Past Predictions of Famous Scientist Herman Kahn

About economist Herman Kahn, his biography and some of his past predicitions including about Vietnam.

Predictor: HERMAN KAHN

A 300-lb. economist whose iconoclastic ideas often shock the academic community, Herman Kahn is co-founder and director of the Hudson Institute at Harmon-on-Hudson, N.Y., where with his colleagues he develops scenarios of the future. He believes the world is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to predict the future accurately; accordingly, he creates triple scenarios which include predictions on the high, medium, and low sides of optimism. He also believes that the only feasible way to solve the problem of poverty is to make rich countries richer; the resulting gap between rich and poor might be greater, but the poor would still be a lot less poor.

Past Predictions: Wrong (Somewhat)--In 1960, in his book On Thermonuclear War, Kahn said that at least 200 well-aimed 20-megaton bombs would be needed to knock out the 53 main urban areas in the U.S. At the time, the U.S.S.R. did not have the nuclear capacity to do this. If such an attack had been possible, "only" about 70 million people would have been killed and only about half the U.S. wealth would have been destroyed. If food stocks had been prepared for 4 years beforehand and fallout shelters were common, most of the 120 million people in the rural areas would have survived the fallout. Fifteen years after, the wealth and some of the population of the U.S. would have been restored. This optimistic prediction is, of course, impossible to evaluate, because the war did not happen. However, it is no longer valid because a much heavier attack by the Russians is now feasible.

Right--In Foreign Affairs in 1968, Kahn predicted that the U.S. would not soon be out of Vietnam and that neither the Government of the U.S. nor that of South Vietnam would collapse.

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