Monday, April 2, 2007

The Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)

In the year 1901 Arthur Palm, a fourteen-year-old student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, published an article in his school newspaper (the Excelsior) describing the world of 2001. Below is an excerpt of his article as featured in the book Yesterday's Future: The Twentieth Century Begins (Voices of the Wisconsin Past).

"How it may appear a hundred years hence, when modern inventions have been carried to their highest point of development that even Edison would feel jealous of the great inventions in the year 2001. In the year 2001 you will see sky-scrapers sticking far above the clouds over 200 stories high. On the streets there will not be any room for street cars, so they will build lines way up in the air, and there will be landings fastened to the high skyscrapers, where the people will wait for the cars. The carlines will have different kinds of names and you will see the name "Manhattan Air Line" many hundreds of feet above the ground. You see air-ships and carriages fastened to balloons for the transportation of the people through the air, and you will often see collisions in the clouds. In one of the sky-scrapers on the 119 story you will see a sign, 'Old People Restored to Youth by Electricity, While You Wait.'"

The belief that electricity would eventually cure all ills was surprisingly common. I guess that's why I'm so amazed that people still receive electro-shock therapy. It seems so primitive and naive.

80 comments:

John Peter said...

He was right on the right track at least. It is all a little exaggerated, but for the skyscrapers, if you look at Dubai, the guy was spot on!
As far as electricity development, people always thought of it as hyper fast advancements. Just 20 years ago, a lot of people thought we would have and live with robots by the year 2000.
OhCash Business

Anonymous said...

But they couldn't have anticipated so many things because they hadn't been discovered. Stem cells, the internet, nuclear power, etc. Any guess we could make about the state of technology a century from now would probably seem just as naive to someone in 2107.

Anonymous said...

Electroshock therapy works. It used to be the only effective treatment for depression, but now it's a last resort. The fact that we still have to use it probably shows that our psychiatric drugs will be considered laughably primitive in the future.

Anonymous said...

This guy pwned the future.

$

jameshcunningham said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say electroconvulsive therapy definitely works always. But it does work very often when absolutely nothing else does.

(My girlfriend is a mental health social worker; when she was in a grad school internship she had to watch ECT performed a few times. Apparently it's quite humanely done now, nothing like the horror stories of last century.)

Anonymous said...

ECT is performed humanely now, in the sense that the recepient is put to sleep before the procedure. It's no longer the torture it once was.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear about the lines attached to buildings part: at first I thought to myself that his prediction was naive; but the first part of his prediction describes exactly Washington D.C.'s metro system. I wait in line for the elevated (and subterranean) cars every day.

As for the second prediction the claim that oils, magnets, rocks, botulism and simple massage restores and reinvigorates is the cornerstone belief of our multi-billion dollar "beauty and personal healthcare" industries.

alec said...

He forgot the best part about 2001 -- abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

Will said...

"I guess that's why I'm so amazed that people still receive electro-shock therapy. It seems so primitive and naive."

Electroconvulsive therapy does work for certain mental illnesses. It does seem archaic; however it is very effective for depression. A family member of mine needed ECT and it helped him a lot.

Anonymous said...

And so, as the comments show, on the subject of electroconvulsive therapy, you're the one that's naive.

the_big_wedding said...

Very cool...I especially liked the prediction:

"In 2001 a small criminal cabal within the state intelligence/governmental apparatus of the United States will use a dramatic clandestine state-sponsored terrorist act to create a faux terror war; and then through the fear created impose a draconian economic regime designed to loot the public wealth and infrastructure; and put into place a police state structure to protect the power they obtained through this contrive terror war."

Boy, this kid was some kinda genius!

Anonymous said...

He was definitely on the right track. The signs I see today are "Old people restored to youth with computerized lasers". But guess what computers and lasers run on? Electricity!

Mark said...

There is not one test to prove anyone has mental illness(blood, urine, brain scan). Then you people say ECT is humane, now that people don't thrash around. Are you stupid? What do you think electricity does to peoples brains? It fixes chemical imbalances( there is no test for any chemical imbalance). ECT DAMAGES PEOPLES BRAINS,THIS IS HOW IT WORKS.

