The question should be, “Has Nostradamus been right about anything?”, not merely limited to natural disasters. The answer is no. Michel Nostradamus (1503-1566) was a French astrologer who wrote a copious amount of “quatrains” purporting to predict the future. However, his quatrains, which were pretty vague to begin with, were made even more ambiguous by having been written in a sort of arcane dialect of old French which borrowed words from several other languages and relied heavily on metaphorical imagery. Given such parameters, hunting for specific meaning in his verses is sort of like engaging in a Rorschach test: you see what you want to see. Consequently, many people over the centuries have seized upon particular verses of Nostradamus that they interpret as having “predicted” specific events.
Take for instance this verse, which was made famous by the attention lavished upon it in a 1981 documentary film called The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, notably narrated by a down-on-his-luck Orson Welles (who later denounced the film):
“The year 1999 seven months; from the sky will come the great King of Terror. To resuscitate the great King of the Mongols. Before and after Mars reigns by good luck.”
What does this mean? Who knows? One can scan the news archives for events occurring in July 1999–the crash of a plane containing John F. Kennedy Jr. has been suggested–but ultimately you’re left with a matter of pure conjecture.
One must also be wary about the hoaxes and pure charlatanism that surround the prophecies of Nostradamus. For example, shortly after the 9/11 attacks a number of emails circulated through the world “quoting” a quatrain of Nostradamus that supposedly predicted the disaster spot-on. The quote turned out to be a complete fabrication, appearing nowhere in Nostradamus’s genuine works, but millions of people believed it nonetheless. On some cultural level we are fascinated by the idea of someone who can predict the future, but the reality is that the veracity of such “predictions” is entirely in the eye of the beholder.
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