World's biggest mistake: 20 major blunders that changed history

World's biggest mistake: 20 major blunders that changed history

Mistakes are expensive, and everyone has made some sort of mistake at some point in their life. As the saying goes, human is to error; however, some blunders completely changed the course of history. Other mistakes were a blessing in disguise, producing beneficial results that made the world a better place. Learn more about the world's biggest mistakes that changed history.

World's biggest mistake
Biggest mistakes in the world. Photo:, @felixmittermeier (modified by author)
Source: UGC

A mistake is an action attributable to bad judgement, ignorance, or inattention. Even tiny mistakes can go a long way in making history in a wrong way. Some blunders are made intentionally, while others are accidents.

What is the world's biggest mistake?

Do you want to know the biggest mistake on the planet? Here is a list of the historical mistakes that changed the world.

1. Captain Edward Smith crashing the Titanic

world's biggest mistake
RMS Titanic Of The White Star Line Sinking Around 2 20 Am Monday Morning, April 15 1912, After Hitting An Iceberg In The North Atlantic Photo: Universal History Archive
Source: Getty Images

Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912 on a voyage from Southampton to New York, leaving over 1500 people dead. It is believed that the ship sank because the officers on duty did not have the key to obtain the ship's binoculars in the cabin.

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Before the Titanic left Southampton, the officers were reordering, with Henry Wilde coming over with Captain Edward Smith. The second officer David Blajr left the Titanic with the keys, which would have given the officers access to binoculars that they could use to see any icebergs ahead.

2. The assassination that led to World War I

It is one of the most famous mistakes in history. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand a heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie Chotek by a young Bosnian Serb nationalist in Sarajevo led to World War I. The two were killed on 28 June 1914. The war devastated the continent's six major powers, killing 17 million soldiers and civilians.

3. A hunter starting the biggest wildfire in California

famous mistakes in history
Firefighters battling to protect the world's biggest tree from wildfires ravaging the parched United States said that they are optimistic it can be saved. Photo: Patrick T. FALLON
Source: Getty Images

In 2003, a lost hunter caused a flare near the San Diego County Estates, leaving 300,000 acres and 2,322 homes ruined. Additionally, 14 people lost their lives. It was the largest fire in California's history. Its effects resulted in a loss of over $1.5 billion in insured losses.

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4. France ordering trains that were too wide

In 2014, the French State ordered 2,000 new trains that costed $20.5 billion that were too wide for many station platforms across the country. The error happened as the national rail operator RFF gave the wrong dimensions to the train company SNCF. 1300 stations out of 8,700 in the country were deemed narrow for the new trains.

5. Austrian army attacking itself

biggest blunders in history
Austro-Turkish War, 1788, watercolour. Austria, 18th century. Photo: DeAgostini
Source: Getty Images

On the night of 22 September 1788, this world's biggest mistake happened. The Austrian Army attacked itself due to miscommunication, thinking it was an Ottoman invasion. They fired at each other, leaving more than 10,000 soldiers dead and injured.

6. British government agency misspelling a company's name

The British government was sued for $9 million following a mistake committed by a clerical error inserting a rogue 's'. It declared the wrong as being in liquidation. Over 250 people were laid off after Companies House mistook Taylor and Sons for Taylor and Son, a 124-year-old Welsh family. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

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7. Atomic bombing caused by a translation mistake in Japan

famous mistakes in history
Nuclear explosion over Hiroshima, 6 August 1945. Photo: Pictures from History
Source: Getty Images

It is one of the worst translation mistakes that changed history. The bombing of Japan's Hiroshima in August 1945 was caused by a translation mistake. The leaders from the US, United Kingdom, Russia and China had given an ultimatum to Japan that would end the Second World War a month before.

Kantaro Suzuki, Japan's premier, responded with one word in Japanese, 'mokusatsu', which was mistaken to mean 'silent kill'. However, the premier meant no comment. The word has two distinct characters, 'Moku' symbolises 'silent' and 'satsu' is 'kill'. This translation error led to more than 70,000 deaths and an additional 100,000 more due to the destruction and radiation.

8. The Wicked Bible

The Adulterous Bible, or Wicked Bible, was one of the biggest blunders in history. The mistake was made by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, omitting one crucial word from the seventh commandment when the Bible was being printed.

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In the commandment which reads 'Thou shalt not commit adultery, the 'not' word was omitted and now reads 'Thou shall commit adultery'. The Bible was termed The Wicked Bible, and a copy can be found in the Museum of the Bible in Washington, United States

9. The burning of the Library of Alexandria

historical mistakes that changed the world
The Burning of the Library of Alexandria, 1876. Private Collection. Photo: Fine Art
Source: Getty Images

One of the largest libraries in the ancient world, located in northern Egypt, was destroyed in a massive fire around 2000 years ago, and its voluminous works were lost. It contained pieces by the greatest thinkers and writers, including Horner, Socrates, and others. It is alleged that Julius Caesar accidentally burned it during his civil war in 48 BC.

