If Abraham Lincoln had heeded the warnings that his life may be in danger, the course of history may have been very different. In fact, if you look back through history, you'll find that there are almost always warnings history ignored, as well as times people who were right went disregarded. This unheeded advice from great minds could've changed the course of some of history's most horrific events.
Many of these people took stances that surprised their colleagues. Many were ignored because their predictions were assumed to be impossible. Lo and behold, however, all of them were vindicated later. But by the time everyone realized they were actually right, it was too late.
The take away? Just because an idea seems crazy, doesn't mean it's wrong.
George Seiber, Who Called The Palestinian Terrorist Plot
George Seiber predicted the Palestinian terrorist plot that was carried out at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. Seiber was an established police psychologist who was hired by Olympics organizers to predict what could go wrong at the Munich games in order to give the organizers an idea of how they should beef up security.
Seiber produced 26 predictions. The 21st was the one that would come true. This prediction envisioned 12 Palestinians breaking into the building where the Israeli athletes and coaches were staying, killing one or two people and taking the rest hostage. He said the Palestinians would make two demands: that prisoners be released from Israeli jails and that they be given a plane to fly back to the Middle East.
As it turned out, this is pretty much exactly what happened. The only discrepancy is that there were eight terrorists, not 12. They were able to break into the building pretty easily because security was so lax - the Olympic organizers had ignored Sieber's warning. The authorities tried to rescue the Israeli hostages, but they all died during the rescue operation.
Given how scarily accurate Seiber's prediction was, you have to wonder whether someone told him about the attack ahead of time. That's a question left to the ages.
Roger Boisjoly, Who Told NASA The Challenger Would FailPhoto: US Department of Defense
Roger Boisjoly knew that the Challenger space shuttle might fail catastrophically and tried to stop its launch, but NASA refused to acknowledge his objections. Boisjoly was a rocket engineer who worked for a company that NASA contracted with. Boisjoly noticed that the Challenger's booster rockets had a major design flaw: their elastic seals had a tendency to stiffen and unseal in cold weather.
The Challenger was scheduled for a winter launch, and Boisjoly knew that the temperatures would be too low for the booster rocket seals to handle, even in Florida. Boisjoly convinced his colleagues at his engineering company to formally recommend NASA delay the launch. However, NASA ignored that recommendation.
Sure enough, the seals failed, leading to the explosion of the entire shuttle less than two minutes after it launched.
Charles Colchester, The Man Who Told Lincoln To Watch His BackPhoto: U.S. Library of Congress
However, Colchester was a shady character. It's unclear whether he was an actual clairvoyant, or if he just had inside information because he was actually friends with John Wilkes Booth. Colchester became close with Mary Todd Lincoln after "communicating" with her deceased 11-year-old son. But he later tried to blackmail the First Lady.
In any case, Colchester did get one thing right. He warned President Lincoln that his life may be in jeopardy. But Lincoln was skeptical of Colchester's "abilities" and didn't heed the warning.
George Washington was an incredibly intelligent leader, and most of the time, when he spoke, people listened. But the one piece of Washington's advice that everyone decided to ignore was his warning about political parties.
To really demonstrate this commitment, Washington remained nonpartisan throughout his entire presidency. In his farewell address, Washington said the following of partisan politics:
"It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another."
Any of this sound familiar?
Essentially, Washington worried that political parties would become too powerful, rob the people of their control over their own government, and distract everyone from what they should really be focusing on. It's been 250 since his presidency, and maybe people are finally starting to listen.