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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!

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.

But Then:

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.

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 ...

... in an article written for April Fools' Day.

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.

But Then:


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.

Instead of taking the hint and writing every article as an April Fools' joke to improve their accuracy, GameSpot is still doubting Nintendo. I'm sure that won't backfire this time.

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Film Critic Says Groundhog Day Will Never Be in the Library of Congress; That Exact Thing Happens

Columbia Pictures

I've talked about Groundhog Day in three articles so far, and will probably do it again in many more. It's as if I'm stuck in a time loop, like in that movie Edge of Tomorrow. But one person who didn't think anyone would still be talking about Groundhog Day today was Washington Post film critic Desson Howe, who went so far as to declare that "Groundhog will never be designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress."

In other words: Come on, Bill Murray is funny and all, but he's no Ben Stiller in The Heartbreak Kid (a movie that same critic loved).

Columbia Pictures
"Andie MacDowell doesn't queef even once."

In his review, Howe says that the movie starts off well, but then turns "creatively frigid." He also complains that, while "zany" and at times "pretty good," it gets repetitive -- since, you know, it's not like trapping the protagonist in a time loop is the entire premise. Exactly one sentence after decrying the lack of progression, Howe says he's disappointed that the character is headed for "the usual Hollywood Life Lesson." Ah yes, the old "mean journalist experiencing an endless cycle of rebirth grows as a person after being confronted with the inevitability of death" cliche. I think Billy Madison used that one, too.

But Then:

Hey, guess what '90s comedy got selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006?

Columbia Pictures
Billy Madison?

No, it was Groundhog Day, you dumbass. Being included in the National Film Registry means not only that Groundhog Day has been declared "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," but also that centuries from now, when all other movies have presumably crumbled into dust or been melted down and turned into shoes (there's a shoe scarcity in the future), people will still be able to watch the film, over and over again, and reflect on how awesome it is. I'm submitting a petition to have Desson Howe's review preserved as well, so that all those people will also be able to reflect on how wrong he was.

Newsweek in 1995: "The Internet? Bah!"

Gajus/iStock/Getty Images

Clifford Stoll might be one of the coolest people ever. Besides being an astronomer, radio operator, and maker of logic-defying glass bottles, he was one of the earliest hacker hunters in history. He figured out how to catch a German KGB-related computer spy in 1986, back when hackers could act with impunity because no one knew what a hacker was (Angelina Jolie hadn't taught us yet). Stoll even looks exactly like what Hollywood movies promised us scientists would look like:

Erik Butler/Scientific American
If he says "Wubba lubba dub dubs," I'm gonna faint.

Oh, and he also wrote the most impressively wrong article about the Internet ever published. Even he seems to think so. Everything about this 1995 Newsweek piece by Stoll reads like something written in the present to make fun of those dumb mid-'90s cavemen, starting with the title:

I'm pretty sure this was the only time the word "nirvana" was used in that sense in the entire '90s.

That's just the tip of the grumpy iceberg. Stoll starts off by recapping all the far-out things people were predicting for the Internet, like virtual communities, online shopping, or helping democracy, and sums them up with one word: "Baloney."

That last one isn't true yet, but we're getting there.

Next, he asserts that if anyone with a connection can post whatever they want, most of it will be dumb, which is ... 100 percent correct, but also one of the major draws of this Internet thing (if dumb people didn't get an online voice, Cracked.com wouldn't exist). He follows that up with another cantankerous gem:

I don't think he means that "sure."

I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt and believe "Intenet" there isn't a typo, but the name of a different thing on which you can't currently read every newspaper ever. He continues, skeptical:

Yes, having to talk to a sweaty employee to get my Dinosaucers DVDs would make Amazon so much better.

So it's not just "electronic books" (electro-bs for short), but the very concept of buying anything online that's like wizardry to him. And safely sending money over the Internet? Get outta town!

But Then:

Well, you're looking at it.

You can now buy a digital edition of that same 1995 article through the Newsweek app, and while you're at it, you can order stuff from Stoll's website using PayPal. Incidentally, Stoll lives in Oakland, California, and I'm guessing the shopping center eight minutes from his home is no longer doing more business than the entire Internet, since this is what it looked like in 2010:

This stupid joke took me four hours of research, so I hope someone got a silent chuckle out of it.

Obviously, this isn't the only old magazine article to doubt that the Internet would catch on (or the only time Newsweek got something tragically wrong), but what makes this one special is that Stoll 1) is really smart and should have known better, and 2) got super snarky about his wrongness. With the old-fashioned arrogance and the "Shyeah, right" sarcasm, it's like he turned into a one-man Frasier/Wayne's World crossover.

Unless, of course, he did write this as a joke article in the present and then used astrophysics to radio it back in time through one of his impossible bottles, in which case we take everything back.

Maxwell Yezpitelok has a free comic you can read and a Twitter you can follow.

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