“The Book of Predictions” Predicts…
In late 1981, the now-defunct science magazine Omni published excerpts from The Book of Predictions, a 500-page slab of well-intentioned crackpot ramblings compiled by Irving Wallace and his children David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace. The elder Wallace, a novelist, enlisted his offspring — an author and a psychic, respectively — in co-authoring a number of nonfiction bestsellers, including The People’s Almanac and The Book of Lists. They weren’t great reference volumes; The Book of Lists included such factoids as “People misquoted by Ronald Reagan” and “Famous people who died during sexual intercourse.” But the books were respected, and just enough to give The Book of Predictions a literary weight that it might not have otherwise enjoyed.
For years I struggled to remember when and where the article appeared in Omni, until it finally occurred to me to stop scouring eBay for old issues and simply buy the book outright. In 2007, ten years after Omni editor Ben Bova predicted that the U.S. and U.S.S.R. would engage in “an unpublicized robot war in space,” I purchased The Book of Predictions — in hardback! — for $2. I was kind of surprised that I’d missed the Great Robot War of 1997, but then again, it was unpublicized.
As yet, I can’t say exactly what percentage of our “future” that the book’s contributors — a truly diverse crew that included Helen Gurley Brown, Gene Roddenberry and Jack LaLanne — got simply wrong; the book’s timeline extends hundreds of years into the future, and truth be told, I can’t read The Book of Predictions for any length of time without my eyes glazing over.
Some of it comes close. Ewald Heer, then-Director of Research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, predicted that “the use of rockets for private and commercial transportation” would be possible by 2010; thanks to Elon Musk’s company Space X, Heer may be proved right. Then again, the book also predicted that Fidel Castro would have his own late-night talk show by now.
Instead, I’ll tell you some of what The Book of Predictions has slated for this coming year. The year 2010 makes frequent appearances in the book; the contributors seemed to like the cut of its jib. You may want to sit down and grab on to something as a few of the greatest scientific and cultural experts of the 20th Century reach an occult hand out of the Me Decade to blow your everlovin’ mind.
Isaac Asimov predicted that the world population “will have peaked at something like 7 billion.” According to Wikipedia, we’re just about 200 million shy of that goal. Economist Felix Kaufmann agrees with Asimov, and also predicts that every form of cancer will be cured — in 2002.
Rocket scientist Robert Truax predicted that in 2010, “the cause of aging will be found” and corrected. That means I’ll live to see the creation of his “United States of the World” in 2030, and the subsequent “elimination of war.”
Speaking of which: Professor Mari’on Mushkat predicted that “a federation of all Middle East countries will come into being with Jerusalem as its capital.” Um.
Dr. Willard Libby, a Nobel Prize winner in 1960, predicted that a “manned laboratory on the moon” would open up its mighty airlock doors on New Year’s Day to receive its first Mooninites.
Good news! According to inventor Gabriel Bouladon, you can buy the first “commercial hydrogen car” next year. Will probably be a station wagon.
CIA Analyst David S. Sullivan: “Americans will become refugees in the world. There will be racial, economic, and civil war in the U.S., and nomadic tribes will reappear.” Dibs on Bartertown!
Dr. Paul Ehrlich predicted the “breakdown of the world trade system” and a thermonuclear war, after which the “survivors (will) envy the dead.” Thankfully, he gives us from 2010 all the way through 2030 to get all this stuff done. Let’s make a punch list, shall we?
Psychotherapist Albert Ellis predicted that by 2010 “the attitudes of most religious groups toward sex will be much more liberal.” So, y’know, we have that to look forward to.
“The black pope of Rome transfers the Vatican to Jerusalem.” That’s not a prediction; that’s a feature-film pitch. Papal hijinks ensue.
Late jogging enthusiast Jim Fixx said that consumption of cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana would be “uncommon” by 2010, but that the use of “psychogenic chemicals, including artificial endorphins for mood enhancement” would be rampant.
Dr. Pierre Galletti pegged 2010 as the year that the “open market for used and reconditioned body spare parts” would open for business.
Writer Malcolm Petu predicted the advent of a robot “than can cross a busy highway without being hit.” But why? Why will the robot cross the road? Answer that question satisfactorily and I’m sure this publication’s parent organ could be persuaded to part with a pair of Handerpants.
The Soviet Union will attempt “to change its history by using … particles that can carry information backward in time.” The first such particle will presumably read something to the effect of, “Whatever you do, don’t go broke and dissolve less than ten years after this book is published.”