“Who Is Someone That Was Mocked At The Moment, But Then Proven Right Years Later?” (61 Answers)

Throughout history, sometimes even the smallest actions have turned into pivotal moments. From innovations that led to changes to groundbreaking events that sparked movements and changed the entire world. But while some ideas were applauded and celebrated by society at the time, others were greeted with raised eyebrows and suspicious looks.

Many wonderful people were simply ahead of their time and got teased and ridiculed for it in every possible way. User AllofaSuddenStory decided to learn more about these historical figures and posted this question on Ask Reddit: "Who is someone that was mocked at the moment, but then proven right years later?"

Hundreds of history lovers shared their knowledge about people who thought of remarkable things yet didn’t get the recognition they deserved. Whether their suggestions were put together long before our time or in the recent past, we handpicked some of the most interesting responses to remind you not to jump to conclusions too quickly. Continue scrolling, upvote your favorite ones, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!


Stella Liebeck, the lady who got burned with McDonald's hot coffee. The media mocked her and accused her of a frivolous lawsuit but it was an ongoing problem that McDonald's served dangerously hot coffees that had injured many others.The coffee was hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns to her pelvic region and she was hospitalized for 8 days while she had to get skin grafts, and continued medical care for 2 years related to the burns. She originally just wanted her medical bills covered but McDonald's tried giving her an insultingly low amount, so then she was forced to open a lawsuit. The courts rightfully sided with her and forced McDonald's to regulate the temperature on their hot beverages.

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The doctor in China, Li Wenliang, who was arrested for trying to stop the spread of Covid from the start.

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Ignác Semmelweis

First doctor to champion hand washing as a means to prevent spreading infection. Everyone made fun of him.

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Johnny Rotten

Banned from the BBC for ousting Jimmy Savile as being a horrendous pedophile.

Some 500 cases of abuse. Had his own set of keys to a psychiatric hospital where he would frequently abuse vulnerable children.

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Barbara McClintock, she postulated the existence of transposons (certain types of genes) in DNA BEFORE anybody even knew what the actual structure of DNA is like, she was widely mocked by the scientific community at the time. Transposons were later confirmed to exist and she was awarded the Nobel.

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Joseph Lister

First proposed that germs caused post-operative infections, and recommended that surgical instruments be sterilized between operations.

People thought he was nuts.

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Henry Freeman, a lifeboatman in Whitby. He tried to get the other lifeboatmen to wear cork lifejackets, but no-one would but him.

During a great storm, the lifeboat was launched several times to help struggling vessels and sailors. On their sixth launch, disaster struck and the lifeboat capsized.

Only Henry survived thanks to his cork life jacket. They became compulsory for lifeboatmen shortly afternoon

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Greg Lemond. In 2001 he said Lance Armstrong was probably doping. He was threatened he took a huge image hit and his business opportunities suffered.

He never let up on lance despite the media campaigns, threats, damage to his reputation and business, and the recrimination of his peers in the cycling community. Until surprise surprise in 2012 it came out that lance Armstrong was doping. Who could have foreseen that? If only someone had told us.

Oh wait. Greg Lemond did. A decade ago.

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Barbara Lee was the only congresswoman to vote against going to war in Afghanistan after September 11. Not going to say she was right, but at the time I remember even as a kid thinking she was crazy, and heard alot of the derisive talk much more common today, directed at her. (Not a patriot, traitor, blahblah) 20 Years later, the world seems alot less black and white, and her decision seems ferociously rational against a tide of fear and rage.

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John Snow in 1854 tried to tell everyone about cholera, and how it was being caused by the water supply, no one believed him until he took illegal action and saved many lives

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Dr Bennet Omalu who found that American football players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy/ brain concussions which were slowly affecting their neurological and psychological functions. He was strongly opposed at first but then proved right. His biographic movie is named ' Concussion'.

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Lindy Chamberlain. A dingo really did eat her baby.

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Courtney Love on Weinstein.

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Richard Stallman. Warned us back in the 80s that if we allow corporations to rule the internet that nobody will have privacy or freedom on the web, among many other things.

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Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered Penicillin, spent almost 10 years trying to convince the medical bodies of his time that it was worth investing time and resources to experiment with it, but was basically told to pound sand despite the respect he had prior to the discovery.

Lot of good it did me, I was lucky enough to be born allergic. Happy for the rest of you at least.

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John Rae. Very skilled arctic explorer who unlike most of the rest of Europeans at the time wasn’t above learning from the Inuit. He was largely successful because of his willingness to learn from them and use their clothing and diet and techniques.

Anyway, about ten years after the Franklin Expedition was lost John Rae was out looking for clues what happened because the British Admiralty had a standing reward of £10,000 for anyone who had credible information about the expeditions fate. He found some physical remnants of the expedition and had met with Inuit who’d seen some of the last surviving members of the expedition. They related to him how they’d been taken by disease, lack of food, and how some of them finally succumbed to cannibalism.

Rae took this information back to England, where society was absolutely outraged how he dared to spin such drivel. Surely no sophisticated gentlemen of the hero’s character that would be in Sir John Franklin’s expedition would act so savagely!

