62 Times People Warned The World About Something But No One Listened


There have been many instances in our history where someone warned us about something, but we didn't listen at all. It seems that before almost any major event, a doctor, scientist, or politician already knew the outcome, but was simply ignored. It seems to be a repeating pattern, so the question this Redditor asked sparked a lot of interest from internet users.


Many chimed in to share all sorts of stories that are very insightful and eye-opening. Perhaps reading through them will help us get some perspective on our world and see that having an open mind is a very good thing. It seems that in a lot of instances, great tragedies might have been avoided if only people listened to each other more.


#1

Isaac Asimov in 1980:


"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Image credits: Mahaloth


#2

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...


The dumbing-down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.” -Carl Sagan

Image credits: TremorX


We got an interview with the Reddit user MLK-K-K that asked the question. Firstly, we asked them why they created the post in the first place. They said, "I created that post just for fun, really did not expect it to blow up."


When we asked whether they found out anything interesting or new after making the post, they said that they learned a lot of "really obscure historical facts." And we think you might find that to be true.


#3

In 2005, Courtney Love was asked what advice she'd give young, up and coming actresses. She said "If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party at his Four Seasons hotel room, don't go." And for whatever reason, you didn't see her in many movies after that.

Image credits: NauvooMetro


#4

President George Washington, in his address when leaving office. He warned against the danger of a two party system in future politics. He felt that several parties on equal footing would be better. Especially in presidential elections. The more legitimate choices, the better.

Image credits: Scrappy_Larue


We also asked why they think people sometimes ignore warnings, and they said that it's probably because of "poor risk assessment." Most of these stories are connected to that, because people usually don't want to believe the worst is going to happen. We also asked what important thing, in their opinion, is being ignored right now: "Proper diet, nutrition and the importance of sleeping well."


#5

When women said that overturning Roe would lead to attempts to a national abortion ban, bans on contraception, and bans on IVF.

#6

[Roger Boisjoly](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Boisjoly) - Engineer involved with the Space Shuttle program who warned his superiors for months prior to the Challenger disaster that launching in cold weather could cause the O-rings to fail.


Care to guess what caused the Challenger disaster?

Image credits: duhvorced


We asked what, in their opinion, is the main reason people refuse to listen to others. Is it ego or something else? They said that it's "Not necessarily ego. Mostly just lack of time, and sometimes people just want their own individuality."


They also shared some words of wisdom as to what every person should learn in order for us to grow as a society: "Live and let live."


#7

David Attenborough, and I don’t think we are listening, well certainly not doing enough.

Image credits: YellowCulottes


#8

Ignaz Semmelweis often described as the father of hand washing. In the 1800s he discovered that ~~infant~~ maternal mortality could be drastically reduced by doctors washing their hands between patients. He was largely ignored and his book got absolutely slated. This is supposed to have contributed to him having a mental breakdown and he died in a psychiatric hospital.

Image credits: dontbelikeyou


#9

Pearl Jam warned us about Ticketmaster years ago. Nobody listened, now we're stuck with them...and only them.

Image credits: Saggy2balls


#10

(Edit* Colleen) Rowley--warned her FBI superiors in June 01 that names on their jihadi watch list were taking flying lessons but not interested in learning how to land


Her report didn't get read until October

Image credits: occamhanlon


#11

French general Ferdinand Foch reportedly called the Treaty of Versailles a “twenty-year armistice”, ie not conducive to lasting peace. WWII broke out approximately twenty years later.

Image credits: MrsMaiselsBrisket


#12

Sinead O’Connor. Suddenly a coverup at the Catholic Church of child abuse doesn’t seem so silly.

#13

Rick Rescorla, Director of Corporate Security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, published a report in 1990 detailing the vulnerability of the World Trade Center parking garage. He and a colleague found they were able to freely walk into the garage, which contained many structural support columns, unchallenged by any security. Additionally no ID checks or screening was done on any of the entering delivery vehicles. Three years later a truck bomb was driven into the garage and detonated in an attempt to damage the buildings structure.


Later he and his same college would correctly predict the next attack on the building would come from the air. The evacuation plan and drills he put in place are credited with saving over 2,600 lives on September 11th.


