Many times we look back at history and think "what on earth were they thinking?"
It's hard to access the mindset of the past. We don't really know what they were thinking. But that still doesn't stop us from being floored by the decision being made in the first place.
Here were the answers.
Pest campaign: He basically told his nation to take pots and pans to kill all the sparrows. However, the ecosystem was disturbed and the locust population skyrocketed.
Seeds: he thought that planting seeds 1 meter in the ground would result in greater roots and better harvest. He also thought that putting tons of seeds in one compact area would cause a better harvest. All the seeds died however. Around 30 million or so died from Famine under his rule.
"Hey! Look at the other nations industrializing! Lets smelt all our metal to build better infrastructure. What? It creates pig iron which is super unstable and impure therefore being ultimately useless? Oops!" -Mao
Dang It Allan
Allan Savory the ecologist who killed 40,000 elephants because it was believed that grazing was causing the desertification of Africa, only to find out later that elephants were essential to prevent desertification.
You'd be happy to know that he learned from his mistake and went on to create an elephant sanctuary.
Nice Try Kodak
Eastman Kodak deciding not to go forward with their own newly invented digital cameras and instead sticking with film because it made them so much money at the time.
Isn't the real bad decision that they guy who invented the digital camera in 1975 at Kodak wanted to let Kodak patent it, and they said "nahhhhh. who's going to get into these things?!?"
The 90s Didn't Know Apple Yet
Maybe not the *worst*, but maybe Ronald Wayne, he was a co-founder of apple along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. Just 12 days after forming the company, he sold his shares for $800. He owned 10% of the company, which would be worth ~$80,000,000,000 (80 billion) today.
Source. (Don't know how accurate this is, but the story still stands.)
Xerox Go Down
Maybe the worst business decision ever made was by Xerox with their Alto computer.
Xerox invented the graphical interface modern computers use. Desktop, folders, copy/paste etc. They basically invented the modern computer in the 70's. But the problem was, the people in charge at the time were businessman without any technical knowledge so they didn't realise what they had. They did nothing with it and gave it away to universities and showed other companies. The famous story is that Steve Jobs saw this and within 5 minutes realised this was the way computers would work in the future. He copied it, because Xerox didn't patent their invention and didn't do anything with it and the rest is history.
Xerox could have been Apple or Microsoft. Or both. They could have had a monopoly on the entire pc industry. Almost every company uses windows in their offices. I think 80 or 90% of consumers uses windows. That could have been Xerox. They had the tech maybe 10 years before anyone else. They could have been the most valuable company of all time but they just gave it away.
My Heart Will Go On
Robert Ballard, one of the guys who discovered Titanic, says that his biggest regret is that he and Jean-Lous Michel didn't bring a piece of the Titanic up with him when he first discovered it in 1985. At the time, they didn't want to disturb the wreck, and leave it pristine. But if they had done so, then they would've been able to claim legal ownership of the wreck under international maritime law, and therefore more control over it. Because they chose not to do that, everyone and their grandma is free to take artifacts and pieces of the wreck, and this makes preservation impossible.
A Step-By-Step Of Bad Ideas
Well, the decision of Inalchuq, the governor of the Khwarazmian city of Otrar, to attack Genghis Khan's trade caravan was pretty bad. Khan was famous as a ruthless warlord, not the sort of guy you want to piss off.
But maybe they could have got away with it. Genghis sent three ambassadors to negotiate a settlement.
Which is when Muhammad II, the Shah of of Khwarzem, made the really bad decision to kill one of these ambasssdors and send the other two back without their beards as a sign of humiliation.
Genghis Kahn was so enraged he assembled an army and destroyed the Khwarazmian Empire. Wiped out every town they had. He even re-routed a river to wipe out the village where the Shah was born, wiping it off the map. By 1120 there wasn't much of anything left.
So, both Inalchuq or Muhammad II of Khwarzem qualify. Take your pick.
Not the worst in the world but apparently my family owned a little town west of Kent (UK). My great great great grandfather got plastered one night and gambled it all away 🙄
I feel your pain, my grandfather was a Vietnamese millionaire but didn't have the time to teach my parents how to run our businesses before he died so we lost all our money.
Art Is A Fickle Mistress
My great great grandfather, a carpenter, did some work for a poor painter in the neighbourhood. The painter had no money, so he offered either a bottle of wine or a painting. My great great granfather chose the wine.
The painter was Edvard Munch, and the painting would have been worth millions upon millions today, or even just a few decades later (if translated to todays money).
World War IGiphy
Gavrillo Princip shooting Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
On that day, a man acted upon his self-constructed vendetta against a non-tyrranical monarch, thinking the world would remember him as a symbol against foreign tyranny. A symbol of national sovereignty.
A year later, 10 million men were dead.