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With a few thousand years of existence under our belts, human beings have endured plenty of crazy stuff by now. Truly, we've had the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Today, we talk about the ugly.


We're all familiar with the big wars, despots, and ideological movements throughout our time. Wikipedia power users may even have some military history or archaeological know-how under their belts.

But a recent Reddit thread gathered people to share some very niche events and incidents from a time.

The kicker? People were prompted to share the most devastating, often unmentioned moments of our time. Strap in for a close look at us at our worst.

Barfy_Bag asked, "Historians of Reddit, what’s a devastating event that no one talks about?"

For many, the intense, overwhelming power of mother nature was the driving force of the event. Simply put, human beings don't stand a chance against the undulating forces of our planet.

A Light From Space 

"The Carrington Event"

"In 1859, solar flares hit the earth causing an aurora borealis effect to be seen all over the world. It lasted for several days, during which time it was reportedly bright enough to read by at midnight."

"Telegraph operators reported receiving shocks and burns from the devices, and in some cases removed the batteries powering the telegraphs, as signals were being disrupted by the geomagnetic storm. After removing the batteries, the telegraphs still operated, in some cases better than they had when powered."

"It wasn't particularly devastating at the time, but it's estimated that if a similar storm were to hit us today, it would cripple the entire planet for potentially decades. The estimated repair cost in the US alone is measured in the trillions."

"In 2012, a similar storm missed the earth by nine days."

-- Dyne4R

Layered Calamities

"I'm not really a proper historian but I feel the need to mention the Bronze Age collapse. It's not as though nobody talks about it at all but considering how catastrophic it was, it doesn't get nearly enough attention."

"At this time civilisations were still pretty scarce but the eastern Mediterranean was full of them. We can't pinpoint an exact reason but at some point it all fell apart."

"The Myceneans? Gone!"

"The Hittites? Gone!"

"The Minoans? Gone!"

"The Egyptians? Barely clinging on and having serious problems."

"There are many things that happened around that time in that general area that could be the culprit: Volcanoes, earthquakes, drought, famine, war and invasions from 'foreigners that came by boat' that historians have named the Sea People because we have basically no idea where they came from. In reality, it was probably a combination of some or even all of them."

"Again, I'm not a proper historian by any means but this is what I heard. Actual historians, feel free to correct any mistakes or mention something I missed."

-- tiffinstorm

Of Course, Man Plays a Part 

"The Johnstown Flood of 1889. The deadliest civil engineering disaster on US soil, it killed 2209 people. After a dam collapsed it swept up rail cars, passengers, trees, an entire town of 10,000, then swirled it around and ejected the debris downriver into a bridge where it all caught fire."

"Destruction beyond belief, and all so that some rich steel magnates up the mountain didn't maintain the dam they used to keep their fishing reservoir."

-- Ludendorff

Set Back Years 

"Galveston, Texas was once considered to be one of the most important commercial ports in the United States and was referred to by several fantastical names such as the 'Queen City of the Gulf' and the 'Wall Street of the West.' "

"All that changed when it suffered a near-direct hit from a devastating Category 4 Hurricane in 1900, the deadliest natural disaster in American history. Pretty much the entire city was destroyed by a storm surge and anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 people died."

"Galveston was rebuilt but it never truly regained its status; Houston became the state's commercial center in the storm's wake, in addition to other factors."

-- TheMidnightScorpion

Other people noted the terrible things human beings do to one another. Genocide and war, unfortunately, have been around for as long as we have.

A Ceaseless Slaughter 

"Cambodian Genocide. They killed so many kids that the life expectancy was 18" -- SoLongFarewell2019

"I visited the school converted to a prison and the killing fields when I went to Cambodia and it was horrifying. Besides the killing tree, the most heartbreaking thing was at the school they had pictures of all the people killed."

"There was one little boy who looked so terrified but you could tell he was trying to be so brave. It is astonishing how cruel people can be." -- sensualoctopus

The Living Dead 

"Leprosy colonies of Hawaii. People who were diagnosed with leprosy were forcibly banished to Kalaupapa to live out the rest of their lives - they were dug graves, had to stand in them, while their families and friends basically had a 'living funeral' for them where they had the dirt thrown on them; they were then pronounced dead to the world and no longer part of the community."

"This continued through 1969 even after Hawaii officially became a state."

-- daphne_dysarte

TEN MILLION +

"Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan."

"Put simply, it was an upsurp Kingdom in 1850's China that directly and indirectly led to the deaths of millions (maybe ten million+) of people through massacre and famine."

"Hong Xiuquan believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and pursuaded enough people to follow along and start a civil war."

