My (Non-) Psychic Predictions for 2012

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I have a rather uncompromising view of the validity of psychics and the meaningful success of their annual predictions, which are either generic, high-probability events trivial to fulfill, much more specific claims that never actually happen and require much special pleading to support their alleged fulfillment, and those retrodictions, not predictions, only mentioned after the fact and shoehorned to fit the events they pertain to.

I’ve looked, and no psychic has yet accurately predicted anything important under adequate conditions, illogical, contrived and weak excuses to avoid being subjected to tests of predictive veracity notwithstanding.

Well, despite that, I’m a fair guesser, just as good as any “Intuitive” and best of all, openly in non-possession of any psychic abilities at all (skeptical ethics and all that), so I’ll offer a few predictions of my own, for the remainder of this year and come 2013, I’ll revisit this post, and we’ll see how well I did… or not.

So let’s get started… Each of these will have a likelihood rating using one of three emoticons –

:-) – Trivially likely

;-) – Maybe, could be made to fit

:-( – Definitely a stretch

  • Conspiracy theorists will fail to be convinced that President Obama did not get teleported to Mars during the 1980s as a project by the CIA to explore the Red Planet. :-)
  • Bigfoot will be discovered in a poll-booth voting for a Republican candidate (most likely Mittens) during election day this November, and DNA analysis will reveal him to be genetically engineered by Grey aliens, or maybe brought to Earth by Time Lords out for a spin in a TARDIS… :-(
  • A new fossil hominid will be discovered or revealed by investigation of previous dig samples, further developing our ideas on human evolution and overturning older, more erroneous ideas of same. :-)
  • In February, I predict that at least one earthquake will happen somewhere in the Western hemisphere give or take one or two weeks around the 15th. :-)
  • A new form of life will be discovered in hydrothermal vents in or near Antarctica. :-)
  • Several new exoplanets, even closer to Earth in size and mass than before, will be discovered in orbits near their stars close enough to bear life of a sort we might recognize. :-)
  • Yet another politician or other ranking public figure who can’t keep his todger in his trousers will be scandalized and forced to resign after getting caught. ;-)
  • Several more seemingly extraterrestrial signals will be picked up by SETI radio-telescopes. Most if not all of them will be readily identifiable as Earth-bound interference. :-)
  • Irresponsible predictions about the End of the World™ will reach a fever pitch and none of them will come true when or as predicted, be the date December 12, 21, or any other time of this year. :-)
  • Mister Eccles will learn to curb the use of his claws in play and become more sedate as an adult cat. :-(

And finally…

  • Ethnic Maya in Central America will rise up in wrathful protest vs the silly apocalyptic or transcendant claims that gullible people of West European religious traditions or practitioners of equally silly spiritual doctrines have superimposed over their early civilization’s otherwise perfectly innocuous Long Count calendar. ;-)

Joyous Festivus for the Rest of Us: Psychic Failures for 2011


Image by firepile via Flickr

I owe a hat-tip for this post to the awesome Doubtful Newsblog and the Relatively Interesting blog, both great sources of news items for us skeptical types.

The year is drawing to a close, and our rationalist holiday of Festivus, or if you prefer, Newtonmas, is almost upon us, may Randiclaus’ beard remain white and well-groomed during this season of reason!

One thing us more skeptical types have noticed for many years now is the abject and persistent failure of those claiming psychic abilities to accurately predict anything important in a way not involving attempts at post hoc reasoning and special pleading to support, or just throwing random guesses using vague criteria of what counts as a success.

Well, with 2011 coming to an end, here is a run down of the year’s psychic predictions, and how they went horribly astray from what actually happened, from silence on the Fukushima disaster, not contributing in any way to the hunt for Osama Bin-Laden, to the more ordinary accounts in the media that failed to pan out at all, including those that were so vague and highly probable as to be sadly trivial in their fulfillment, and highly forgettable in any case.

I know — paranormal believers will consider that mean and disrespectful — but I’m Troythulu, not mellow like Carl Sagan was, so snarkitudinosity (is that a word?) comes with the package.

Of course, given our tendency to ignore and forget that which doesn’t stand out to us emotionally vs that which does, positive or negative, most people will not even remember many of these predictions, bated breath at the time they were made or not.

So enjoy the holiday, and thanks ahead of time for one great year of blogging and meeting awesomely cosmic people like you!

Another Apocalypse?? What of All the Others?

