So Far, Psychics Are Batting .000

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They are ubiquitous, operating in shabby storefronts, appearing on national TV shows, keeping tabloids in business, working with naïve police departments and even participating in ludicrous studies by DARPA, the Defense Department’s Agency for Advanced Research Projects. They are the psychics, a motley collection of mystics, charlatans, hoaxers and smooth con artists who have successfully buffaloed a good portion of the public into believing that they have supernatural powers.

Among those supposed powers is the Nostradamus-like ability to prophesize, to foretell future events. Nowhere are these prophesies more promoted than in the tabloid press, and there is no one more familiar with them than Gene Emery, who has been tracking them for 26 years. Emery, to say the least, is not impressed. He has just completed his compilations of psychics’ predictions for 2004 and reported the results ion the Website of CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal. Among the 2004 headline-making events that psychics didn’t predict, for example, Emery lists the Janet Jackson Superbowl breast flash, the prison torture in Iraq and the Boston Red Sox World Series win. And he reminds us that, in the past, psychics have missed out on foreseeing such major events as the death of their once-favorite subject, Princess Diana, as well as the 9/11 attacks.

According to psychic forecasts made in December, 2003, the next year would bring the discovery of giant animal fossils on Mars, the election of Colin Powell, who would switch parties and trounce George Bush, and the development by Americans of a taste for pressed bricks of dried plankton. The Sun, the tabloid that most heralds the psychics, claimed that its predictions for 2004 were “from the world’s most brilliant psychics and seers.” Among them were twins Terry and Linda Jamison, who vowed that “Saddam Hussein will be killed by U.S. troops early in the year,” and that “Pope John Paul II will pass away in June.”

Anthony Carr, “the world’s most documented psychic,” foresaw the accidental detonation of North Korean nuclear weapons and the resulting deaths of thousands, the shooting death of Saddam Hussein, which incidentally involved a woman, and scientists successfully bringing “the first-ever male pregnancy to term.” The baby’s gender, by the way, would be male. Psychic Martha Henstridge prophesized that 2004 would be the year an anti-gravity engine was developed and patented, and that Martha Stewart would “take the fashion world by storm with a new line of prison-themed designed clothing.”

The prediction of the seer who came closest to reality was that Saddam Hussein would be captured in 2004. There was just one catch: that prophesy was published after the mid-December, 2003 apprehension of the Iraqi dictator.

Emery notes that the Sun, stung by its .000 psychic batting average, will make some changes in reporting the 2005 prognostications. The psychics whose visions are published will not be identified and their predictions will be interspersed with those made in the past by such equally inept, but now deceased, counterparts as Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus and Our Lady of Fatima.

“So a year from now,” concludes Emery, “we won’t be able to say who was responsible for predicting that a murder will take place on a flight to Mars, that Osama Bin Laden will be crushed by a comet, that a tidal wave will wipe out Tokyo and the Korean peninsula, and that newly-discovered writings from St. Paul will reveal that eating with a fork is a sin.”