Edited for a bit of clarity: Some are saying “but if he evacuated people, doesn’t that mean we listened?” Rick worked for one company in the building, not the Port Authority who managed the buildings overall safety plan. After the first plane crashed, the announcements from the Port Authority told everyone to shelter in place, and not evacuate. He had developed his own evacuation plan for his employees and put it place before any official word to evacuate the building was given.

Image credits: Shamrock132


#14

Alice Stewart - in 1958 discovered the link between x-ray of pregnant women and childhood cancer. She discovered that cancer mortality was around 40 per cent higher in the children who had been x-rayed in the womb.


Her findings were considered unsound for another 25 years until after her formal retirement when they were reviewed due to her continuing to push the issue. It wasn't until the 1980's that x-ray of pregnant women stopped being commonplace.

#15

Johnny rotten attempting to warn people about Jimmy Saville

Image credits: Low_Class535


#16

Al Gore got an entire apology episode from the creators of South Park after they mocked him for trying to warn people about climate change


edit- [here's a clip from the episode](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j89KEwNBhQ4)

Image credits: Badloss


#17

They were building a big baseball stadium in Wisconsin and it was a considerably windy day. The crane operator was tasked with lifting a large structure but refused stating dangerous gusts. The site foreman dismissed the crane operator and called in one who would do the job with no pushback. Well the crane tipped over with a load and workers were killed. Foreman and second operator were arrested, and iirc the first operator won a wrongful termination lawsuit.

#18

Ahem. UK here. Repeated warnings from anyone and everyone that knew what they were talking about that Brexit was a bad idea, and "oh look" it's massively hurting in multiple areas, and a majority of people now think it was a bad idea.

#19

About 20 something years ago, I read articles in CBC about Eve teasing in India which was basically men groping women and how it would turn into outright gang rapes if the practice continued to be accepted.

#20

Jason Salemi, epidemiologist at USF. No one knows him, that's cool. I was working on medical ML research (glioblastoma at the time) and was asked to help analyze some data about a new virus in China. In the middle of January we had a research meeting, and Dr. Salemi said, "I don't like this one, I have a *bad* feeling about SARS-NCOV" (as it was then called). On Feb 2020 I was put full time on the SARS-COV-2 team. The rest is history.


People thought he was being alarmist, we had recently been through a pair of Ebola outbreaks in Africa, couple of bad flu seasons, etc. People thought it would blow over.

Image credits: Richard_AIGuy


#21

Cassandra of Troy was pretty spot on about that wooden horse

Image credits: MSteds728


#22

Corey Feldman was on the View or something and tried to tell people that Hollywood is full of predators, and the hosts just laughed at him and tried to make him feel guilty for outing them.

#23

Seth Macfarlene has made fun of sleazy people in Hollywood for years before the Me Too movement. “Help I just escaped Kevin’s Spacey’s house” says Stewie running naked through a crowd of people.

Image credits: OriginalName18


#24

Nikola Tesla - there was a book he wrote(a pamphlet really) called [The Problem of Increasing Human Energy](https://www.amazon.com/Problem-Increasing-Human-Energy-Harnessing/dp/1605200956) where he talked about slowing down the process of burning carbon until we understood it better.

Image credits: Relentless_Snappy


#25

H G Wells said he wanted his epitaph to be "I told you so. You damned fools!"


In The Land Ironclads (1903) he had written about a stalemated war fought by trench warfare that was broken by the invention of tanks, predicting what would happen in WW1.


In The War in the Air (1907) he predicted how airplanes would be used in war, including aerial bombardment of cities, and saw his predictions come true in WW2.

Image credits: radams78


#26

[Turkish Airlines flight 981](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Airlines_Flight_981) would never have happened if McDonnell Douglas and Convair had heeded [Dan Applegate's](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Applegate) warning about the cargo doors coming open during flight. He wrote a memo after the nonfatal [American Airlines flight 96](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Airlines_Flight_96) advising that the doors had design flaws which would cause them to show as properly latched even when they weren't. If nothing were done, he said it would lead to catastrophic failure that would likely result in the loss of the plane. However, the fixes would be expensive and no one agreed who would eat the cost, so proper upgrades were put off. Instead, they tried implementing cheaper band-aid solutions that would ultimately prove ineffective.

Image credits: TD5023


#27

12 TRW Engineers resigned their positions the morning of the Challenger incident in protest against risking the flight. NASA launched anyway. Should have listened.

