History is full of terrible decisions made by powerful people. And sometimes these choices led to awful implications for the entire planet. But what’s the worst decision of all time?

Was it Hitler deciding to invade Russia during World War II?

Pretty much anything Stalin ever did?

What do you think?

AskReddit users share what they believe are the worst decisions made in history.

1. Not a good move

“Mao Zedong

Pest campaign: He basically told his nation to take pots and pans to kill all the sparrows. However, the ecosystem was disturbed and the locust population skyrocketed.

Seeds: he thought that planting seeds 1 meter in the ground would result in greater roots and better harvest. He also thought that putting tons of seeds in one compact area would cause a better harvest. All the seeds died however. Around 30 million or so died from Famine under his rule.

“Hey! Look at the other nations industrializing! Lets smelt all our metal to build better infrastructure. What? It creates pig iron which is super unstable and impure therefore being ultimately useless? Oops!” -Mao”

2. Bad timing

“The decision by the Scottish to invade England during Black Death must be up there.”

3. Doh!

“Allan Savory the ecologist who killed 40,000 elephants because it was believed that grazing was causing the desertification of Africa, only to find out later that elephants were essential to prevent desertification.”

4. Get with the times

“Eastman Kodak deciding not to go forward with their own newly invented digital cameras and instead sticking with film because it made them so much money at the time.”

5. Ripped off

“The guy that sold the bottling rights for Coca Cola, for $1, and never even made the guy pay the $1.”

6. Actually, might be the worst…

“Maybe not the *worst*, but maybe Ronald Wayne, he was a co-founder of apple along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. Just 12 days after forming the company, he sold his shares for $800. He owned 10% of the company, which would be worth ~$80,000,000,000 (80 billion) today.”

7. A free-for-all

“Robert Ballard, one of the guys who discovered Titanic, says that his biggest regret is that he and Jean-Lous Michel didn’t bring a piece of the Titanic up with him when he first discovered it in 1985. At the time, they didn’t want to disturb the wreck, and leave it pristine. But if they had done so, then they would’ve been able to claim legal ownership of the wreck under international maritime law, and therefore more control over it.

Because they chose not to do that, everyone and their grandma is free to take artifacts and pieces of the wreck, and this makes preservation impossible.

A fair number of people have been asking this in the comments, so instead of replying to everyone individually, I thought I’d put this in as an edit. And thanks to the commenters who helped explain this!

There is a school of thought which Robert Ballard (and myself, incidentally) subscribes to, which is that the wreck is the final resting place of the more than 1500 souls who perished that cold night on 14 April 1912, and must therefore be treated with the same respect and dignity.

Private companies who take artefacts and pieces of the wreck and sell them for profit are effectively grave-robbing. And while the wreck is gradually deteriorating into nothing, the argument is that this doesn’t matter – it’s just nature taking its course. Of course, there is the argument that removing certain artefacts from the wreck and putting them in a museum is conducive to both the public good and the memory of the victims. I don’t have a problem with that, personally, and I can’t speak for Robert Ballard.

But I do have a problem with the commercial scavengers taking pieces up to sell them. My understanding is that if he and his team were the registered owners of the wreck, he would have a claim to anything taken from the wreck and sold for profit, which would potentially deter people.”

8. Hastily done

“Radcliff Line – The process to divide India and Pakistan boundary in 1947 was done hastily and without major considerations to local populace religion. Radcliff was not a geography guy and majorly messed up the process. Millions died.”

9. Oops

“My great great grandfather, a carpenter, did some work for a poor painter in the neighbourhood. The painter had no money, so he offered either a bottle of wine or a painting. My great great granfather chose the wine.

The painter was Edvard Munch, and the painting would have been worth millions upon millions today, or even just a few decades later (if translated to todays money).”

10. Not good

“Hong Xiuquan declared the Taiping rebellion after he had a nervous breakdown from failing the imperial examinations. He proclaimed that he was the brother of Jesus Christ. 20-30 Million people died.”

11. Incompetence

“Kaiser Wilhelm II firing Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck had a plan. He always has a plan. But not when an incompetent Kaiser boots him out of his means of putting his plans into action. Bismarck had everything set up perfectly, but Wilhelm II decided to fuck up everything he had set up, and got into WWI for it.”

12. We know how that turned out

“The Donner Party of 90 pioneers choosing to take a shortcut when heading West from Illinois to California in 1846. Said shortcut led to them getting trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains and resorting to cannibalism.”

13. A chain of events

“Brutus decided to join Cassius in murdering the dictatorial tyrant, Caesar. The reason? They suspected his intent to become a king.

Which then started a chain of events leading to his adopted son Caesar becoming a military dictator without equal, having all the powers of a king without being called one.

When this Caesar Augustus dies, his name and title is passed on for the next four hundred years almost like you would a crown. Monarchies then returned all over Europe, in the style of Augustus Caesar.

And so, the decision of Brutus to join the conspiracy in effect changed all of Western civilization for the next 1,900 years to adopt the very political style he wanted to avoid.

It would not be until the 1770s when America and later France would begin revolting and experimenting with Democracies and Republics.”

14. Never works out, does it?

“Let’s invade Russia” must somewhere up the list. Twice.”

15. Sparked World War I

“Gavrillo Princip shooting Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

On that day, a man acted upon his self-constructed vendetta against a non-tyrranical monarch, thinking the world would remember him as a symbol against foreign tyranny. A symbol of national sovereignty.

A year later, 10 million men were dead.”