Cracked Crystal Balls? Psychics’ Predictions for Past Year a Litany of Prognostive Failures

C. Eugene Emery Jr.

Inquiring minds who want to know whether the world’s greatest psychics and astrologers can really predict the future can get a valuable lesson from the forecasts made for 2000.

For example, the January 11, 2000 issue of the supermarket tabloid Sun included these forecasts from “the world’s most gifted psychics”:

* Prince Charles will fly in the space shuttle, where he will announce his engagement to Camilla Parker-Bowles, said “noted British astrologer” Gloria Goldberg.

* “Interactive TV will become so sophisticated by the end of the year you’ll be able to tell your set what you want to eat . . . and the food will be waiting in the kitchen at the next commercial,” according to Zambia’s Henry Chipewo, who is on the blue-ribbon panel because he supposedly predicted the 1969 Moon landing.

* A large flesh-eating dinosaur will be discovered in Africa and “the shocking true identity of Satan will be discovered. . . . His face will be instantly recognizable to the American public,” according to India’s Sanjiv Mishra, who supposedly predicted the Kennedy Assassination.

* A summertime oil crisis will produce gas station lines longer than 1973, said Italian psychic Pier Rizutto.

* Two jumbo jets “will slam into each other in the air over the Atlanta airport” in March, according to Mexican astrologer Germano de Oliveria, who took a 50-50 chance when he predicted that Hillary Clinton would lose her bid to be U.S. Senator. He never mentioned the real surprise in the race: that Mayor Rudy Giuliani would drop out.

* “Three terrorists from the Middle East will be arrested at JFK Airport in April,” police will discover a nuclear bomb in their baggage, and President Clinton will go on TV “warning Americans that other bombs may have slipped into the country undetected,” said Russia’s Isabel Almazen.

* An earthquake will “destroy Los Angeles and San Francisco” in May, and President Clinton will go on TV in February to “announce that the Mars Polar Lander was destroyed by aliens” and space “alien guests have already slept in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House,” according to Wanda Tarwinska.

* A “new and terrible” plague will begin in Africa in March and kill millions worldwide, said China’s Mai Kai Sung.

But don’t expect these abysmal results to convince the editors of the Sun to find a new crop of psychics. These are the same people they polled for 1999, when they forecast that Mrs. Clinton would run for President, an earthquake would lead to the abandonment of Los Angeles for two years, and John F. Kennedy Jr. would fly on the space shuttle with John Glenn, a prediction made the year Kennedy died in the plane crash.

Gary Spivey is quoted in the Sun as predicting the death of the Pope, but he made the same prediction for 1999. If at first you don’t succeed….

It wasn’t just the supermarket tabloids that printed psychic forecasts without checking the reliability of their prognosticator. The Toronto Sun featured Anthony Carr, “the world’s most documented psychic,” who said Christopher Reeve would “rise from his chair and perambulate” and O.J. Simpson would either admit his guilt in 2000 or new evidence will prove that he is a murderer. If the editors had checked the January 5, 1999, National Examiner they would have found predictions attributed to Carr saying that in 1999 Muhammad Ali would make a miracle recovery from Parkinson’s disease, an iceberg the size of California would threaten to wipe out Hawaii, and Carolyn BessetteKennedy (who died in the plane crash with her husband) would give birth to healthy twins.

Mystic Meg is another seer whose predictions, as published in the Globe, make it appear that she’s dealing with a cracked crystal ball. She said 2000 would be the year Prince Andrew and Fergie re-wed, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman starred in a hit movie remake of Cinderella, Caroline Kennedy announced plans to run for Congress, and Jerry Springer became a crusading Jew for Jesus. All could still come true before December 31, but don’t bet on it.

Like the late Jeane Dixon, the great equivocator who was well-known for her ability to fudge her forecasts, some of the psychics offered predictions for 2000 that were just as wishy-washy.

The Star’s Athena Starwoman wasn’t exactly sticking out her neck when she said Bruce Willis “is likely” to have a son and Dolly Parton “may write” a book. She clearly missed an obvious milestone in her forecast for Kathie Lee Gifford, never mentioning Gifford’s July departure from her show with Regis Philbin.

Some forecasts sound very specific when they are, in fact, exceptionally vague. Take Goldberg’s prediction in the Sun that a DNA breakthrough “will allow humans to grow new body parts damaged by disease, accident, or old age.” Doctors have been growing skin for years, so any DNA-related advance in 2000 might, technically, allow her to claim success.

In the Sun, the “brilliant American psychic” Warren Freiberg seemed to be suggesting that the already-frail John Paul II would die in 2000. He said “the Pope will collapse in 2000 while on tour. Unfortunately, I don’t see the poor man getting to his feet . . . ever again.” But when pressed about the prediction when I joined him on a radio show last winter, Freiberg waffled, saying he didn’t know if the Pope would die. But if the Pope should die by year’s end, it’s a safe prediction that Freiberg will want to go down in history as the man who predicted John Paul II’s death.

On that same radio program, Freiberg acknowledged to me that two of his three 1999 forecasts in the Sun did not come true-that New York City would be quarantined when a mysterious cloud paralyzed millions of New Yorkers and the death of a blonde movie actress would produce a trial as dramatic as the O.J. Simpson case. However, he said those events could still happen in 2000. His third forecast was that “George Bush Jr.” would become the next president. There was no presidential election in 1999. George W. Bush, son of ex-President George Herbert Walker Bush, is not George Bush Jr.

Other successes were not very impressive. Sylvia Browne, frequently featured on the Montel Williams talk show, correctly predicted that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston would marry, but they had been dating for two and a half years. Browne’s Web forecasts ( are open to multiple interpretations. But she didn’t mince words with her presidential pick: “Democrats will win the election with Bill Bradley, with close competition from the Reform Party.”

Gene Emery, a reporter for the Providence Journal and computer columnist for Reuters, has been collecting psychic predictions since 1979. Information on predictions for 1999 and previous years can be found at

COPYRIGHT 2001 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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