Saipan — Humans, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, can foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year — and then, afterward, explain why it didn't happen.
In the Northern Marianas, months and weeks before Election Day, political “pundits” online were predicting the landslide election victory of the opposition candidate for governor. But in politics, as in sports, forecasting is usually wishcasting. And so, when the ballots were finally counted, and the results showed that the opposition candidate was in fact soundly defeated, the same trolls, err, experts proclaimed that they were “right” all along, but “voter fraud” had thwarted the “will of the people.” Right.
Here are other famous, and not so famous, predictions by experts through the years (Source: “The Experts Speak” by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky):
“Democracy will be dead by 1950.” — John Langdon-Davies, British journalist and Fellow of the royal Anthropological Institute, 1936.
“I have been over into the future, and it works.” — Lincoln Steffens, American journalist, after visiting Soviet Russia in 1919.
“FDR will be a one-term president.” — Mark Sullivan, New York Herald Tribune columnist, 1935.
“Dewey is sure to be elected.” — Drew Pearson, syndicated columnist, 1948. Dewey lost to Truman.
“Jack Kennedy won’t get anywhere.” — Drew Pearson, syndicated columnist, 1959.
“Ronald Reagan is politically dead.” — Tom Petit, political correspondent, NBC television, 1980.
“All indications are that Bush [Sr.] is unbeatable.” — Godfrey Sperling Jr., columnist, The Christian Science Monitor, 1991. Bush Sr. lost to Bill Clinton in 1992.
“Today’s the end of the Clinton campaign.” — Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber, 1992.
“[Against President Clinton], Mr. Dole will win.” — R. Emmett Tyrell Jr., editor, The American Spectator, 1996.
“He cannot survive because he’s not telling the truth… Everyone knows he’s lying. It cannot go on long…” — William Kristol on Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky affair, 1998.
“It’s too early for a Polish pope.” — Karol Wojtyla, Polish cardinal, two days before being elected Pope John Paul II, 1978.
“No more hatreds, no more self-interests devouring one another, no more wars, a new life made up of harmony and light prevails.” — Victor Hugo, French literary giant, assessing the impact of lighter-than-air balloon flight, 1842.
“Radio will serve to make the concept of Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men a reality.” — U.S. Gen. James Harbord, 1925.
“[The South] has too much common sense and good temper to break up [the Union].” — Abraham Lincoln, 1860.
“There will be no war in western Europe for the next five years.” — John Langdon-Davies, British journalist noted for his expertise on the Spanish Civil War, 1936. World War II erupted three years later.
“The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.” — Charlie Chaplin, 1916.
“We do not want now and we shall never want the human voice with our films.” — D.W. Griffith, film director, 1924.
To Burt Reynolds: “You have no talent.” — Universal Pictures executive, 1959.
To Clint Eastwood: “You have a chip on your tooth, your Adam’s apple sticks out too far and you talk to slow.” — the same Universal Pictures executive, 1959.
“Reagan doesn’t have the presidential look.” — another Universal Pictures executive, 1964.
Regarding Edison’s electric lightbulb: “A conspicuous failure.” — Henry Morton, professor of physics, 1879.
“The phonograph…is not of any commercial value.” — Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph, 1880.
“I watched [Samuel Morse’s] countenance closely to see if he was not deranged…and I was assured by the other senators after we left the room that they had no confidence in it.” — U.S. Sen. Oliver H. Smith, after a demonstration by Samuel Morse of his telegraph to members of Congress, 1842.
“Only a toy.” — Boston attorney Gardiner Greene Hubbard, assessing the telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell, 1876.
“The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.” — Michigan Savings Bank president, advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.
“Man will not fly for 50 years.” — Wilbur Wright to his brother Orville, 1901.
“The radio craze…will die out in time.” — Thomas Edison, 1922.
“Television won’t matter in your lifetime or mine.” — Rex Lambert, editorial in The Listener, 1936.
“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corp., Convention of the World Future Society in Boston, 1977.
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Zaldy Dandan is the editor of Marianas Variety, the CNMI’s oldest newspaper.