Sometimes predictions are wrong

It's mildly amusing to me how people -- the media, your next-door neighbor, the waving chicken mascot on the corner of your street -- will make it a point to remind you how right they were about something they predicted. Maybe they picked Florida to win the men's NCAA basketball championship, or maybe they picked Taylor to win "American Idol." But it's interesting to note how hardly anyone reminds you about a wrong prediction.

Strangely enough, there was a Congressional Research Report done on this very thing. According to Foresight Nanotech Institute, on May 29, 1969, the committee published the Erroneous Predictions and Negative Comments Concerning Scientific and Technology Developments. Here are some of the highlights.

Airplanes: "Outside of the proven impossible, there probably can be found no better example of the speculative tendency carrying man to the verge of the chimerical than in his attempts to imitate the birds, or no field where so much inventive seed has been sown with so little return as in the attempts of man to fly successfully through the air."

Railroads: "....that any general systems of conveying passengers would answer, to go at a velocity exceeding 10 miles an hour, or thereabouts, is extremely improbable."

Electricity: "There is no plea which will justify the use of high-tension and alternating currents, either in a scientific or a commercial sense. They are employed solely to reduce investment in copper wire and real estate."

So, next time your friend tells you he will be the next "American Idol," laugh really hard, but don't write down your prediction. That way, if your friend does win, you can say you knew he would all along (and don't forget to collect royalties).