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billgerat
Hope-nosis

Registered: Aug 2000
Location: ObamaNation
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Forum Challenge: What is Humanity's worst invention?

http://www.theecologist.org/offer2.asp

This is an actual contest on The Ecologist website. Obviously, being The Ecologist as the contest sponsor, one wouls suspect ecological polluting devices such as the internal combustion engine would be proposed by readers. However, there could be any number of inventions suggested that have little or nothing at all to do with ecology.

My first thought was nuclear weapons - very expensive, very dangerous in making, maintaining, using and disposing of, and with exceptions for testing, they have only been used twice in the 60 years since their creation. Yet they have a good side to them too - they definitely have deterred large widespread war from breaking out, and, much more importantly, the drive to create them greatly expanded and propelled the understanding of the science of physics, which in turn has lead to many technological advances which have benefited humanity enormously (microwave ovens, medical devices, home smoke detectors as a few examples). So as nasty as nukes can be, I can't really classify them as the worst invention.

Now I'm a bit stumped because there are a lot of inventions that I can think of that can be on the face of it described as bad, but yet have redeeming features or qualities. Let's hear your ideas (with justifications), and when I finally come up with one I'll put it in here too.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 01:37 AM
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GimpyDivo
I DRIVE WOMEN CRAZY!

Registered: Oct 2002
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the internet.

its ruined more relationships and destroyed more lives than any other invention ever made. its brought together deviants who would have never known about each other and fosters a whole deviant underworld where freaks and geeks can reinforce each others deviant natures. it allows people to find information that shouldnt be found. lives can be destroyed from information found that the victim had no idea could be gleaned.



and modern medicine. people with weak genes simply shouldnt be kept alive with the intervention of technology to pass on their crappy genetics. it weakens the human race as a whole.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 01:40 AM
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billgerat
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quote:
Originally posted by GimpyDivo




and modern medicine. people with weak genes simply shouldnt be kept alive with the intervention of technology to pass on their crappy genetics. it weakens the human race as a whole.



I'm sorry to hear that. You are to report to the nearest rendering plant as soon as possible.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 01:51 AM
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Mordecai
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Registered: Jan 2001
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Time.

-m

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SatansLeftHand
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ok, for starters, the microwave oven was a development from radar, not nuclear technology.

BUT! worst invention ever = the headstrap parachute, patented as an escape device to be used in the event of a fire in a highrise.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 02:13 AM
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SatansLeftHand
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the reciprocating screwdriver might be up there, too.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 02:14 AM
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plum
Last Man

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The space shuttle.

Pretty much all of the experiments could have been done on Earth at a fraction of the cost.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 02:16 AM
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billgerat
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quote:
Originally posted by SatansLeftHand
ok, for starters, the microwave oven was a development from radar, not nuclear technology.




As a matter of fact, I do believe you're right. My bad.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 02:18 AM
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SatansLeftHand
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quote:
Originally posted by plum
The space shuttle.

Pretty much all of the experiments could have been done on Earth at a fraction of the cost.

except for all the ones that require microgravity......say, 85% of those done on the shuttle, like.

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Mudflap
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The cotton gin.

It revived a sluggish cotton industry in 19th century Southern U.S. resulting in a resurgence of the institution of slavery. These injustices would eventually spawn the likes of Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan. Hence, the cotton gin was a bad idea.

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ignatz mouse
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bureaucratic red tape.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 02:41 AM
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plum
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quote:
Originally posted by SatansLeftHand
except for all the ones that require microgravity......say, 85% of those done on the shuttle, like.


That can be simulated underwater and with planes going up and down. And even if it couldn't, the shuttle was still a bad idea because after the moon the focus should have been on probes and new propulsion technologies.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 02:41 AM
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billgerat
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudflap
The cotton gin.

It revived a sluggish cotton industry in 19th century Southern U.S. resulting in a resurgence of the institution of slavery. These injustices would eventually spawn the likes of Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan. Hence, the cotton gin was a bad idea.



Yes, but it did spur developememt of other harvesting technology which led to greater crop recovery and a larger food supply.

While not the worst, the Hijacker Injector is a pretty bad invention.

http://www.totallyabsurd.com/hijackerinjector.htm

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Rokkr
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Capitalism.

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Tray
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Agriculture

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Paint CHiPs
Smartest Man in the World

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Hay.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:31 AM
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Cruise Director
nobody special

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religion. hands down winner.

More people have died in its name than anything else.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:32 AM
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Rokkr
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quote:
Originally posted by Cruise Director
religion. hands down winner.

More people have died in its name than anything else.


Talk like that could get you killed.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:35 AM
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Paint CHiPs
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I think that "invention" in most contexts refers to technology.

And, I think, given the people running the contest, any invention that has advanced human civilization and productivity would have a strong case for "worst". Hence, hay. I think that my list of "best" and their list of "worst" would probably be the same list.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:37 AM
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Rokkr
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Vegetation is technology?

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:39 AM
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Paint CHiPs
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Hay was, yes.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:40 AM
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SimpleSimon
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Personally, I think you all think way too small.

Mankinds worst invention, by far, was language.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:44 AM
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Paint CHiPs
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"The most important invention of the last two thousand years was hay. In the classical world of Greece and Rome and in all earlier times, there was no hay. Civilization could exist only in warm climates where horses could stay alive through the winter by grazing. Without grass in winter you could not have horses, and without horses you could not have urban civilization. Some time during the so-called dark ages, some unknown genius invented hay, forests were turned into meadows, hay was reaped and stored, and civilization moved north over the Alps. So hay gave birth to Vienna and Paris and London and Berlin, and later to Moscow and New York."

— Freeman Dyson, physicist

Language, though, is a tough one, because it's kind of inherent to the species. That's like saying "opposable thumbs". More evolutionary than technological.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:45 AM
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SimpleSimon
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I would beg to differ, PC. While language has undoubtedly evolved with the species, our pre-language progenitors were reasonably successful animals.

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Old Post 12-05-2005 03:48 AM
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Paint CHiPs
Smartest Man in the World

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Not following. My point is language is evolutionary, not technological. We are physiologically built for language; it is a hardwired aspect of our species. You couldn't say language was an invention; you couldn't really even say it was a discovery. We ARE language. It's like saying being warm-blooded was an invention.

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