"Check out Gods Chinese Son by Jonathan Spence."

-- oswan

Cleared Out 

"The Highland Clearances. Over a period of about 150 years between the 18th and 19th centuries, English and Lowland Scottish landlords evicted thousands upon thousands of highland Scots from their ancestral homelands and replaced them with sheep."

"It's hard to classify as a historical event because it went on for so long and is usually interpreted as an ambiguous series of largely isolated incidents. There were attacks on villages in which the landlords would burn their tenant's houses to the ground to get them to leave, and burned their land so that nothing could grow. Multiple people were caught in the fires and died."

"During the Glencoe massacre, 30 members of Clan MacDonald were murdered by Scottish government forces for supporting the Jacobite uprising. The Irish potato famine also affected the highland scots who grew potatoes, and many people starved or were forced to leave as well."

"As a result, there was a series of mass migration in which scots travelled to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., and largely lost their language and culture. It's very sad, and all that is basically why highland culture and language has largely been lost."

-- NinjaPiratewithIBS

Silent Killer 

"The disease outbreaks that hit the Americas with the arrival of the Europeans."

"You hear about a 90% death rate and it sounds made up, but whatever the actual number was, entire civilizations were literally wiped out. Cultures that had existed for thousands of years are just gone, with barely a record left. You have stories of people coming across whole villages of corpses."

"These people died never even having seen the Europeans, never knowing what was killing them and their loved ones and totally helpless to do anything about it."

-- Vic_Hedges

Shipped Out 

"BHC = British Home Children"

"Poor British children were taken from their families and sold to Canada as indentured servants/farmhands. Many of these children were never checked on, were not paid, educated, fed, or clothed properly, and endured cruel and unusual treatment. Some died, but most ran away."

-- inkling66

Unjust Payback 

"The assassination of James Garfield. He was a known advocate for racial equality. He appointed black men into his cabinet and tried expanding public education into the south to get more African-Americans an education."

"He tried to fight for racial equality but died four months into his presidency which fu**ed it up."

-- bentheboy1139

Bystanders

"Asked my history studying friend about this, she said there's A LOT of events that people don't talk about. For example, there was a lot of countries involved in the Balkan conflict who knew about the massacre of Srebrenica but still allowed it to happen."

"So many historical events are just so grim and depressing when you read about it, we knew bad things were happening but didn't stop until it was too late for many people."

-- ThiccNya

A Recent Case 

"The Rwandan genocide has got to be one of these events. I watched Shake Hands with the Devil here awhile ago and highly recommend it. Unspeakable acts of brutality inflicted. Still gives me chills." -- GartSnart52

"One of the worst parts to me is how easily it could have been prevented. Roméo Dallaire, the general in charge of the UN forces on the ground said at the time that with a few thousand peacekeepers the genocide could have been prevented. UN analysis after the fact agreed with his assessment. Can you imagine if 3,000 soldiers could have prevented the holocaust, but the international community didn't want to spare the troops?" -- MichaelMyersResple

Finally, some people opted to share the bizarre. They outlined those freak accidents or wild tragedies that seemed to come out of nowhere.

They Just Wanted Toys 

"The Victoria hall disaster. All because kids were being kids in a death trap:"

" 'The disaster started when about 1,000 children in the audience of a variety show were told they could get free toys. Kids began pouring down the aisles to get the toys, blocking the exits and piling on top of one another. In the end, 183 of them were crushed to death.' "

-- HeyWaitHUHWhat

Ill-Equipped 

"Vietnamese boat people. Absolutely crazy and literally can't believe this happened. And nobody fu**ing ever talks about it."

"Think about this, it's the Vietnam war, and you are Vietnamese and obviously want nothing to do with it. Many saw their only way out was by sea, due to tensions with neighboring countries. So hordes of people tried to escape the country in little boats."

"Now here's the kicker, it's estimated that up to 400,000 of them drowned. Everything got stolen. People got sick and starved. Pirates kidnapped people."

"Absolutely horrible. That wiki page makes me feel bad for ever having complained about anything"

-- Wooden_Muffin_9880

Pandemonium 

"The Khodynka tragedy. Was supposed to be a celebration of the crowning of Nicholas II as emperor. Around 500,000 people gathered in a field where they would receive free food."

"Rumors spread that there wouldn't be enough food for everyone leading to a panic and everyone rushing the field. 1,389 people were trampled to death."

"Nicholas II responded by going to a party that night."

-- CrustyTowel



The worst thing? There are probably countless examples out there that weren't even mentioned in this list. Perhaps you even know a few.

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

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