People on Reddit were asked: "What was the single biggest mistake in all of history?" These are some of the best answers.
1/23 The Dutch discovering Australia about 100 years before it was settled by the British but never acting on it. They could now have a landmass 100s of times larger than their own.
2/23 NASA taped over the moon landing. There are no known original media recordings of the event, because they used a proprietary format and needed to reuse tapes down through the years. No matter how badly you f*ck up something at work, you can always feel good that at least you didn't tape over the moon landing.
3/23 Whoever rejected Hitler's art school application.
4/23 "Hey this wooden-horse gift seems legit..."
5/23 In 1995 there was a high-altitude scientific rocket experiment launched from Norway. The Norwegians had notified the Russians of the launch but the information was never passed along to the proper people within the Russian military/government. The Russian early-warning radars detected the launch and identified it as a potential attack. The whole military was immediately put on high alert. President Boris Yeltsin was given the "nuclear suitcase" and according to Russian protocol had 10 minutes to decide whether to fire their nuclear missiles (that was the estimated time it would take for a US missile to land in Russia).
As the Russians monitored the rocket they noticed that it reached a maximum altitude of 1,453 km, exactly mimicking the expected altitude of a Trident missile. The Russians knew the US kept many Trident armed submarines in the Norwegian sea, so these facts seemed to confirm the attack...
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To make matters worse the rocket was a multistage rocket and separated from its booster rockets in flight. To the Russian radar system the rocket separation into multiple parts looked exactly like a MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) payload. Under these circumstances, according to Russian policy, President Yeltsin is supposed to launch a retaliation attack. Yeltsin activated the "nuclear keys" for the first time ever. This caused all Russian nuclear submarines to go into a combat readiness state and prepare for nuclear retaliation. With his thumb over the launch button, and knowing full well the standing policy was for him to launch, he made a mistake, at least according to policy, and decided not to launch.
6/23 Assuming the German forces would take Moscow before the onset of winter in 1941.
7/23 Maybe not the biggest, but the Spanish Armada and Phillip II's reign in general. He was handed over half of Europe by his father and had the largest overseas empire in the world. Spain was wealthier and nearly more powerful than all of Europe combined.
If Phillip played his cards correctly, Spain could have ended up ruling all of Europe.
8/23 The burning of the Library in Alexandria.
9/23 I think the biggest mistake is letting Stalin's horror fall to the back burner compared to Hitler's.
10/23 Ending the space program, specifically the Apollo program. The reason we have made advances in computer technology in the past 50 or so years was because of the research NASA scientists did to build a space ship to travel across space and land a human being on the moon. It's because of NASA that we have things like satellites, personal computers and smart phones.
Had we have stayed on the moon, we would be way WAYYYYYY ahead of where we are at now technologically. We definitely would have figured out fusion by experimenting with the large amounts of helium-3 up there...
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Space travel would have advanced faster, as the trial and error processes involved with researching ships would have enabled more efficient space ships, and we may have even traveled to mars by now. That is just the tip of the iceberg of what the research we could have done to get us to STAY on the moon could have given us.
Perhaps, some of the atrocities committed between the ending of the Apollo program and now could have been avoided. They would at least be different. The cold war could have turned out differently, had the planned joint Russian and American space travel efforts in the 1960s been approved. Hell, the war in the middle east could have played out differently (However, I must admit that that is a stretch).
11/23 When any country invades Afghanistan.
12/23 Whoever was the first person to contract HIV from that one monkey...
13/23 "Sir, these colonist want something called 'taxation with representation'. They're requesting we give them a say in parliament as they represent a vast population of predominantly original English natives."
King: "Well fuuuUUuuuuck them!"
14/23 This doesn't exactly count for all of history, but I think America's biggest mistake was not listening to George Washington when he warned us not to form political parties.
15/23 Russia selling Alaska for 7.2 millions dollars. 2 cents an acre!
16/23 Treaty of Versailles. Lead the way for German national extremism and extreme poverty that lead Germans to believe in anything such as the propaganda against the Jews and other groups which would eventually be killed in the Holocaust.
It would also pave the way for the Cold War due to main factors bred in World War 2.
17/23 The Ottoman Empire's choice to join WWI.
18/23 I'm amazed no one has mentioned the Crusades. They were some very poorly organized expeditions indeed.
How about the Fourth Crusade? Crusaders besiege those they were intended to protect, create rift between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches that lasts over 800 years.
19/23 The Chernobyl meltdown. Such a huge f*ck up. Such irreversible ramifications.
20/23 In the 14th century the Ming Empire of China has the potential with their navigator Zheng He who was able to establish a trade presence in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. If China had become a maritime power it is inconceivable that Western Europe would have been able to be as dominant over the rest of the world as it became. Imagine the Chinese discovering America a century before Columbus.
Instead the Mings abandoned the project and turned towards massive isolationism.But right now it looks like China will come back and dominate the world anyway, so I guess it was only a half millennium delay.
21/23 Xerxes thinking he could just walk into Greece, by the coast. Just land your fleet straight in Piraeus, you f*cking idiot.
22/23 Dividing up the Middle East after WWII.
23/23 Ala ad-Din Muhammad, the Shah of Khwarezmia (middle-age Persia) had Genghis Khan's ambassador beheaded and sent his head back to Genghis. This pissed off Mr Khan and he gathered his horde and invaded, eventually capturing Baghdad and bringing to a premature end the 500-year Islamic Golden Age.