Wednesday, November 4, 2009

87 Worst Predictions of All Time

A re-post from November '07. A surprising number of them came via the pages of Scientific American.
[and Lord Kelvin seems a bit of a twit -ed]
Here are twenty. Prediction is hard.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
Irving Fisher, economics professor at Yale University, 1929.

"In all likelihood world inflation is over."
International Monetary Fund Ceo, 1959.

"Read my lips: NO NEW TAXES."
George Bush, 1988.

"Capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of nature, its own negation."
Karl Marx.

"The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing; every one must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name, others for the sake of mere gain."
Martin Luther, German Reformation leader, Table Talk, 1530s(?).

"... too far-fetched to be considered."
Editor of Scientific American, in a letter to Robert Goddard about Goddard's idea of a rocket-accelerated airplane bomb, 1940 (German V2 missiles came down on London 3 years later).

"That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."
Scientific American, Jan. 2 edition, 1909.

"It will be gone by June."
Variety, passing judgement on rock 'n roll in 1955.

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons."
Popular Mechanics, March 1949.

"You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees." -– Kaiser Wilhelm, to the German troops, August 1914.

"Radio has no future."
Lord Kelvin, Scottish mathematician and physicist, former president of the Royal Society, 1897.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895.

"X-rays will prove to be a hoax
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

«There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1923.

"With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself."
Business Week, August 2, 1968.

"Space travel is bunk."
Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of the UK, 1957 (two weeks later Sputnik orbited the Earth).

"Space travel is utter bilge."
Richard Van Der Riet Woolley, upon assuming the post of Astronomer Royal in 1956.

«Very interesting Whittle, my boy, but it will never work
Cambridge Aeronautics Professor, when shown Frank Whittle's plan for the jet engine.

"The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys."
Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.

Everything that can be invented has been invented.
Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office, 1899.

And 67 more.
HT: Mental Floss