If you've spent enough time on the Internet towards the end of the year, you've probably come across a fair few "this is what famed astrologer Nostradamus predicted for next year" articles. A lot of them tend to make out like the predictions are set in stone, as though Nostradamus was sat in the 1500s writing "and in 2021 you'll all be dealing with COVID, which is going to be an absolute nightmare, but brace yourselves because in 2022 Chris Pratt's voicing Mario."
We'll go through why it's nonsense that Nostradamus accurately predicted the future (surprise, we're a science website) in his book Les Prophéties (1555), but first, let's take a look at the predictions that are being reported for 2022.
When you're predicting stuff you'll never be alive to see, you may as well go big. In his many, many writings, Nostradamus wrote "fire do I see that from the sky shall fall", which several outlets have taken to mean an asteroid will fall on the Earth. Luckily NASA is on hand to make sure that doesn't happen.
According to Sky History, one passage alludes to the rise of the machines, by referencing an immortal "sage".
“The Moon in the full of night over the high mountain," the passage reads. "The new sage with a lone brain sees it: By his disciples invited to be immortal, Eyes to the south. Hands in bosoms, bodies in the fire.”
One that crops up every now and then is Nostradamus "predicting" the climate crisis.
“Like the sun the head shall sear the shining sea: The Black Sea’s living fish shall all but boil. When Rhodes and Genoa Half-starved shall be. The local folk to cut them up shall toil.”
It would have been more helpful if he'd predicted the connection to fossil fuels.
One passage mentions the rising prices of food causing people to eat each other. Which sounds even worse than 2021, if we're honest.
“No abbots, monks, no novices to learn; Honey shall cost far more than candle-wax. So high the price of wheat, That man is stirred. His fellow man to eat in his despair.”
Best buy all your candle wax now before it's too late.
So was he really some all-powerful wizard, cursed to predict the future?
The great thing about predicting the future is the vaguer you are, the more right you can be about a larger number of topics. It's why horoscopes don't say things like "look out for that Lego brick little Daniel left on the stairs on Tuesday or you're in for a world of pain," instead opting for sentences like "the Sun in the harmonic aspect will make you experience great changes", which is so vague you can read anything into it and is really unhelpful with the Lego situation.
Nostradamus was especially good at creating predictions so loose that eventually, someone would be able to ascribe it to a not-too-dissimilar real-world event. They are what's known as "postdictions", in that you could not possibly guess what he was predicting before the event happened, but after the event you can find a passage that makes it look like he'd known all along, and even then they are not that accurate.
For instance, a passage that is touted as predicting the rise of Hitler would in no way warn you of Hitler himself:
“From the depths of the West of Europe, A young child will be born of poor people, He who by his tongue will seduce a great troop; His fame will increase towards the realm of the East.”
Were you to read it beforehand, you could maybe guess that he meant someone famous will be born in Western Europe, but that's about it. Once Hitler had risen to power, people decided he must have been referring to Hitler and declared Nostrodamus once again to be an incredible prediction wizard, on an incredibly vague passage.
So in answer to the title: what Nostrodamus actually predicted for 2022 is "nothing".