Then people FORGET if the ECT is voluntary or involuntary, is the "patient" informed before of the BRAIN DAMAGE that will occur?

http://www.ect.org
http://www.idiom.com/~drjohn/ectseize.html

Anonymous said...

This is a hoax. Besides, anyone who claims to see the future is like anyone who claims to have seen angels or spoken to god...schizophrenic.

Still, it makes you wonder about what life will be like in as many years from our own present.

Anonymous said...

Electric shock therapy is used today to restore youth - it's called cardioversion and has a very good success rate in eliminating cardiac arrythmias (sp?).

Jeff said...

They had a lot of electric-shock quack devices at the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis, that's now at the St. Paul Science Center.

the website:
http://www.mtn.org/quack

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mark. For some people, brain damage is preferable to suicide when nothing else has helped.

Anonymous said...

quoting anon: "This is a hoax. Besides, anyone who claims to see the future is like anyone who claims to have seen angels or spoken to god...schizophrenic."

How is this a hoax? it is a historical piece of writing and makes no mention of "seeing" the future, but merely predicting it based on whatever.

To claim that you see this as a hoax makes you a schizophrenic

Dave said...

Love your blog, but on ECT I have to disagree. In the days of "one flew over the cuckoo's nest" it got a bad rep- part of the problem is it LOOKS bad, the patient going into spasm etc. but these days the pulse is tiny and the patient is anesthetized.
Chronic mental illness is a serious and potentially deadly problem. Anything that will alleviate the pain and suffering is worth keeping on the table.
There have been many, many studies on the effects of ECT, and, contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that it causes brain damage.
Besides all this, the bottom line is that for many people, it works. It's got a proven track record of alleviating a range of problems from chronic depression to psychosis.

Dave said...

just to repeat: ECT does not cause brain damage.
Check the medical literature on the subject if you don't believe me.

Valerie said...

From the Amazon site"(admission of Nicaragua and Mexico to the Union)" Wow. not far off the mark there as far as Mexico goes.

Charlie said...

wrong

Jade said...

Sorry, I digg down ignorance.

Anonymous said...

The kid was right. He did not write that in the future old people would actually be restored to youth by electricity, on the spot. He (as related here at least) wrote that there would be a sign claiming that. Today, I see many such signs...

PaulGuise said...

Wow. That kid was surprisingly correct. While we don't have airlines as he imagined, we do have sky scrapers in the triple digits. The predictions have come about in a different form though.

KushCash said...

Cool Site - we're gonna link you! kes me want to re-read a lot of Jules Verne.

Kines said...

I think it's sad that part of what he envisaged is true, and how one expects life in the future to be so grandiose. Does life in the future necessarily have to be so much greater than it is today? I would do anything to go back to the 1900s, however inconvenient that may be.

Matt said...

Maybe he could come back and tell us about the year 3001.

Anonymous said...

What exactly in this is so prophetic?

Warren said...

ECT kills, that's the bottom line. it is a barbaric treatment and destroys life. All of those who advocate it have obviously never seen the effects it has on people, that is if they don't die shortly after it. It was discovered when a pig got electrocuted right before going into the slaughter house... reports say the pig wasn't as resistive to being killed and from that account psychiatrists began to apply to patients. How's that for scientific research? No matter what the excuse behind it is, it kills.

thomas said...

see http://inusinternational.com/website-designing.html

Anonymous said...

Actually, the most interesting thing about the article is that there are no misspellings and he made it through without using the words, fuck yeah! Those were the days.

Anonymous said...

Don't believe everything you read on wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

...and we all know that Arthur went on to invent the PalmPilot.

Anonymous said...

The author came out of left field with the blurb on electroshock, I'm guessing he has first hand experience. Other than that this article was pretty skimpy on details and useless.

Anonymous said...

ECT doesn't always work. I got it and it didn't help for shit.

Anonymous said...

