specifically, don’t say that

Posted: July 13, 2012 in Humorous Bits
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hey, do you want to get into the legacy building business of predicting the future? Do you want to be remembered as the person who saw the future before it became the present and told us about it? If that sounds like the path for you here is the good news: executing it is actually very easy. You do not need to be blessed with amazing psychic powers or a third eye. You simply need to follow one rule, the foundation upon which the career of any soothsayer worth their salt is built.

Avoid specifics.

That’s it. Nothing else you need to know. Oh sure it is helpful if you can write or speak creatively, if you can toss around fuzzy phrases with an appropriate dash of exotic mystery, but it is not necessary. As long as you say nothing concrete you are golden. The vaguer you are the more likely someone somewhere will look at your forecast, attach it to a moment you never imagined, and claim you were a visionary genius. Why do you think Nostradamus has lingered in the public’s imagination for all these years? Anyone can associate a historical event to something like this and then assert it was an amazing prophesy.

The great man will be struck down in the day by a thunderbolt,
An evil deed foretold by the bearer of a petition.
According to the prediction, another falls at night time.

The Nostraheads insist this speaks to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. Well, who is to say they’re wrong? It could refer to those events. It could also refer to Clint Eastwood’s character in 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, but never mind that. The ambiguous wording was genius. With all the acclaim laid at Nostradamus’ centuries dead feet you would think subsequent Futurists would pay more attention. Sadly that is not the case.

In 1950 Waldemar Kaempffert authored an article titled “Miracles You’ll See in the Next Fifty Years.” It was published in Popular Mechanics, the popular magazine for those who enjoy mechanics. Kaempffert was the Science Editor of the New York Times which gave his predictions the illusion of merit. Unfortunately, it was mostly illusion. Why? Because he got all specific. His predictions included houses that cost only $5,000 and not built to last because “wood, brick and stone…are too expensive” (nope), no dishwashing machines because all dishes are used once and dissolved in hot water for easy disposal (nyet), “cooking as an art is only a memory in the minds of old people” because most of us will only eat freeze-dried food (no sir), and my personal favorite, oil will be purposely spilled into the ocean then set on fire to create an updraft which will in turn dissipate hurricanes before they have a chance to become destructive.

In 1900 John Elfreth Watkins Jr. gathered and distilled the thoughts of prominent scientists to predict what life would be like in 100 years. They foresaw public transportation costing only a penny! Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches practically exterminated! Strawberries as large as apples! C, X and Q eliminated from the alphabet!!! Poor John Elfreth and gang, diving face first into details when they would have been better served being all shadowy and nebulous.

It is not just Kaempffert and Watkins. Practically everyone in the future predicting business gets into the nitty-gritty. From the proliferation of personal jet-packs to flying cars in every hover-garage to metropolises built on the ocean floor history is littered with these specific predictions. The end of the world people are especially prone to this fallacy. Did they not learn anything from Nostradamus who said:

The sloping park, great calamity,
Through the Lands of the West and Lombardy
The fire in the ship, plague and captivity;
Mercury in Sagittarius, Saturn fading.

What was he referring to?


  1. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Since I have legitimate psychic powers, I will read your future:
    hhmmm…Traskie will be blessed with good fortune this weekend. A mysterious stranger will bestow a favor to him. You will find the thing that you have been missing in an obvious place and this comment will warm your heart but not your beer.
    (first reading is free)


  2. gene3067 says:

    Obviously Nostradamus was talking aboout the new zodiac based theme park that goes horribly wrong on opening day.


  3. surroundedbyimbeciles says:

    Also, if you are going to predict the end of the world make it far into the future. Then, you won’t be around when it doesn’t happen.


Whatcha got to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s