6 People Who Died In Order To Prove A (Stupid) Point

6 People Who Died In Order To Prove A (Stupid) Point

History is full of great men and women who laid down their lives for a cause they believed in. What the history books don't tell you about, however, is the small handful of bull-headed people who've given their lives for causes that really didn't matter to anyone but them.

Here are six people who proved a very important point: It's really easy to die doing something stupid.

Franz Reichelt

What He Tried to Prove:
That he was both an awesome inventor and that the law of gravity simply did not apply to him.

The Method:
Franz Reichelt, a tailor by trade, dreamed of inventing a fashion accessory that would allow a person to float safely to the ground after falling from a great height (perhaps after jumping out of one of those new-fangled flying machines they were experimenting with at the time).

What He Actually Proved:
Newton's law of universal gravitation.

More specifically, he proved that falling from a great height will result in death even if you happen to be wearing one of these convenient, comfy garments:

"Ladies, gentlemen... behold! My entire wardrobe, sewn together!"

Reichelt's "coat parachute," pictured above, was supposed to function in the same way as a modern parachute. The ultimate test of his invention was when, in 1912, he jumped off the Eiffel Tower in front of an assembled group of worried onlookers. You can pretty much imagine how that went.

Fortunately for the internet, but unfortunately for Reichelt, his tragic failure and subsequent impact with France was captured on what has to be one of the first ever examples of a viral video.

It's difficult to imagine how Reichelt could have thought his invention would be successful. Sure, Batman pulls off this stunt repeatedly and with alarming ease in The Dark Knight. However, Bruce Wayne had the advantage of space age smart cloth, he wasn't just sewing a bunch of trench coats together. And he's also the goddamned Batman.

Not pictured: Franz Reichelt

Bando Mitsugoro VIII

What He Tried to Prove:

That he was invincible, at least where poison was involved.

The Method:
Bando Mitsugoro VIII was a Japanese Kabuki actor, good enough to be named a "living national treasure" by the Japanese government, a title that became particularly poignant in 1975 when he became rather the opposite of living.

On the 16th of January of that year, Mitsugoro went to a restaurant with friends and ordered four "fugu livers." These are better known in Western society as "pufferfish liver" or "a deathwish", as the fish are so poisonous you should call a hazmat team every time one washes up on the beach.

I'mma fuck you up.

Mitsugoro's intention was to prove his immunity to the poison by ingesting four times the amount that could ordinarily kill a dude.

What He Actually Proved:

Why did he think he was immune? We're guessing he didn't, and was just one of those guy who likes to make shit up at parties. Now, we'll admit it takes balls to run with a lie that can potentially kill you. But Mitsugoro didn't just run with it, he jumped into a sports car and sped off a cliff.

Seven hours after ingesting the four livers, Mitsugoro was dead. According to the Fugu experts at Wikipedia, the victim of the neurotoxin found in fugu liver "remains fully conscious throughout most of the ordeal, but cannot speak or move due to paralysis, and soon also cannot breathe and subsequently asphyxiates."

This means Mitsugoro almost certainly died looking up at several friends pointing and saying they knew he was full of shit and that he should pay up (we're just assuming a bet was made somewhere along the line).

Garry Hoy

What He Tried to Prove:

That high rise glass is unbreakable, and that the universe has no sense of irony.

The Method:
Garry Hoy was a lawyer from Toronto, Canada, whose claim to fame is being the punch-line for every single "famous last words" joke ever made. Those last words pertained to how the glass windows of his 24th storey office in the Toronto-Dominion Centre were "unbreakable."

You can see where this is going.

"How can I get the interns to respect me..."

What He Actually Proved:

As you may have guessed (you veritable Sherlock Holmes, you!), Garry tested his little theory by slamming his body up against the glass. He burst through the window and plunged to his death, leaving a group of nervous interns either freaking the hell out, or fervently writing down a "famous last words" joke, depending on how much of a callous asshole they were.

"You hear something?"

What is shocking about this story is that the window gave way on his second attempt. Apparently Garry was unable to rest after having risked his life just one time. We can imagine how the scene went down:

Garry: "These windows are unbreakable, kids!"

Garry: "No really, check this out. Don't try this at home, kids."

Garry: "Hold your applause. I'm not satisfied with having proved the strength of this glass just once."

Garry: "Let's see what you're really made of, glass."

"Ha ha! Take that, glass! Oh wait. Shit!"

Perhaps the best (or worst, if you value human life) part about this story is that it wasn't actually the glass that broke - the window pane popped out, and is the reason he fell to his death.