@Warren

Well, my dad had ETC about three years ago for severe depression. Last I checked (about 20 minutes ago) not only is he alive, but he's doing much better thanks to his therapy. While ETC should never, under any circumstances, be administered as the default treatment, I echo what others have said here in saying that it has its benefits for those who really need help. Yes, my dad suffered some short-term memory loss while undergoing ETC, but his memory has made a full recovery.

So, do your research before you start spouting opinions guised as fact.

Anonymous said...

@Warren

"ECT kills, that's the bottom line. it is a barbaric treatment and destroys life. All of those who advocate it have obviously never seen the effects it has on people, that is if they don't die shortly after it."

So sayeth Xenu!

Anonymous said...

Yet another payola digg article... BUY MY BOOK PLZ

snooze

agloco said...

haha. very interesting. the article is too short though.

Hail Xenu!

Bill said...

Electroconvulsive therapy is still the ONLY cure for depression. Only Cure...there is no other. So it isn't so naive.

facted said...

As a medical professional who just completed a rotation in psychiatry, I can tell you that ECT is considered both safe and very effective (more so than anti-depressants such as SSRI's). It is associated with short-term memory loss surrounding the treatments that usually resolves quickly but can take up to 6 months.

As for when it is used, it's generally reserved for cases of depression refractory to medication/psychotherapy. It is, however, first line in patients who are depressed w/ psychotic features (a subtype of depression that is not the same thing as schizophrenia or any other psychotic disorder).

Also, it is done quite humanely now, under general anesthesia with complete muscular block (paralysis) and a seizure is induced but there is no shaking as you would see with a normal seizures (due to the paralysis). Patients begin to see improvement after the 1st treatment (generally), but many patients will undergo 10+ treatments over the course of days/weeks.

Desert Tripper said...

"...even Edison would feel jealous of the great inventions in the year 2001."

Please, give me a break. Edison was jealous of the inventions being achieved in the 1890s. After Nikola Tesla's brilliant invention of polyphase alternating current, Edison set out to discredit it to promote his inferior direct current. As Tesla achieved success after success, Edison and his millionaire cronies set out to do the only thing they could - sling mud on his name and rewrite history.

Incidentally, many of Tesla's predictions of the future were right on!

Sickmind Fraud said...

As seen on the PsychWatch Weblog, recent research has proven that Electroconvulsive Therapy causes permanent amnesia And cognitive deficits, according to a prominent researcher.

For the past 25 years, ECT patients were told by Sackeim, the nation's top ECT researcher, that the controversial treatment doesn't cause permanent amnesia and, in fact, improves memory and increases intelligence. Psychologist Sackeim also taught a generation of ECT practitioners that permanent amnesia from ECT is so rare that it could not be studied. He asserted that most people who said the treatment erased years of memory were mentally ill and thus not credible.

Unfortunately, he has discovered that he made a grave error, damaging hundreds of thousand if not millions of people

Nathan said...

Electro shock therapy is harmless. It has done me a lot of good. I think if everyone had doooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnne itttttt itttt woullld be betttttttttteer forrr socciieeeettyy zzzzzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

I guess this kid coined the phrase "sky-scraper".

Anonymous said...

The reference to using electricity for medical uses was probably not refering to electro convulsive shock but was most likly derived at from the work of a man named Royal Rife. He used electricity and resonant frequencies to successfully treat many diseases that are today still not curable. His methods were acclaimed to be a great discovery. He was born in the late 1800's.

Anonymous said...

STUDY THE BRAIN AN APLY COMPUTER AND BILOLOGICAL TECNOLOGY TO IT AND YOU PROBABLI WILL SOLVE LOTS OF PROBLEMS.

A Non-Mouse said...

Electroshock Therapy is still used today, along with chemical treatments for depression. Electroshock Therapy helps increase the effectiveness of some chemical treatments. There is no pain involved; the muscle spasms are involuntary. The way it works is that it erases the short-term memory, thus making the person forget about their present worries, and they respond better to chemical treatment as a result.

Valarius said...

