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Predicting the Future

Predicting the Future

Have you ever wondered what the future will be for you and your family? Does it promise riches or ruin, love or loneliness? Will you live a long life, or will your life be cut short? People have speculated about such questions for thousands of years.

Today experts study global trends and make projections about the future. While many of their forecasts have come true, others have failed, some miserably. For example, in 1912, Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of a wireless telegraph, was quoted as predicting: “The coming of the wireless era will make war impossible.” And an agent of the Decca Record Company, who rejected the Beatles in 1962, believed that guitar-playing groups were on the way out.

Many turn to the supernatural for clues about the future. Some seek the advice of astrologers; horoscopes are a regular feature in many magazines and newspapers. Others consult fortune-tellers or psychics, who claim to “read” the future by interpreting patterns in tarot cards, numbers, or the lines of one’s hand.

In their effort to discern the future, some in the ancient world consulted oracles​—priests or priestesses who passed on information from the god they claimed to represent. For instance, it is said that King Croesus of Lydia sent gifts of great value to the oracle at Delphi, Greece, with a request to learn what the outcome would be if he fought against Cyrus of Persia. The oracle said that Croesus would destroy “a great empire” if he marched against Cyrus. Confident of victory, Croesus sallied forth, but the great empire that was destroyed was his own!

The ambiguous forecast of the oracle was worthless; it would have appeared true no matter which side won the war. Croesus paid dearly for misinformation that brought him disaster. Have those who turn to today’s popular methods of predicting the future fared any better?