Virtual Reality has actually been around since the 1970s and early 1980s. This was mostly in arcades at places like your local mall. It became so impactful that Back to the Future II (1989) felt it would have a big role in our society by 2015. They were not too far with this.
However, author Howard Rheingold wasn’t a big fan of it. He felt people were not considering that actions in VR could mirror real life. He once asked: “If you are in a virtual world and you have a model of your office and you pick up a virtual shotgun and blow your boss away because it might be amusing, then does that blur the line between activities you do in fantasy and the activities you do in real life?”
Spectator Magazine Felt The Telegraph Would Change Language
The Telegraph may not technically be used today but it’s alive and well in the telephone and cell phone. Several inventors can claim some credit for their invention, but all used some form of Morse Code. This was invented by Samual Morse from the 1830s through the 1840s, allowing the telegraph to become a useful tool for long-distance communication.
It became such a huge thing that in 1889, Spectator Magazine wrote about the “constant diffusion of statements in snippets” the use of telegraphs was leading to. They assumed it could become a larger problem and even affect language at a deeper level. If only they could speak to young people in 2019 to learn the telegraph was the least of their concern. Come on Spectator, OMG ROFL 😀
Social Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are massive additions to our lives. They allow us to communicate and share information in a huge space and converse with people all over the world. Yet some people freaked out about new technology like the world of social media in a major way. Dr. Aric Sigman was one of the biggest, who claimed in 2009 that social networks will reduce face-to-face contact.
Sigman felt that this will contribute to cancer and heart disease because humans are social creatures in need of social interaction. Without it, we can possibly develop various health problems. The concept is flawed due to the idea that “social” networks give people the social interaction they need without being in-person. This is similar to those who said online-school wasn’t possible.
“Bound Books Will Never Compare To Handwritten Codices,” Said Trithemius Of Sponheim
While it’s weird to even consider the “bound book” as a technology, it technically is. All books today use some form of binding to remain together. Yet most of the writing was handled by those in religious sectors and some scribes. Trithemius of Sponheim was noted lexicographer, chronicler, cryptographer, and occultist during the German Renaissance.
He among others had a deep distrust of the printing industry. He claimed in 1492 that “printed books will never be the equivalent of handwritten codices because scribes display more diligence and industry than printers.” We’d still be writing all books by hand if he had his way.
AT&T Claimed: “There Is No Need For Answering Machines”
We all know AT&T is not the most beloved company, but what they said about answering machines was kinda nuts. However, there is some weird history behind the device too. It was actually semi-illegal for many homes to have them during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Apparently, they posed a hazard to the line repairman.
This even led to several companies banning them. Yet it was AT&T who made a bold claim in the 1950s, saying “there is no need for the device.” The FCC finally permitted the machines for homes in 1975. AT&T even brought the first affordable and proper model to the market in 1983. We thought there was no need for them though…
“There Is A World Market For About Five Computers,” Said IBM In 1943
If you can believe it, the original computer models were too big for homes. In 1822, Charles Babbage made likely the first mechanical computer, “The Difference Machine.” It was simplistic but could compute numerous sets of numbers, making hard copies of the results. Yet it was absolutely massive! While the Enigma Machine from Alan Turing and other early computers just showed how the world could eventually lead this direction, many scoffed at such a concept.
This includes IBM Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Watson. IBM had been known for the computing scale, bar code, and automated teller machines (ATM). Yet Watson claimed in 1943, “there is a world market for about five computers.” IBM went go on to invent the floppy disc, DRAM, and original hard drives for millions of computers.
Hybrid Cars Are Dangerous Due To Electromagnetic Fields
Rumors began spreading about hybrid vehicles in the mid-2000s. One of the most popular claimed they were dangerous due to their electromagnetic field radiation. Apparently, their concept was that their big batteries and electric motors gave off unsafe and high EMF radiation.
To be fair, they were giving off EMF radiation. However, ALL electronic devices do this, from your phone to the random living room lamp. This is rarely dangerous for most humans. A study was done on these cars as early as 2002 by the National Institutes of Health who said: “the overall scientific evidence for human health risk from EMF exposure is weak.”
Autotune is used on pretty much every single album you hear today. This is mostly used on voices to help singers completely tune with the instruments or other sounds on various songs. It seemed like a great idea but some felt it would result in the death of music as we know it.
