The Worst Human Inventions Of All-Time

grayscale photo of person wearing gas mask and leather jacket
Photo by Leonie Zettl on Unsplash

Human ingenuity has created countless things that make our lives better but that has definitely been balanced with a whole lot of incredibly harmful inventions, too. Some things might even fit on both lists, as a lot of new inventions can seem like a dream come true — only to turn out to be horribly harmful after some study.

Redditor joddionnelly asked:

"What's the worst human invention ever made?"


"landmines. cheap and easy to make, but they remain active and people forget where they put them."

- Youltold123

"There is also a thing called mine migration. The weather moves them around over time."

- Ferretoncrystalmeth

Anything Invented By Thomas Midgely Jr.

"Remembering the last time a thread like this came up, the correct answer is along the lines of leaded fuel."

- mrbios

"And CFCs. By the same guy apparently."

- MightySquishMitten

"Yep Thomas Midgley Jr. contributed to the death of an estimated 200 million people due to his inventions."

- antigrainer

Agent Orange

"Agent orange"

- MochaJ95

"Generations of families of people exposed to this are still struggling with the effects."

- Bunnybunbons

"That sh*t is still around in Vietnam too since they don’t disappear from the environment."

- Karasu18

"It disturbs me that everyone always talks about the soldiers exposed and not the vast quantity of innocent Vietnamese civilians exposed."

- Redqueenhypo

Planned Obsolescence

"Planned obsolescence."

- CreativeRip806

"This is a problem with a multitude of other global/widespread negative implications that we haven't even begun to fully experience. It's an issue that pisses me off more than any other."

- Cimmerian_Noctis

"I understand they need to regularly sell stuff to make money. But maybe we shouldn’t be producing products that end up in landfills by the millions every year."

- sketchysketchist

"You see all other answers, and there's always some good intent in there. CFCs made safe refrigeration widely available, fossil fuels have allowed a lot of progress, pop-ups were made in good faith, you could even argue that nuclear weapons have made the world safer..."

"Not planned obsolescence. Literally nothing good or good intentioned about it. Just a middle finger for everything besides the suits."

- Dahjoos

Nuclear Weapons

"In the end, I think nuclear weapons will be at the top of this list."

"We're only surviving currently because everyone has agreed that they wouldn't prefer to doom mankind to a fiery radioactive death."

"Don't you think it's only a matter of time before someone irrational decides to take everyone down with them?"

- MrAnonymous2018_

"Yes, I agree with you. Modern nuclear weapons take minutes to get to their targets, and are now harder to stop as they have dummy bombs that are launched with them, and they make an area uninhabitable for decades."

- Flakoring

"I the discovery and control of the nuclear energy is one of the greatest achievements in human history, however when people used this technology to make weapons they did a terrible mistake, it is one of the deadliest things ever invented."

- Little_Soldier_Bud

So-called Flushable Wipes

"Flushable wipes. These companies should be destroyed."

- LobstahmeatwadWTF

"Sorry I've never used or even seen one, what's wrong with flushable wipes?"

- DibaWho

"They are technically able to be flushed, but they are not plumbing-friendly. They are only 'flushable' in the same way Hot Wheels are, only in the most strict sense of the word. Since they technically will go down, the manufacturers label them 'flushable' when you absolutely should not do that."

- hitemlow

"They still write flushable on the packaging despite the fact that they have destroyed probably billions of dollars in infrastructure and make the worst mess to clean up that I can possibly imagine."

- Chasin_Papers

Lots of Chemical Weapons

"mustard gas is pretty nasty stuff."

- bread-of-time

"Back in the 70's I was looking after a WW1 vet who still had a wound on his leg from mustard gas."

- shazj57

"Yeah but nerve gas - and some of the other key-body-function-inhibitors that are out there - really put mustard in the backseat."

- iced237

"Got nothing on the semi-oily nerve agents like sarin. they coat sh*t and stick around."

- HuckleSmothered

Blinding Headlights

"Extra Bright 'Blinding' Headlights"

- bahauddin_onar

"Basically any headlights on pickups 2020 or newer because they're so freaking tall now too. Makes Close Encounters of the Third Kind look lame in comparison."

- Fartyfivedegrees

"At this point, I’m waiting for them to get tall enough for the headlights to go above my car"

- scolipeeeeed


"I'll go with styrofoam. It's single use, takes 500 years to biodegrade, leaches carcinogens, and is f**king everywhere."

- Rhodie114

"Every time somebody litters, it breaks into 100 pieces, so you have 100 pieces to pick up."

- flodge123

"Let's also add that the sound of styrofoam is what Hell sounds like."

- biomech36

Making Problem Gambling Easier

"Casino slot machines that allow you to insert your credit/debit cards."

- CuriousCat55555

"Cruise ships now allow you to charge money to your room card right from the slot machine so you can continually play without needing to leave for more cash."

- atalltalltree

"And I thought having an ATM in the same room was scummy enough."

- LthlPnc

"Last time I was in Vegas, the ATMs at MGM wouldn't show you any info about your account. You could withdraw, but you couldn't see how much money was in your account."

- bucketofturtles


​"The most terrifying inventions are biological weapons. You can't see them and you die horribly. In the best case you die within minutes in the worst it can take hours or days. Or you don't die and there are permanent damages to you."

- Delta1136

"And through covid we have learned that since you can’t see bio weapons, 45% of the population will think they don’t exist and complain about losing freedom if you do anything to protect you from dying from them."

- JumboJetz

The Inability To Get Out Of Our Own Way

"A vicious cycle where we have the technology to solve our problems but can't because not everybody can agree on it."

- Coolius69

"It must be a real bummer being a super duper scientist or something."

"More often than not, they've got the answers. Just that no one wants to listen. Like screaming into a void every minute of your life."

- Deleted User

Everyone I Don't Like Is Wrong

"Adversarial thinking. The idea that 'we are right and they are wrong.' This is how every war begins."

- Deleted User


"Antimatter. We don't have very much of it, but the very idea of a substance that can annihilate matter is insane. For that matter, the colliders which can make it. The physics involved are terrifying."

- Rainbow_Dash_RL

"Has to be antimatter, it may cost trillions and we can only produce a very small amount but just imagine if technology advances and makes antimatter a weapon of war."

- STRONG-b00f-PaCk

While some of these answers definitely seem more joking than serious, they all represent a significant negative impact on our species and others, our society, and even our planet itself.

Some of those negative impacts were definitely intentional, like nuclear weapons, while others were entirely accidental. We truly had no idea how bad CFCs would be for our environment when they were developed; they seemed great in comparison to the toxic, flammable, or explosive coolants that were in use before their development.

It's important to understand that many of these horrible inventions didn't arise out of malice... but out of a lack of understanding.

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