Weird Predictions About the Present from the Past

How would you imagine the 23rd century? Many people would say that the future of humanity would feature flying cars, lab-grown food, and human colonies on other planets. Well, it turns out that the previous generations had hoped something very similar about the 21st century. Along with that, they’ve also made a number of very bizarre and strangely specific predictions about our present, many of which were completely off. In fact, even some of the greatest minds of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries have made predictions that were completely wrong. In this article, we’ve collected 10 of such odd predictions, care to find out what they are?

1. A different attitude towards coffee

strange prediction about the present from the past coffee
Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest minds of the 19th century, a genius inventor and visionary electrical engineer. But even he got some things wrong, especially when it comes to predicting the future, it seems, mostly because he was overly optimistic. For one, Tesla predicted that by the 2000s, we'd lose such bad habits as smoking and drinking coffee due to their harmful effects on health, as he wrote in a 1935 publication in Liberty magazine.
Tesla also suggested that news outlets will stop publishing political and crime-related coverage, instead focusing on more useful content, such as scientific news. For better or worse, none of these predictions came true, and people still love their coffee and political disputes today.

2. The English alphabet would be different

strange prediction about the present from the past English alphabet
It seems that English spelling has been making people frustrated for literally centuries, so much so that newspapers in the 1900s predicted that by the 21st century, such letters as C, Q, and X would become obsolete. Instead, the English of the future would become more sound-oriented in terms of spelling, and those three letters would be substituted to S and K.
As a matter of fact, efforts to simplify the English spelling have been made at least since the founding of the United States, with Noah Webster and Benjamin Franklin both attempting to conduct a spelling reform centuries ago. Alas, most of these changes didn't withstand the test of time, and English spelling is still making students and adults worldwide suffer every day. 

3. The Sahara desert would turn into a beach vacation destination

strange prediction about the present from the past Sahara

The BBC published a list of the predictions of former British cabinet minister F.E. Smith Given from the 1930s. One of the strangest predictions mentioned was that suggesting that a canal would be built from the Mediterranean to the Sahara desert, and "a new inland sea must surely be created. Its shores, now barren, would rival Florida for fertile charm".

This new Sahara sea resort was supposed to become the go-to travel destination for Europe and the world, and Smith was convinced that this project would be finished by 2030.

4. The human anatomy would change, too!

strange prediction about the present from the past toes
According to Dr. Richard Clement Lucas, a surgeon from the 1900s, humans clearly didn’t need all 10 of their toes. In a 1911 lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Lucas stated that “Human beings in the future will become one-toed.” The surgeon predicted that people would gradually lose their outer toes, leaving us with a larger version of the big toe alone. He wasn't clear about the time it would take for this change to happen, but we can say with certainty that by the 21st century, all ten are still holding strong.

5. The Moon would accommodate... seniors?

strange prediction about the present from the past Moon
American science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein once suggested that the best place for seniors to live is on the moon. Heinlein thought that the people of the 21st century would want to build nursing homes on the Earth's natural satellite to slow down the aging process. Heinlein knew that the moon has only 17% of gravity compared to our home planet, and so, he believed that living on the moon would be easier on seniors' aching joints and fragile hearts. To this day, we cannot say if the author's theory is true, unfortunately, since most of us still haven't been to the moon.

6. Fashion wouldn't be a thing anymore

strange prediction about the present from the past wardrobe
Several predictions have been made regarding the clothing choices of the 21st century. Most of these predictions have suggested that people would let go of their vanity and stop treating clothing as a symbol of status and high income, and have fewer sets of clothing, or none whatsoever.
Smith, for example, suggested that we'd only have three outfits - one casual set of clothing for home, one for work, and another one for formal occasions. Instead, the trends of the 21st century have been quite the opposite, and ironically, people today have more clothes than anyone did ever before in history.

7. We'd have machines that can produce rain

strange prediction about the present from the past weather
As anyone whose picnic has been ruined by a sudden rainstorm will know, the thought of controlling the weather is certainly compelling. Well, this is exactly what people in the 1900s had hoped for, suggesting that the future generations in the 21st century would invent machines that will blow away storms and hurricanes, or create rain in dry regions of the planet.
In 1900, The Boston Globe also mentioned that future tech advancements will be able to generate a pleasant breeze when the weather is hot outside. But here we are, in the 21st century, with our best bet at "climate control" being the air conditioner.

8. People would live for 900 years

strange prediction about the present from the past longevity
Even the Founding Fathers of the United States can be wrong about some things, it turns out. In 1788, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to Reverend John Lathrop, in which he theorized that in just a few centuries, people would surely be able to live for hundreds of years. In the letter, he suggests that we'll be able to live as long as biblical characters from the Book of Genesis, such as Noah, whose life supposedly lasted for 950 years.

9. They also thought we'd stop eating meat

strange prediction about the present from the past meat
Some odd predictions weren't that far off. For example, in 1952, Robert A. Heinlein wrote that most people would switch to fish and yeast as their protein sources because meat would become too expensive. Another science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov, predicted that we would make lab-made meat and poultry substitutes in the 1960s. In fact, we do have animal protein substitutes available in stores today, but they're definitely not as wildly popular or scientifically-advanced as the authors suggested. 

10. Trained apes would drive cars and take care of our chores

strange prediction about the present from the past
Many scientists and writers have posited that robots would be doing all the housework by now, which is kind of true, as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and even cleaning robots and self-driving cars have been around for a while now. However, some people have also suggested that intelligent animals will be doing work for us instead.
Quoting from the Futurist newsletter from 1967, “By the year 2020, it may be possible to breed intelligent species of animals, such as apes, that will be capable of performing manual labor. During the 21st century, those houses that don’t have a robot in the broom closet could have a live-in ape to do the cleaning and gardening chores.” That, too, didn't happen, but we hope you found these facts and predictions interesting and entertaining!
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Cover image source: Reddit
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