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Psychic Forecasts Were a Big Flop (Again)

Psychic Predictions

Gene Emery

December 31, 1997

Diana’s Death Eludes Psychics

AMHERST, NY— With 1997 drawing to a close, a lot of astonishing things are going to be happening over the next several days.

Those are the events that are supposed to occur in 1997 if you believe the top psychics, who made their predictions a year ago in publications like The National Enquirer, the Star and the National Examiner.

The biggest embarrassment for the psychics is what they didn’t forecast: the sudden death of Princess Diana. In 1997, Princess Diana was supposed to announce that she would be “moving to Africa to train as a long-distance runner for the Summer Olympics in the year 2000,” according to Shawn Robbins, who claims to have foreseen the assassination attempt on the Pope and is one of the National Enquirer’s “10 top psychics". The psychic who had the best chance of forewarning Diana of possible danger was Derbyshire psychic Rita Rogers. Diana and Emad (Dodi) Fayed visited Rita Rogers on August 13, shortly before their death two and a half weeks later. Obviously the visit made no difference.

Gene Emery, a columnist for SKEPTICAL INQUIRER magazine, who has made a hobby of keeping the forecasts and seeing if they come true, says the psychics seem to have scored as badly in 1997 as they have in past years. “These are supposed to be the best psychics in the country or, in some cases, the world. If these are the best, imagine how bad your neighborhood psychic or favorite hotline psychic would be if put to the test,” said Emery.

Depending on which psychic was writing, 1997 was to be the year that O.J. Simpson would (a.) have his ex-wife’s murder solved by “Murder, She Wrote” star Angela Lansbury, (b.) be “locked away for running over an elderly woman after a night of boozing it up on the town,” or (c.) become a huge hit on French television hosting a “who-dunit” show that investigates unsolved murders in France.”

Among the other forecasts for 1997:

Emery said it’s ironic that the supermarket tabloids, many of which have been striving for credibility in recent years, beginning with their coverage of the O.J. Simpson case, keep publishing the predictions of the same psychics year after year “when it’s clear to anyone who checks that these psychics can’t live up to their claims of being able to predict major, unexpected news events.”

The last tabloid psychic to score on a major prediction was Clarissa Bernhardt, a regular for the National Enquirer. The tabloid gives her credit for predicting “the devastation of Florida by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. In June, 1992, Bernhardt said “Scientists will be shocked in October when ‘earthquake proof’ Florida is hit by a tremor — only weeks after being slammed by the worst hurricane in the state’s history.” The quake didn’t happen, but Andrew did.

However, her other forecasts for that same year (and in subsequent years) reveal that her 1992 prediction was simply a half-lucky guess. Bernhardt said kilts would “become the hottest new fashion since bell-bottoms” (1992), space debris will crash in Lima, Peru “leveling government buildings and killing many of that nation’s leaders,” Rush Limbaugh will save Ted Kennedy from a car wreck just before it bursts into flames, deep-sea explorers will discover a "miraculous over-the-counter baldness cure” in a rare aquatic plant (1993), a "compass” gene will be implanted into dogs and cats so they can always find their way home, Jay Leno will lose his “Tonight Show” job to Johnny Carson and Geraldo Rivera will have his nose broken during an on-air fistfight with Madonna (1996).

In Bernhardt’s crystal ball, 1997 was to be the year “Aliens from an oil- hungry planet will descend on earth and siphon our oil reserves into huge tanker spacecraft for two weeks before vanishing.”

As for 1998, the psychics are already predicting it will be the year when:

Other predictions for 1997 and 1998 can be found in the current edition of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, which looks at the science behind supernatural claims. The bimonthly magazine is found in bookstores with a good magazine collection, or by subscribing at 1-800-458-1366. Media copies may be obtained by calling Matt Nisbet at 716-636-1425.

Gene Emery

Gene Emery manages the Massachusetts bureau of the Providence Journal, reviews computer software and video games, and frequently writes about science, medicine and technology. He'll be accepting predictions through Jan. 15 from professional psychics, although they must be for unexpected events guaranteed to make the headlines in 2005.