50 poor forecasters… Part I #history

Part 1 – the first 25:

50 reasons, spanning 500 years, that clearly illustrate that we humans are poor forecasters. The lesson? Never go into print with a forecast!

OldSteamEngine 1486 – …so many centuries after the Creation it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value. Committee advising King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain regarding a proposal by Christopher Columbus. 1530 – The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing; everyone must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name, others for the sake of mere gain. Martin Luther1800 – What, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense. Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton’s steamboat.1825 – What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches? The Quarterly Review

1830 – Rail travel at high speeds is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia. Dionysius Lardner, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at University College, London, and author of The Steam Engine Explained and Illustrated

Grand Canyon 1842 – I watched his countenance closely, to see if he was not deranged … and I was assured by other senators after he left the room that they had no confidence in it. US Senator Smith of Indiana, after witnessing a demonstration of Samuel Morse’s telegraph1859 – 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 to his project to drill for oil1861 – Ours has been the first, and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality. Lt Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon1864 – No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he can ride his horse there in one day for free. King William I of Prussia, on hearing of the invention of trains

1865 – Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as “railroads” … As you may well know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by engines which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed. Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York

 OldPhone 1865 – 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. Boston Post1869 – I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone. Charles Darwin on The Origin Of Species1872 – Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction. Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse1873 – The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon. Sir John Eric Ericksen, Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria

1876 – This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. Western Union Co. internal memo

 OldAircraft 1878 – The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys. Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office1880 – Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure. Henry Morton, President of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison’s light bulb1895 – Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society1897 – Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax. Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society

1899 – Everything that can be invented has been invented. Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents (often cited as an urban legend!)

OldRadio 1899 – The ordinary ‘horseless carriage’ is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle. Literary Digest1904 – Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value. Maréchal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Supérieure de Guerre1920s – The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular? RCA executive’s comment to David Sarnoff when he urged investment in radio1922 – The radio craze will die out in time. Thomas Edison

1926 – While theoretically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming. Lee de Forest, inventor

see more…                                        part 2 is here

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