So, in a way, Garry actually did prove his point, though we figure it won't be much consolation to his family. Still, wherever he is right now, he's probably fist-pumping and saying something along the lines of "in your face!"

Jeff Dailey and Peter Burkowski

What They Tried to Prove:
That they were the ironmen of the 80s video game scene.

The Method:
Jeff Dailey and Peter Burkowski were teenagers and avid video gamers, aged 19 and 18 respectively. Their game of choice was the popular arcade hit "Berzerk," in which players control a stick-figure character who is trapped in a perilous maze populated by ambiguously-shaped robot enemies.

Jeff and Peter both had a passion for the game that bordered on dangerous obsession. Fatal obsession, you might say. Fatal Attraction you would not say, because it wouldn't make any sense in this context.

Anyway, they pushed their limits day after day, determined to prove once and for all that they were the undisputed masters of the universe and all of that which is contained within it. And that they were good at video games. Mostly the video games bit, really.

What They Actually Proved:

If you're in poor enough physical condition, even video gaming can be an extreme sport.

In 1981, Jeff Dailey died of a heart attack after posting a dazzling high score of 16,660. A year later, Peter Burkowski achieved two similar high scores, and also died of a heart attack shortly after.

Now, we're not saying that gaming is bad, but we question the wisdom of playing to the point of neglecting other vital areas of your life, like social interaction, physical health or not being dead.

Some say Jeff and Peter must have had some kind of underlying heart conditions, but that is just speculation. What is apparently real is video game addiction, a sickness of the mind which also claimed the life of 28-year-old South Korean man Lee Seung Seop in 2005, after a 50-hour Starcraft session. All we can say is we hope he won.

Jennifer Strange

What She Tried to Prove:

That as dumb as radio contest are, they could never be dumb enough to actually kill you.

The Method:
Jennifer Strange was a 28-year-old woman and a mother of three from California. As far as we know, she lived a perfectly normal life, until she saw a chance to get the hot toy of the year: a Nintendo Wii. Parents were lining up in the middle of the night to get the things.

In 2007, the radio station KDND 107.9 "The End" held a competition cleverly titled "Hold Your Wee for a Wii," in which participants had to consume copious quantities of water without using the bathroom. The prize, as you may have guessed, was a Nintendo Wii, and Jennifer Strange felt she needed one of these so badly that she would go against thousands of years of biological imperative and prove that she didn't need to urinate.

What She Actually Proved:

Jennifer died of a condition known as "water intoxication", which is caused when vast amounts of liquids are taken into the body and results in a fatal electrolyte imbalance in the brain.

On one hand, you could try to dress this up by saying she just really cared about her children. But then you remember that she wasn't putting her body through agony and unnatural stresses to win some life-saving medicine for her kid. It was a Nintendo fucking Wii. And it wasn't like some once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, either, if they waited a few months they could have just bought one off the shelf at freaking Wal-Mart.

Everybody involved at the radio station was fired. And, adding insult to death, Jennifer didn't even win the competition. We hope the winner enjoys their game console.

Christopher McCandless

What He Tried to Prove:

That he didn't need the shallow comforts of modern life, damnit.

The Method:
Everyone, at some point in their life, has had the desire to just leave it all behind. For some people, this involves starting over in another country, for others, it involves cancelling their World of Warcraft subscription. Christopher McCandless decided, fuck it, he'd just leave his family, and all of civilization, behind.

McCandless had a strong contempt for the "empty materialism of American society," and just took off to live in the wild of Alaska, with little to no food or equipment. Just the way nature intended!

What He Actually Proved:

That the corrupt, capitalist society he so loathed was pretty much the only thing keeping him alive. Though the book on McCandless's life and the movie it spawned were sympathetic to the whole situation, many Alaskans believe that he was foolish to embark on such a lifestyle without the appropriate skills or equipment, such as a map or compass. Or common sense.

Alaskan Park Ranger Peter Christian has said,

"When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn't even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate. First off, he spent very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived at the Stampede Trail without even a map of the area. If he had a good map he could have walked out of his predicament Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide."

Ouch. The man who set out to prove we didn't need frivolities like houses and electricity wound up being the poster child for staying indoors. Good job, Chris.

For more baffling people whose obsessions might cost them their lives, check out 5 Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes. Or find out about some other people you've never heard of, but whose asses you should be kissing, in 5 People You've Never Heard Of Who Saved the World.

Andrew also writes for The Deadbeat, another comedy site that you should check out. /Do it now/.

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