Journalists, industry bigwigs, politicians, and academics alike love to toss out big, bold (and possibly fallacious!) predictions about future trends: the demise of Facebook, computer chips in our brains, the end of the West and the rise of China, instant translation allowing people to be fluent in every language … you get the idea.
Whether predictions are aspirational, cynical or downright absurd, it’s only appropriate to periodically remember the epic prediction-fails of yesteryear to provide some perspective.
Happily, we’ve found just the thing to keep our lofty premonitions in check; check out this copy of Ladies’ Home Journal hailing from 1911. Some highlights of their imagined 2011:
No C, X, or Q in our alphabet: “They will be abandoned because unnecessary [sic]. . . English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.”
No Mosquitoes nor Flies. “Boards of health will have destroyed all mosquito haunts and breeding-grounds . . . The extermination of the horse and its stable will reduce the house-fly.”
Coal will Not be Used for Heating or Cooking: “It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted.”
Superior Fitness: “Gymnastics will begin in the nursery . . . All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.”
No Wild Animals: “except in menageries.”
Apple-sized strawberries: “Raspberries and blackberries will be as large. . . Peas and beans will be as large as beets are today.”
In fairness, the author did predict wireless telephones spanning the world. Sadly, we’re still waiting on the banning of “Q.”