Famous Wrong Predictions - Hover and Click
2010 Collapse of the United States In 1998, Russian political writer Igor Panarin claimed that the United States was on the verge of civil war, which would result in wealthier states withholding tax revenue from the federal government and seceding from the union. After the resulting collapse of the nation , predicted for 2010, it would be split into six parts and divided up by the newly dominant world powers. In a 2008 article in The Wall Street Journal, Panarin explained that under the restructuring, the west coast would be controlled by China, Hawaii by Japan, the southeast would become part of Mexico, the northern Midwest would go to Canada, the northeast would join the European Union , and Russia would get Alaska. He said, "There's a 55 to 45 percent chance right now that disintegration will occur.” fm.cnbc.com
Online Shopping In 1966, Time magazine ran a bold prediction: “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.” While it is true that in 2011, many people still like to leave their homes and see products first-hand, this prediction was way off the mark and becomes more so every year. Consider the ever-increasing popularity of the annual Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving. The most damning statistic was cited in Minnesota’s Herald Journal,which quoted a study by the independent research company Forrester Forecast. The 2010 study projected that approximately $173 billion would be spent in total online shopping sales in the U.S. that year. scm-l3.technorati.com
Television A 2010 study by the A.C. Nielsen Co. found that the average American watches almost 5 hours of television a day. Many households have more than one set, so that families aren’t besieged with conflict as their members attempt compromise on whether to watch 24 or the Justin Bieber concert. However, in 1946, studio executive Darryl F Zanuck couldn’t imagine television getting much traction in the marketplace. "Television won't be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months,” he predicted. “People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night." Zanuck wasn’t the only person to get it wrong. The New York Times ran an article in 1939 that said, “The problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn’t have time for it.” fm.cnbc.com
Atomic Energy Winston Churchill was the British prime minister during World War II, and his unwavering example provided the citizenry with much-needed leadership in a frightening time. Today he is considered one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century, and after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his name was frequently invoked when describing the leadership of New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Whatever his leadership capabilities may have been, however, they didn’t do much for his knowledge of atomic energy. In 1939, as the technology was being tested for use in future weaponry, Churchill remained unimpressed with its capabilities in combat. “Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives,” he said, “but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous.” Six years later, the first atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands of people and causing the unconditional surrender of Japan one week later. fm.cnbc.com
The Internet Robert Metcalfe is the founder of the 3Com digital electronics company and a professor at The University of Texas at Austin. He holds a PhD from Harvard, is the co-inventor of Ethernet , and holds a Grace Murray Hopper Award for developing it. Today he is a General Partner at Polaris Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that specializes in early investments in technology companies. Despite his impressive resume, Robert Metcalfe is known for at least one inaccurate prediction that he is unlikely to live down. In a 1995 issue of InfoWorld, he famously said of the Internet that it “will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” He then promised to eat his words if proven wrong. He was. So during his keynote speech at the WWW International Conference in 1997, he produced the magazine page containing the quote, put it in a blender, and ingested it before a live audience. blog.slideshare.net
Communism From 1953 to 1964, Nikita Khrushchev led the Soviet Union. He was responsible for relaxing some of the more draconian elements of Stalinist domestic policy, and he was also an early supporter of the Soviet space program. However, what most people remember about him was when he pounded his shoe on the table at the United Nations in 1960. This outburst was typical of the flamboyant behavior he exhibited whenever he had a microphone in front of him. One such outburst occurred in 1956, when he was addressing Western ambassadors at the Polish embassy in Moscow. Khrushchev was as combative as ever, and he told the ambassadors gathered there that C ommunism’s defeat of capitalism was inevitable. “History is on our side,” he said. “We will bury you.” Thirty-three years later, Communism collapsed, and two years after that the Soviet Union was dissolved. fm.cnbc.com
The Titanic Nearly 100 years after its sinking, the luxury passenger ship Titanic remains a classic example of human arrogance. Many people made many regrettable statements prior to its doomed maiden voyage, all of which were spectacularly and fatally wrong. Among them was the ship’s captain, Edward J. Smith, who said, “I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern ship building has gone beyond that." Not to be outdone was Phillip Franklin, vice president of the White Star Line, which had produced the ship. Prior to the voyage, he said, "There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers." After the accident, a penitent Phillip Franklin walked back his remarks. "I thought her unsinkable and I based my opinion on the best expert advice." fm.cnbc.com
The Beatles Almost 50 years on, it’s hard to believe there was a time when not everyone liked the Beatles. In fact, quite a few people hated them and found their music as appealing as nails on the chalkboard. For example, in 1964, National Review founder William F. Buckley described them as “so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music.” When Decca Records rejected them after their 1962 audition, they famously said, "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." However, the most spectacularly wrong prediction ever made about them comes from Ray Bloch, musical director for The Ed Sullivan Show, who said, "The only thing different is the hair, as far as I can see. I give them a year." www.allaboutjazz.com
Pearl Harbor Prior to U.S. involvement in World War II, Japan had been conquering land in Asia for almost a decade. The next target on their list was the Philippines, but the U.S. had troops stationed there, so Japan could not attack it without provoking a military response. The Japanese decided to pre-emptively attack the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the likely origin of an American military response. After it was destroyed, the Japanese believed they could conquer the Philippines without any interference. While the notion of an attack against the U.S. Naval fleet was unthinkable to most Americans, U.S. intelligence had information suggesting the Japanese might be up to something, but it was not known where or when. However, Frank Knox, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, made a statement on Dec. 4, 1941, to assure everyone that the situation was well in hand. “Whatever happens,” he said, “the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping.” The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred three days later. fm.cnbc.com
Automobile "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, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903. Rackham ignored the advice and invested $5000 in Ford stock, selling it later for $12.5 million. In 2012, more than 84 million motor vehicles, including cars and commercial vehicles were produced worldwide. About 250 million vehicles are in use in the United States. Around the world, there were about 806 million cars and light trucks on the road in 2007. www.bloglet.com
Apple's iPhone "Now we’ll get a chance to go through this again in phones and music players. There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get." - Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO (April 2007). i.livescience.com
Rocket “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” - New York Times, 1936. 10 years later, in 1946, the first American-built rocket to leave the earth's atmosphere was launched from White Sands, attaining 50 miles of altitude. i1.creativecow.net
Margaret Thatcher "It will be years - not in my time - before a woman will become Prime Minister." - Margaret Thatcher, October 26th, 1969. She became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom only 10 years after saying that, holding her chair from 1979 to 1990. But she wasn’t all that wrong since she is the only woman to have held this post. Maybe she should have added the word “again”. a.abcnews.com
Computer “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” - Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943. It may sound ridiculous now, but the prediction was actually true for about ten years after it was made. Almost every forecaster would settle for a ten year limit on the testing of their forecasts. Of course, by the 1980s and the advent of the PC, such a statement looked plain daft. Analysts predict that 2013 personal computer sales will exceed 300 million worldwide. images.businessweek.com
Rail travel “Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” - Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859). It may sound impossible to Dr Larder, professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at the University College London back in the 1800, but in 1939 the first high speed train went from Milan to Florence at 165 kilometers per hour. Thankfully no one died. Nowadays these trains go at 200 kilometers per hour and faster. wownesia.com
Rock ‘N’ Roll “Rock ‘N’ Roll will be gone by June.” - Variety Magazine, Early 1955. Well, it's still here! www.themarshalltown.com

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