John Rae never got the award. Years later someone else did who told of a story that was correct also to some degree, but less than Rae had been.

In modern times bone fragments have been found with telltale cut marks, thereby proving John Rae and the Inuit right.

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Alfred Wegener hypothesed plate tectonics in the 1920’s, but this wasn’t an accepted notion until the 50’s.

He was a meteorologist, and copped a lot of flak from the geological community at the time.

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Barry Marshall. Proved that stomach ulcers were a bacterial infection (and not stress) by ingesting (edit) with Helicobacter pylori and then curing himself with an antibiotic.

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Monica Lewinsky. That poor woman was dragged through the mud and seeing everyone reassess what was done to her has been bittersweet.

ETA: Bittersweet bc more people seem to understand she was a victim (sweet), but she was really young, and decades of her life were spent being a public punching bag (bitter)

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Sherry Rowland. Discovered the effect of CFCs on ozone depletetion and received an immense level of blow back from industry. Not only that, but invited talks and collabs were rescinded within the scientific community. Poor guy was ostracized. 20 years later after his (and Molina’s) discovery, he’s finally recognized with a Nobel prize.

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Jimmy Carter. He recognized the need for The US to become energy independent and put measures into place that would have gotten us there by now. Of course, the first thing Ronnie RayGun did was undo every f*cking one of them. Many of our problems over the last 45 years have stemmed from The Middle East and either directly or indirectly involved oil. I’m obviously simplifying things here, but in the big picture, he was spot on. Even his critics at the time have recently admitted that he was on the correct path. It’s also pretty apparent that Carter was a good man, as evidenced by how he has carried himself over half a lifetime post-presidency.


Marshall Ferdinand Folk when speaking of the Treaty of Versailles. "This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years."

Prescience personified.


Bernie Sanders. That dude complains a lot and he may not be right every time but it sure seems like most of the time.

Ralph Nader wasn't taken seriously about automobile safety. Now we have seatbelts and laws mandating them.




Al Gore.

I mean, ffs, even South Park apologized to him. And it wasnt even sarcastic


Brendan Fraser, that sweet sweet man.


I would say Monika Lewinsky. I watched her TED talk and thought about it in the world we have today and honestly, can't believe how bullied she was and how much of a joke her name still is

She was in her early 20s and Clinton was in his early 50s.

I can see myself in my 20s easily falling into the trap of thinking "wow I must be so incredible, the president notices me" when in reality, that's just creepy AF


The “Alvarez hypothesis” two guys who 30 years before anyone had indisputable proof of it hypothesesed the dinosaurs died because of an asteroid. Well they were f*cking right on with that one.


Chris Crocker.

We all know the Leave Brittney Alone video. We all quoted it at the same and made fun of Chris.

But they turned out to be completely correct. Britney was being pushed too hard by the media, and the aggressive fans and invasive paparazzi were (in part) to blame for her break down. We know now that she was controlled by her family for years, and we really shouldnt have mocked someone trying to draw attention to it. I think part of the mockery came because the breakdown is "funny", but also because society did - and still does - think that celebrities deserve whatever happens to them, so the paparazzi and the fans aren't responsible for how their actions hurt celebrities.

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Arsene Wenger. In 2002 he said his team could go a whole season unbeaten. He was roundly mocked, as it had occurred once in the 100+ year history of English football.

Two years later, they did it.


My classmate in nursing school. He made a big fuss about a “coronavirus” just noticed in China. He asked about if clinicals or classes would be changed because of it. We thought he was absolutely paranoid and insane. We laughed.

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Jack Layton -Early on in the Afghanistan war when the Taliban had been largely beaten and splintered into several small groups, many of them leaderless and wanting a way out, Jack suggested negotiating with these groups to end the war. The Conservative government of Canada labeled him Taliban Jack, and he was widely ridiculed. Had they negotiated back in 2005/2006 there would have been a lot less lives lost, and an opportunity to create a lasting change in Afghanistan.


George Bush, in 2005 he read a book about the Spanish Flu and insisted that the United States should be prepared for a pandemic. He said "If we wait for a pandemic to appear it will be too late to prepare. And one day many lives could be needlessly lost because we failed to act today."


Marie Curie

Discovered polonium and radium and was laughed at for suggesting that radiation could be used to view the human body in ways we couldn't see.

It's because of her that we have x-rays. It's also because of her that we learned that unchecked radiation could also cause cancer.


Barry Marshall

Helped discover h. Pylori bacteria and the link between it and ulcers. He and his research partner Robin Warren were knocked by the medical community for their beliefs in those link.

Marshall drank a cocktail containing h.pylori, willingly gave himself bacterial induced gastritis, then used antibiotics to cure himself just to prove he was right.


Duff Roblin, the Premier of Manitoba. After the 1950 flood, Roblin's government initiated the Red River Floodway project. The floodway diverts part of the river around the city. At the time he was mocked and a lot of people thought it was a waste of money, because "a flood like that will never happen again."

It's been estimated that it's saved $40 billion CAD in flood damages since it was completed in 1968. I was there for the '97 flood. The floodway saved my home and my in-laws' home.