Electricity is used for youth. It fuels the lights in the surgery room. It powers the life support systems that measure heartbeat and blood pressure. It give s the little suction vaccum that extra pull so the fat can be sucked out of the stomach for a tummy tuck.

Electrity makes the old young again. The kid was far from wrong.

Cyril Brennan said...

Electricity has been used on many human brains. Seems to have ill effects including lowering IQ points. They are called Democrats.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that my mother went bonkers (I know that isn't PC, but if you had to listen to someone screaming day in and out for months) after my dad died.

We (brothers and sister) took her to a psychiatrist who mentioned Electro shock therapy (EST) and said it had a very high rate of success. I don't remember if it was 98 or 89 percent, but it was high.

He further said that while they used to apply it like head phones across the head, which led to memory loss and lots of other problems, now they apply it from the forehead to one side of skull where the memory loss and the associated symptoms don't occur.

(Aside: Mom is on meds, and didn't need the last resort: EST. While EST is effective, it is also emotionally unacceptable for many people. Including me. And my exception to it is emotional. I have met two people who got the old version and the last thing I would allow is that same technique to happen to my mother. These people just weren't home, even though they could clean their apartments, meet people at coffee shops, etc.

Instead, the meds have done a wonderful job. But the family did discuss the possibility of EST.

Frank White said...

I think electrical restoration of youth may refer to either MySpace or adult battery-operated toys. This kid was smart, albeit overly zealous about run-on sentences.

seanperez001 said...

I remember watching an episode of the twilight zone. It took place in the future(1997). And man had apparently mastered human AI and space travel. And I couldn't help but laugh because here we are 2007 and we are a far cry from that. However we are making remarkable advancements in our own ways.
But i can understand where he got his predictions from. He took the popular technology from the day and overexaggerated them to the point where they seemed futuristic. It would be impossible for him to possibly predict the creations of such things like iphones, tivos etc. My laptop alone could have been the strongest laptop in the world in 1991.
Im actually considering making my own predictions to see what could happen in 10 years past.

Anonymous said...

He did pretty well considering this was 100 years ago.

I really need to comment on the ECT issue however. I too, thought it was barbaric. Then my dad became severely, suicidally depressed. He went through hours of therapy of all sorts, was on every med available, was committed a number of times and nothing worked. Then they tried ECT. My dad is back. He is as he was prior to the depression; it didn't harm him, destroy his brain or make him into someone else; it DID prevent him from killing himself or locking himself away from the world forever. So for you fools who denigrate ECT without doing the research (I did before I would let them touch my dad) or experiencing its result, shut up. Without it I wouldn't have a dad; I'd have a gravesite and a headstone.

sanktp said...

I too, need to comment on the ECT-part.
2 years ago I was committed to a psychiatric hospital with severe depression. Besides medication (which I need to take today as well), I was administered 10 ECT-sessions. And I can say that without them, I would not be here today.

The electricity is not the cure, but the seizure that it provokes is. The current used today is much lower than previously and only 5% goes through your brain. The remaining 95% is routed through the skin and skull, and does not pass through the brain.
Seizures usually makes your muscles cramp up and prevent oxygen in the blood from reaching the brain. So nowadays you are given a general anestisia (?) and a muscle relaxant. No pain, no cell damage and it works!

jaalyn said...

As someone who was actually GIVEN EST (i refuse to use the nice new sparkling and padded term they've given this), i figure my two cents ought to be worth something here. Yes, it works. You become so traumatized by the experience that you'll do anything not to have it done again, so you act happy, put on a front, even though you really don't feel that way, just to not have to experience it again.

There are also several lies i was told by the doctors, and are points that i've seen brought up here to excuse this medieval barbershop quackery. 1: You will experience a little bit of temporary amnesia as a result of this process. 5 years later i still have massive chunks of my memory missing, events described to me in detail by friends or relatives who were there with me of which i have absolutely no recollection. Lie number 2: You won't feel any pain. Utter Bullshite. If they get the dose of muscle paralyser you are given correctly, you will still feel extremely sore after each session, and your head will feel like you ran headfirst into a brick wall at top speed for the next 12-36 hours. If they mess up the dose a little, as happened more than once with me, you will be in so much physical agony that dragging yourself from your bed to the lavatory is nearly impossible. This will wear off in 2-3 days, just in time for another session.

