Happy New Year all. So as one nerd from work pointed out to me, the world isn’t set to end until the END of 2012, but I still thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the crazy predictions and hypes that the media has kind of exaggerated during our lifetimes, and looked at what actually happened after these outlandish predictions were made.
– I realize some of our listeners hadn’t yet reached the age of reason in 1999, but Y2k was going to be the end of the world. It was all based on the fact that in the 70s when computing and software were in their infancy, disk space and memory was at such a premium, that many developers chose to represent dates with two digits instead of four. e.g. 1997 would be represented as simply 97. So people freaked out that shit would hit the fan when things clicked over from 99 to 00 in 2000. People thought planes would be crashing because their navigation systems thought it was 1900, banking as we know it would cease to exist, and there would be overall chaos.
Take a look at what the red cross recommended you should do to prepare. It’s a bit of overkill in hindsight but at the time was seen as pretty reasonable. What really happened? Not a whole lot. Some slot machines malfunctioned, and some websites displayed the wrong date. Not that big of deal.
2. Swine Flu (And other medical pandemics)
In 2009, the WHO elevated H1N1 to phase 6 which meant the flu had spread worldwide. This didn’t necessarily mean that the disease was severe or would kill you, it more related to the fact that it spread to many countries. But the media ran with it anyway and we were all going to die. What really happend? Well about 14000 people worldwide died from H1N1. Which sounds like a lot until you compare it to the mortality rate of the straight up regular flu season that happens every year, were approximately 340 Million to 1 Billion people are infected, and up to 500,000 die of complications relating to the flu!
3. Environmental Catastophe
So this is a pretty hot topic all the time right? I don’t even want to debate the validity of anthropomorphic climate change, but just want to think about some of the claims that were made long ago and see if the predictions actually came to fruition. So I looked at a couple claims and how the media appears to have exaggerated them a bit.
– Al Gore in 2006 told Katie Couric that oceans were going to rise 20 feet by 2010 and the US, Asia, and Africa would become vast deserts if nothing was done. What actually happened? Well obviously the coast is not underwater, so clearly this didn’t come true.
-I also looked at a prediction by the IPCC in 1990 that agricultural production would be significantly affected by global warming in countries that were particularly vulnerable like Brazil, China, and several African countries. In reality, many of these countries have increased agricultural production significantly, so this is a good example of how even expert scientists can be bad at predicting long term changes.
4. The Segway (coming soon)
5. Apocalypse predictions (coming soon)