People they laughed at

for Goodideas, Silly ideas, and Awful mistakes
People who laughed at other people

Books to read

Most people who have done anything worth while or tried to do anything worth while have been laughed at in their time. They may be recognised after they are dead.

Here's a short list of 35 ideas and discoveries that were ridiculed as impossible or stupid even after they had been shown to be practical, helpful or true -

  • Arabic numerals,
  • cars,
  • heavier than air flight,
  • ball bearings,
  • circulation of the blood,
  • the reformed calendar,
  • cremation,
  • crop rotation,
  • daylight saving,
  • drains to prevent cholera,
  • doctors washing their hands,
  • ecology,
  • food-freezing,
  • St. Francis' way of life,
  • going to the moon
  • sailing across the Atlantic,
  • kindergartens,
  • trained nurses,
  • the telegraph,
  • the Plimsoll line,
  • paddle-boats and screw-driven ships,
  • solar energy,
  • what the solar system is like,
  • spelling reform,
  • wind-power,
  • steam-power,
  • umbrellas,
  • the Salvation Army,
  • votes for women
  • zippers.

In the book People who made Australia Great (1988) most of the people we now admire, who were not sportsmen or entertainers, faced ridicule, thirty percent severely so.

Not all ideas have been good ideas of course.

Between 1901-1905 over 140,000 British Patents were granted. Pick the ones in this selection that have succeeded.

  • Perpetual motion machines (46 perpetual motion machines were patented 1901-1905), Hornby Meccano,
  • A clip-holder to take boiled eggs out of hot water, sun-screens for horses, arm-rest for violin players,
  • Moustache guards for drinking soup,
  • Clothes for babies and children designed to be easier to put on and remove, a portable foot and body warmer,
  • Advertisements on toilet rolls that change as the paper is removed, improved shelter for watchmen,
  • An improved train for ladies' long skirts with a brush on the bottom to sweep the dirt,
  • A trap for burglars attempting to open safes,
  • Staircases in schools so boys and girls will not pass each other going up or down, a hat ventilator for top hats,
  • Safety razors, ways to fix ladies' hats on their heads, ways to stop your hat being stolen,
  • A way to use the breath to heat the outer body,
  • A device to hold down ladies' skirts when taking exercise, the Wright's improved aeronautical machine,
  • A motor car that can go up stairways, apparatus for throwing animals into the air for exhibition purposes,
  • A windguard for cigarettes.

But the enthusiasm to invent at that time was like fertilising compost that encouraged good ideas too.

Awful mistakes

It Seemed a Good Idea at the Time -ISAGIATT.

Sometimes everybody has gone overboard about some great idea that was all a terrible mistake.

Greedy people can be blind - for example, read about the South Sea Bubble in England or theTulip Craze in Holland three hundred years ago, and rather similar Boom-and-Bust bonanzas today.

Some people laughed at today may turn out to be great. Some may just be silly. How can you tell? It would be better to test new ideas out in pilot studies, rather than go all out for a great grand expensive untested all out ideas, or throw other possible breakthroughs. out without seeing if they would work. People who have hundreds of silly ideas, may still come up with one winner. People with lots of good ideas are almost certain to have some silly ideas as well. Even a zany idea can spart off a better one.

One of the things to learn in school is to give other people's ideas a fair chance. Another is how to fail, and fail - and, perhaps, finally win. 

Some people like to pull down others to be One-Up themselves.

They like to find out that great people in the past had clay feet (and yet, in spite of their faults, these great people managed to do what their critics cannot).

They like to say they cannot stand someone who does harmless things like wearing the wrong clothes or speaks in an odd way. dress clips or talks about trips to Bongo,

They like to cut down tall poppies and jump on small ones. If anyone has an idea, they say it can't be done.

Some books to browse :
Unsung Heroes and Heroines of Australia. ed. Suzy Baldwin
Who did What? The Mitchell Beazley Illustrated Biographical Dictionary
The Book of Heroic Failures
. I was given this book for Christmas once,
and the next Christmas I was given More Heroic Failures.