Dick Tracy’s Two-Way Wrist Radio. Fahrenheit 451’s Wall Panel Televisions That Transfixed Society. Mark Twain’s Electroscope As Precursor To The Internet. These 10 Predictions That Missed The Mark (Completely) Don’t Have It.
The problem with predicting future events is that you risk your entire reputation on one day. The smart phonies — like Nostradamus — gauge most of their major predictions thousands of years in the future so they don’t have to be around when it all blows up in their faces. And then there are the ones, who in one fell swoop ruin whatever street cred they had left by reaching too far in the present. You’ll see a mix of both on this list.
1. Sylvia Browne
On a 2004 appearance on The Montel Williams Show, the self-proclaimed psychic — aren’t they all? — told Louwana Miller that her daughter was deceased. But in May 2013, Miller’s daughter, Amanda Berry, was found alive along with two other women. Unfortunately, Ms. Miller wasn’t around to hear the news because she died in 2006 of what her family called “a broken heart” after giving up all hope in light of Browne’s mistaken prediction. Naturally, Browne has come under heavy fire from the Twittersphere with countless people calling her out on the BS.
With Nostradamus you have to be careful. If each one of the man’s End of the World predictions had come true, than we would have seen this rock blow up three or four times by now. A lot of it is due to the interpretation of the people saying that he predicted it. The man’s prophecies were allegedly “good” through 3797, according to Discovery Science. The last anyone has attributed to him, to our knowledge, is the “King of Terror falling from the sky” prediction that he made for “1999 and seven months.” Last we checked, we’re still here.
3. Harold Camping
Harold Camping’s contributions to this list of predictions that missed the mark should actually get two entries instead of one since the president of Family Radio in California picked the wrong end-of-world date twice in the same year. Monumentally epic fail, it was. So much so that, when the date of the final prediction rolled around — October 21, 2011 — and no one suffered a fiery, brimstone-y death, Camping stepped down from his position in humiliation and disappointment. Yeah, maybe we can’t blame him. It sure is a disappointment when people you deem beneath you don’t suffer in agony for all eternity. What’s particularly interesting about this prediction is that many of Camping’s followers sold or gave away all they had, quit their jobs, etc., in order to ready for the event. Later, according to the Christian Post, several even came at him, fangs bared, on the radio program. Example: “You’re really pathetic, you know? I wasted all my money because of you. I was putting all my money and my hopes on you.” (Yeah. Camping’s pathetic.)
4. Dale L. Reistad
In 1963, Dale L. Reistad predicted that the check would no longer be around by the year 2000. Before you say, “But Life’d, I never use checks for anything any more; this man was right (though off by a few years),” consider this. As early as 2008, 73.5 percent of people still used checks or money orders for bill payments. It’ll probably take another generation before the check is gone altogether. And if services like Google Wallet continue to develop, you may be saying goodbye to the plastic credit card along with it.
5. Dick Rowe
In 1962, Decca Records rep Dick Rowe had a chance to sign the Beatles but ultimately decided to pass. The stories have varied wildly on how Rowe went about it, but tabloid The Daily Mail — grain of salt here, everyone — reported that the Beatles rep was told, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” That rep has followed Rowe, but he later redeemed himself by landing a contract with The Rolling Stones.
6. Herman Kahn
In the 1966 Time Magazine article “The Futurists,” Herman Kahn predicted “a pleasure-oriented society full of ‘wholesome degeneracy.’” The article also stated that by 2000, industry would be “producing so much that everyone in the US will, in effect, be independently wealthy.” Checked the unemployment and underemployment rates lately, folks? Kahn also predicted human hibernation and robot slaves and figured that by now we would have underwater societies and interplanetary travel (by humans). Luckily for Kahn, he died in 1983 so any eggs thrown his way would have to be tossed posthumously.
7. Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill, in a 1932 article for Mechanics Illustrated, predicted mankind would eventually advance to the point of being able to grow parts of a chicken instead of killing the whole thing, putting a serious dent in the hunger problem. While there are some promising developments via 3D printer technology slowly bringing us towards the point of “growing” our own meat, we’re still a long way from making this entry on the predictions that missed the mark list feasible.
8. Harper’s Weekly
“The actual building of roads devoted to motor cars is not for the near future, in spite of many rumors to that effect.” This statement from the August 2, 1902, edition of Harper’s Weekly, was made right as the first major automobile push was coming off the assembly line. Anyone with foresight could have seen the wave of the future on the horizon, except Harper’s, which was out of business by 1916.
9. Karl Rove
In an October 2012 piece via Wall Street Journal, the political profit Karl Rove had this to say: “In addition to the data, the anecdotal and intangible evidence—from crowd sizes to each side’s closing arguments—give the sense that the odds favor Mr. Romney. They do. My prediction: Sometime after the cock crows on the morning of Nov. 7, Mitt Romney will be declared America’s 45th president. Let’s call it 51%-48%, with Mr. Romney carrying at least 279 Electoral College votes, probably more.” As we all know, that didn’t happen. Neither have many public appearances by Rove since the article was posted.
10. Aric Mitchell
Lord of the Rings won’t be a success. Yep. That’s right. I said that. Publicly. To more than one person. Just so you know I’m open to a little self-abuse as well, I’ll provide the numbers (as if you need them). To date, in theatrical gross only, the three films — not counting the related film The Hobbit — have grossed a shade under $3 billion on a combined budget of $281 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Now do you see why I’m qualified to write this article?
Those are our top predictions that missed the mark. Right. Wrong. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.