25 Biggest Screw Ups That Completely Changed History

Posted by , Updated on June 28, 2017

We all make mistakes sometimes. The mistakes come in many different forms, and they have different consequences. Some of the mistakes people have made were actually so colossal they – in a way – eventually ended up changing the world. Winston Churchill once said that history is written by the victors, but as you will see in this post, it is not always the case. From the sinking of RMS Titanic to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, here are 25 Biggest Screw Ups That Completely Changed History.

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Sinking of RMS Titanic

Sinking of RMS TitanicSource: wikipedia.org, image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/ (public domain: author's life +80 yrs)

The largest passenger liner in service at the time, RMS Titanic was often described as “unsinkable” prior to its first maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City in April 1912. Unfortunately, Titanic proved to be sinkable after hitting an iceberg, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 out of the total 2,224 people on board. Many of them died just because there were not enough lifeboats.


Russia selling Alaska to US

Alaska Source: indiancountrymedianetwork.com

On October 18, 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for two cents an acre ($7.2 million in gold) as the Russians thought it was nothing but useless tundra. Soon after that, in the 1880’s and 1890’s, massive gold mining began there, and it actually continues today. Alaska still produces more gold than any other US state, except Nevada.


Discovery of penicillin

Alexander FlemingSource: mentalfloss.com, image: https://en.wikipedia.org (public domain)

Alexander Fleming, a Scottish biologist, pharmacologist, and botanist, did not really care much about hygiene while working. Oddly enough, it was because of his relaxed attitude toward a clean working environment that he eventually ended up discovering penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic, after a bacteria-killing fungus appeared on his dish.


Boeing close to disaster after metric conversion error

BoeingSource: nytimes.com

In 1983, Air Canada’s first-ever Boeing 767 had to glide to a safe landing when it ran out of fuel. Someone did not convert the number of gallons of fuel it needed to liters. After both engines lost their power, the pilots made what is now thought to be the first successful emergency ”dead stick” landing of a commercial jetliner.


Lost hunter starting wildfire

Cedar FireSource: web.archive.org, image: https://simple.wikipedia.org (public domain)

A novice hunter, Sergio Martinez of West Covina, California, got lost in woods near San Diego, so he decided to shoot off a flare. Unfortunately, the flare ignited what is now referred to as the largest wildfire in Californian history. Known as the the Cedar Fire, the wildfire burned over 280,000 acres (1,133 km2) of land in San Diego County.


Think this was a big boo-boo? Wait until you see number 7!

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