for Goodideas, Silly ideas, and Awful mistakes
People who laughed at other people
Books to read
Most people who have done anything worth while or tried to do anything worth while have
been laughed at in their time. They may be recognised after they are dead.
Here's a short list of 35
ideas and discoveries that were ridiculed as impossible or stupid
even after they had been shown to be practical, helpful or true -
- Arabic numerals,
- heavier than air flight,
- ball bearings,
- circulation of the blood,
- crop rotation,
- daylight saving,
to prevent cholera,
- doctors washing their hands,
- St. Francis' way of life,
- going to the moon
- trained nurses,
- the telegraph,
- paddle-boats and screw-driven ships,
- solar energy,
- what the
solar system is like,
- spelling reform,
- the Salvation Army,
- votes for women
In the book People who made Australia Great (1988) most of
the people we now admire, who were not sportsmen or entertainers, faced ridicule, thirty percent
Not all ideas have been good ideas of course.
Between 1901-1905 over 140,000 British Patents were granted.
the ones in this selection that have succeeded.
- Perpetual motion
machines (46 perpetual motion machines were patented 1901-1905), Hornby Meccano,
- A clip-holder
to take boiled eggs out of hot water, sun-screens for horses,
arm-rest for violin players,
- Moustache guards for drinking soup,
- Clothes for babies and
children designed to be easier to put on and remove, a portable foot
and body warmer,
- Advertisements on toilet rolls that change as the paper
is removed, improved shelter for watchmen,
- An improved train for
ladies' long skirts with a brush on the bottom to sweep the dirt,
- A trap for burglars
attempting to open safes,
- Staircases in schools so boys and
girls will not pass each other going up or down, a hat ventilator for
- Safety razors, ways to fix ladies' hats on their heads, ways
to stop your hat being stolen,
- A way to use the breath to heat the
- A device to hold down ladies' skirts when taking
exercise, the Wright's improved aeronautical machine,
- A motor car
that can go up stairways, apparatus for throwing animals into the air
for exhibition purposes,
- A windguard for cigarettes.
But the enthusiasm to invent at that time was like fertilising compost that encouraged good ideas too.
It Seemed a Good Idea at the Time -ISAGIATT.
Sometimes everybody has gone
overboard about some great idea that was all a terrible mistake.
Greedy people can be blind - for example, read about the South Sea
Bubble in England or theTulip Craze in Holland three hundred years
ago, and rather similar Boom-and-Bust bonanzas today.
Some people laughed at today may turn out to be great. Some may
just be silly. How can you tell? It would be better to test new ideas
out in pilot studies, rather than go all out for a great grand
expensive untested all out ideas, or throw other possible
breakthroughs. out without seeing if they would work. People who have
hundreds of silly ideas, may still come up with one winner. People
with lots of good ideas are almost certain to have some silly ideas
as well. Even a zany idea can spart off a better one.
One of the things to learn in school is to give other people's
ideas a fair chance. Another is how to fail, and fail - and, perhaps,
Some people like to pull down others to be One-Up themselves.
They like to find out that great people in the past had clay feet (and yet, in spite of their faults, these great people managed to do what their critics cannot).
They like to say they cannot stand someone who does harmless things like wearing the wrong clothes or speaks in an odd way. dress clips or talks about trips to Bongo,
They like to cut down tall poppies and jump on small ones. If anyone has an idea, they say it can't be done.
Some books to browse :
Unsung Heroes and Heroines of Australia. ed. Suzy Baldwin
Who did What? The Mitchell Beazley Illustrated Biographical
The Book of Heroic Failures. I was given this book for Christmas
and the next Christmas I was given More Heroic Failures.
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