By Gerry Moran
January is not just the month for resolutions, new beginnings and sales; it is also the month for predictions — predictions for the year ahead and beyond. Old Moore’s Almanac has been making predictions for the past 259 years (and who could have predicted such longevity for such a small magazine) some right, some wrong, I guess, which is the nature of the uncertain science of predicting.
Here are some of Old Moore’s predictions for the year ahead: a high profile murder in Ireland will go global; a train incident makes the news while a shopping mall will be in the news for tragic reasons; Hilary Clinton will be back in the spotlight; Nancy Pelosi is accused of being an alcoholic; Donald Trump has a severe health warning while Joe Biden will be known as the worst president in history (oh dear!) and his decline will occur in 2023; Johnny Depp will come back bigger than ever as will his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Other predictions are: George Clooney’s marriage will be in peril; Graham Norton, Liam Neeson and Jude Law will have health warnings plus we will see a change of Pope in 2023! On the sporting front, Old Moore gives the nod to Kerry for the All Ireland football and Limerick for the hurling. Make what you will of those predictions but I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for the Pope, ‘Sleepy’ Joe Biden and that high-profile murder.
Staying with predictions, science is constantly exploring and inventing (not least in the realm of technology) but it can be a great source for some embarrassing predictions which later turn out to be very short sighted. Here are 15 extremely embarrassing predictions and quotes from scientists, surgeons, mathematicians and journalists around the world who would, given the chance, rather they hadn’t opened their mouths.
1. “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.” Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer, 1926.
2. “Radio has no future.” Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) British mathematician and physicist
3. “Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.” Editorial in the Boston Post, 1865.
4. “The abdomen, the chest and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.” Sir John Eric Ericson, surgeon to Queen Victoria, 1875.
5. “That virus is a pussycat.” Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, on HIV, 1988.
6. “Your cigarettes will never become popular.” F. G. Alton, 1870, cigar maker, turning down Mr. John Player.
7. “I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone.” Charles Darwin (writing in Origin of Species) 1859.
8. “X-rays are a hoax” Lord Kelvin (again!), circa 1900.
9. “The so-called theories of Einstein are merely the ravings of a mind polluted with liberal, democratic nonsense which is utterly unacceptable to German men of science.” Dr. Walter Gross, 1940.
10. “With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market.” Business Week, August 2, 1968.
11. “Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist for his project to drill for oil in 1859.
12. “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.
13. “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) Supreme Allied Commander, World War 1.
14 “Within the next few decades, autos will have folding wings that can be spread when on a straight stretch of road so that the machine can take to the air.” Eddie Rickenbacker, ‘Popular Science,’ July 1924
15. “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
And finally a prediction of my own – there’s a lot more embarrassing predictions to come.