They felt it would come off more robotic and unrealistic. However, the robotic issue has never been present unless specifically designed for it. This even helped to give rise to EDM, a major style dominating music today. Not only has autotune been useful for artists on their albums, but it may have changed music for the better, not for worse.
“The Popularity Of The Wheel Is Doomed” Claimed The Washington Post
Bicycles have been around for over 100 years now. Advancements were consistent in the industry ever since. However, The Washington Post was unwilling to believe in them. In one of the most insane times when people freaked out about new technology, the Post went after bikes big time!
Bikes were kind of a fashion statement, considered quite trendy in the late-1800s. Thus, the Post felt they would fall out of popularity like other trends. Despite claiming that biking was the national sport in 1896, by 1902 the Post claimed that “the popularity of the wheel is doomed.” Clearly, they were very off with that statement.
If you grew up in the late 1800s during the boom era of the telephone, you were apparently aiding Satan. Well, at least that is what some people in Sweden seemingly thought. It was not uncommon to see European areas get freaked out about new technology during this period.
However, Sweden was weird to see in this ordeal. In 1885, they actually had the most telephone penetration in the world. After debuting in Stockholm in 1877, love for them resulted in Sweden’s major telephone station. The problem was that the new tech was made of metal, and could attract lightning. Some then believed telephones were instruments of the devil as a result.
A Women’s Book Did Not Seem To Understand Computers
Normally, we’d never call out specific genders or sexes at Science Sensei. However, we must bring something up for historical reasons. It stands out as one of those times people freaked out about new technology that most of us look back and laugh at. Back in the 1990s, there were several phobias that were becoming relatively popular about computers due to a lack of understanding. This led to a book called Women and Computers, published in 1996.
They are actually the ones that appear to be the first to coin the “computerphobia” term too. They were not sure about how sturdy the product was, with one portion of the text asking if touching it will damage what’s inside? The book also mentioned how computers could cripple mankind and enslave society. You know, light stuff.
Kids Will Be Sickly Adults If They Go To Movie Theaters?
When the movie theater (or Nickelodeons) began to become a top place for people to visit in the early 1900s, this was a big problem for stage theatre. Stage entertainment was the big family place people went for literally centuries, so what changed? Basically, movie theaters. Naturally, the youth of the world will lean toward new technology.
Yet this took away business from the stage, so the theatre had to do something. This led to a number of different campaigns, one of which claimed in the 1910s that kids who go to the movies will grow up to be sickly adults. They had nothing to back up their claim, obviously.
Socrates Was Against Writing And Books For The Dumbest Of Reasons
Ancient Philosopher Socrates was certainly a brilliant man. One thing he is most notable for saying is: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Based on his hatred for writing and text, this isn’t far off. Writing had been around for hundreds of years prior but scrolls and codices were being used far more during his era.
Socrates was against it because, as he says, “[writing] will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories. They will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves [and] will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be a tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without reality.” Of course, we know this because someone wrote it down.
“Cars Will Never Be As Widely Popular As Bicycles,” Said The NY Times
The original automobile was nothing like what we’d see it become. In 1902, the New York Times even called them impractical. They broke down, required significant fueling, and were not worth the trouble for some. This is why the NY Times did not feel the same as some reporters and analysts who claimed it was the next big thing in transportation.
The Biking Boom of the 1890s made it weird to assume something else could take its place. Plus, automobiles weren’t cheap by any means. The Times once said in the early 1900s that the price of cars “will never be sufficiently low to make them as widely popular as were bicycles.” We cannot blame them for their issue here but clearly, they turned out to be incorrect.
The Inventor Of The Radio Thought He Only Added To World’s Menace
Back in the 1800s, everything was a work of the Devil if people didn’t understand it. Sometimes we can understand it, but it often got out of hand. The worst part is being a person who invents something amazing and sadly feels you only made the world worse. That is exactly what Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio, assumed.
He admitted in a speech given to Sir James Irvin that he once thought: “Have I done the world any good, or only added to its menace?” Marconi invented the wireless technology in 1895 but it took around 20 years for it to be used the way we know it to be in play today. This man second-guessed himself for years.
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors were the common computer monitors people were buying in the 2000s. However, by the mid-2000s period, major concerns came about regarding them. It was said that these CRT monitors were causing miscarriages in pregnant women somehow. That led to tests being done but when they were compiled, they found that a link could not be replicated.
