EIGHINGER: Thankfully, those family helicopters or cross-countr - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

EIGHINGER: Thankfully, those family helicopters or cross-country missiles never worked out

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For the most part, human beings are not good at predicting things.

Sure, that Nostradamus guy did OK, and obviously the fellas who run some of those Las Vegas sports books must know what is going to happen, but for the most part, we're lousy at forecasting the future.

Did you know that in 1932 Albert Einstein said, "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable."

Guess he was no Einstein after all, but Albert is hardly alone when it comes to incredibly poor predictions of the future.

Here are a few remarkably comical predictions from respected sources that never came close to being true.

º The Research Institute of America in 1959 told us that by 1975 the "family helicopter" would be a part of everyday life.

"Along with regular commuter helicopters, the family helicopter will be as attainable as a fancy convertible is today," the institute reported.

Just think how utterly stupid that was. Can you imagine dozens of helicopters trying to navigate the air space up and down Broadway? How would they get through the McDonald's drive-thru? Can you imagine how big the parking lots would have to be at places like Wal-Mart?

º The Ladies Home Journal forecast in 1900 that Nicaragua, Mexico and "many of the South and Central American republics" would eventually become part of the United States.

I had enough trouble remembering all the U.S. state capitals in elementary school geography classes. I would not have had a chance of passing those courses if those additional territories were thrown into the mix. Heck, without looking, I still wouldn't have a clue what the capital of half of the countries south of the United States might be.

º Author Paul Ehrlich wrote "The Population Bomb" in 1968, in which he predicted "I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000" and "the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people."

Ehrlich felt overpopulation would be the death of us all. While his intentions were sincere, his thought process was a bit skewed.

Ehrlich, however, does deserve credit for remaining true to his convictions. More than 40 years after the famous 1968 quote, he told the Stanford Report in 2009, "Americans should go childless or limit themselves to a single offspring, as an act of patriotism."

Guess he never met the Octomom.

º In 1967, the much-respected U.S. News and World Report magazine said, "By the end of the century, freight … will be shot across the continent by missiles in a matter of minutes" in an article headlined "The Wondrous World of 1990."

That didn't quite work out either, and it's probably a good thing.

All of those missiles crisscrossing the country would have probably taken out way too many of those family helicopters.

-- seighinger@whig.com/221-3377

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