It can be a frustrating experience when no one listens to you. Especially, when you’re right. The stakes are pretty low for you, but imagine you’re a scientist who has discovered a cure for disease, or an army general about to go into battle. You shout from the rooftops, but no one believes you… until it’s too late.
Here is a list of 33 people who deserve the ‘I told you so’ badge.
1. Rick Rescorla predicted the 9/11 attacks years in advance, after the 1993 World Trade bombing. He believed the World Trade Center was still a target for terrorists, and the next attack would involve a plane crashing into one of the towers.
He died that day reentering the south tower to get out more survivors.
2. John Lennon believed the US government was spying on him. People brushed this off as paranoia and ego, but thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, we’ve learned that he was completely correct. Nixon was looking for a reason to deport him.
3. Kotaku Wamura, the Japanese mayor of Fudai, predicted a tsunami would destroy the town so, he built an anti-tsunami wall and floodgates. At first it was mocked, but 50 years after he died a tsunami hit the town and the wall saved the city.
4. Barry Marshall believed that peptic ulcers were mainly caused through bacterial infection and not as previously believed, by stress, spicy food and too much stomach acid. He was ridiculed by the scientific community who said that the acidity of the stomach was so high that bacteria couldn’t live.
So, he drank a culture of H. pylori, 14 days later once it was confirmed that his stomach was now massively colonized by the bacteria. He started taking antibiotics and all returned to normal.
5. Marie Tharp used her work on mapping ocean floors to help discover and propose plate tectonics to explain continental drift. She was ignored and laughed at for quite a while. Years later her data, along with fellow scientist Bruce Heezenm, discovered the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This was key to solidifying the continental drift theory originally put forth by Alfred Wegener.
6. Humans have known lead is dangerous since Roman times, but geochemist Clair Patterson had to prove it was bad to put in gas and food cans. After 20 years of campaigning, people finally listened and they saw an 80% decrease in lead levels in the blood stream of Americans.
7. Bartomiej Brzozowiec made a bug report arguing that Firefox shouldn’t connect to Google safe browsing API and set a special cookie because of privacy concerns. His concerns were rebuffed by responders including a Google employee. Years later Snowden leaks revealed that the NSA used this cookie to track people.
8. Italian chemist Amedeo Avogadro’s theory that “equal volumes of gases at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules regardless of their chemical nature and physical properties”, wasn’t accepted until nearly 50 years later. It is now one of the fundamental principles of analytical chemistry.
9. Harry Markopolos figured out Bernie Madoff’s scheme before anyone else. He sent information about the scheme to the Securities and Exchange Commission 5 times before being taken seriously.
“It took me five minutes to know that it was a fraud. It took me another almost four hours of mathematical modeling to prove that it was a fraud.”
10. Back in 1991, Defense Secratary Dick Cheney had a very different opinion on entering a war with Iraq. He believed that toppling Saddam was a bad idea because it would lead to a quagmire which pit Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds against eachother, and which the US would get stuck sorting out. Unfortunately, he didn’t listen to his own prediction.
11. Stanislav Petrov, a colonel of the Soviet Air Defence Forces, prevented World War III. He didn’t believe a nuclear early-warning system when it had reported that multiple missiles had been launched from the USA. He suspected the system was malfunctioning, and decided to not report what he saw.
It was later determined that indeed the system malfunctioned, and had he reported what he saw, a nuclear response from the USSR was highly likely.
12. Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician, introduced the ideas of doctors washing their hands before delivering babies. He argued hand washing could reduce infant mortality to below 1%. This lost cost him his medical license. Only years after his death did Louis Pasteur, a french microbiologist, confirm Semmelweis’ germ theory.
13. During an interview, Rappr Bgge Smalls claimed somone was tryng to kll him. He was shot to dath not long after.
14. Henry Heimlich, the inventor of The Heimlich Maneuver, went around the country to promote his technique. It wasn’t accepted as something that could stop someone from choking. Took awhile for people to catch on that this maneuver actually worked.
15. Ludwig Boltzmann was the first to talk about entropy, a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work. He was ridiculed, but his work now allows us to have cars and space rockets.