Basically, there was seemingly no true link to the monitors and miscarriages. There was slight radiation because again, it’s STILL an electronic device, but nothing more. However, TC093 & TV095 safety standards were put into place anyway to ensure they reduced any CRT radiation.
We mostly know the Nintendo company for its iconic consoles and electronics like the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and the Gameboy. Yet they had more to give the world, which resulted in the Nintendo DS being released to the world in 2004. While the system was beloved by millions of people all over the world, some people lost their minds regarding it.
A newer feature of the system was the Pictochat, which was basically text-messaging. As people do when they get freaked out about new technology they don’t understand, they immediately claimed child predators could use the Pictochat to prey on kids. This never happened.
Television Will “Further Vulgarization Of American Culture”
A lot has been said about television over the years. However, there were attempts to censor TV because of very small actions by the creators at one point. Competitors from other industries did not help matters, as they attempted to kill TV. The radio was known as a huge opponent to the radio and attempted to cut it down whenever possible.
Media historian Ellen Wartella mentioned to Slate.com that critics went after TV hard when it began to grow in popularity. They would at one point insist that TV will “hurt radio, conversation, reading, and the patterns of family living and result in the further vulgarization of American culture.” This never truly happened, depending on your definition of these things.
BBC Wondered If Texting Would Ruin The English Language
In 2003, BBC Newsran a story asking if texting would ruin the English language as we know it today. Several of the main texting abbreviations began in the late 2000s and eventually the 2010s. In some ways, it did change our language. However, there’s a difference here. Yes, a small number of young people use text-speak in normal conversation.
However, this is not the way it is for a majority of people. We’ve always abbreviated words or tried to make things smaller to save space and time. In fact, words like “couldn’t,” “don’t,” and “won’t” are real words that put two different words together. We’ve had them in our language for decades. Therefore, in reality, texting has not changed our language much if at all. It certainly hasn’t ruined it.
This is a myth that began years ago when there was, yet again, another point where people freaked out about new technology in the world of television. Many kids kept sitting close to televisions as they were growing up. Slowly but surely, these children began to need glasses.
Therefore, the assumption was that sitting too close to the TV made this happen to them. In reality, children with already bad vision sat closer to TVs. These same kids also put a book close to their faces to see it too. Essentially, their need for glasses made them sit close. Sitting close DID NOT cause the need.
People have been freaking out about new technology as of the last few months alone, especially when it comes to cloning. The medical field is working on a lot of cloning experiments, mostly in an effort to duplicate organs. This is an effort to give people needed organs and no longer rely on organ donation.
However, some believe that this type of cloning will lead to the government cloning us all and then get rid of the original copies (AKA us). Seriously, this is an ongoing debate right now! There has never been any proof of this. Plus, cloning full human bodies with the same thoughts and personality as the original copy is likely next to impossible, at least for now.
Plato, a student and eventual peer of Socrates, was against the world of books too. While Plato essentially agreed with Socrates, he had other reasoning that was somewhat understandable. He believed that anyone could write down anything claiming someone said something or believed something. Yet, if you heard it straight from the person, it was the only true way to know they actually said or believed something.
This is why he’s quoted in saying writing “is a step backward in truth.” The reasoning made sense but Plato did go on to write and publish quite a lot of his own work. However, Plato’s argument against writing (and books) made some philosophical sense. Plus, he could recite all his works by memory.
The Motion Picture Association Of America Tried To Get VCRs/VHSs Banned
Video Cassette Recorders(VCRs) and Video Home Systems(VHSs) used to be pretty important to the world. When they first came out, the movie and television world was not happy about it. They felt that people would not go out and watch movies if they could simply record them at home. In fact, Jack Valenti, a leader at the Motion Picture Association of America, attempted to get them banned when appealing to the U.S. Government.
He claimed: “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone.” He’d go on to say that they will cause the film industry to “bleed and bleed and hemorrhage.” They were never banned. Instead, studios smartened up and began to release their own tapes.
Video Games Apparently Cause All The Violence & Mass Murders
One thing that has been going around by parents and parental groups for years is that video games are too violent. Apparently, they believe kids will somehow play Call of Duty or Mortal Kombat and mirror what they see on the screen. Studies and testing have been done on this for several years, yet there is never a correlation between video games and violence.
