Top 80 Bad Predictions about the Future

Top 80 Bad Predictions about the Future

There are plenty of predictions for the future that are made by various psychics. Predictions about the future can range from business predictions to world catastrophe predictions. The predictions for the future may or may not come true. Here are some of the poorer predictions made over the years. Read and relish in the knowledge that hindsight brings us. 



# " Ours has been the first [expedition], and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality. "
Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861. 

# " I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone. " Charles Darwin, in the foreword to his book, The Origin of Species, 1869. 

# " I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone. " Charles Darwin, in the foreword to his book, The Origin of Species, 1869. 

# " I am tired of all this sort of thing called science here... We have spent millions in that sort of thing for the last few years, and it is time it should be stopped. " 
Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator, on the Smithsonian Institute, 1901. 

# " Man will not fly for 50 years. "
Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, to brother Orville, after a disappointing flying experiment, 1901 (their first successful flight was in 1903). 

# " Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote. " 
Grover Cleveland, U.S. President, 1905. 

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

# " Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far reaching in purpose." -– Herbert Hoover, on Prohibition, 1928. 

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

# " Democracy will be dead by 1950. "
John Langdon-Davies, A Short History of The Future, 1936. 

# " This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time. " 
-– Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, September 30th, 1938. 

# " The Americans are good about making fancy cars and refrigerators, but that doesn't mean they are any good at making aircraft. They are bluffing. They are excellent at bluffing. " 
Hermann Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, 1942. 

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

# " A short-lived satirical pulp. "
TIME, writing off Mad magazine in 1956. 

# " We will bury you. "
Nikita Krushchev, Soviet Premier, predicting Soviet communism will win over U.S. capitalism, 1958. 

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

# " And for the tourist who really wants to get away from it all, safaris in Vietnam "
Newsweek, predicting popular holidays for the late 1960s. 

# " Reagan doesn't have that presidential look. " 
United Artists Executive, rejecting Reagan as lead in 1964 film The Best Man. 

# " Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop - because women like to get out of the house, like to handle merchandise, like to be able to change their minds. "
TIME, 1966, in one sentence writing off e-commerce long before anyone had ever heard of it. 

# " It will be years - not in my time - before a woman will become Prime Minister. " 
Margaret Thatcher, future Prime Minister, October 26th, 1969. 

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

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

# " That virus is a pussycat. "
-– Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, on HIV, 1988. 

# " This antitrust thing will blow over. "
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. 

# " The case is a loser. " 
Johnnie Cochran, on soon-to-be client O.J.'s chances of winning, 1994. 

# " There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them. "
General Tommy Franks, March 22nd, 2003. 


Light Bulb

"... good enough for our transatlantic friends ... but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men. "
British Parliamentary Committee, referring to Edison's light bulb, 1878. 

# " Such startling announcements as these should be deprecated as being unworthy of science and mischievous to its true progress. "
Sir William Siemens, on Edison's light bulb, 1880. 

# " Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure. " Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's light bulb, 1880. 



# " The ordinary "horseless carriage" is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle. "
Literary Digest, 1899. 

# " The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad. "
The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903. 

# " 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. 



# " Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical (sic) and insignificant, if not utterly impossible. "
- Simon Newcomb; The Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk 18 months later. Newcomb was not impressed. 

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

# " It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere. "
Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1895. 

# " Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value. "
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1904. 

# " There will never be a bigger plane built. "
A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people. 



# " 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. 

# " I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year. "
The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957. 

# "But what... is it good for ? " IBM executive Robert Lloyd, speaking in 1968 microprocessor, the heart of today's computers. 

# " There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. " 
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977. 



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

# " Lee DeForest has said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public ... has been persuaded to purchase stock in his company ... "
a U.S. District Attorney, prosecuting American inventor Lee DeForest for selling stock fraudulently through the mail for his Radio Telephone Company in 1913. 

# " The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular ? "
Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter's call for investment in the radio in 1921 


Space Travel

# " To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth - all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances. " 
Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1926 

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

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

# " There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States. "
T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961 (the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965). 



# " A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere. "
New York Times, 1936. 

# " ... 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). 

# " We stand on the threshold of rocket mail. " 
U.S. postmaster general Arthur Summerfield, in 1959. 


Atomic and Nuclear Power

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

# " There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will. " 
Albert Einstein, 1932. 

# " The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine. " 
Ernest Rutherford, shortly after splitting the atom for the first time. 

# " Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous. " 
Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1939. 

# " That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done [research on]... The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives. " 
Admiral William D. Leahy, U.S. Admiral working in the U.S. Atomic Bomb Project, advising President Truman on atomic weaponry, 1944. 

# " Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years. " Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp., in the New York Times in 1955. 

# " The basic questions of design, material and shielding, in combining a nuclear reactor with a home boiler and cooling unit, no longer are problems... The system would heat and cool a home, provide unlimited household hot water, and melt the snow from sidewalks and driveways. All that could be done for six years on a single charge of fissionable material costing about $300. " 
–- Robert Ferry, executive of the U.S. Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers, 1955. 



# " The cinema is little more than a fad. It's canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage." 
-– Charlie Chaplin, actor, producer, director, and studio founder, 1916 

# " Who the hell wants to hear actors talk ? " 
H. M. Warner, co-founder of Warner Brothers, 1927. 



# " A man has been arrested in New York for attempting to extort funds from ignorant and superstitious people by exhibiting a device which he says will convey the human voice any distance over metallic wires so that it will be heard by the listener at the other end. He calls this instrument a telephone. Well-informed people know that it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires. " News item in a New York newspaper, 1868. 

# " It's a great invention but who would want to use it anyway ? " Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S. President, after a demonstration of Alexander Bell's telephone, 1876. 

# " 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. 

# " There will never be a bigger plane built. "
A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people. 

# " This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. " 
A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876). 



# " While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming. "
Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926. 

# " Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night. 
Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946. 

# " Television won't last. It's a flash in the pan. "
Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948. 



# " Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe,would die of asphyxia. "
Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College London. 

# " What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches ? "
The Quarterly Review, March edition, 1825 

# " Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as 'railroads' ... As you may well know, Mr. President, 'railroad' carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by 'engines' which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed. "
Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1830(?). 


Other Technology

# " If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said 'you can't do this'. "
Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads. 

# " What, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense. "
Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton's steamboat, 1800s. 

# " Caterpillar landships are idiotic and useless. Those officers and men are wasting their time and are not pulling their proper weight in the war. "
Fourth Lord of the British Admiralty, 1915. 

# " The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd. It is little short of treasonous. " 
Comment of Aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Haig, at tank demonstration, 1916. 

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

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

# " I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea. "
HG Wells, British novelist, in 1901. 

# " The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most. "
IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959. 

# " [By 1985], machines will be capable of doing any work Man can do. " 
Herbert A. Simon, of Carnegie Mellon University - considered to be a founder of the field of artificial intelligence - speaking in 1965. 

# " Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition. "
Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962.