Bay Area Skeptics
PSYCHICS' PREDICTIONS FIZZLE FOR 1992
President Bush was not re-elected. Madonna did not become a
gospel singer, and a UFO base was not found in the Mexican
desert. These were just a few of the many predictions that had
been made for 1992 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 predic-
tions 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 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 Tracey Gold "faces perilous periods in
July and October" [The Star, April 14, 1992] is not obviously
true or false. Many other "predictions" involve things that
happen every year, or else are not difficult to guess, such as
terrorist incidents, 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 unspecific, or
not at all difficult to guess: several "psychics" correctly
predicted that a hurricane would cause major destruction in
Florida or Cuba, but not one was specific as to the date or
principal location of the damage. Hurricanes occur, of course,
every season in the Caribbean. Significantly, not one prediction
which 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, marriage plans,
business ventures, or developing scandals. Because questionable
claims of having made an amazing prediction are frequently 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.
New York "psychic" Lou Wright predicted that three men would
unsuccessfully attempt to kidnap Candice Bergen in Paris, and
Marlon Brando would be arrested for trying to bust his son out of
jail [Natl. Enquirer, Jan. 2, 1992].
Los Angeles "psychic" Maria Graciette predicted that a secret UFO
base would be found deep in the Mexican desert, thousands of
years old, and that Vice-President Dan Quayle, attending a World
Series game, would impulsively interfere with a play [National
Enquirer, June 9, 1992].
New York "psychic" John Monti predicted that "a massive hurricane
will devastate Cuba and topple Castro's regime," that a huge AIDS
epidemic would "threaten to end professional sports" [National
Enquirer, Jan. 2, 1992], and that a scientific advance would
allow women to delay menopause, allowing them to have children
into their 60s [National Enquirer, June 9, 1992].
The famous Washington, D.C. "psychic" Jeane Dixon, who supposedly
has a "gift of prophecy", saw that Fidel Castro would be
overthrown, possibly resulting in Cuba becoming part of the U.S.,
and Virginia governor Douglas Wilder would gain enough support
for a "vice-presidential invitation". President-elect Bill
Clinton, however, she described as "the Democratic shooting
star," for whom "an organization of women will try to block his
path" [The Star, Jan. 21, 1992]. President Bush's ratings would
climb, resulting in his reelection [The Star, July 7, 1992]. She
also predicted "a promising economic upturn in the spring," and
that "broccoli will become the miracle vegetable of the '90s"
[The Star, Jan. 21, 1992].
Chicago "psychic" Irene Hughes predicted that Vanna White and her
husband would purchase a "haunted" mansion in Beverly Hills, from
which they would flee in terror a week later. Madonna's career
would be interrupted by a "mystery illness," but she would
recover after having a religious vision, and become a gospel
singer [National Enquirer, June 9, 1992].
New York "psychic" Laura Steele predicted that an earthquake
would topple the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and that William
Kennedy Smith would enter the priesthood to become a missionary
in Africa [National Enquirer, Jan. 2, 1992].
Los Angeles "psychic" Judy Hevenly predicted that George Bush
would be re-elected "by a landslide," that Madonna would be hit
by a car while jogging in New York's Central Park [National
Enquirer, Jan. 2, 1992], and that Gennifer Flowers would join the
cast of a popular daytime soap opera [National Enquirer, June 9,
Another Southern California "psychic," Clarisa Bernhardt, who is
claimed to make "uncanny earthquake predictions," warned that
scientists would be "shocked" in October when supposedly
earthquake-proof Florida is hit by a trembler, only weeks after
being hit by "the worst hurricane in the state's history." The
prediction that this year's hurricane season would produce
Florida's worst destruction yet was correct, but the earthquake
prediction was dead wrong. Bernhardt also predicted that Joan
Lunden would renew her marriage vows on her TV show, "Good
Morning America" [National Enquirer, June 9, 1992], that Michael
Jackson would lose his voice and quit singing, and that Joan
Rivers would be plagued by three look-alikes created through
"extensive plastic surgery" [National Enquirer, Jan. 2, 1992].
Joan Quigley of San Francisco, White House astrologer to the
Reagans, predicted that Bill Clinton would run out of money
toward the campaign's end, and that the total eclipse of the sun
on June 30 will cause earthshaking events in China [Washington
Post, April 18, 1992].
Here in Northern California, the date of that devastating
California earthquake everybody keeps predicting was pegged for
Oct. 17, the third anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake, by
"psychic" Ernesto A. Moshe Montgomery, who claims an accuracy of
99 1/2 percent [San Jose Metro, Feb. 27, 1992].
Based on the continuing failure of the "psychics" to make
accurate predictions over the years, the Bay Area Skeptics urges
everyone - especially 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 1992: The destructive
fire in Windsor Castle; the feud between Vice-President Quayle
and Murphy Brown; the surprising presidential campaign of Ross
Perot. These major news stories were so totally unexpected that
someone would have had to be genuinely "psychic" to have
predicted them twelve months ago! 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, biorhythms, etc.
Similar skeptics' organizations are active in many other areas of
the country, including New York, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois,
Southern California, 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, Philip J. Klass, 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
Robert Sheaffer - Scepticus Maximus - firstname.lastname@example.org