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.
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.
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
For more information about the activities and publications of the Bay
Area Skeptics, you can call their recorded message line at