Three Things in Life are Certain: Death, Taxes, and Failed Psychic Predictions
December 31, 2002
Tabloid Psychics Fail Again In 2002
The Super Bowl will be cancelled after the first half of play. People will be able to go back in time, although there won’t be any way to bring them back home.
Psychic forecasts for 2003? Nope.
Those are events that were supposed to come true in 2002 according to the supermarket tabloids whose editors say they gathered the forecasts from some of the world’s best psychics.
Actually, psychics and astrologers seems to have fallen on tough times recently, said science writer Gene Emery, who has been following tabloid forecasts since 1979 in the still-fruitless quest to find just one psychic with predictive ability. Emery’s annual evaluations frequently appear in Skeptical Inquirer magazine.
“The September 11 terrorist attacks graphically illustrated the idea that people who claim to have psychic powers are frauds or are deluding themselves. Witness the fact that nobody predicted the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, otherwise thousands of deaths would have been averted,” said Emery. “Here was an event whose impact resonated around the globe, yet it never resonated with the folks who tell you with great certainty where you misplaced your TV remove control.”
As a result, most of the tabloids that still publish forecasts have now resorted to using “psychics” who may not even exist. They don’t show up on Internet search engines. That turns out to be true for the Sun and Weekly World News. The best known tabloid, the National Enquirer, gave up its tradition of publishing beginning-of-the-year psychic predictions a few years ago.
One exception is the Jan. 8, 2002 edition of the Star, where Kenny Kingston, a real person, makes not-surprising, often-vague, or frequently unconfirmable forecasts on 20 celebrities. (For example, he predicts that “a secret trial separation is ahead for Barbra [Streisand] and hubby James Brolin.” If it’s secret, how are we supposed to confirm it?). He said Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley would marry, and that “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” would be cancelled. But his Martha Stewart prediction makes no mention of her stock market scandal, and he says Hillary Clinton will be "much in the headlines with a scandal that will rival anything involving her husband Bill.”
Emery said he looks for forecasts of truly unexpected events that only a psychic could foresee, not educated guesses from people who follow the entertainment industry.
The latest batch of predictions did not forecast the Florida election fiasco, Jimmy Carter winning the Nobel Peace Prize or the Maryland sniper case. Instead, the tabloid psychics were saying 2002 would be the year:
- Satan would be discovered working in a homeless shelter, reading to the blind and delivering Meals on Wheels.
- The Super Bowl would be cancelled after the first half because team owners would refuse to cough up an extra $10,000 for each player.
- A time tunnel would be created to allow people to make a one-way trip back into time. (A way to make the return trip is supposed to be discovered in 2006.)
The accuracy of the other tabloid forecasts made at the beginning can’t be judged, Emery says, because the psychics never say when the predictions will come to pass.
For example, the “world’s top psychics and seers” say in the Sun that Prince Charles will marry Camilla Parker-Bowles in a royal shotgun wedding, the U.S. capital will move to Wichita, a gorilla fluent in sign language will lead a new religion, Elvis will be found buried next to Princess Di, animal performances will be banned, and Dick Clark will become a much-lauded ballet dancer. But they don’t say when.
That means Clark, Prince Charles and Parker-Bowles will have to die before it becomes certain that these ‘psychics’ were incorrect, according to Emery, saying that’s a common technique used by psychics, astrologers and other seers. “They love it when you can’t prove them wrong.”
Emery said he does his annual tracking of the tabloids and their sometimes-silly predictions to give consumers a reality check and show them that psychics, when put to the test, can’t live up to their claims.
Skeptical Inquirer magazine is the official journal of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). Issued bimonthly, Skeptical Inquirer publishes critical scientific evaluations and informed discussions of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. For more information, visit http://www.csicop.org/si.