One of the Internet's favorite pastimes is predicting stuff -- specifically, predicting that stuff will fail. More specifically, predicting that stuff (games, movies, new ice cream flavors, etc.) will fail because huge million-dollar companies aren't doing exactly what some jackass whose only qualification is "owns a computer" tells them to do. Of course, another big hobby of the Internet is being wrong, something that we at Cracked know nothing about.
Which is why you're reading this as your HD-DVD of 2012's biggest hit, Battleship, plays in the background.
But believe it or not, the Internet didn't invent having bad opinions, or being an asshole about them. To demonstrate, let me present a carefully curated selection of smug bastards who eventually had to eat their own terrible words, to the satisfaction of everyone else. Sure hope that never happens to Cracked!
4 The New York Times Had to Retract an Editorial Calling the First Rocket Scientist Dumb
In 1920, the New York Times decided to call shenanigans on a paper by some guy named Robert H. Goddard, who claimed to have figured out a way to propel a rocket to the moon. Now, doubting such an idea all the way back in 1920, when some New Yorkers still commuted to work by donkey, wasn't so outrageous -- hell, there are people alive today who think moon trips are only possible through Illuminati/Stanley Kubrick trickery. No, what's special about the Times' anti-space travel column is that the writer goes out of his way to shit on Goddard's work and imply he's dumber than a 15-year-old:
New York Times
Note the quotes on the word "chair," as if it was an actual chair he stole from somewhere.
The editorial starts with a pretty positive tone, saying that Goddard's ideas for getting a rocket to high altitudes are scientifically sound. I'm pointing that out because this is clearly a writer who knows (or thinks he knows) about science, as opposed to the guy who does the food reviews. However, he then says that as soon as the rocket left our atmosphere, its propulsion would stop, because duh. Everyone knows that. It's "a fundamental law of dynamics."
The writer then highlights how unrealistic Goddard's writing sounds by comparing it to Jules Verne's science fiction (because it's not like everything that guy wrote about came true or anything). While this is the most pedantic article to make fun of Goddard, it wasn't the only one; in 1929, another paper reported on one of his failed experiments with the headline "MOON ROCKET MISSES TARGET BY 239,799 1/2 MILES." As a result of the mockery, and the lack of shits the government gave for his ideas, Goddard became a recluse, and his work ended up in the hands of the Nazis.
New York Times
On July 17, 1969, a day after Apollo 11 set off for the moon (something that could have never happened without Goddard's work), the Times ran this retraction:
New York Times
"We stand by our piece about how black men aren't fit to be president, though."
Yes, the "further investigation" they're talking about was a book on gravity that had been available for centuries. Many in the scientific community lament that Goddard didn't live to see the coming of the space age he made possible, but I think the real tragedy is that he never got to read that apology, excuse himself to go to the lavatory, and then use it to wipe his genius ass.
3 GameSpot Predicted the Nintendo Wii Would Be a Hit ... as an April Fools' Joke
Of the many, many techniques video game journalists have mastered for making themselves look stupid, the oldest and most reliable is called "doubting Nintendo." This is a company that has been around since before any of us were born (unless you're 126 years old) and will probably continue to exist long after our grandchildren are dead (if you have any grandchildren, that is; I won't, because I play too much Nintendo). And yet every Nintendo console has gotten the "Yep, this will definitely be their last one" treatment from the press, including their first. Here's a delightfully titled blurb about the NES from 1985:
Electronic Games Magazine
They should have gone with the more tasteful alternate headline: "NINTENDO'S DONKEY PUNCH."
But of all these consoles, the one that received the most "Nintendoomed" comments before it came out was the Wii. Its silly name, its dildo-like controllers, and the fact that it was competing against mature games about space soldiers shooting each other in HD made every major gaming site predict it would fail. Every major gaming site except GameSpot, which dared to be different and said the Wii (then code-named "Revolution") would win the console wars ...
They made sure to include the date three times so you didn't think they really believed this silly shit.
In a clever plot twist, it turns out that the "analyst" mentioned in the headline is a random message board poster called Miyamoto_Mojo, clearly a Nintendo-obsessed nerd with no grasp of reality. Miyamoto_Mojo makes the outrageously wacky claim that the Wii "will be the market leader by 2010," citing factors like its lower price, innovative gameplay, and ability to "tap into the non-gaming market." Ha! What hilarious fanboy drivel! Good one, GameSpot.
Fun fact: There are now more Wii consoles than Germans in the world. In 2007, the Wii's sales did to the other consoles what Mario routinely does to those poor Koopas, even though the Xbox 360 had a year's head start. By 2010, the Wii and the Nintendo DS (which was also ridiculed) had obliterated the record for most consoles sold in a month in the U.S. Of the 10 best-selling video games of all time, four are for the Wii. And why was it so successful? Oh, you know: its lower price, innovative gameplay, and ability to "tap into the non-gaming market."
Nintendo, Andy Dean/iStock/Getty Images
Another fun fact: All these people are now dead.