On New Year's Eve you are supposed to think about the next year and resolve to be a better person, or at least to lose some weight.
It is also a time when people traditionally try to look into the future. Now, anyone can look into the future. Anyone can predict that the Empire State Building will collapse. The trick is: When? Most professional seers are allergic to dates. And the prophets listed - 30 pages of them - in "The People's Almanac" by David Wallechinsky and his father, Irving Wallace, are so hazy in spots that you can't tell whether they are talking years or centuries.
Anyway, here are some things which they say may come to pass in 1978 - or may not.
It is a big year for floods and war. Malcom Bessent predicts floods in the whole northwestern United States and war with China. Criswell sees New York City underwater before 1980. Shawn Robbins expects war with China, and Ann Jensen is looking for, Mount Pelee to explode again.
Alan Vaughan checks in with not only the flood in New York and war with China, but war in the Middle East as well. He also predicts a new religion. On the other hand, Ethel Meyers, while predicting that China will attack the U.S., confidently sees no sinkages of major cities during the '80s.
In fact, the prophecies recorded in the alamanac tend to follow patterns. Modern seers especially lean toward disasters to cities, earthquakes in California and nuclear wars. They see great leaders emerging, and cures for diseases, and now calamities for the land masses.
Thus, Jeane Dixon sees in the next few years: the first woman President, a new comet and in 1988 a new Arab war to be won by the Russians. Rich McClintic forcasts a cure for blood diseases, and now calamities for the U.S.-Russian colony on the moon in a few years. He also comes up with the novel notion that people will become grotesquely tall.
Right in line with the patterns is Joseph De Louise, who looks for an economic panic in 1980 and an end to the British monarch after Elizabeth. (Even the late celebrated Edgar Cayce often predicted according to the pattern. For instance, he foresaw the destruction of New York City in 1998.
A consensus of seven Psychics at the Berkeley Psychic Institute came up with these: Atlanta will be discovered at the North Pole; in 1981 a Supreme Court justice will be appointed who will later become Vice President, and he will have either a double name or a name with Van on the front of it.
At least one non-prophet, James Bonner of California Institute of Technology, has stepped forward with a prediction, and it is a gloomy one. He fears that rich and poor will tend more and more to stick that way: once rich, always rich; once poor, always poor. And he warns that we may begin treating the poor as an inferior race, eventually to the exterminated. (One is reminded of Irene Hughes and her prediction that a neo-Nazi group will rise to power soon.)
The almanac gleaned some other ideas from recent writings of distinguished scientists: They see still more emphasis on computers and lasers, more sophisticated undersea life, more space travel, better control of crops and weather and the conditions of our own bodies. The remarkable I. M. Esfandiary, one of the most daring minds of our time, thinks people will soon wear skintight casings to make us impervious to weather and germs.
Few of the almanac's experts attempted to predict political developments, although astronomer Erich Jantsch did publish one charming thought:
By 1985, he predicted, Americans will be unable even to visit the developing countries for fear of our lives. And that, of course, is the year after 1984.
Oh well. Happy New Year.