Image credits: SundaColugoToffee


#28

the financial crisis that was given by economist Anna Schwartz in 2005. She warned that a housing bubble was developing and that it would lead to a financial crisis, but her warnings were largely ignored.

#29

While not to the degree that it ended up being but Eddie Murphy took a shot at Bill Cosby's holier than thou attitude in his comedy special Raw in 1987 during the height of The Cosby Show.

Image credits: Tydrinator21


#30

Dwight Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex during his [farewell address](https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/president-dwight-d-eisenhowers-farewell-address):


"A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be might, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. . . . American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. . . . This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. . . .Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. . . . In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

#31

Harry Marcopolos notified the SEC 3 times that whatever Bernie Madoff was doing wasn’t legit and should be investigated, and all 3 times he was ignored. He talks about it in his book *No One Would Listen*. Check it out if you want to see a real facepalm example of government incompetence.

Image credits: pak9rabid


#32

[Gary Webb](https://i.redd.it/ins1prnhy8x51.jpg). He found ties linking them (edit: the CIA) to the crack epidemic that wasted inner cities in the 90s, and "justified" the war on drugs, while also destabilizing the Nicaraguan government. He was basically raked over the coals for it, and wound up "committing suicide" with two bullets to the head.

Image credits: Lexi_Banner


#33

The guy who predicted the leevies would collapse in a strong hurricane. Category two or three. Not five as they predicted.


He knew the tide surges would destroy New Orleans and predicted it down to one percent the deaths, damage, destruction and water damage.


No one believed him, and he had computer simulations and print-outs he tried to show Congress and tried to tell them to prepare for the worst including tents for shelter.


He was laughed at and later fired.


Two years before Katrina.

#34

George Carlin was basically a prophet about a lot of which he says

#35

Every US President from Regan forward advised Europe against building pipelines to Russia and becoming dependent on Russian gas and oil.


https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/23/climate/europe-russia-gas-reagan.html

#36

Climate activists have been warning us for quite some time, and I think we as a collective will be looked down on from future generations for not doing enough. Just a thought.

#37

In college, this was in like ‘92. Me and my Muslim roommate were watching something on tv about Osama Bin Laden. And he said, “this guy is determined to accomplish an attack on American soil. And it’s going to happen in the next 10 years.” At the time, I thought he was crazy. “That would be a death sentence for anyone.” I told him I’d give him all the money in my bank account if that ever happened. I was so sure. Yeah, we all should’ve been listening to the warning signs back then.

Image credits: MenudoFan316


#38

Bismarck warned the ruling German monarch of his time that Germany's status in Europe and the relative peace of the continent would last for only a short time. After his forced resignation, Bismarck said: "Jena came twenty years after the death of Frederick the Great; the crash will come twenty years after my departure if things go on like this". Twenty years later, Germany loses WWI and almost collapses.

Image credits: amymoralis


#39

Lots of experts warned about the FTX fraud. The writing was on the wall. Idiots chose to ignore the red flags and made huge investments. Common people was lured in by the perceived trust.

#40

Every single junior officer working in Afghanistan for the last 20 years who universally called the ANA a worthless POS army and their government a hallow, dead money pit.

Image credits: RobbexRobbex


#41

John O'Neill.


He worked in the FBI as an anti-terrorist officer. After the car-bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, he remained convinced that Al Qaeda would try to finish the job. The FBI convinced itself that it was over, and O'Neill, who kept at the investigation, was passed over for promotions to the point he wound up quitting the FBI. They thought he was too obsessed with it.


He took a job managing security at the WTC and lost his life on September 11.


Great doco about him and the security failures he wanted to prevent here: [Frontline: The Man Who Knew](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbXPqWGGQ5U).

Image credits: Mr_Lumbergh


#42

Billy Mitchell. He predicted a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the 1920s, and warned the Navy that they needed to spend more money on air defenses and less on ships.

#43

Mitt Romney warned that Russia was the enemy of peace. He was laughed at by both (R)s and (D)s.

Image credits: GamemasterJeff


#44

Harry Markopolos. He figured out what Madoff was up to, and the SEC still blew him off for *years*, presumably because the proof he was presenting required math to understand.

Image credits: gbs5009


#45

I cannot find the clip but about a year ago at a crypto conference a guy went on stage and publicly said that FTX was a huge fraud and we would all "see".

