As the year draws to a close and a new year begins, it is natural to reflect on what has passed and what may lie ahead. Goals are set, resolutions are kept (or not), and inevitably predictions are made.
Of course, anyone can make a prediction; all it takes is some knowledge of current events and good guessing. There are many self-described psychics who claim to see the future, yet perhaps their crystal balls need some Windex, because accurate predictions are the exception rather than the rule.
Here are five headline predictions from psychics that (thankfully) did not come true in 2008:
1) Locust Swarms Destroy Wheat Crops
That was supposed to happen in 2008, according to Elizabeth Anglin, a "gifted psychic, scientific remote viewer, animal communicator, evidential spirit medium, and Reiki master healer." Anglin predicted that "there will be more wheat and crops lost through locust swarms in August." Though American farmers did lose some crops this year (as they do every year), most of it was due to flooding or drought, not locust swarms.
2) Top U.S. General in Iraq Killed; Troops Return
According to St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), in Iraq "there will be a general that will be hurt and possibly killed. At that time, because of his leanings in the political arena, many soldiers will be sent home." In case you're wondering how a 14th century Italian nun could predict 21st century warfare by Americans in Iraq, the information was delivered via psychic Elizabeth Baron, who claims to be "the world's most documented medium." Needless to say, no top military general has been wounded or killed in Iraq.
3) Supervolcano Spews Ash Across Globe
Michael R. Smith, a psychic medium, stated in 2007 that "a major supervolcano is poised to erupt, sending ash all over the Earth, affecting world-wide political and economic systems. It will blow Mount St. Helens away in terms of magnitude, and an eruption may occur in the Washington state or British Columbia area." Smith prefaced this prediction with, "This is a special area where I seem to be especially accurate." Luckily for the world, he was wrong; no supervolcanoes — major or otherwise — erupted in 2008 spewing ash worldwide.
4) Beloved Entertainer Dies in Stunt Tomfoolery
According to Michael Lente, a medicine man in New Mexico, "A beloved popular entertainment figure will be injured and perhaps die as the result of a foolish stunt." Many beloved entertainers died in 2008, including Paul Newman, Heath Ledger, Charlton Heston, and Bo Diddley — but not one expired from injuries sustained while doing "a foolish stunt." Johnny Knoxville was Lente's best bet, and he's still kicking.
5) Global Famine Kills Millions
A global famine was predicted by none other than the most famous seer of them all, Nostradamus (never mind that his "predictions" are really "post-dictions," only appearing to come true after the fact). Actually, it was Nostradamus buff (and self-described "rogue scholar") John Hogue who stated in 2007 that "the era of global famine foreseen by Nostradamus will begin in 2008." Scary, huh? While it is true that increases in the cost of staples such as wheat and rice led to hunger in a few countries, the prediction of a "global famine" simply, and thankfully, didn't come true.
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Benjamin Radford is managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and has been tracking the accuracy of psychics and psychic predictions for nearly 15 years. He predicts next year's predictions won't be any more accurate than last years'. His books, films, and other projects can be found on his website. His Bad Science column appears regularly on LiveScience.