They told me it was a last resort, and supposedly i consented to it, though i had been repeatedly told by an eager doctor that it was the only hope, and in my highly medicated state (not to mention the mental duress) at the time did not have my judgement fully intact in allowing them to pump electricity into my brain, causing a seizure, 3 times a week for 6 weeks.

I don't care what anyone says about how safe, humane, and/or effective it is because they read it somewhere or heard it from some doctor, i have actually experienced the procedure and it is a barbaric and inhumane practice. If you say you know someone who was "saved" by it, i guarantee you they were just traumatised enough to no longer let anyone know how depressed they are.

Jake said...

"How is this a hoax? it is a historical piece of writing and makes no mention of "seeing" the future, but merely predicting it based on whatever.

To claim that you see this as a hoax makes you a schizophrenic"


Just because it's in someone's blog doesn't make it fact. It's the internet, for Christ's sakes. It's cool, yes, but don't take it for granted that everything on the world wide web has nothing but genuine information.

Bucky said...

Technology is no where close to what people would have imagined it was...even 20 years ago.

http://www.bloggingwv.com

watch live tv said...

sorry but jetsons seems to get more things right then this kid..1901..hmm may

Obbop said...

No mention of Britney Spears.

Little heathen ain't no Nostradamus.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned The psychwatch article as proof that ECT caused long-term memory loss (the article is from Jan 07). But they neglected the part where the researcher only studied memory effects over six months or less (where common sense would say it takes a week to three years to regain memory) and "he used his grant money largely to compare different types of ECT to each other, not to examine the effects of ECT; and only less than a handful of his 200+ published studies used normal controls, an absolute necessity to isolate the effects of ECT." This is a researcher who took ten million dollars over the past 25 years and waited until they stopped giving him so much grant money to say, hey, ECT's bad...gimme more money and I'll tell you why. I understand that he's the top researcher when it comes to ECT--but that's only because he's received the most money to study it, and that does not mean that he's an ethical man or that his conclusions should be taken above all the rest of the research.

Anonymous said...

kids were dumb in 1901 lol

Anonymous said...

Electrocution therapy does indeed benefit society. Consider that multiple recent news stories detail thieves electrocuting themselves while attempting to steal copper wire.

If THAT isn't a benefit to society, I don't know what is.

Darwin heartily approves!

Mark said...

sanktp said 5% goes through the brain.
I read that they have turned UP the voltage due to the power of the new med/drugs that make the patient unconcious/immobile. If you know anything about electricity, you know current flow is dependant on resistance(in this case).Resistance of the human body can vary wildly,and its path is a random straight line (taking the easiest/less resistant path) like a lighting strike.Maybe you had an important memory, thought, belief or idea there?
At the gas pump they have officials that go around measuring the volume used to make sure no one is stolen from. In ECT/EST who checks the machines?
If you want brain damage to feel better, get the temporary kind from alcohol.Its much safer.

heather said...

Sounds like someone needs a little ECT/EST...and someone else needs a little MORE. I love how you call the ppl whose LIVES WERE SAVED by it liars. (sarcasm alert) Cool.

Anonymous said...

Okay, people, we get it. Each one of you is so much smarter than everyone else who has posted here... You all know all the answers. Hooray for you.

But if we can break out of our (peeing) matches for just a moment and take the article at face value, we'll find a mildly amusing and typical look into the future from a voice long past. You'll see similar accounts in the Worldbook Encyclopedia series from 1967. Look up Automobile and you'll see very similar accounts to what this child predicted in 1901.

Every attempt to predict the future is going to yield mixed results as the logical progression of some technologies unfolds as expected and other, unforseeable, technologies change the face of the world in ways previously unimagined. It's the nature of the beast.

Anonymous said...

well said.

Anonymous said...

SPOT ON-APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD!

Anonymous said...

