Yves Barbero 415-285-4358 Robert Steiner 415-235-5516 Robert Sheaffer 408-379-2854 (For Im

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Yves Barbero 415-285-4358 Robert Steiner 415-235-5516 Robert Sheaffer 408-379-2854 (For Immediate Release) PSYCHICS' PREDICTIONS FIZZLE FOR 1991 Saddam Hussein was not killed in an accidental nuclear explosion, nor was he brought to trial. A massive earthquake did not dump California into the ocean. Pope John Paul II was not charged by a crazed camel, and Tom Cruise did not lose his hair. These were just a few of the many predictions that had been made for 1991 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 year to come. Twelve months later, they issue another set of predictions, conveniently forgetting those 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 embarassment 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 "pressures behind the scenes will force Carol Burnett to make an important decision about her future this winter" 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 severe winter storms. Many supposed "predictions" simply state that ongoing events and trends will continue, such as economic uncertainty, or conflict in the Middle East. Some predictions did of course come true, especially those that were inspecific, or not at all difficult to guess: Jeane Dixon correctly predicted that the "tenure will be short" for "the new priest-president of troubled Haiti" Jean-Francois Aristide [The Star, April 16, 1991]. However, since in recent years the government of Haiti has been averaging about one coup a year, such an outcome was hardly unexpected. Significantly, not _one prediction_ that was both _specific and surprising_ came true. Other supposed "predictions" are not really predictions at all, but are actually disclosures of little-known events which 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 published or broadcast before the events they claimed to foretell. Denver "psychic" Lou Wright predicted that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake would devastate the Los Angeles area in September [The Globe, Dec. 25, 1990]. She also predicted that an air disaster would kill hundreds of vacationers on their way to Hawaii in March, and that a famous politician would cause a scandal when he leaves his wife for Whitney Houston [National Enquirer, Jan. 1, 1991]. Los Angeles "psychic" Maria Graciette predicted that a massive earthquake would strike the Grand Canyon in the spring, and that Tom Cruise would temporarily go bald because of a stress-related illness [National Enquirer, Jan. 1, 1991]. New York "psychic" John Monti predicted that Vice-President Quayle would temporarily stand in for the president when Bush is stricken with heart problems, that a former U.S. president would die in the fall, and that an assasination attempt on Soviet president Gorbachev would be foiled by a courageous American tourist [The Examiner, Dec. 25, 1990]. The famous Washington, D.C. "psychic" Jeane Dixon, who supposedly has a "gift of prophecy", saw Rev. Jimmy Swaggert's ministry being "saved" by a last-minute donation this year, rather than being destroyed by another scandal involving a prostitute. She also predicted that Prince Charles and Princess Diana would announce their separation. [The Star, Dec. 25, 1990]. In April of this year, Jeane Dixon issued her predictions for the aftermath of the Gulf War. While this did contain the correct prediction of the release of the Western hostages in Lebanon, she also predicted that Saddam Hussein would either be assassinated, or else be put on trial for war crimes in a Moslem court. She also saw terrorist attacks being made against the British Royal Family, and Monaco's Prince Rainier, and predicted that the world would be stunned as "the old order" in China, Korea, and Japan suddenly fell apart, like the Berlin Wall. No major changes occurred in any of those governments during 1991. [The Star, April 16, 1991]. Southern California "psychic" Judy Hevenly predicted that Saddam Hussein will be killed in February, in an accidental nuclear explosion at a secret Iraqui facility, and that scientists would find evidence of extraterrestrial life using the Hubble space telescope [National Enquirer, Jan. 1, 1991]. Another of her predictions was that Pope John Paul II would have a "close call" while visiting U.N. Troops in Saudi Arabia when he would be charged by a "crazed camel" [The Globe, Dec. 25, 1990]. Another Southern California "psychic," Clarisa Bernhardt, who is claimed to make "uncanny earthquake predictions," foresaw that the much-heralded earthquake that was supposed to hit Missouri in December, 1990, will actually strike in the fall of 1991. She also predicted that Imelda Marcos and Tammy Faye Baker would team up to open a nationwide chain of clothing and show boutiques [National Enquirer, Jan. 1, 1991]. Here in Northern California, "psychic astrologer" Terrie Brill predicted that a massive earthquake would hit the West Coast from Washington to Mexico, causing California to fall into the ocean [San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 1, 1990, p. 1B]. She also predicted that housing prices in the Bay area "will go down by at least 25%," and perhaps even 50% [San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 31, 1990, p. 5B]. In reality, the average price of a house in San Jose today is very close to where it was 12 months ago. She also foresaw Liz Taylor going back into the hospital in a "near-death situation" [San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 31, 1990]. Based on the continuing failure of the "psychics" to make accurate predictions over the years, the Bay Area Skeptics urges everyone - including the media - to exercise some healthy skepticism when "psychics" and other purveyors of the paranormal make extra-ordinary 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 1991: The military coup in the Kremlin that was defeated almost bloodlessly by supporters of democracy, followed just a few months later by the complete dissolution of the Soviet Union; Saddam Hussein deliberately causing one of the world's largest oil spills, then torching Kuwait's oil fields; the most destructive wildfire in California history devastating the Oakland and Berkeley hills; the arrest of Pee-Wee Herman for "indecent exposure"; a highly-publicized rape trial involving a member of the Kennedy family. These major news stories were so totally unexpected that someone would have had to be genuinely "psychic" to have predicted them! Given the sheer number of so-called "psychics" out there, one would expect that if even one of them were genuine, these things would have been correctly predicted; and since they were not, it suggests that 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, biorythms, etc. Similar skeptics' organizations are active in many other areas of the country, including New York, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Arizona, Texas, and Ohio. The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), headquartered in Buffalo, NY, is an international skeptics' organization, made up of many famous writers, scientists, and investigators, such as Martin Gardner, Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and many others. Similar skeptics' groups have also formed in many foreign countries, including Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, and India. These groups cooperate in making their findings available to other researchers, and to the public. For more information about the activities and publications of the Bay Area Skeptics, you can call their recorded message line at 510-LA-TRUTH.

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