Yet, every time there is a horrific mass murder in the United States or somewhere else in the world, the blame is thrown onto video games quite often. Far be it that we put the blame on the product used to commit these actions being easily accessible. Nor is blame thrown on mental conditions as often. Rather, the scapegoat is the video game. For the last time Grandpa, there’s no connection.
The New York Times Hated The Telephone In the 1800s
The United States was able to use the telephone for the first time in the late 1800s. However, despite this new technology promising to help connect people, some did not like it. The New York Times was the big attacker right away, barely letting it breathe. The media outlet claimed that telephones would only be used to invade people’s privacy.
In fact, one writer even claimed the telephone was a slippery slope where we’d all be, as he claims, “nothing but transparent heaps of jelly to each other.” Others came out and claimed we’d only become a lazy society and anti-social. That was crazy for the time, but in 2019, it’s not far off with cell phones.
This is a topic that is literally still debated today with articles coming out consistently. However, some of the fears are real about WiFi. They DO give off radiation. As previously mentioned, electromagnetic radiation is involved but it’s relatively low and not considered harmful.
However, as you sleep, go to work, walk around, and much more…you’re exposed to this. It’s all day, all night, and the pattern never changes for you. The idea is that with so much exposure, even if it’s incredibly small, it COULD be harmful. Yet studies have been done and have yet to find any truth to this invisible radiation being harmful in any way as of now.
20th Century Fox Did Not Believe In The Television At All In 1946
Due to FOX having multiple television networks, one could conclude that they were an early believer in TV. Yet this is not exactly true, as Darryl Zanuck was not much of a fan. Along with Joseph Schenck, Zanuck formed 20th Century Pictures in 1933. This eventually became 20th Century-Fox due to its merger in 1935 with Fox Studios. Zanuck was a hands-on executive who did well in his role.
Yet when asked about his thoughts on TV in 1946, he claimed “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” A movie studio executive answer, indeed.
The Feminine Hygiene Product That Confused Men For Years
Although it may not be considered new technology to women in the early 1900s, it technically is. Versions of the tampon have been in play for thousands of years and even date back to Ancient Egypt. Yet the modern version of the product was introduced by Dr. Earle Haas in 1933 and patented under the name “Tampax.”
However, people were concerned about the product. Some actually believed that the tampon was not great for women to use. Their assumption was that inserting one would be too pleasurable and thus, women could not contain their sexual feelings all day. Studies disproved that, however. Because obviously.
People Still Freak Out About New Technology In The Field Of Robotics
It seems that every single time something new and exciting is released from the field of robotics, people freak out. Why is this? Some believe that robots or cyborgs will eventually take over the world by getting rid of all humans. In fact, this became such an issue at one point that some governments blocked funding for robotics research.
In fact, the United Nations met in March of 2019 and spoke about the idea of banning so-called “killer robots.” This was not the Terminator type of thing, in case you were wondering. Moreover, it had to do with lethal autonomous weapon systems. Of course, this falls under robotics and has to do with AI Robotics. Pretty much anything in this sector is loved yet hated by many.
There were some who outright hated the world of automobiles when they were introduced during the Industrial Revolution. During this period, England consistently came out with impressive new technology. However, hatred for the automobile resulted in a new law called the “Red Flag Act” in the 1800s.
The law states that anytime one was going to be driven or drive, a person with a red flag had to be in front of them at all times. This law would eventually be revoked on grounds that it made no sense and literally defeated the purpose of the automobile in the first place.
Joseph Schenck Claimed “Talking Doesn’t Belong In Pictures”
The co-founder of what would become 20th Century Fox, Joseph Schenck, was quite a player in the movie industry. 20th Century Fox was massive and Schenck became one of the most powerful and influential people in entertainment alive. Yet before all of this, he was President of United Artists Corporation.
In a statement to the New York Times, Joseph claimed in 1928 that “talking doesn’t belong in pictures.” Of course, at this time in the movie-making industry, silent movies were the trend. “Talkies” as they would be called, were beloved. Obviously, those who made their money on silent films like Schenck weren’t fans. Eventually, he’d make millions on those “talkies” he hated.