#46

My mother. Of course she warned the 18 yr old me about the scum bags I had as friends were going to hurt me one day. Did I listen? No. I was just soo frightend of being alone friendless I didn’t listen. Then I got hurt badly.

#47

It happens all the time.


It's happening now. In the UK we have a serial rapist and paedophile, TV and radio presenter called Jimmy Saville who was protected by his (admittedly) great charity work but it was all just to divert attention away from his decades long abuse. Lots of people complained and they were all ridiculed, abused or ignored. Institutionally. The media loved him. TV and radio loved him. He was a one man band for children's TV with a load of shows and specials.


He was a national institution.


He died and it all came out. People crawled out of the woodwork to vilify him (mostly ex-friends or colleagues) but nobody went back to the whistleblowers to admit that they were right after all.


See Also Weinstien


Remember, people will always forgive your for being wrong long before they forgive you for being correct.


Edit: Typo

Image credits: Magnus_40


#48

There is usually some warning that a person is going to commit a mass shooting.

#49

Courtney Love tried to warn people about Harvey Weinstein.


Johnny Rotten tried to warn people about Jimmy Saville.

#50

President Eisenhower warned the United States about the dangers of the military-industrial complex as he was leaving office. We didn't listen.


https://youtu.be/Gg-jvHynP9Y


Edit: u/destro23 made mention of this in an earlier comment that I missed. Give that comment the upvotes not mine (there are quotations there too!)

#51

John Kenneth Galbraith. I haven't read his book "The Affluent Society", but from what I've heard some of the warnings laid out about the direction of US society were largely on point and still relevant today. He forshadows the environment movement, the culture around frivolous consumption, and argues that there is a severe lack of investment in people. Bare in mind this was back in the late 50s.

#52

The MANY women who tried to speak out against Larry Nassar and had it get swept under the rug by USA gymnastics and Michigan State. And Dominique Moceanu who warned us about the Karolyis and the corruption in USA Gymnastics and was called a whiner by the maintstream media. Hundreds of girls were molested and there were so many places where it could have been stopped.

#53

[Li Wenliang](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Wenliang), a Chinese doctor who tried to warn people through his private social media about Covid-19 in December 30 2019. Was summoned by the police in China for ‘spreading disinformation.’ [The Chinese government had been the first Covid deniers](https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/a-timeline-of-chinas-response-in-the-first-days-of-covid-19/)during the virus’s earliest stage and contributed greatly to the global pandemic. Li died of Covid in Wuhan on February 7th 2020.

#54

The CIA. "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US was the title of the President's Daily Brief prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and given to U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday, August 6, 2001. The brief warned, 36 days before the September 11 attacks, of terrorism threats from Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, including "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for a hijacking" of U.S. aircraft." [Link](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bin_Ladin_Determined_To_Strike_in_US#:~:text=Bin%20Ladin%20Determined%20To%20Strike%20in%20US%20was%20the%20title,Monday%2C%20August%206%2C%202001.)

#55

Edward R. Murrow warned us about the dangers of the television medium being used mainly for entertainment and how this would lead to an ill informed population.

#56

Gary Webb told everyone that the CIA was responsible for the crack epidemic in the US.


He got his name smeared and was hounded into suicide (or "suicide" depending how conspiratorial you want to get).


He was also right.

#57

The guy in the viral video who said “leave Brittany alone”

#58

"To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country — the young men."


-- Sam Houston, who fought vigorously against secession, and as governor of Texas at the time, was thrown out of office, and another pro-Confederate governor was installed by the legislature in 1861. "Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas. ... I protest. ... against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void."


He was a very conflicted person, with some of the highest highs in American history, while at other times dredging up some of the lowest lows, usually entirely due to his own failings and weaknesses. Saint and sinner all in one.

#59

TLC warned us about chasing waterfalls but based on my instagram feed I swear it’s fallen on deaf ears

#60

Sinèad O’Connor.


Then we called her crazy and mocked her for 2 decades.

#61

Carl Sagan. In his book 'The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark', published in 1995, he wrote;


"I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...


The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance"


He knew and no one really listened.

#62

Bill Hicks warned us about Bush Jr and the war in the middle east. Then he died shortly after..


Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex taking over politics and we didn't listen. Now military and mega corporations have completely taken over every aspect of politics.