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Apocalypse then: Paleofuture's Matt Novak anaylzes 1970s visions of the Apocalypse

Matt Novak

Courtesy of Matt Novak

Matt Novak, author of the blog Paleofuture

Spacewreck

Courtesy of Matt Novak

The demise of spacecrafts from the 1979 book "Spacewreck: Ghostships and Derelicts of Space" by Stewart Cowley


Matt Novak, founder of the blog Paleofuture, writes about how people of the past envisioned the world of tomorrow ... but not just the way we'd live, but the way we'd die, catastrophically.

Paleofuture blog started out as a college project in 2007, but today has an esteemed home at the Smithsonian’s collection of blogs. Novak says today's predictions of the future are repeating those of the past.

"As a society, we tend to be more pessimistic when the economy is down," he says. "I think that's natural."

Life in the 1970s was difficult. Government and society were in turmoil, manufacturing jobs were leaving the country, the U.S. was at war with North Vietnam, and there were constant threats of nuclear destruction. Novack says out of that struggle "came the predictions about the end of the world."

Novelists like Alvin Toffler and Hal Lindsey were writing that the end times were near. Toffler believed "we've now reached the point where technology is so powerful ... it could destroy us." Lindsey thought judgement day was just around the corner.

Despite his interest in the pessimistic predictions of the past, Novak keeps an open mind about the future.

"When we feel there are no answers to any of our problems, and the future is just this futile endeavor, why would we get up in the morning?" he says. "It's important to critically analyze the problems we face in society, but we need to do our best to have a little bit of hope."


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