But before we get started let's set some expectations. The following table is a list of important events that actually occurred in the twentieth century. The dates are estimated moments when the event became apparent. The "Predicted By" columns score successes for the sources we have reviewed, with blanks for those we intend to review.
|“Looking Forward” is a collection of period pieces composed in the years 1895 to 1905, some of which were predictions. Much of the book consists of essays chronicling, and pictures depicting, life during that time. Since that era is as remote from us as a far-off band of travelers crossing a midnight ridge, it is entertaining to see artifacts they dropped behind as they went. For this purpose, the best course is to get a copy of Looking Forward, and perhaps follow up some of its potpourri by perusing the Harper’s, Life, and Saturday Evening Post, issues of the day. You can find ample access in Google Books. People of that era were as awestricken as we are at the amazing pace of change. “The nineteenth century witnesses greater progress in sciences and in the practical arts of life than all the other epochs of history put together.” Nevertheless, they expected more and better in the twentieth century. Click on the picture at left for an accounting of the book's predictions.|
The Ladies Home Journal of December, 1900 published an article by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., titled “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years.” Now, there is a fearless prognosticator. You may read the article for yourself, here, or click the picture for our score keeping.
Dr. Watkins passed away suddenly at age 51, in 1903, so he didn’t get to grade himself on his future sight. Let’s check in, one-hundred twelve years after his death and one-hundred fifteen years after his soothsaying, to see how he did.
relying heavily on science fiction sources. THIS DAY IN SCIENCE FICTION
|There is another book called "Looking Forward." This one was written in 1969 by Kenneth S. Keyes, Jr. and Jacque Fresco. It describes the world of 2069, now only fifty-four years away, making it a good subject for our follow up.|
Or, how about this one from Time Magazine, June 24, 1975?
they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past
several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect
that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are
actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather
varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an
average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere
has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend
shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming
increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are
studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.
Telltale signs are everywhere—from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data."
What were the worst predictions of all time:? Here are some votes from The Atlantic Magazine.
Cartoonists have made their attempts at predictions. At least when they fail they look less pretentious than those calling themselves "futurists."
|From 1959-1963||From 1898||From 1901|
Here is a brave prediction from Singularity University, which gives us some very specific predictions of the short term.
We will be collecting research on the history of futurism at this location. We have several books on the subject to exploit including such titles as, "The Fabulous Future." Check back for updates.
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