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Prophetic Goofs

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The book The World's Worst Predictions lists some of history's all-time prophetic goofs. King George II said in 1773 that the American colonies had little stomach for revolution. An official of the White Star Line, speaking of the firm's newly built flagship, the Titanic, launched in 1912, declared that the ship was unsinkable. In 1939 The New York Times said the problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn't have time for it. An English astronomy professor said in the early 19th century that air travel at high speed would be impossible because passengers would suffocate. Marshal Ferdinand Foch in 1911: "Airplanes are interesting toys, but they have no military value." Business Week, 1958: "With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market." Frank Knox, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, on December 4, 1941: "Whatever happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping." Economist Irving Fisher on October 16, 1929: "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."