16. Prof. Raghuram Rajan, wrote a paper titled “Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier?”, where h argued that it has. People laughed at this idea and soon after we had the 2009 financial crisis.
17. Tesla predicted smart phones in 1926, something most immediately preceding sci fi failed to do.
“We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”
18. Sinead O’Connor protested the Catholic Church in Ireland, claiming they were covering up child abuse in 1992. This lead to decline in her album sales, however, recently four Dublin archbishops were found to have turned a blind eye to cases of abuse from 1975 to 2004.
19. In the 2012 debates versus Obama, Mitt Romney claimed Russia to be the primary geopolitical foe of the United States. Not Iran, or North Korea or China, and was widely mocked for it.
20. Jose Canseco brought to light all the steroid use in Major League Baseball, and was chastised significantly after.
21. In 1987 Republican Bud Dwyer was convicted of taking bribes, and faced a possible 55 years in Federal prison. Throughout his trial he maintained his innocence. On January 22nd, he called a press conference where he repeated that he was innocent. Afterwards, he handed out some envelopes to his staff containing personal documents. He then produced a 4th envelope and pulled out a 357 magnum revolver. He then put the gun in his mouth, and killed himself.
In 2010 a key witness, Bill Smith, admitted that he’d lied under oath in the trial. Bill Smith was facing a prison sentence, and believed if he could pin the blame on Dwyer, he’d get a lighter sentence. He also wanted to spare his wife a prison sentence as she was also involved in the plot. Dwyer was, in fact, totally innocent.
22. Michael Moore predicted in July 2016 that Trump would win the presidency by carrying Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
23. Barbara McClintock discovered “jumping genes” in maize. After she was disgraced by the scientific community, she stopped publishing her research on the topic. Her theory was confirmed almost 30 years later.
24. Bob Ebeling was a Morton Thiokol engineer that fought to keep The Challenger space shuttle grounded. He told his wife the night before the launch that he knew the shuttle was going to explode.
25. Samuel Huntington wrote a book warning government leaders of the dangerous world the fall of the Soviet Union would leave behind. Predicting it’s fall would allow the rise of Islamic radicalization and the war in the middle east.
26. Frederick Douglass got some lessons as a young boy in reading and writing from his owner’s wife. The owner found out and forbade her from doing it, saying that literacy would foster a desire for freedom. Douglass kept teaching himself in private, and became THE leading abolitionist of his day.
27. The German political party SPD in the Weimar Republic, were the only ones against enforcing Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution. They feared it would allow a political leader to rise to absolute power. The passing of this law allowed the Government to bypass the Reichstag to create or change laws. This lead to Hitler becoming the dictator of Germany.
28. In 1968, Bobby Kennedy said in 40 years, “a black person could be president.” 40 years later, Obama was elected.
29. Jonny Rotten exposed Jimmy Saville and his ‘cigar munching gang’ in the 1970s, but the BBC never broadcast it. It came out a few years ago on Piers Morgan’s show, and it is now becoming clear that Saville’s abuse was an open secret at the BBC.
30. General Billy Mitchell, predicted the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the mid 1920s. He resigned after he was court-martialed.
31. At the Treaty of Versailles, General Ferdinand Foch declared, “This isn’t a peace. This is an armistice for twenty years.” Twenty years and sixty-four days later, World War 2 began.
32. Cotton Mather, a preacher in colonial Boston, helped popularize the theory of inoculation, the precursor to vaccination. He was mocked for and many people in Boston argued against it for medical, as well as, religious reasons.
33. Ernest Hemingway became paranoid that the FBI was watching him: bugging his phones, reading his mail, freezing his bank accounts and assets. No one close to him believed him and thought he was just paranoid.
This paranoia, along with genetic factors, led to a complete mental breakdown. He was treated with over 30 rounds of electric-shock therapy. Killing himself after the 36 treatment.
In the 1990s, documents were discovered that revealed the FBI was, in fact monitoring Hemingway via all of the methods he described under orders signed by J. Edgar Hoover himself over perceived ties between Hemingway and Communist Cuba, where Hemingway lived.