At the very beginning of human society, our species mostly focused on the present — there was little need to dwell on what might happen the distant future when we faced starvation or violent death on a daily basis. But as society advanced, we began to have more time for luxuries such as wondering what might happen in 5, 10, 50, 100, or 1000 years.

While we should certainly prepare for the possibility of future catastrophes, we shouldn't be overconfident about their certainty.

While we should prepare for the possibility of future catastrophes, we shouldn’t be overconfident about their...

Whether through data-driven estimations, science-fiction fantasies, or philosophical pondering, humans have made countless predictions about the future. However, many of these predictions were far from accurate. Some turned out to be excessively optimistic, imagining a problem-free utopia; others were excessively pessimistic, fearing humans would devolve as a result of ominous trends.

Some skeptics may accuse survivalists of falling into the pessimist category, but that shouldn’t be the case. It’s important that we draw the line between being ready for a variety of potential problems and being unreasonably certain that one specific doomsday scenario will occur.

The following infographic from BBC Capital shows a few of these future fears and predictions that never panned out for industry, tech, and society — or at least not to the extent that was anticipated. Understanding these predictions can help you retain perspective next time someone makes a claim about the future, regardless of whether it’s certain doom or a perfect utopia. Click here to download a full-size version of this graphic.

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