20 Embarrassing Predictions About The Future Made By Famous People

There are times when we are so sure about something that we would wager most anything of value that it will come to pass.

And then later, when instead of being right — we do a face plant — and we are very grateful that no one took our ridiculous wager. Fortunately, for many of us, such humbling incidents are only known within our social circles.

Now imagine how an embarrassing prediction would feel if we were well known and famous. This is especially true when a renowned person speaks of phenomena within their realm of expertise.

Talk about embarrassing!

Let us check out 20 embarrassing predictions made by famous people. These are funny, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that these predictions were made by brilliant people and we have the benefit of hindsight — whereas they didn’t.


“There is practically no chance that communications space satellites will be used.”

~ T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961

“This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.”

~ Western Union internal Memo, 1878

“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not.”

~ Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office 1878


“This virus is a pussycat.”

~ Dr. Peter Duesberg, Molecular-Biology Professor at UC Berkeley, on HIV, 1988

“Your cigarettes will never become popular.”

~ E. G. Alton, 1870, cigar maker

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”

~ Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

“X-Rays will prove to be a hoax.”

~ Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1885


“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”

~ Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre

“My imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.”

~ HG Wells, British novelist, in 1901

“The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd.”

~ Comment of Aide-de-Camp to Field Marshal Haig during tank demonstration, 1916


“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

~ Ken Olson, Chairman & Founder of Digital Equipment Corp.(1977)

“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”

~ New York Times, 1936

“The so-called theories of Einstein are merely the raving of a mind polluted with liberal, democratic nonsense.”

~ Dr. Walter Gross, 1940

“Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.”

~ Thomas Edison, American Inventor, 1889


“Radio has no future.”

~ Lord Kelvin, British Mathematician and Physicist

“Home taping is killing music.”

~ A 1980s campaign by BPI

“Television won’t last. It’s a flash in the pan.”

~ Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948

“When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it.”

~ Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson


“Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.”

~ Dr. Dionysius Lardner (1793–1859), University College London

“The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.”

~ President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, 1903

Retired Scientist and Jogger. Experienced online publisher since 2006.

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