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
Regards, Speaking for Bay Area Skeptics? Aye.
Rick Moen, Secretary Anyone else? Nay.
Bay Area Skeptics