Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The SYSK podcast mentioned an old survey from last year where thousands of British consumers were asked what the most important inventions of human history were. It is a perfect example of what is so wrong/scary about trusting masses with something that requires careful thought. They pointed out how silly it is for the cheese grater to be included (#88) without cheese being included. Here are some other thoughts:

(#1) The wheel is, granted, a good thought, but cliché. Also, should generic items that were likely “invented” many times over be included? The same goes for things like knife and fork (#36) and roof. (#44)

Are hair straighteners really the (#34) most important invention of all time? Were this, make-up (#66), mascara (#80), and the hair dryer (#81) evidence that teenage girls were among those surveyed?

Push-up bras (#77) are the teen boys.

(#96) Bottle openers probably came along with the bottle itself. Do we really think that someone invented the bottle cap and then exclaimed, “Wait a minute! How are we going to open this thing?”

The placement of the iPhone at (#8) is alone enough to make this list laughable, and it is too easy to make arguments against nearly every entry for where it is on the list, or even that it is on the list at all. However, here are some of the things that absolutely were missed:

Alphabets and writing. (Let’s not consider language itself as an invention.)



The Republic

Movable Type and the Printing Press

Plastic (Shrink wrap alone makes this a must have.)



Television (How did the DVD player (#61) make the list without this?)

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