Casey Anthony and the Pundits
Geraldo Rivera (as a panelist on America Live with Megyn Kelly) advanced theories on the likely jury verdict and what it would mean. Geraldo said that the jury would mete out retribution ('with justice,' he was careful to add, as well as other unsavory, unfair, unjustified side dishes).
He was certain of this - before Casey Anthony was found not guilty of everything but lying to authorities.
Judge Napolitano was more than a little concerned that Judge Belvin Perry had things to worry about - namely, creating an atmosphere likely to unfairly punish Casey (by acting the part of a third, governmental, prosecutorial arm, when he allowed in information, and Napolitano concluded, made the jury hate Casey).
But they were all wrong. Judge Perry will have no 'splaining to do. The jury did not rush to deliver small-minded vengeance.
That does not mean that Geraldo or Napolitano will be likely to lose their reputations over their creative and grave...and incorrect predictions.
Other Mistaken Messiahs
This pheonomenon reminds me of all the 'Mommy Oracles' I know. They show up in the sometimes invasive, infallible, always well-intentioned form of friends and chosen family.
Mommy Oracles are sheriffs who patrol the world of pregnant mommies. They let you know when you should be worried. They let you know when you should stop exercising. They let you know when what you're doing is dangerous...or okay.
They get their license from being mommies, and their manner of speaking and kind disposition tells you that their advice and conclusions are unquestionable.
'You're having twins,' they say with absolute certainty.
'You cannot run while you're pregnant,' they tell you, convicted on the matter.
'You're carrying high,' one Mommy Oracle says. Another Mommy Oracle, looking on, waits for an opportune moment to correct her Sister of Traveling Mommy Wizards. 'You're carrying low,' she says. 'That means it's a boy.'
'You're narrow and forward-facing,' says another, 'so you're gonna have a girl. I was wide and dispersed, so I know.'
'What was that fetal heart beat again - 154? That's low; it's gonna be a boy.'
But the doctor (She adopted, so I don't know if they would accept her into the Mommy Wizard club - even with her dubious medical degrees and obstetrics/gynecology experience.) says that anywhere between 110 and 160 is fine.
And though I got the unquestionable advice from Mommy Oracles, that did not stop all of it from being proven wrong.
It didn't stop the Mommy Oracles from giving advice or said advice from being taken to heart, either.
Thomas Sowell, in his book, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy spoke about the ways that elites - those whose vision of the world prevails in the media and popular culture - have ways of being wrong...and maintaining high esteem and unmarred reputations (all evidence of their inaccuracy and invalidity of their predictions being pushed to one side). One tool that aids this process is 'inevitability'.
One can speak of an outcome that way e.g., 'It is inevitable that you will have a boy.' One can also position one's arguments from this perspective - speaking in ways that give listeners the sense of inevitability.
"Perhaps the purest example of an argument without an argument is to say that something is 'inevitable.' This is an inherently irrefutable argument, so long as any time remains in the future. Only in the last fraction of a second of the existence of the universe could anyone refute the claim (or, when the verdict in Casey Anthony's trial is published) - and perhaps they would have other things on their mind by then (like sheer amazement that Casey was only found guilty of lying, as described above)." (New York: Basic Books, 1995, p. 101).