People weren’t quite sure about trains in the early 1800s. In one of the biggest points where people freaked out about new technology, some assumed trains would rip people apart. The concern seemed to involve the speed at which they traveled. When Stockton-Darlington Railway opened in 1825, several insisted that trains were unsafe forms of travel.
Cultural Anthropologist Genevieve Bell claimed that critics of trains felt gruesome deaths would occur to those on board. Since no one understood how speed and force operated, the assumption was that people would just melt or limbs would fly off. At one point, people thought women’s uteruses would fly out if trains reached 50 MPH. We can safely say that none of this happened.
For those unaware, people in the 1990s were freaking out about the Year 2000. It was a brand new millennium, and the assumption was, somehow, all known technology would come to an end once this new century began. There were even signs and advertisements up telling people to shut their computer off before midnight so that it would not be affected.
Some people assumed the world was going to come to an end while others thought it would become some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland that the Mad Max team could envy. Yet none of this occurred. Their fear did have some validity, however. Several of the technological clocks used in computers ended, so once they stopped there would be an issue at least partly. Yet governments around the world worked to fix this problem well before anything happened.
Nicolas Carr wrote an article for The Atlantic in 2008 that was simply titled: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” It was an honest question and the piece is still quite a good read. He brought up how the internet might be sapping our attention and stunting our potential reasoning in life. When you have the answer to almost anything at your fingertips by merely searching Google for it, one can easily question if people will truly want or need to learn in the traditional sense.
He also brought up how this could risk the loss of people being interested in books or longer pieces of reading. To be fair to him, he is not wrong. This very website practices a shorter paragraph rule to make things easier to read, in a faster way. On top of this, book sales are not really down. However, we have seen a major rise in audiobooks where people can listen rather than read. Carr’s piece has fine points. Yet it does come off as pushing that Google could lead to bad educational values.
The New York Times Wrote That “Wearable Tech Could Cause Cancer”
It seems crazy how often the New York Times got things wrong regarding new technology. Before we saw the smartwatch along with more wearable technology, they claimed that smartwatches could cause cancer among other health problems. Of course, they were corrected on this by several people, including the website, Slate. For their part, the NY Times decided to amend the article.
They would make several editor notes, changed the headline, and much more. The original title of the article was “Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes?” The change also led them to write that the article “went too far in suggesting any such comparison.” Smartwatches among other devices are wearable today and to the shock of no one, there has not been one bit of connection to health problems, especially cancer.
Dr. Clair Patterson’s Revolutionary Research On Leaded Gasoline’s Impact On Health
In spite of its problems, lead does present as a useful additive for numerous things. That is what led a version of it, called tetraethyllead, to be added to our gasoline. Dr. Clair Patterson noticed how lead impacted human beings back in the 1940s, but his main claim to fame was looking into the age of the Earth. He’d find the answer to this, which allowed him to become internationally famous. Patterson then decided to look into other areas of science afterward.
This led him to see the major health problems caused by lead after studying it extensively. In gasoline, it was putting harmful versions into the environment even more than gasoline already does. This newer addition to lead was in play for years until Dr. Patterson’s groundbreaking research. Today, the United States among others ban the use of leaded gas. Not just that, but his work also resulted in lead being removed from several other products too, from paint to food containers and water systems.
CNN seemed to get a lot of stuff wrong with this entire concept. Not just because there is no proven study that cannabis rots the brains of adults but that email would even make sense to do so. That did not stop them from publishing this in freaking 2005!! You’d think they’d put this out in the early 1990s maybe, but by 2005? Many believe CNN’s entire concept behind this was due to some type of pay off by Hewitt-Packard, better known as simply HP.
In fact, in the article, they quote a man named David Smith who was from HP! While today we know HP for selling computers which, you know, likely sends emails a lot…that was not always the case. HP was originally better known for selling printers, and that is important to note. As this new technology, email, was not even that new by 2005. Yet HP knew the continued rise of it would result in less need to print stuff out or send letters. Leading to their likely pay-off with CNN.
A Swiss Biologist Was Not A Fan Of The Printing Press
Today, we know the Printing Press as one of the most important inventions in world history. Not only did it give rise to the media but it also allowed us to print books at a much faster pace. It could also be written in numerous languages in understandable and easy to read words. It used to take people years to write books, then even longer to write multiple copies of them. One would assume this revolutionary invention would be accepted by all.
