5 surprising things that were designed to stop bad behaviour



Throughout history, people have come up with creative ways to curb bad behaviour.

These efforts, whether through strict laws, social norms, or innovative inventions aimed to make society safer and more orderly.

Some of these measures have been quite unusual, but each was designed with a specific purpose: to reduce crime, promote safety, or encourage better behaviour.

Roller coasters were invented to distract people from immoral activities. In the late 1800s, LaMarcus Thompson, a devout Christian, was concerned about the number of people visiting brothels and saloons. He wanted to provide an exciting but wholesome alternative. Inspired by a mining railway in Pennsylvania, he built the first roller coaster at Coney Island in 1884. This ride became a popular amusement, drawing people away from less savoury entertainment and into a fun, family-friendly environment​.

Today, treadmills are seen as fitness equipment, but their origins are far from pleasant. In 1818, Sir William Cubitt invented the treadmill for use in prisons. Prisoners were forced to walk on the treadmill for hours as a form of hard labour. This was intended to instil discipline and punish misbehaviour. The device was dangerous, leading to numerous injuries and even deaths. By the end of the 19th century, treadmills had largely fallen out of use in prisons but eventually re-emerged as exercise equipment​.

Traffic lights were invented to bring order to the chaos of early automobile traffic. In 1914, Cleveland engineer James Hoge created the first electric traffic light system. This invention was to control the increasing number of cars and prevent accidents at busy intersections. The red and green lights borrowed from railway signals helped manage traffic flow, reducing collisions and making streets safer for both drivers and pedestrians​​.

The code of chivalry was established to manage the violent behaviour of medieval knights. These heavily armed warriors were more akin to thugs, prone to looting and violence. To control them, a set of rules emphasising bravery, loyalty, and respect for women and civilians was developed. This code aimed to turn knights into honourable figures who protected the weak and upheld justice. Over time, chivalry became deeply ingrained in European culture, influencing literature and societal norms.

Graham crackers were invented by Sylvester Graham, a Presbyterian minister, in the early 19th century. Graham believed that diet influenced moral behaviour and that bland foods could curb sinful thoughts, especially those related to sexual urges. His crackers were part of a strict vegetarian diet meant to promote physical and spiritual health. Although modern graham crackers are sweeter and more flavorful, their origins are rooted in a quest to improve moral behaviour through diet​​.