"Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives."
- Plan 9 From Outer Space
I have been thinking about the future lately. What lies ahead? I think this was triggered by a 401k meeting at my office which convinced me the best retirement plan is to die young. When I was younger I think I thought I would be dead by now.
So much for goal setting and long term planning.
I think it is only natural that we want to know what is going to happen in the future. From Nostradamus to Madame Cleo, people have always looked toward prophets and psychics for advice about what is to come.
The Amazing Criswell
The Amazing Criswell
The quote at the top of the blog was delivered in the film by the Amazing Criswell, an American psychic who is famous for making outlandish and inaccurate predictions. He predicted that the world would end on August 18, 1999. It didn't. Yet in March 1963 Criswell went on TV and predicted that President Kennedy would not seek re-election in 1964 because something was going to happen to him in November 1963.
In the movie Ed Wood, Criswell, as played by Jeffrey Jones, admits that he is merely a showman. However some who were close to the real Criswell quote him as saying, "I had the gift but lost it when I started taking money for it."
Another famous psychic was Jeane Dixon. She allegedly predicted the assassination of President Kennedy as well. She also predicted that World War III would begin in 1958 and there would be world peace by the year 2000. In retrospect it appears that Jeane was more hype than prophet--although she did make a fair amount of profit during her life. I remember when she passed away someone made the joke, "Didn't see that coming did she?"
Books about Biblical prophecy are very popular. Hal Lindsey who wrote The Late Great Planet Earth about the End Times foretold in the Bible has been making a good living off of his "the Antichrist is on the way and Jesus won't be far behind" books for 30 years now. One of his books was called The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon. (Apparently it is a very slow count down. Maybe they started it at a million.)
Then there is the Left Behind book series. There are something like 100 volumes, plus spin-offs like movies, board games and for all I know, chocolate bars. Any way you look at it, End Times Bible prophesy is big business. Why else would someone have felt a need to do a remake of The Omen?
I remember when the psychic hotlines were all the rage. Celebrities who hadn't worked much in a long time hosted infomercials extolling the wisdom of calling Psychic Friends for sage psychic advice. I am not sure who it was that decided to market these hotlines by using has been and never was celebrities. I mean who would look at La Toya Jackson and say, "Yeah! I want to get advice from whoever is telling her what to do!"
I don't mean to suggest that I am a total skeptic. Truly I'm not.
My college girlfriend was into both astrology and the Tarot. When we first met (when we were still "just friends") she did a Tarot reading for me. She told me that I would soon (as opposed to eventually) meet someone who would change my "lifestyle" forever.
After we became involved, she consulted her astrologer in
Besides psychics and prophets there are people who are visionary, who without any claim of special powers or without using a Ouija board, can imagine things that are coming in the near future. I guess sometimes it is just a matter of seeing which way the wind is blowing.
Andy Warhol predicted that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. Given the 24 hour news cycle, reality TV and the Internet, he is dead-on correct. William Hung, the runaway bride, Octo-Mom and all those Real Housewives come to mind.
Andy didn't say how famous mind you, he just promised we'd all have 15 minutes of fame.
If you haven't had yours yet, just wait.
Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky gave us the prophetic 1976 film, Network. I highly recommend it. This movie foresaw network news packaged as entertainment, and predicted reality television decades before it became all the rage. Chayefsky thought he was being outlandish and satirical.
Or it could be that he just saw what was coming.
It could be that some people are born psychic and some people just have a keen eye. Maybe we just want to believe someone can predict the future so that the future doesn't seem so scary and, well, unpredictable.
I don't know if I really want someone to tell me what is going to happen in my future. No matter how good it is, eventually something is going to go awry. No need to get depressed about it in advance.
However, a psychic really might be helpful with retirement planning. I wonder if any of the people who are handling my money at T. Rowe Price are psychic?
Maybe a better question is, who do I have to consult to get some winning lottery numbers?