By Ed Pierce
Back in 1975, I purchased a book that still holds a prominent place on the bookshelf in my office to this very day. It is titled “The People’s Almanac” by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace and is a fascinating collection of trivia, obscure facts and information and untold true stories from history.
In 29 chapters and 1,475 pages, the authors compiled one of the best sources of esoteric knowledge in my lifetime and it spawned two sequels, “The People’s Almanac 2,” “The People’s Almanac 3,” and best-selling chapters from “The People’s Almanac” were turned into books of their own called “The Book of Lists,” “The Books of Lists 2” and “The Book of Lists 3.”
That’s a lot of reading which I highly recommend but focusing on one particular chapter in “The People’s Almanac” has always fascinated me the most. In it, the authors gathered input for the future from popular psychics of the day, psychics of the past and modern scientists, who made bold predictions in 1975 about the world of tomorrow.
Here’s a sampling of predictions they offered in the book and how well these projections have held up over the years:
** From Professor John McHale of the World Resources Inventory at Southern Illinois University – By the year 2010 home computers and flat-screen digital televisions will be developed and sold commercially. McHale was right.
** From Swedish psychic Olof Jonsson – By the year 2000 there will no longer be gasoline-powered automobiles. Jonsson was wrong.
** From Baptist minister David Bubar of Tennessee – By the year 2020 American and Russian scientists will invent a device through which people can become invisible. Bubar was wrong.
** From Desmond King-Hele of London’s Institute of Mathematics – By the year 2000 humans will have colonized Mars. King-Hele was wrong.
** From American psychic and author Jeanne Dixon – By the year 1982 the United States will establish and begin using a new monetary system. Dixon was wrong.
** From John Reeves of Columbia University – By the year 1980, the peninsula of Baja California will break free of land, making it an island. Reeves was wrong.
** From D.G. Brennan of the Hudson Institute – By the year 2018, aircraft capable of orbital speeds will be possible. Brennan was right.
** From American author Arthur C. Clarke – By the year 2020 “video-phones will make possible business lunches with the two halves of the table 10,000 miles apart.” Clarke also predicted home-shopping by computers by 2020. In both instances, he was right.
** From Stanford University biology professor and author Paul Ehrlich – By the year 2000, a shift of the jet stream caused by air pollution and a persistent drought will turn the midwestern United States into a desert. Ehrlich was wrong.
** From Lloyd Stover of the University of Miami’s Institute of Marine Science – By the year 2020, the ocean will be known as a vast potential resource to feed the world’s populations. Stover was right.
** From Rutgers University political science professor Emmet John Hughes – By the year 2024, “economic necessity will override patriotism and cause the nations of Western Europe to band together, if not under a single government, then certainly in a close politico-economic alliance.” Hughes correctly predicted the European Union.
** From Charles DeCarlo of IBM -- By the year 2020, hand-held personal computers of great speed will allow people to conduct banking, listen to music, and work from home. DeCarlo was right.
** From Daniel Bell, sociology professor at Harvard University – “The society of the year 2000 will be more fragile, with greater hostility and polarization.” Bell was right.
** From Alan Vaughn of Akron University – “In 1981, the United States will go to war with China.” Vaughn was wrong.
** From Orville Freeman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture – By the year 2020, “space satellites 200 miles or more above the surface of the earth will analyze weather, differences in soil, crops and forests, and spot crop damage.” Freeman was right.
** From Dr. Olaf Helmer of Connecticut’s Institute for the Future – By the year 2000 a permanent colony will exist on the moon. Helmer was wrong.
** From Theodore Gordon of the Futures Group – By the year 1990, advances in science will extend the average human lifespan to more than 100 years. Gordon was wrong.
As for me, I’m with Nobel physics laureate Nils Bohr when thinking about venturing a guess about what lies ahead for us, especially living through this year.
“It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” Bohr once said.
So true. <