20 Historical Figures Who Were Mocked For Their Ideas Before People Realised They Were Right All Along

Published 9 months ago

It certainly takes courage to go against the norm and take a stand on an idea that is generally not favoured. Even Galileo, who is widely accepted as the father of modern science, was laughed at and ridiculed when he backed the theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun. 

Past history has shown us that it often takes people time to believe something that differs from the norm. Especially when the general public believes one version of events, it can be pretty tricky for someone to break through that public perception and make them believe something else. One Reddit thread recently gained popularity because of this interesting topic. Community members shared their own knowledge of historical figures that were unfairly vilified, only to be vindicated in hindsight as per the list below. 

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#1 Sinéad O’Connor. Was vilified when she ripped up a picture of the Pope on SNL for child abuse and criticizing the Catholic Church. Over the following decades, we realized how devastatingly right she was about the whole thing.

Image source: Theartofdumbingdown, oconnor.sinead

#2 Dominique Moceanu – Dominque came forward in 2008 revealing abuse in USA gymnastics before the 2016 sexual abuse scandal.

She was accused of being bitter, lying, and seeking attention. She was blacklisted by gymnastics coaches and received threatening e-mails accusing her of basically being a traitor. John Geddert was one of the USA National Team coaches who sent her the following e-mail in 2008: “Dom, Although I am waiting to see the final product, initial quotes and coverage from your Brian Gumble interview have me wondering how you can stab this sport in the back…“John Geddert would later commit s*icide following federal charges of child exploitation and child trafficking of his former gymnasts.

Image source: redman9000, St Poe

#3 Monica Lewinsky. She was a 20-y-o White House intern who got taken advantage of. Then the media crucified her for it.

Image source: slappy_mcslapenstein, Helene C. Stikkel

#4 Pearl Jam war with Ticket master.

In 1994, American rock band Pearl Jam filed a complaint with the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming that Ticketmaster has a “virtually absolute monopoly on the distribution of tickets to concerts” and attempted to book its tour only at venues that did not use Ticketmaster. However, no action was taken on Ticketmaster.

Image source: Sensitive-Whereas574, GabboT


Ignaz Semmelweis. The world didn’t know about germs yet, but he saw that way fewer women were dying from childbirth when midwives attended the births than when doctors did (doctors were coming from autopsies and wrecking women’s s**t). Ignaz suggested they start washing their hands, and people lost their f*****g minds. Doctors ridiculed him and everyone hated him. He had a “nervous breakdown,” was committed to an insane asylum, beaten by the guards, and died from a gangrenous wound as a result of the beating.


He didn’t discover it, he was told by midwives over and over and over until he looked into it.

Midwives at the hospital observed that when doctors delivered babies, mothers were at a higher risk. Any housewife knew that food would spoil faster if handled with dirty hands and they always used vinegar solutions to clean their hands, tools, and surfaces. Any housewife would do this and midwives did it because mothers and their babies are more important than pumpkin preserves. Only doctors never washed their grubby hands while it was a deeply ingrained habit in most midwives.

Semmelweis listened to women. No wonder they locked him away.

Image source: AhemExcuseMeSir, József Borsos

#6 Stella Liebeck – The woman who sued McDonald’s after being burned by hot coffee. Was vilified as the poster child for frivolous lawsuits. After she died pictures of her burns were published and they are graphic.

Image source: Tortuga_Jake

#7 Courtney Love. I’m referring specifically to the fact that she called out Harvey Weinstein publicly long before what we know now, and everyone kind of just dismissed her.

Image source: violentfemme17, Manfred Werner

#8 Lindy Chamberlain

The ‘A Dingo Killed My Baby’ lady.

She was vilifed, mocked and ridiculed across the world.

She then spent three years in prison, before it turned out she was actually telling the truth the whole time, and a dingo did, in fact kill her baby.

