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Psychic Predictions 2005

Psychic Predictions

Gene Emery

January 17, 2006

There’s 2005, and then there’s the 2005 that never was but was supposed to have been, at least if you believed the psychics.

Their 2005 was supposed to be the year every major disease was cured, terrorists started World War III by shooting a nuclear missile into China, and world hunger ended when scientists developed a tasty crossbreed between a camel and an iguana.

That view of world events was prophesized a year ago by a blue-ribbon panel of psychics, prophets and visionaries assembled by the supermarket tabloid The Sun, according to Gene Emery, who has been tracking the accuracy of psychic predictions since 1979.

Emery, a writer for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, said the psychics and seers did just as badly this year as they have for every other year, not only predicting astounding events that never came true, but failing to forecast tragedies like the London terrorist bombs in July that were the talk of 2005. Psychic warnings to the people of New Orleans about Katrina would have been helpful too.

“It’s amazing that people still take stock in psychics when their success rate is so close to zero,” said Emery. “In fact, many tabloids such as the National Enquirer, that were once filled with predictions, seem to have given up reporting psychic forecasts. Their editors probably realized that the predictions do nothing but give publicity to people who can’t live up to their claims.”

For example, the psychics never foresaw the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, nor did any psychic issue a warning about the tidal wave that killed over 150,000 in southern Asia the day after Christmas. “It’s hard to think of two events that reverberated around the globe as much as those did, yet the psychics never picked up on them,” said Emery. “It’s just more evidence that people who claim to have psychic powers really don’t.”

The Sun and National Examiner, however, continued to carry predictions.

For 2005, the Sun didn’t even try to make their seers accountable. Instead, they lumped the predictions of living psychics together with dead ones like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce, “probably so they can’t embarrass the living ones,” said Emery.

This “blue-ribbon panel” said a year ago that in 2005 there would be cures for just about every medical malady including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, psoriasis, alcoholism, heart disease, arthritis, strokes, and obesity.

But they also said communications would be disrupted when Earth’s magnetic field reverses, a California inventor would cause earthquakes in Los Angeles and San Francisco, NASA astronomers would find a ruined city on Mars, Israel and the U.S. would invade Syria and Iran, edible furniture (designed for couch potatoes) would have to be recalled because of a sanitation problem, and millions of dollars in divorce fees would be saved when disgruntled couples were allowed to play a new computer game where the loser dies in real life.

Some of the forecasts are less spectacular than they sound, said Emery. The Examiner features Tony Leggett, who is probably taking credit for predicting the death of John Paul II. But Leggett only predicted “a new Pope” in the Dec. 27, 2004 issue, not saying if would be by death or resignation. People, not just psychics, had been predicting the Pope’s death for years. In addition, he said the new Pope would be from Italy. The big news was that Pope Benedict XVI was the first German Pope in centuries.

Leggett also couldn’t decide whether “romantic drama ahead for Chelsea Clinton” meant marriage or a total breakup, and he predicted that container ships would be blowing up in ports on the East and West coasts.

Emery said the tabloids have been known to bend the facts a bit to try to give their psychics credibility. For example, the Examiner said Leggett correctly predicted five major hurricanes hitting the U.S. in 2004. But a check of National Weather Service records showed there were only four. Bonnie, listed as one of the five by the Examiner, never made it above a tropical storm.

“When you look at the forecasts with a critical eye, it’s clear that psychics have no special powers,” said Emery.

Not all forecasts for 2005 were made a year ago. Emery’s files from 2001 show that in the Sun, Cayce predicted that “The long-anticipated massive earthquake along the San Andreas Fault in California will take place on June 17, 2005 at 7:18 a.m. The final death toll will equal 4,568,304.”

Other things that were supposed to happen in 2005:

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.