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Radical predictions that fell flat

Throughout history, prognosticators—from politicians such as Winston Churchill to economists including Irving Fisher—have tried to predict events that would rock the world. But even the most intellectually gifted did not foresee key forces that would cause paradigm shifts in society.

Instead, disturbing doomsday scenarios have regularly surfaced. The buzz made great headlines. But thankfully, many of these predictions proved spectacularly wrong. Remember concerns over the Y2K millennium bug, and all the hype over Dec. 21, 2012, which many interpreted as the end date for the Mayan calendar? Both predictions rattled the public psyche, and many people actually feared the end of days.

Read on to get a glimpse at 14 spectacularly wrong predictions that doused society with fear and offered misguided advice.

By Daniel Bukszpan, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 19 May 2011

Updated 24 Dec. 2013

Photo: Maxim Marmur | AFP | Getty Images