10. Man throwing away a $181-million-lottery ticket

A woman claimed that her husband threw away a lottery ticket that would have made her win $181 million. She said that she had taken note of the numbers on her ticket but didn't have the original. She lost the biggest jackpot ever scooped on the Europe-wide contest.

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11. The sale of Alaska

historical mistakes that changed the world
Shops and guide services in the port town of Seward, Alaska. Photo by: Edwin Remsburg
Source: Getty Images

It is one of the historical mistakes that changed the world. Russia's decision to sell Alaska to the United States led to regrets as gold mines and oil fields were discovered under the melting ice of Alaska. While Russia suffers from the regret of selling Alaska, America enjoys it being part of its land.

12. Coin spelling howler in Chile

The 50-peso coins worth about 6p were minted in 2008, but no one noticed the mistake until late 2009. The Chilean mint director Gregorio Iniguez made a name for himself worldwide after thousands of coins were made with the name of the country misspelt. Instead of Chile, the coins were marked as Chiie. It made him get fired in 2010.

13. The Piper Alpha oil rig explosion

mistakes that changed history
The wreckage of the Piper Alpha oil production platform exploded yesterday, killing dozens of workers on board. Photo: PA Images
Source: Getty Images

The Piper Alpha oil rig disaster is another most expensive mistakes in history. On 6 July 1988, in the North Sea, a maintenance crew failed to tell an oil rig control room about a missing safety valve.

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Earlier in the day, a safety valve had been removed from condensate pump A and recapped. In the shift changeover, the night shift was not informed that the valve was missing. It led to 167 the death of 167 workers.

14. NASA losing a spacecraft

In September 1999, NASA lost a $125-million-Mars orbiter. The engineers were expecting to celebrate when this happened. It was caused by spacecraft engineers who failed to convert from English to metric measurements when exchanging vital data.

15. Not shooting Hitler

biggest mistakes in the world
The picture shows Adolf Hitler extending his hands in the Fascist salute. Photo: Bettmann
Source: Getty Images

The British soldier, Henry Tandey, described as the most British enlisted man to have survived World War I, spared the life of Adolf Hitler. The soldier found Hitler wounded and had him in his sight-close enough to make eye contact, but he lowered his gun.

16. The Chernobyl explosion

most expensive mistakes in history
View of the Chernobyl Nuclear power plant three days after the explosion on April 29, 1986, in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Photo: SHONE
Source: Getty Images

In April 1986, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine caused fatalities from radiation. The operators ran the plant at low power, without adequate safety precautions and without properly coordinating or communicating the procedure with safety personnel.

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17. The Tokyo Stock Exchange typo

It was one of the most costly and embarrassing mistakes in the history of the Tokyo exchange. Mizuho Securities mistakenly placed an order to sell 610,000 shares for one yen each instead of one share for 610,000 yen ($5,043). Japan's government rebuked the Tokyo Stock Exchange and one of the country's biggest brokerage firms.

18. London's Walkie Scorchie

biggest mistake in the world
A parked car endures the intensity of localised solar rays reflected off the concave plate glass windows of one of the capital's newest skyscrapers known as the Walkie-Talkie. Photo: In Pictures Ltd
Source: Getty Images

A London skyscraper nicknamed Walkie Talkie (Walkie Scorchie) because of its shape melted parts of a vehicle parked nearby. The concave design and mirrored glass caused the sun to shine so powerful and focused light rays onto the streets below. The 37-storey building was later fitted with a sunshade to deflect the beams, and the owner of the car, Mr Lindsay, was paid $946 as repair costs.

19. The killing of sparrow birds in China

In the 1950s, a communist called Mao Zedong developed a belief that sparrows were pests and that they ate grains from farms. He, therefore, thought there would be surplus food for 60,000 people by killing them. The little birds were shot, their nests destroyed, and their eggs broken.

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Little did they know that sparrows are natural predators of locusts. With the sparrows all gone, the locusts multiplied, devastating Chinese agriculture and over 30 million Chinese died of malnourishment.

20. The Cuban missile crisis

The Cuban missile crisis is another major blunder that changed history. It was a dangerous confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War in October 1962. The 13-day confrontation brought the two nations to the brink of war before an agreement to withdraw the missiles from Cuba was reached, defusing the situation.

What is the world's biggest mistake? There are several errors and accidents that had the biggest impacts in recorded history. The above-listed mistakes are generally considered to be some of the major blunders that changed history. recently published an article about the biggest airport in the world. The largest airport worldwide is not necessarily the busiest but the one with the most land coverage.

Airports facilitate the transportation of passengers and cargo across different countries and nations. Some of the biggest airports globally include King Fahd International Airport, Orlando International Airport and Cairo International Airport.


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