5 Safety Measures That Caused Rampant Death And Destruction
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And sometimes that road is a highway, and you're speeding, while drunk, in a car that is on fire. And even the guys in hell are squinting up that road, watching you approach and going, "Holy shit, what is that guy doing?" If you're wondering what that metaphor is about, here are a few times some well-intentioned measures backfired like an old Pinto.
Automatic Seatbelts Decapitate Drivers
Before the airbag, there was the seatbelt. And before that, cars came equipped with an emergency swig of whiskey to help dull the pain of your inevitable and horrific crash. But back to seatbelts: They work wonders at saving lives. However, in order for them to work, people have to wear the damn things. And the problem with telling Americans to wear seatbelts is that no one can tell us to do anything, dammit -- this is America. So car manufacturers of the late '80s and early '90s decided to simply take the driver's free will out of the equation by inventing the automatic seatbelt. Brilliant! Right? Actually, no. Because in addition to removing the driver's freedom, automatic seatbelts also had a tendency to remove said driver's cranium like a 60-mile-per-hour guillotine.
We should've just went with the "eject driver" button, like we originally planned.
The problem was that automotive designers could only automate the shoulder belt -- starting the car caused the part of the seatbelt that runs from your shoulder to your hip to mechanically wrap you in its warm, polyester embrace. This created a two-point harness. But it turns out that the lap belt -- the third point in a three-point harness -- is the most crucial part ... and that part was still left up to the driver or passenger to buckle. Which, of course, they didn't do -- presumably out of spite for those oppressive belt fascists. If you're wearing a shoulder belt with no lap belt and you get into an accident, you're transferring all the momentum directly into your delicate neck meat. And at such velocity, that thin polyester strap may as well be a goddamn samurai sword.
Fatalities were especially high in the Subaru Seppuku.
Thankfully, the automatic seatbelt fad was relatively short-lived. But it goes to show you: If you take away an American's freedom to be wildly careless with our own lives, you may as well just cut off our heads.
The First Cigarette Filters Give People Super Lung Cancer
Smoking used to be something people did, like sleeping or breathing or fightin' Germans. But then, in 1952, Reader's Digest published an article titled "Cancer By The Carton." The cigarette companies, unsurprisingly, freaked right the hell out. Different companies came up with different approaches to assure the public that their cigarette was the safest way to protractedly kill yourself. Some went the straight-up bullshit route -- like the infamous "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette" marketing campaign -- but at least one company set out to actually make their cigarettes safer.
... and ran infamous ad campaigns about it.
Lorillard Tobacco introduced their Kent brand, a filtered cigarette in a time where filtering cigarettes was basically unconstitutional. Kent's patented Micronite filter was touted as the healthiest way to smoke, and smokers snapped that shit right up, burning their way through 13 billion Kents between 1952 and 1956. Unfortunately, all those billions of filters that America had so enthusiastically sucked on were made out of "Bolivian blue" asbestos -- a type of asbestos that hates your lungs with a passion even fiercer than the most unfiltered, untamed tobacco.
"But you can protect yourself from that with Kent's plutonium nasal spray!"
For their four years spent selling their customers exponential cancer, Lorillard is still paying out millions in lawsuits. And today, Kent cigarettes are marketed as a "premium" brand, even though they now only come with regular, non-premium cancer.
Safety Advocates Save Children From Airbags, Kill Them With Heat Instead
Airbags, when they're not being unexpectedly possessed by murderous kill-demons, are wonderful things -- they've saved countless lives in the decades since their introduction. Probably their biggest downside, and it's a big one, is that putting a small child in the front seat of an airbag-equipped vehicle is the equivalent of tossing them into the ring for a few rounds with a heavyweight boxer.
Tyson Tykes was a terrible, irresponsible program.
Luckily, there was a simple solution: Child safety advocates told parents to put their kids in the backseat. And it worked! Problem solved! No more kids dying from airbags! Instead, they started dying from heat exposure. It seems the old adage "out of sight, out of mind" is much more terrifyingly literal than anyone realized. As parents booted their children to the back, they also started forgetting they were back there. It sounds utterly ridiculous, but having the child out of sight in the back seat made parents much more likely to park their car in a hot lot, roll up the windows, and just walk away whistlin' Dixie. Without their kids.
To make sure they can smash the windows, give your child a ball-peen hammer or low-caliber pistol.
In 1990, five U.S. children died in overheated cars. Then came the prevalence of airbags, and from the late '90s to the present, that number has spiked to more than 600. As for what, exactly, it says about us as a nation that we're apparently more likely to forget where we put our kids than where we put our cellphones, we'd honestly rather not think about it.
Carbon Credits Encourage Shady Companies To Destroy The World Even Faster
In an attempt to quell the flow of greenhouse gasses, the U.N. introduced the concept of carbon credits. Basically, they're like a stock that's awarded to companies for reducing or eliminating their contribution to air pollution. The more gasses you do away with, the more credits you get. It didn't take long for manufacturers in places like India and China to realize that, while they could receive one measly carbon credit by eliminating one ton of carbon dioxide, they could receive 11,000 of those valuable motherfuckers by destroying a ton of HFC-23, a waste gas given off when producing a common coolant.
Thus making it the first environmentalist policy to be condemned by the Vatican.
The reason HFC-23 is worth so many more credits is because it's 11,000 times worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. So, of course, said manufacturers started pumping out said coolant by the buttload, just so they could destroy the waste gas and rake in all those extra carbon credits. Problem was, the coolant the manufacturers started cranking out like there's no tomorrow (possibly the most appropriate use of that term ever, by the way) was also tree-slappingly terrible for the environment. The increased availability of the harmful coolant in turn caused prices of the coolant to drop (thereby making it more difficult for the world to phase it out, because it's cheaper than the safer alternatives), but the manufacturers didn't have to worry about that because they were getting filthy friggin' rich from their brand-spankin'-new carbon credit side business.
"There's a sense of accomplishment knowing you've made an impact ...
A devastating one, sure, but an impact nonetheless."
You know what they say: A bird in the hand is worth killing all of the birds in the future. And everything else.
Smokey The Bear Makes Forest Fires Even Worse
Smokey The Bear relentlessly drilled it into every one of us: "Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires."
Everyone else was off the hook, lucky bastards.
Seems like a pretty harmless message of personal responsibility, but by outlawing everything down to the tiniest, most harmless of conflagrations, the U.S. Forest Service actually paved the way for the gigantic, swirling infernos from Hell that have recently plagued large swaths of the country.
You see, small, localized fires every few years are absolutely essential to a forest's ecosystem in the long-term. For millennia it was completely natural for, say, a lightning strike to spark a fire and burn off all the dense undergrowth, giving the mature trees welcome room to breathe. But then along came humans with their anthropomorphized bears, and suddenly all that undergrowth was allowed to spread unchecked. Follow that path for half a century or so, and suddenly you've arrived at the perfect conditions for the "megafires" that we've seen burning up our news reports over the past few years.
Wildfires are normal. Fires as big as Massachusetts and Connecticut combined? Not so much.
Professor Thomas Swetnam of the University of Arizona has dubbed it The Smokey Bear effect. He's analyzed the growth rings of hundreds-year-old trees and found evidence of periodic fire-scarring right up until the early 20th century -- around the time the Forest Service started their Frankenstein-ian "FIRE BAD!" mantra. The timing directly correlates with the beginning of fires like the monstrous Wallow Fire in Arizona, which started with an abandoned campfire and "burned more than 40,000 acres in the first eight hours," Swetnam said. Maybe now people will finally learn that, even if they happen to be wearing cute hats, bears can never, ever be trusted.
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