MAKE BELIEVE NEWS:
You can’t make this stuff up. Or can you?
If someone, somewhere, somehow invents something that promises to make life “better” — as in healthier, cheaper, richer, tastier, speedier, more convenient — there was, is and will always be a receptive market. No matter how dumb the product or service.
At least we can find comfort knowing that sooner, ideally, or later we’ll see the error of our ways. In the meantime, unfortunately, time too often takes a toll — be it financially, environmentally, medically, or simply by making us fatter and lazier.
A common thread of inventions is, as the mother of all sayings goes, “necessity.” By contrast the common thread for dumb inventions is the greed of the grifter and gullibility of the grifted. To quantify the practical and existential breadth of this absurdity, an international survey was undertaken of Everyone. Everyone was asked to identify and rank what they’ve experienced to be the dumbest inventions ever.
The “Top 15” — ranked by dumb and dumber to dumbest — includes all the obvious (We should’ve known better) calamities as well as some shocking surprises. Perhaps anticipating negative reactions to a few arguably controversial selections, the survey team prefaced the findings with the caveat, “For the record, Everyone weighed in on these results.”
So here it is, the verdict, by a jury of our peers. Representative comments from respondents are added parenthetically.
- Roomba (“Get up off your butt!” railed one respondent.)
- Sandals with bottle openers on the bottom (Read more about this sticky bottom-feeder.)
- Ancestry.com (“They’re a private data collection agency,” multiple respondents claimed.)
- Moving sidewalks (aka “flat escalators”) (“Go on now, mosey along,” read a comment.)
- Zippers on men’s pants (“Ouch,” exclaimed every male respondent.)
- Tax loopholes (“If I had a dollar for every billionaires’ unpaid taxes, I could launch rockets too … or maybe better feed the world or cure cancer,” a respondent declared on behalf of Everyone.)
- Private space travel (“Those billions of dollars would go a lot further on Earth,” one respondent said, calling out by name the infinite arrogance of Musk, Bezos and Branson.)
- Generational labels (Read about the harmful bias of labeling people by age, i.e. “millennials” and “baby boomers”.)
- Guns (“The Second Amendment is the worst,” read one comment among many expressing anger at the incivility and grief caused by this weapon of destruction.)
- Cigarettes (“How about we breathe smoke?” one comment read, questioning the thought behind this ludicrous invention.)
- Facebook (Read about the excesses and evils of Facebook … or just go on Facebook.)
- Driverless automobiles (Just plain Cars earned a substantial number of votes. Read about the unparalleled damage created by this omnipresent invention. “How about more convenient public transportation,” a number of evidently exasperated respondents suggested.)
- “The Kardashians” and “The Apprentice” (Not coincidentally, multiple comments read, “Reality TV is so fake.”)
- Religion (“You could fill a book with the havoc religions have wreaked on humanity,” more than a few respondents observed. “Hypocrites all. The ‘othering’ of non-believers contradicts the Golden Rule,” another remarked.)
- Nationalism (“The pandemic proved that isolationism is a counterproductive anachronism,” one respondent noted. “Mother Nature will tolerate nothing less than global responses to climate change, food insecurity, drought and other borderless crises,” warned another.)
The survey team concluded the public report with a request that Everyone submit possible choices for the next iteration of the annual poll.
(Editor’s note: Ironically, “Public opinion polls” ranked #16, directly followed by “Cyber Ninjas.”)