Every winter about this time we’re flooded with predictions for the new year. I’m often approached by the various publications for which I write to make a few of my own. Most of the time I respectfully decline. In my other job as an historian I’ve enough trouble figuring what already happened, let alone what will occur down the road. I can, however, tell you that history reveals that there are precious few Nostradamuses (Nostradami?) out there. In fact, Nostradamus was no Nostradamus; he was just an old codger living in the 16th century and eking out a living as a druggist. He made a series of prophecies that were roughly as specific as the daily horoscope, which is to say you can twist them any way you wish.
I’ve read the latest prognostication that the world is about to end, either in May of 2011 when the Rapture occurs, or early in 2012 when the Mayan calendar runs out. Okay, so here’s my prediction: neither will occur. If they do, sue me. There are only three guaranteed predictions. The first is that in any given calendar year a bunch of people will be born and a bunch will die. Second, fewer famous people will die than non-famous ones, but there will be more good people among the non-celebrated departed. Third, most predictions made for 2011 will prove wrong to the point of stupid. The one or two who guessed right will go on cable TV and set up a 900 number, but they’re not seers; they were just lucky (and selectively crafty in hiding what they got wrong.)
2011 has already featured tons of political and economic forecasts. Pay no attention to any of them unless you just want a belly laugh. Obama has no chance of winning reelection in 2012, right? Sure--that’s what they said about Bill Clinton in 1995, just before he beat old Bob Dole like a hyperactive child with an empty oatmeal tub. Twenty months in political time in an eternity. And for heaven’s sake ignore all economic forecasts as if they were Biblical-proportion plagues of grasshoppers. You could take every economist from the past twenty years who accurately forecast the state of American finance, stuff them in your penny jar, and still have room for coins.
Take it from old Larstradamus, who predicts that the hot fashion item for 2012 will be egg applied liberally onto the faces of those who predicted what 2011 would bring.