Here's where we track predictions with a date, whether psychic, religious, other supernatural, or pseudoscientific.
I'm only tracking the trackable. As an example, The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism is an excellent resource compiling nearly two centuries of claims about the coming death of Darwin's theory of evolution. Most soothsayers only went as far as to say "Darwinism is dying" or "Darwinism will die", without saying when the deed would be done. But a few gazers into Creationism's crystal ball did oblige with a date. Theirs are the predictions I'll track here.
Not every prediction has a deadline; "We will never land on the moon!", for example, is open-ended. Such a prediction remains alive unless explicitly falsified, in which case the date of failure will be given (in this example, the July 20, 1969 date of the Apollo landing).
Not all of the predictions need to be completely looney, or even no-fun things like the end of the world. A guess at the discovery of ETs via SETI, within 25 years? I like the sound of that, even if the basis for the prognostication doesn't please all thinking critics. Plausible or not, it's interesting, it has a deadline, let's track it!
Here we go: A look at predictions that still might come true, and those that disappointed.
The expiration date still looms ahead for these visions of the future. Mark your calendars, ready your barbecues (or whatever one does in preparation for the Rapture), and stay tuned to this site as the silver countdown ball slowly descends.
Reverse-engineering the human brain
Reverse-engineering the human brain so we can simulate it using computers may be only a decade away, says Ray Kurzweil, artificial intelligence expert and author of the best-selling book The Singularity is Near.
Sound likely? Not if you understand anything how the brain works, says PZ Myers.
We'll graciously give Ray until the end of 2020.
"Scientific" collapse of Darwinism
Methodological naturalism used to be a regulative principle for science and for all serious academic thought. Not any longer. It is now (in 2025) an outdated dogma, and the Scopes trial stereotype, as depicted in the movie Inherit the Wind, is now effectively dead...
The collapse of the Soviet Union put an end to the Soviet myth, just as the scientific collapse of Darwinism, preceded as it was by the discrediting of Marxism and Freudianism, prepared the way for the culture to turn aside from the mythology of naturalism to rediscover the buried treasure that the mythology had been concealing.
Unfortunately, the full article is behind a paywall, so I don't know whether this rediscovered "buried treasure" gets identified or remains coyly hidden from the reader. (Hmm, does the treasure's name perhaps rhyme with "tease us"?)
ID replaces Darwinism
Intelligent design has now (in 2025) become a thriving scientific research program and replaced materialistic accounts of biological evolution (in particular, Darwinism). ID theory led to new understanding of embryo development and the importance of "junk DNA"...
Darwinian evolution is little more than a historical footnote in biology textbooks. Just as students learn that scientists used to believe that the Sun moves around the Earth and maggots are spontaneously generated in rotting meat, so students also learn that scientists used to believe that human beings evolved through random mutations and natural selection. How could a belief that was so influential in 2000 become so obsolete by 2025? Whatever happened to evolutionary theory?
It's a pretty vivid picture, and it has a clear due date... so let's sit back and watch!
Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in Mountain View, California, says "I actually think the chances that we'll find ET are pretty good", offering a 25-year window of likelihood based on the famous Drake Equation.
Time to stock up on Reese's Pieces? Well, not if the Drake Equation is essentially nonsense as a means of predicting the likelihood of detectable alien life out there.
In any case, Mr Shostak's statement, what with its "chances... are pretty good" non-claim, barely qualifies as a prediction; I won't be pointing my (arthritic) finger in 2035 should he unfortunately prove wrong. But it's a fun one, so let's take note and give it a generous end-of-2035 deadline.
Atheism to Defeat Religion By 2038
A happy prognostication by biopsychologist and blogger Nigel Barber. Starting with the observation that prosperity and atheism tend to be linked, he bases his prediction on measures of (effective) national atheism, the economic status of top atheistic countries, and the estimated date at which other nations whill catch up in economic status (and thus, he presumes, a break from religion). The year 2038 comes from the average of predictions based on two different measures of national atheism. (That may seem soon, but as Nigel notes, "this requires only a shift of approximately 1 percent per year whether in religiosity or belief in God.")
Let's give this one a deadline of December 31, 2038 – and do what we can to make it happen!
Evolution accepted, debate dies
A wonderful change of pace: a prediction of coming reason, not Rapture. Famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey proclaimed in May 2012 that discoveries supporting the theory of evolution will convince "even the skeptics" within 15 to 30 years. (We'll excuse his use of "skeptic" to describe people with "skepticism" founded on the principle of "an ancient desert goatherder says otherwise".)
Unlike a sky-rending Second Coming, this prediction's realization will be difficult to verify; after all, some "skeptic" will always insist on Creationism or a flat earth or a 9-11 conspiracy, until the end of time. We'll have to watch the six-days-vs-billions-of-years zeitgeist over the coming 30 years, and play it by ear to decide whether the world wisely fulfills Leakey's prediction. Let's give the prediction a generous end-of-May 2042 deadline.