Image source: -Some__Random-, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

#9 Kotaku Wamura, mayor of a town in Japan who spent decades of taxpayer money developing a seawall to defend against tsunamis. During his whole career he was ridiculed for the expenditure and he died before it ever payed off. Then in 2011 it saved the whole town.

Image source: DrDragun

#10 Alan Turing, the British mathematician and computer scientist was persecuted and prosecuted for his homosexuality, which was considered illegal at the time. Turing’s work in breaking the Enigma code during World War II was pivotal in Allied victory. He is now celebrated for his contributions to computing and artificial intelligence.

Image source: KimParker69, Tomipelegrin

#11 Dixie Chicks. They were against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and publicly said so. They were effectively cancelled by the right as a result. Turns out they were correct, there were no weapons of mass destruction. The invasion was concocted so Bush could be seen as striking back for 9/11, which won him re-election in 2004.

Image source: dare978devil, Wasted Time R


Barry Marshall (and also Robin Warren his co-researcher). Forever, the cause of peptic ulcers was believed to be stress, spicy food and too much acid production. They believed it was actually of bacterial origin. No one believed them, they were ridiculed because the belief was that bacteria couldn’t survive in the acidic environment of the stomach. Not until Barry took a cocktail of H. pylori bacteria, which caused him to have massive inflammation of the stomach which was found to be colonized with the bacteria, but a course of antibiotics later and it was gone. One Nobel prize later and now the treatment of peptic ulcers is turned on its head and instead of months or years of discomfort it can often be sorted with a week or two course of anti-biotics.

Image source: Djinjja-Ninja, WikiEdtingProfile2021

#13 Marie Tharp, who drew a map that would help validate the theory of plate tectonics in 1953. Her colleague dismissed it as “girl talk” for over a year. But when the evidence seemed to point to the map being correct, he published the map under his own name and Tharp’s contribution was ignored by both Columbia University (where she worked) and the greater geological community.

Image source: ephemeratea

#14 Patricia Stallings comes to mind. Convicted of poisoning her first child, gave birth in prison (kid got taken away) and the kid also dies. Instead of poisoning it was now found it was a genetic defect that had similar effects as poisoning with antifreeze.

Image source: Wisely_0904, IMDb

#15 Rose McGowan for calling out Harvey Weinstein.

Image source: infjwritermom, Rhododendrites

#16 The Deep-sea exploration community warning OceanGate against ocean tourism. OceanGate basically told them to mind their business.

Image source: redman9000, Jholman

#17 Jimmy Carter. He was right about promoting energy independence and transitioning from usage away from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy (and he was a former nuclear engineer as well). His stance back in the ’70s holds up extremely well, especially in this day and age.

Image source: Lazer5i8er, Naval Photographic Center

#18 Stanislav Petrov. More people need to know his name, he literally, like quite literally saved the world.

Saved the world from nuclear ruin, simply because he was stubborn and refused to believe the computing error. He went against his position orders, and was consequently sacked by the USSR and lived an isolated life. Not necessarily vilified by all, but vilified by the USSR and ignored by the west. Put some respect on his name.

And he didn’t even win a Nobel peace prize, died in 2017. Recommend watching ‘Stanislav Petrov, the man who saved the world’.

Image source: Weebla, Stanislav Petrov


Doctor Clair Cameron Patterson not only discovered the true age of the Earth with his research in Lead-dating, but during this process he accidentally discovered the dangers of lead contamination. Then he went “wait, we’re putting this s**t in gasoline, cans, paint, etc.” He then began campaigning against lead in everyday products. In particular, he targeted the gasoline industry. *You can imagine how that went in the courtroom*. He was vilified, excluded, and slandered against but kept pushing for lead to be removed from gasoline. Took decades, but obviously lead was removed from gasoline almost entirely by 1990

Image source: honeybeebryce

#20 Charles Darwin. There’s a whole book on how scared he was to publish his work because he knew he’d be hated for it. The Reluctant Mr. Darwin by David Quammen.

Image source: catmandude123, Leonard Darwin

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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hindsight, historical figures, history, retrospect, vilified, vindicated
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