Here’s something that was forwarded to me: A caravan of the Faithful, mostly fairly aged individuals, are touring the country to warn as many as they can of yet another impending End of the World™ scenario, of course predicted by obscure biblical passages, and after my own heart, convoluted mathematics, to occur on May 21st, 2011.

Hmmm. Not December 21, 2012? Or December 12, 2012? It seems there’s some degree of mutual inconsistency between the several competing claims of global destruction that are currently extant.

It’s curious that their proponents don’t bother to cross-check their calculations, and I’d be much more impressed if they all converged on the same date, regardless of the sect making them or what methods of calculation or version and passage of scripture they used…

…and if there was a really good reason to give these predictions credence, though religious eschatology is hardly known for its scientific rigor or the need for evidence…

Frankly, they’re ignoring the accumulated evidence of history, which is littered with the metaphorical carcasses of failed cataclysm forecasts in a rather consistent pattern, and when these fail always being retroactively set further still into the future, the further failure to materialize usually having no effect on the faith of their advocates, with a few notable exceptions, like the formation and eventual breakup of the Millerite sect into the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Those last two groups have lately learned to refrain from making any claims of a definite date, saying only that the End “is near,” a good move on their part, if somewhat imprecise.

For one, this godless soul will live life as always, try to enjoy it as best he can, and only take this seriously when the evidence warrants it, and no sooner. Frankly, I find peeps who are horny for Armageddon more than a little disturbing. But as long as they lack the means to bring it about themselves, my only concern is the needless fear and confusion they spread by promoting their claims.

Disappointed, But not Surprised…

Well kiddies, it looks like even over a week after the November Nor’easter fun and games I mentioned two weekends ago, after an exhaustive bit of mucking around on the Wayback Machine and other sources, looking at the archived Web pages of psychic websites, that I have thus far been completely unsuccessful at verifying a single prediction by a major psychic concerning the Nor’easter, neither its timing nor its effects before the storm actually formed (you’d think that those psychics would at least have a heads-up that clueless, blathering meteorologists would be completely blindsided by–but no, it was the psychics who were blindsided…chortle evilly with tentacles waving).

More to the point, after over a week of poking around, I was completely unable to verify a single prediction that was meaningfully specific in content and time of occurrence, that was not added to the site retroactively when it was updated, nor a successful prediction that wasn’t so likely as to almost certainly be fulfilled anyway.

One would think that with so many self-styled psychics in the world that statistically (and statistics are very important in the arcane lore of parapsychology) at least one of them would have verifiably predicted (as opposed to retrodicted…) the 2004 Tsunami, the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the horror of September 11, 2001, or lately, the aforementioned Nor’easter.

But no, not one did on any internet archives that my vile Troythuluness could access.

That doesn’t mean that no psychic predicted these events at all, anywhere, at any time, but that’s not the point. It means that no psychic has ever predicted these tragic events in a way that is subject to meaningful verification using archived sources existing prior to the events themselves. And until that happens, I remain skeptical of such claims.

A Question…and Some Thoughts

Here’s a question I came across on the JREF forums by one of the members, which I’ll post here as well, just to raise a point:

Scientists can correctly predict astronomical occurrences…down to the minute, and often down to the second. Why should psychics and prophets be held to a lesser standard?

It is true that psychics use a different method than scientists to allegedly gain their knowledge, but this is merely a statement that ‘They are different ways of knowing, therefore they are different ways of knowing,’ which is begging the question and does not serve as a valid excuse for why psychic predictions are not only always a little of target, but often completely wrong (when made beforehand and meaningfully specific in time of fulfillment and content).

Dedicated believers in the paranormal see nothing logically inconsistent with criticizing ‘mere materialistic scientists’ like meteorologists about even slightly inaccurate weather forecasts, and at the same time coming up with all manner of ‘reasons’ to support psychics whose only meaningfully accurate predictions are those made after the fact. Hindsight is 20/20, though most savvy media psychics will tailor their retrodictions to make them just a little off target to avoid suspicion.

Saying that the psychic and science are different provides no valid reason for giving the psychic a free pass no matter how off target its predictions, yet castigating science for even the smallest uncertainty or inaccuracy in the same. As the believers like to say, and as I will now, “…the forest for the trees, people!”

If psychic abilities are even as good as conventional, materialistic ‘ways of knowing,’ much less superior, what is the logic that they shouldn’t be held to at least the same if not better standards of accuracy? I’m gonna pull an Oprah and say, ‘I’m just asking questions.’