Corey feldmen was ridiculed for talking about the abuse he suffered in Hollywood and it wasn’t even a shock, it was obvious that kinda sh*t was going down.


The English physician, William Harvey

(A.D.1578–1657), discovered the

circulation of blood. The current

opinion in those days was that blood

oscillates in the vessels of the body.

For his views, Harvey was ridiculed

and was called “circulator”. He lost

most of his patients. However, before

he died, Harvey’s idea about

circulation was generally accepted as

a biological fact.


Janet Jackson

The whole nipplegate thing made her out to be something she wasn't whilst Timberlake faced no backlash


Chelsey ”Sully” Sullenberger - the pilot of US Airways flight 1549 that landed his plane in the Hudson river.

Damn, he was mangled before finally being aquitted of the charges and told he did a great job and the made all the right decisions.


Gregor Mendel. In the 1860s, he came up with the Principles of Segregation and Independent Assortment, saying that genetic factors are expressed via segregating alleles and different genes.

For about a good 40-ish years, everyone thought he was crazy and didn't receive much credibility from his peers. However, in the early 1900s, people began to build off of his knowledge and work. Now, he's known as the father of genetics.


Prince Charles. Banged on about the environment/organic foods and everyone took the piss mercilessly. To me, he was right about architecture too, but that’s subjective


When I was in elementary school, we learned about the different areas of taste on the tongue: salty, bitter, sweet, and sour. In front of the class, I asked then "why do I taste the sweet all over my tongue when I eat candy?" She dismissed my question and the other kids said I was dumb. Who's dumb now?


J Harlen Bretz. He spent his life's work proving that the channeled scablands were formed by an absolutely biblical level flood. No one took him seriously because by that point geologists weren't really too keen on the biblical events type geology and were more in favor of gradual change hypothesis for how things came to be.

As soon as satellite photography became a thing his hypothesis was pretty quickly accepted because it's really obvious from above that its massive flood tracts. Funny enough even the famous explorers Lewis and Clark realized it was caused by floods and even wrote about it because they recognized the rippling hills and flood deposits like you'd see in a river just hundreds of times bigger.

If your interested google Missoula floods.


Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis . In 1847 he discovered that doctors washing their hands before delivery led to fewer deaths in women. He hypothesized germ theory, but was ridiculed and mocked by the academic establishment. He ended up having a nervous breakdown and later died in a mental institution. Probably from injuries sustained from beatings he received from the guards. (RIP)


Lady Gaga. She was bullied and there were Facebook groups dedicated to ridiculing her and telling her she'd never be famous. Guess they were wrong.


Jose Canseco, when he claimed in his book that steroid use was rampant in Major League Baseball.


Richard jewel he’s why we should all know to not listen to talking heads on tv.


megan fox being shouted down and criticised for how she spoke about the way she was treated on the transformers set.


Mitt Romney was heavily mocked by many for calling Russia the U.S.'s #1 geopolitical foe in a 2012 presidential debate.


Karen Carpenter, the singer. Everyone back when they were popular (myself included) mocked and sneered at how uncool The Carpenters were. But time told us she had one of the best singing voices ever. It’s a timeless voice of incredible beauty.


Amy Winehouse was written off as a junkie, but after she died there was a huge outpouring of love. The release of her movie Amy really brought to light the atrocities of addiction and EDs. Realize this might not fit here but I’ve been such a fan and hated seeing her called trash, etc.


Can’t remember his name, but he predicted the 2008 housing crash. Was laughed at on tv shows as he described the events that would happen based on then current loan practices taking place.


I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctly as it was so long ago... But when the iPad was first launched by Steve Jobs, there was a lot of derision by the public and media. I remember friends making fun of it, and there were memes comparing it to a sanitary pad, saying it's just a giant phone, there are already kindles etc, and that nobody would buy such things.

Nowadays it has become so normal, and some schools even give out iPads to students.


William Seward, who bought Alaska.


Alex Jones. Apparently he was telling people about Epstein’s island two years before the public found out, and people were just like “more crazy Alex Jones sh*t”


Taylor Swift in regards to the Kimye fiasco


Alfred Wegener- Pangaea


Graham hancock, his theories in the 90's about mega structures being much older than 6000 years was mocked up until 2018 Gobekli Tepe was discovered and proven him right, now they are reassessing all of earths ancient mega structures, Angkor wat was said to be 900 years old but you can add a zero onto that now. Randal Carlson is another, with the Younger Dryas impact now proven, his theories are also correct and both these men spent their lives being laughed at by scientists and their work called pseudo science but now they are considered pioneers in their field and both are getting Netflix specials highlighting their contributions.


Dixie Chicks.


I can still recall old Mister Barnslow getting out every morning and nailing a fresh load of tadpoles to the old board of his. Then he'd spin it round and round, like a wheel of fortune, and no matter where it stopped he'd yell out, "Tadpoles! Tadpoles is a winner!" We all thought he was crazy. But then we had some growing up to do.

-Jack Handey


Johnny Depp when he tried to tell people about how Amber was abusing him.

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