Eleven fearless forecasts that went awry

January 04, 1993|By Timothy Dickinson, a Washington researcher.

EVERYONE is full of predictions for the new year. Bu throughout U.S. history many folks have proudly offered forecasts that turn out to be not even a little bit correct.

Here are a few of America's most outrageously blundering forecasts:

"What will the soldiers and sailors, what will the common people say to 'George Washington, president of the United States'? They will despise him to all eternity."

-- John Adams, 1789.

"The Works of John Adams," edited by Charles Francis Adams, 1856.

"[Man will never reach the moon] regardless of all future scientific advances."

-- Dr. Lee DeForest, inventor of the Audion tube, which was used to transmit, receive and amplify radio waves.

The New York Times, Feb. 25, 1957.

"It is significant that despite the claims of air enthusiasts no battleship has yet been sunk by bombs."

-- Caption for a photograph of the USS Arizona in the program for the Army-Navy game, Nov. 29, 1941. The Arizona sank at Pearl Harbor eight days later.

"Day of Infamy," by Walter Lord, 1957.

"Among the really difficult problems of the world, [the Arab-Israeli conflict is] one of the simplest and most manageable."

-- Walter Lippmann, newspaper column, April 27, 1948.

"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 the atom is talking moonshine."

-- Lord Rutherford, Nobel Laureate, after the first experimental splitting of the atom, 1933.

"Reagan doesn't have the presidential look."

-- A United Artists executive, dismissing the suggestion that Ronald Reagan be offered the starring role in the movie "The Best Man," 1964.

"Come see the light at the end of the tunnel."

-- Official invitation to the New Year's Eve party at the U.S. Embassy, Saigon, December 1967.

"The Best and the Brightest," by David Halberstam.

"You ain't goin' nowhere . . . son. You ought to go back to driving a truck."

-- Jim Denny, Grand Ole Opry manager, firing Elvis Presley after one performance.

An interview on Oct. 2, 1954.

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."

-- Ken Olsen, president of Digital Equipment Corp., at the World Future Society meeting in Boston, 1977.

Quoted by David H. Ahl in a 1982 interview.

"The Wankel will . . . dwarf such major post-war technological developments as xerography, the Polaroid camera and color television."

-- A statement by General Motors announcing its commitment to the rotary engine, 1969.

"All the foreign representatives at Munich, including [the papal] nuncio [Eugenio] Pacelli, were convinced that Hitler's political career had ended ignominiously in 1924. When I ventured to remind His Holiness of this bit of history, he laughed and said, 'I know what you mean -- papal infallibility. Don't forget I was only a monsignor then!"

-- Robert Murphy's autobiography, "Diplomat Among Warriors," 1964.

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