Oops!

No one is immune from making mistakes. We may carefully lay down our plans in great and painstaking detail, but the principle of unanticipated consequences is always lurking in the background, ready to mess with our designs. Of course, more often than not, the law of unanticipated consequences can just sit back and relax while our own stupidity takes over.

The following segment of RadioLab explores a series of hilarious linguistic mistakes that arise out of pure ideological laziness (what a concept!)... the kind of thing you should expect from trying to automate human communication.

But there's more: there's the story of a Harvard psychologist who devised a method to help safeguard American troops from being brainwashed by the enemy, only to later realize that the results might have backfired, in a big way...

And then there's the story of a scientist who chopped up a tree to figure out how old it was, and then discovered the tree he had just killed was the oldest living organism on the planet... well, not anymore...



Check out more fascinating entries from RadioLab.
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