Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Silly (?) statements

Introduction

There are many (often overlapping) lists of “silly statements” or anecdotes where someone misjudges current or future events in a ridiculous manner. Examples of such statements include record companies not wanting to sign the pre-fame Beatles and Billy Gates having naive thoughts abouts computer memory.

Below I will discuss some of these statements, to show that they were not necessarily that silly.

Remarks and caveats

My picks and comments

The majority of the entries from the used source (cf. below) seem legitimate; the cited examples are cherry-picked.

I make interpretations largely on the raw texts, without considering a greater (unknown) textual context. Lack of this context, as well as the environmental context, can lead to misinterpretation. I suspect that this lack of context is behind the perceived silliness of many entries.

An important special case is that a statement appears silly today, but may have been both correct and perfectly non-silly in the right time-frame, say no longer than ten years from the date the statement was made.

Some of the cited blunders may have happened as claimed; others may be merely attributed or urban legends.

Remarks on silly statements in general

Many statements may have been reasonable estimates at the time, just faulty. Notably, every now-and-then a horse with horrible odds wins.

Success and quality are not necessarily linked, and many statements could merely reflect that the maker of the statement was more rational or had a more refined taste than the great masses.

The true blunders appear to fall into two main categories: Firstly, not predicting a future paradigm shift (e.g. the move from vacuum tubes to transistors or the later move to integrated circuits). Secondly, completely misjudging the current situation.

The statements and my comments

The examples are quoted verbatim (including attributions; but with loss of formatting) from a page titled “Bad Predictions”e: