Press Release - December 1990 - For Immediate Release Contacts: Yves Barbero 415-285-4358

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Press Release -- December 1990 -- For Immediate Release Contacts: Yves Barbero 415-285-4358 Robert Steiner 415-235-5516 Robert Sheaffer 408-379-2854, 408-492-2000 Bay Area Skeptics, 4030 Moraga, San Francisco, CA 94122 U.S.A. PSYCHICS' PREDICTIONS FIZZLE FOR 1990 Jackie Onassis did not marry the young rock star Jon Bon Jovi. A tidal wave did not flood Manhattan. A meteorite did not land in the White House Rose Garden, and a cure was not found for the common cold. These are just a few of the many predictions that had been made for 1990 by famous "psychics", but were dead wrong, as chronicled by the _Bay Area Skeptics_. At the end of each year, many well-known "psychics" issue predictions for the coming year. Twelve months later, they issue another set of predictions, conveniently forgetting those they made the year before, which are always nearly 100% wrong. Each year, however, the Bay Area Skeptics dig up the predictions made the year before, to the embarrassment of those who made them. Many of the "psychic" predictions made are so vague that it is impossible to say if they came true or not: For example, Jeane Dixon's prediction that "secrets will weigh heavily" on Vice-President Dan Quayle is not obviously true or false. Many other "predictions" involve things that happen every year, or else are not difficult to guess, such as hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, marital strife for Charles and Diana, or terrorist incidents. Many "predictions" simply state that ongoing events and trends will continue, such as economic uncertainty, or conflict in the Middle East. Other supposed "predictions" are not really predictions at all, but are actually disclosures of little-known events that are already under way, such as movie productions, business ventures, or developing scandals. Because questionable claims of having made an amazing prediction frequently are made in the wake of major news stories, the Bay Area Skeptics only evaluates predictions that were widely known before the events they claimed to foretell. While some predictions did of course come true, especially those that were unspecific, or not at all difficult to guess, not _one_ prediction that was both specific _and_ surprision came true. The famous Washington, D.C. "psychic" Jeane Dixon, who supposedly has a "gift of prophesy", predicted that George Bush's "greatest challenge" would come this summer when he would be forced to make "life-and-death decisions about troubles in Latin America and China". While those regions were relatively quiet this summer, Dixon somehow failed to foresee Bush having any trouble with Iraq. "The worst stock market drop of the year will come in mid-April", she predicted; it actually occurred from August through mid-October. She also warned that the West Coast "will be shaken again by an October earthquake" which will "bring a volcano to life" [_The Star_, Jan. 16, 1990]. St. Louis "psychic" Beverly Jaegers, who claims to be able to make accurate stock market predictions, predicted that defrocked evangelist Jimmy Bakker would become a "hunted fugitive" after an escape from prison, and that Madonna would get pregnant from an affair with Pee-Wee Herman [_National Enquirer_, July 3, 1990]. In Chicago, "psychic" Irene Hughes predicted that Jacqueline Onassis would tie the knot with rock star Jon Bon Jovi, that Bryant Gumbel would be fired from the "Today" show after an ugly bar-room brawl, and that Chuck Norris would lead a group of mercenaries in a successful attack on a Colombian drug field [_National Enquirer_, Jan. 2, 1990]. Los Angeles "psychic" Marie Graciette predicted that the largest earthquake ever recorded would strike the sea bed near New York City, sending in a tidal wave that would flood Manhattan [_National Enquirer_, July 3, 1990]. A meteorite would land in the White House Rose Garden, endangering the First Family by the levels of radiation it emits. (Meteorites are primarily made of iron and nickel, which are not radioactive.) She also predicted that Japanese scientists would discover a cure for the common cold while investigating the ink spewed out by squid [_National Enquirer_, Jan. 2, 1990]. Southern Californian Clarisa Bernhardt, who claims to make "incredibly accurate" earthquake predictions, foresaw that Barbra Streisand would go to Cuba and wind up in a "sizzling" romance with Fidel Castro [_National Enquirer_, July 3, 1990]. She also predicted that the Major Leagues would have their first female baseball player, whose skill would make her a superstar [_National Enquirer_, Jan. 2, 1990]. Here in Northern California, "Psychic Astrologer" Terrie Brill of Redwood City predicted five years ago [_San Francisco Examiner_, Dec. 16, 1985] that 1990 would absolutely be the year that a massive earthquake would reshape the California coastline. "If there was doubt [about this prediction], I'd say there was doubt", she reaffirmed to the reporter. This past December, she predicted that Oprah Winfrey would marry, that Manuel Noriega (who was then holed up in the Vatican Embassy in Panama) would be released, but not to the United States, and would be killed by a Panamanian before six months had passed [_San Francisco Examiner_, Dec. 28, 1990]. Brill charges her clients $195 an hour for predictions such as these. Twelve months ago, Brill went on record predicting an earthquake that would make the Bay Area "fall into the ocean" during 1991 [_San Jose Mercury-News_, Jan. 1, 1990], but in view of her previous dismal track record, the Bay Area Skeptics see no cause for alarm. Based on the continuing failure of the "psychics" to make accurate predictions over the years, the Bay Area Skeptics urge everyone -- including the press -- to exercise some healthy skepticism when "psychics" and other purveyors of the paranormal make extraordinary claims or predictions. Anyone who swallows the "psychics'" claims year after year, without checking the record, is setting a bad example for students and for the public. It is important to note that no "psychic" succeeded in predicting the genuinely _surprising_ news stories of 1990: the invasion and occupation of Kuwait by Iraq; Hussein's holding of thousands of foreign hostages as "human shields"; George Bush saying yes to "new taxes"; and the stunning electoral defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. These major news stories were so unanticipated that someone would have had to be truly "psychic" to have predicted them. Given the number of so-called "psychics" out there, one would expect that at least a few of them would have correctly predicted these -- unless, of course, all such claims of "psychic powers" are without foundation. The _Bay Area Skeptics_ is a group of people from all walks of life who support the critical examination of paranormal claims, such as psychic powers, UFOs, astrology, Bigfoot, biorhythms, etc. Similar skeptics' organizations are active in many other areas of the country, including Southern California, New York, Colorado, Illinois, Arizona, Texas, and Ohio. The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) is an international skeptics' organization, made up of many famous writers, scientists, and investigators, such as Martin Gardner, Stephen Jay Gould, James "The Amazing" Randi, Isaac Asimov, and many others. Similar skeptics' groups have also been formed in many foreign countries, including Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and India. These groups cooperate in making their findings available to other researchers, and to the public. For more information about the activities of the Bay Area Skeptics, you can call their recorded message line at 415-LA-TRUTH. -------------------- Regards, Speaking for Bay Area Skeptics? Aye. Rick Moen, Secretary Anyone else? Nay. Bay Area Skeptics --------------------

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