Weird History

Inventions That Were The Worst For the World 

Michael Gibson
Updated March 25, 2020 15.5k votes 3k voters 120.5k views 15 items

Inventions that were the worst for the world, for the most part, are all things created with good intentions that have changed the world for eternity. While few inventions are perfect, these stand out as among the best that created the worst outcomes. These are not just products nobody needs, these are inventions that made the world a worse place to live.

Few can deny that the invention of automobiles and airplanes made traveling much more efficient, but it's hard to forget that cars pollute and airplanes can be used for war. The same goes for rockets. They launched people into space but also carried nuclear warheads that caused mass destruction. Television and the internet changed how we interact and share information, but sitting in front of a computer monitor or TV for countless hours, along with corn syrup, isn't helping fight obesity. Nuclear fission creates power but can also wipe entire populations off the globe when used for evil.

Then, there are other inventions where it's hard to find a benefit. Cigarettes are a proven cause of death in roughly half who smoke. How many other products that are so widely used can say the same? Along the same lines, there is very little good to say about gas chambers, whose sole purpose is to kill humans and animals.

Unlike the most useless inventions, which aren't so much harmful as they are just plain dumb, these inventions changed the course of history forever and are thought of by many as the worst inventions of all time. Think of a world with no gun deaths if gunpowder never been invented. That's not a bad reality to consider.

Cigarettes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Inventions That Were The Worst For the World
Photo:  Stefan-Xp/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
1
Cigarettes

Ever hear those commercials about one product that kills roughly half of it's users? Yep, those are for cigarettes.

Originally developed back in the ninth century for religious rituals, today, cigarettes are highly addictive, contain a whole slew of chemicals, and pose serious risks to those who smoke and anyone around them.

Did this make the world worse?
Gas Chamber is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Inventions That Were The Worst For the World
Photo:  Black Stripe/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
2
Gas Chamber

Unlike some of the other inventions on this list which were created with good intentions, the gas chamber has few, if any, redeeming qualities. Yes, someone decided that there should be a large chamber where people and animals can be placed, then sealed off and injected with poisonous gas.

This killed millions and was the preferred method of death during the Holocaust. There is no benefit for having the gas chamber and is one of dozens of inventions that just add no good to this world.

Did this make the world worse?
Agent Orange is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Inventions That Were The Worst For the World
Photo: US Army/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
3
Agent Orange

Way back in 1943, plant biologist Arthur Galston was studying a way to alter the growing season of soybeans when he started to work with triiodobenzoic acid as a plant growth hormone. It didn't work too well in excess, defoliating most of his crop and raising concerns about safety.

Not soon afterwards, the US Army, working with the University of Chicago, learned that this compound could wipe out the crops of enemies, and it went on to be used in the Vietnam War, among other places. The side effects, however, took the lives of an estimated 400,000 people.

Did this make the world worse?
Leaded Petrol is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Inventions That Were The Worst For the World
Photo: Louiseldon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0
4
Leaded Petrol

Scientifically known as Tetraethyl lead, or TEL, this compound initially was seen as an amazing new invention and was added to gasoline starting in the 1920s. It was cheap and boosted the octane and engine compression in vehicles. It was, however, extremely toxic, polluting land, leading to lead poisoning in countless individuals, and it's even been linked to an increase in violent crime as the neurotoxins cause harmful side effects to the brain.

Also, the CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons as they are professionally known, produced by lead petrol continue to threaten the Earth's ozone layer to this day.

Did this make the world worse?