Everyone likes to think that they’re smart. We all consider ourselves geniuses in our own right, and you very well might be one. Just as much as people love being seen as geniuses, however, we also hate being called out when we’re wrong. The ego can’t really take that hit.
Don’t feel bad about it, though, because some of the world’s greatest minds made bold predictions about the future that turned out to be utterly false.
1. “How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under the deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
2. “Flying machines are impossible.” — Lord Kelvin
3. “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value.” — Associates of David Sarnoff when he suggested investing in the radio in 1921
4. “The cinema is little more than a fad.” — Charlie Chaplin
5. “There is practically no chance that communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the Unites States.” — FCC Commissioner T. Craven
6. “When the Paris Exhibition closes, the electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it.” — Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson
7. “Fooling around with an alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison
8. “We will never make a 32-bit operating system.” — Bill Gates
9. “There will never be a bigger plane built.” — A Boeing engineer after building a plane that held 10 people
10. “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.” — Albert Einstein
11. “I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” — H.G. Wells
12. “Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years.” — Alex Lewyt, President of Lewyt vacuum cleaner company
13. “Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not.” — Sir William Preece
14. “There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corp
15. “The energy produced by the breakdown of the atom is a very poor kind of thing.” — Ernest Rutherford
16. “A rocket will never be able to leave Earth’s atmosphere.” — The New York Times, 1936
See? You shouldn’t feel so bad if you were wrong about whatever you were wrong about. These geniuses were wrong about stuff, too! We are all idiots at certain points, so don’t worry.