Skyscrapers? The term wasn't even coined yet. This is total BS.

Sickmind Fraud said...

As noted in the article, the study was several times larger and longer than previous studies on the subject.

Not shorter than usual, longer.

The six-month study followed about 250 patients in New York City hospitals, an unusually large number; most ECT studies are based on 20 to 30 patients.

Sackeim's previously published studies were short term, making it impossible to assess long-term effects. "However, in other contexts over the years -- court depositions, communications with mental health officials, and grant protocols -- Sackeim has claimed to follow up patients for as long as five years.

This raises serious questions as to how long he has actually known of the existence and prevalence of permanent amnesia and why it wasn't revealed until now," Andre said.

Besides finding that ECT routinely causes substantial and permanent amnesia, the study contradicts Sackeim's oft-published statements that ECT increases intelligence and that patients who report permanent adverse effects are mentally ill.

CinciGreg said...

The pain of any psychiatric treatment has to be compared with the most common treatment of all (for severe cases): imprisonment. Treatments may all have side effects, but those side effects are often less serious than those resulting from prison rape.

Anonymous said...

ECT does seem primitive; however it works quite well on MDD that isnt responding to anything else..
And really, where are our personal flying machines? Id like one please.

Anonymous said...

rickl said...

I like how he said that we would see "collisions in the clouds". He was referring to airships, not heavier-than-air airplanes, but he realized that accidents do happen and will continue to happen in the future.

Most "futurists" are either of the utopian or dystopian variety. This kid was pretty well grounded in common sense.

Anonymous said...

the_big_wedding said...
Very cool...I especially liked the prediction:

"In 2001 a small criminal cabal within the state intelligence/governmental apparatus of the United States will use a dramatic clandestine state-sponsored terrorist act to create a faux terror war; and then through the fear created impose a draconian economic regime designed to loot the public wealth and infrastructure; and put into place a police state structure to protect the power they obtained through this contrive terror war."

Boy, this kid was some kinda genius!


I think the kid also predicted that there would be clueless left wing ideologues who refuse acknowledge the real threats to peace and freedom. (i.e. islamic fundamentalists, Iran, Venezuela),
because it might ruin their standing among the militant, socialist "progressives" who inhabit the campus coffee houses.

Anonymous said...

Warren: "ECT kills, that's the bottom line."

THIS IS TRUE, NOBODY HAS EVER SURVIVED ECT, EVER.

No apathy said...

I think the kid also predicted that there would be clueless left wing ideologues who refuse acknowledge the real threats to peace and freedom. (i.e. islamic fundamentalists, Iran, Venezuela),
because it might ruin their standing among the militant, socialist "progressives" who inhabit the campus coffee houses.


Wow, stop being feeded by the media, kiddo, there's a real word outside of your brain. Venezuela a threat to peace and freedom? Our president is not called Bush and is not trying to invade your country for oil. Come and see, on your own, the social reality and the massive support Chavez has from his country, otherwise keep being ignorant.

Anonymous said...

As someone who collects old medical books from this period, this kid was not a genius but rather just parroting the "medical electricty" rage of the times. Nothing more. Medical electricity was touted for everything in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Anonymous said...

Also, the skyscraper "prediction" reflected nothing more than the recent advances(early 1890's) in building that used steel to create taller buildings, starting with the Monadnock Building in Chicago in 1891. It was a big deal then.

Some of you would benefit from turning off cable tv/youtube and going thru an old book store.

These predictions are like saying "someday we'll have robots"

Wow, look at me, I am genius now!

buy wow gold said...

When the Wow Gold wolf finally found the wow gold cheap hole in the chimney he crawled cheap wow gold down and KERSPLASH right into that kettle of water and that was cheapest wow gold the end of his troubles with the big bad wolf.
game4power.
The next day the Buy Wow Goldlittle pig invited hisbuy gold wow mother over . She said "You see it is just as mttgamingI told you. The way to get along in the world is to do world of warcraft gold things as well as you can." Fortunately for that little pig, he buy cheap wow gold learned that lesson. And he just agamegold lived happily ever after!.