If there’s one thing you should never ask the internet, it’s a hypothetical historical question – something the New York Times Magazine have learnt the hard way.
The New York Times Magazine recently polled people on whether they could kill an infant Adolf Hitler. While 42% of people asked said they would indeed kill him, the question attracted a lot of interesting answers as it began to trend on Twitter.
— NYT Magazine (@NYTmag) October 23, 2015
People immediately responded to address how dumb the question was. If the New York Times Magazine were going to ask any question, it should arguably have been ‘would you kill one baby to save 40+ million lives’, in which case pretty much everybody would answer ‘yes’. But would killing a baby Hitler have actually stopped World War II? Not so much.
Of course if we’re going back in time, we wouldn’t even need to kill Hitler..
What if Instead of killing Baby Hitler You rewrote the Treaty of Versailles Using the time machine you have Just a suggestionAdvertisementAdvertisement
— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) October 23, 2015
If Back to the Future has taught us anything, it’s that were time travel possible, changing the past could have catastrophic repercussions for the future.
Say Hitler got himself killed before he became the leader of the Nazi party, or in Operation Valkyrie – a plot to kill Hitler that very nearly succeeded – there’s no telling what the consequences would have been. The Cold War could have escalated into full blown nuclear war, Skynet could have become self-aware, Boris Johnson could be Prime Minister. Anarchy. Out of them all, this response was the real winner.
Vox have written an in-depth look at the ins and outs of the question, and is well worth a read if you can wrap your brain around it.