WHAT? How could psychics, God's Biblical code crackers, and Atlantean spirits have made a mistake? Astral interference! Insufficient faith! Disturbance in the ether! Fortunately, nobody tracks these failures... right?
The original Kentucky.com page with the Dembski quotes is out of action, but the gist remains repeated on many sites:
LOUISVILLE - To William Dembski, all the debate in this country over evolution won't matter in a decade.
By then, he says, the theory of evolution put forth by Charles Darwin 150 years ago will be dead.
The mathematician turned Darwin critic says there is much to be learned about how life evolved on this planet. And he thinks the model of evolution accepted by the scientific community won't be able to supply the answers.
"I see this all disintegrating very quickly," he said.
The article is from 02 April 2006, so we can nicely place a 10-year expiration date on it. (I welcome correction if second-hand reports of the original article misrepresent Dembski's words.)
"Taliban-style" collapse of Darwinism
In a 2004 magazine interview, Creationist William Dembski predicts the "Taliban-style" (?) collapse of Darwinism within 10 years.
Aliens rescue faithful from apocalypse
Spurred by the alleged end of 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, as many as 100,000 New Agers are descending on a French village of 200 to ascend its Pic de Bugarach mountain, which is a "major chakra of the Earth", has "special magnetic waves", and houses aliens that will save the believers – including those making "naked group climbs" – from apocalypse on the given date.
(I love you, New Agers. I couldn't have possibly made up something this awesome.)
"Transformation" of cult; destruction of non-believers
The prediction by Growing in Grace International defies easy logical understanding (imagine that!), but seems to combine:
- The "transformation" of the cult's leader Jose de Luis de Jesus and its members into immortal beings with superpowers
- The death of all non-believers
- The failure of economies and currencies (which seems redundant after the above "everybody dies")
- Justification for the "Countdown to the Transformation" billboards around Toronto and the "666" tattoos on the skin of the cult's children
Unfortunately for Mr de Jesus and his followers, the only transformation that occurred on June 30 was that from "they're nuts" to "they're nuts and wrong". The anticipation during June of gaining the power to fly and to pass through solid objects, followed by the bummer of waking up in July and walking into walls, also appears responsible for a 3-week gap in the cult's copious newsfeed from June 23 to July 2012, before de Jesus and crew decided to carry on like nothing happened.
God will destroy the world
Convoluted Biblical numerology gives you until October 21, 2011 to enjoy the world. Then God destroys it. Bummer!
Rapture will come for Christian believers
Convoluted Biblical numerology points to Judgment Day and Christ's return on May 21, 2011. So go for broke: sin all you like, "embrace Christ" on May 20, and you're covered no matter what happens!
Molecular Darwinism will die
In 2004, Creationist William Dembski gives "molecular Darwinism" five years to live. (If it lives past that grim diagnosis, will that be sign of a Divine Miracle?)
Atheists discredited; tenures revoked
From autumn of 2008:
...Pharyngula, Panda’s Thumb, EvC, RichardDawkins.net and Uncommon Descent will all have so completely degenerated as to become nothing but embarrassing footnotes in the history of internet communication. I also predict that P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins will have so embarrassed their home institutions that overt attempts will have been initiated to have their tenures revoked on the grounds of moral turpitude and seeking to overthrow the government... Fortunately for them, by that date, February 9, 2009, the physical destruction of our civilization will have proceeded to such a degree that thinking people will no longer be concerned about intellectual trash like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers.
This fellow really should have been more generous with the deadline he gave himself!
Universal CD gasps for breath
In an online chat of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design (ISCID), on 8 August 2002, ISCID Fellow and Discovery Institute guy Paul Nelson lays down the smack on universal common descent (CD):
Here's a prediction. Universal CD will be gasping for breath in two or three years, if not sooner.
Naturally, we generously grant the full three years. Which still doesn't help...
Pillars of evolution crumble
D. James Kennedy, on "The John Ankerberg Show" in 1987, didn't talk prophecy; he purported to describe the now:
Evolution is in absolute chaos today and has been especially for this decade of the ’80′s. The ’80′s has been extremely bad for Evolution. Every major pillar of Evolution has crumbled in the decade of the ’80′s.
It's easy to handle that as a prophecy, though. Just chalk the fellow's cry of "it's already happened!" to overexcitement and a missed nap, and generously award him until the end of the 80s for those pillars to crumble.
Hmm, that still didn't help his failed case. Maybe it was just a slip of the tongue; "evolution" was supposed to be "big hair" or "wine coolers"?
We will never get a man into space
We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it… The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen. – May 14, 1961
Oops. This beauty comes from Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith of the Church of Latter Day Saints, who was ironically elevated to President of the Church in 1970, the year after Neal Armstrong took one small step and divine prophecy took one giant face-plant.
It's too bad for Apostle Smith that people did write this one down in books, and not on conveniently-disappearing golden tablets!
What other prognostications do you see out there that need to be tracked? Please leave a comment or send a message!