Yet this new technology was despised by Swiss Biologist Conrad Gessner during the 16th Century. He felt it would lead to an information overload, and urged monarchs to regulate the trade of books. He was quoted as saying that the public would suffer from a “confusing and harmful abundance of books.” We probably should never mention the internet to this guy, like, ever. Time Travelers, are you listening to us? Never tell Gessner about the internet!!
Chapman University Claims People Fear Personal Information Tracking
To be honest, we can understand why there is an issue regarding the idea of public information tracking. It’s not exactly new technology as we could track information on people for decades in some form or another. Yet Chapman University conducted a survey where they asked Americans about their fears. Personal Information tracking ranked 3 & 5 respectively in America’s top technology-related fields.
This could have been assisted by tech-breaches at stores like Target along with online security breaches on Facebook, both of which resulted in millions seeing their personal information stolen as well as those that had the potential for theirs to be stolen. It’s not surprising that cybersecurity has become a top priority for social media websites as well as streaming services, among many more. The study found Cyberattacks to be the #1 fear people had, so we can see how personal info tracking relates.
Self-Driving Cars Could Lead To Death, According To Many
While Google, Tesla, and many others are working on prototypes or have fully developed self-driving cars, there is still a great fear around them. We can even see why people find them to be such a threat. New technology like this is going to have problems, as self-driving cars are fully automated. This means they can be hacked or might not stop when they need to, causing possible accidents. This is not even discussing how they’ll interact with other cars that aren’t self-driving yet.
A few studies checked into this to see how people felt about driverless cars, and it seems like it is among the most concerning new technology across ALL generations. We’re already seeing autopilot or driver-assist modes in vehicles but very few fully automated models. We are not sure if these cars can make smart life or death situations many humans could. Leading to ethical issues, such as the idea of not stopping for someone even if they are illegally crossing the road.
The world of Drones has become massive over the last few years. Drones were mostly an exclusive thing to the military before their commercial use became a major part of the market. They have since become a major fear worldwide, and in many ways, we can see why there is such a massive fear of them. In some nations, drones have been used to drop bombs over the years with the United States being the main nation known for doing this.
On top of that, commercial or recreational drones have been abundant in America. More than one million drones are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. While there are several laws in place regarding drones, people feel they are still a potential threat to privacy. The FAA has yet to specifically outlaw flights over residential areas. This is not even discussing the harm a falling drone could cause. New technology like drones can be awesome, but understandably threatening.
The Potential For Unwanted Home Surveillance Via TVs, Alexa, Etc.
One could be forgiven for assuming that there is a potential problem with some of our “smart” devices. There is a potential that many could be hacked due to their connection to the internet. Yet that does not mean they can all “see” anything going on, but hearing stuff? That is not only a possible threat, it has admittedly occurred with the Amazon Alexa. It’s already proven it can “eavesdrop” on conversations. Of course, the real problem with this is not that it can eavesdrop.
Rather, WHO is doing the eavesdropping. There are special applications that can be used on Google Home & the Alexa devices. Since they are controlled through voice, they easily pick up on what you’re saying. CNET found that servers for Google and Amazon were picking up convos but so were third-party types too. Even if Google and Amazon wiped their drives, we have no idea who these third-party types are. Other “smart” devices have similar issues, making many distrust them.
When a new thing called “electricity” made its way into places across the United States, many felt it was a major revolutionary opportunity. You could light up entire homes using it, and we’d later find electricity in use across a multitude of fields, including other new technology. Yet when electricity made its way to the White House in Washington, D.C. it was not met with a lot of love by the U.S. President at the time, Benjamin Harrison.
Harrison reportedly had a great fear of electricity and had the White House staff turn lights on and off because he was so afraid of potentially being electrocuted by it. He was not alone, as many also thought electricity could be used to do other evil, dastardly things. Like draw in unsuspecting children or even be used to blind people, as well as rob them. Ultimately, electricity turned out to be relatively safe but critics were not wrong to point to possible danger it could be connected to.
Sources: [The Guardian, The New York Times, Ranker, BBC, CBS News, National Institutes of Health, King’s College, The Washington Post, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Wall Street Journal, Vox, Spectator Magazine, Women And Computers, The Glasgow Herald, Electronic Frontier Foundation, History.com, Slate.com, MentalFloss.com]