Bay Area Skeptics PSYCHICS' PREDICTIONS FIZZLE FOR 1992 President Bush was not re-elected.

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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, 1992]. 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 510-LA TRUTH. -- Robert Sheaffer - Scepticus Maximus - sheaffer@netcom.com

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