We all make predictions about the future. Whether it is believing that our team is going to win the championship this year, or that we are going to finally lose that weight, we all have predictions. More often than not, predictions are dead wrong because it is impossible to predict the future. While most predictions are wrong, there are some that are very, very wrong. These predictions not only fail to materialize, they are completely opposite to what actually happened. So, what are the predictions about the future that were very, very wrong?
• “Everything that can be invented has been invented” – Charles H. Duell, Head of U.S. Patent Office 1899. While some claim it may not have been said, if it was then it is a very bad prediction. As we know, the 20th century was a century of rapid technological development and there were many, many patents filed over the next 100 years.
• “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin, mathematician and physicist, in 1895. Lord Kelvin refused an invitation from the Aeronautical Society saying he did not believe that there would be anything resembling an airplane invented. In 1902, he backed this up by saying “No balloon and no aeroplane will ever be practically successful.” The next year, the Wright brothers began the age of the airplane.
• “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” – New York Times in 1936. Well, as we know they were very wrong about this. Just over two decades later, the first satellite was launched by Russia and 33 years later man would walk on the moon.
• “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” – Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy for Ecole Superieure de Guerre in 1904. Only 10 years later, when his home country of France was invaded, airplanes would play a big part in the First World War. While he was wrong on this account, he made a prediction that was incredibly prophetic at the end of the First World War. He said, “This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.” The Second World War began 21 years later.
• “Space travel is bunk.” Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom in 1957. If he made this prediction in 1910 when he was 20, well we could see how he would say that. What makes this prediction so bad is that only two weeks after he said it, Sputnik was launched and the Space Race began. Only nine years after he died, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
• “Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput.” – Sir Alan Sugar, February 2005. Who says bad predictions only happened in the past? Sir Sugar made a big gaffe with this prediction because the iPod not only stayed around, it revolutionized the music industry. To date, the iPod has sold about 100,000,000 units.
• “The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most.” – IBM to the founders of Xerox in 1959. This was a very bad prediction because only two years later, Xerox made $60 million. By 1965, the revenue of the company had increased to $500 million.
• “No one will need more than 637 KB of memory for a personal computer. 640 KB ought to be enough for everybody.” – Bill Gates in 1981. While Gates denies saying this, if it is true it s a big flub on his part. Today, computers are being released with 1 terabyte of storage space, which amounts to 8,589,934,692 kilobytes.
2. Historical Errors
• “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” – Irving Fisher, economics professor at Yale University, a few days before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. This was just a bad prediction and it was made worse by the fact that even in the days after the crash, Fisher continued to say that it was not a big deal and only market corrections.
• “It [rock and roll] will be gone by June.” – Variety in 1955. Well, Variety was very wrong on this one. The following year, a man by the name of Elvis Presley changed music and helped show that Rock and Roll was here to stay.
• “It will be years – not in my time – before a woman will become Prime Minister [of England].” – Margaret Thatcher on October 26, 1969. What makes this a really bad prediction is that only 10 years later she would become the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
• “There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” – Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize winner in Physics, in 1923. It’s bad enough a physicist said this, but worse considering that 25 years later the power of the atom would be tapped over two cities in Japan.
3. Assorted Wrong Predictions
Here are a few more bad predictions from the past.•
“Theoretically, television may be feasible but I consider it to be an impossibility – a development which we should waste little time dreaming about.” – Lee de Forest in 1926. This prediction is made worse by the fact that Lee de Forest invented the cathode ray tube, which was a vital component of electronics. However, he did make predictions about cooking and microwaves that proved pretty close to the truth.
• “It doesn’t matter what he does, he will never amount to anything.” – Albert Einstein’s teacher to his father in 1895. Whether this was said or not isn’t as important as how wrong of a prediction it was. Not only would Albert Einstein revolutionize physics and science, he would also be chosen as the Person of the Century by Time Magazine.
• “We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.” – Decca Recording Company after rejecting the Beatles in 1962. This is an epic prediction in terms of how wrong it was. During their career that little band from Liverpool would change music forever, have six Diamond albums, 24 multi-platinum albums, 39 platinum albums, 45 gold albums and have more number one hits than any other band in history. Oh, they also sold between 200 million (certified sales) and one billion albums (claimed sales) worldwide.
These predictions are not only wrong, they are wrong to an epic degree. Sometimes predictions do not go as planned and other times they make the person who made the prediction look like a tool. What’s the best course of action? Don’t make predictions and just go with the flow. The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability.
Author: Craig Baird — Copyrighted © roadtickle.com