S_K
Not having enough life boats on the Titanic, as well as not filling them all to full capacity.
Submitted by: butrcupps
The world's oldest company, founded in 578 AD. Run continuously by descendants until 2006 when the last guy, Masakazu Kong, screwed up and the company fell on hard times. They were liquidated and purchased by another firm.
Submitted by: ronke
Mao ordering the mass killing of birds because he thought they would eat the corn off the farms and compromise the harvest. In the end the lack of birds lead to a explosive growth in parasite populations that destroyed the harvest completely in some areas. What followed was a massive famine killing millions.
Submitted by: HaxiWeg
1666 great fire of London.
Started by a baker who left a pie in the oven too long.
Perhaps the bigger screw up was that most of the buildings were made of wood and built very close together.
Submitted by: Tublet
Special Order 191. Somehow, somebody left a copy of Robert E Lee's plans under a tree in Maryland. A Union soldier found it and passed it up to George McClellan who changed his strategy accordingly. The Union was then able to stop a Confederate invasion that likely would have led to the Confederate states winning the Civil War.
Submitted by: youngkat
In 2003, a lost hunter lit a signal flare near San Diego. The flare started a fire that would later spread to become the biggest one in the history of California. The fire destroyed an estimated 300,000 acres, 2,322 homes, and killed 14 people.
Submitted by: cstar84
That grad student who killed the world's oldest tree trying to measure its age.
Submitted by: graaahh
The Casey Anthony trial. People have this vision of the trial that it went really really well for the prosecution and the verdict was a complete fluke. That's not what happened. The prosecution absolutely tanked. Like, literally everything they did helped the defense in some way.
They put all Casey's friends on the stand to prove what an awful person she was. They testified to the opposite. Everyone said she was a great person and a wonderful mother who rarely partied because she was way too concerned with staying home with her kid. And it's not like this was a surprise. It's not like the friends changed their stories at the last minute to help her. No. They said the same things they told police. It's just that the media did a really great job picking and choosing what they heard so the prosecution thought the jury would pick and choose as well. It didn't work that way. The jury heard all of it and internalized all of it. After the prosecution presented a couple weeks worth of testimony about what a great person she was, the jury couldn't picture her murdering anyone.
On top of that, the prosecution insisted on using George Anthony as their key witness. I have no idea what his deal is, but he lied to try to convict Casey. Even Jeff Ashton said he regretted using him because of this. For instance, he testified about this infamous gas can fight where Casey was trying to keep him away from the trunk. Now, he testified at trial that he couldn't see in the trunk. Then Baez pulled his original statement where he said he was standing next to her and he gave a complete description to police about the contents of the trunk. So now, that may not seem like a very big change, but when you consider what the prosecution was trying to do with it: prove there was a body in the car she was hiding--it seems like a much bigger difference. He knew damn well there was no body in the trunk of that car on that date and he not only said nothing, he changed his statement to allow the prosecution to argue that there was! This didn't just happen at trial, this had been making the rounds in the media for a couple of years and he said nothing. Not once did he correct them and say "No, I saw in the trunk and there was only a couple of t-shirts."
If you're sitting on a jury and this guy is hiding exculpatory evidence, and he's the other last person to see Caylee alive, how is that going to sit with you? This isn't the only thing he lied about and the prosecution knew he was lying about these things. The prosecution dug their own graves with that one.
Submitted by: Hysterymystery
"It wasn't me!"
There's not much you can do when the righteous fist of the law comes down on you. Call it a mix-up, or call it a mistake, if someone's pegged you at the scene of a crime there's not much you can do but trust the justice system to prove you innocent. However, that's a gamble, and just because you've been given a "not guilty" doesn't mean the effects won't follow you for the rest of your life.
Reddit user, u/danbrownskin, wanted to hear about the times when it wasn't you, seriously, it was someone else, when they asked: