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View Enigmatical Prophecies

Type: Hoax.
Summary: A (fake) astrologer made ambiguous prophecies that inevitably came true.


Poor, henpecked Richard Saunders was the apparent author of an annual American almanac, Poor Richard’s Almanac. But the real author was Benjamin Franklin. In 1736 Franklin put the credibility of his pseudonym on the line by making three very specific ‘enigmatical prophecies’ in the almanac. He predicted that:

A great storm would cause all the major cities of North America to be under water

A “great number of vessels fully laden will be taken out of the ports… by a Power with which we are not now at war”

An “army of 30,000 musketers will land… and sorely annoy the inhabitants.”

A year passed and none of the prophecies appeared to come true. But just when Poor Richard’s readers were about to label him a faulty soothsayer, he triumphantly declared that all three prophecies had actually come true.

After all, rain storms had placed every city under water, the power of wind (“a Power with which we are not now at war”) had taken fully-laden vessels out of ports, and more than 30,000 musketers (or mosquitoes) had definitely annoyed the inhabitants.

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