Wednesday, January 9, 2013
9 January 2013
In the year 2000!
The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation, food and athletics. He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be no more. Building in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.
Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in 1900, published in The Ladies' Home Journal
Accuracy: Watkins misses in a lot of interesting ways with this set.
The best numbers I can get are that American males are about three and a half inches taller, up from 5'6" in 1900 to 5'9½" in 2000.
The average life expectancy is just barely under 80 instead Watkins' guess of 50. While much lower infant mortality is part of that improvement, the huge change would be the nearly complete eradication of the #1 killer in 1900, tuberculosis, and the taming of influenza with vaccines. (Got your flu shot yet?)
People still have houses in cities, apartments are still built in blocks. When the trains are on time or traffic on the freeway isn't awful, some suburbs are just a few minutes away from the nearest city, but even accounting for inflation, the fare is a lot more than a penny.
One last note. Watkins was born in 1852 and died in 1903 at the age of 51, not that far from the average life expectancy he thought would be the case in the year 2000. I haven't been able to find the cause of death, but I will keep researching.
Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Thursday means Arthur C. Clarke gets another turn, making the case that it's time monkeys, apes and whales started pulling their own weight and getting jobs.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!