Oh, the psychics. Every year, many of them issue great predictions for the year to come, and – apart from the usual vague and ambiguous ones – each year they seem to do somewhat poorer than chance, presumably because the career options selects for poor reasoning and thinking skills. There’s a fine rundown on various psychic predictions for 2013 here. Entirely unsurprisingly, the psychics in question appear to be completely unfazed by the dismal performance of their predictions – to the extent that one sometimes get the feeling that they know that they are frauds and really don’t care as long as their bullshit continues to bring in support and sympathy from the gullible or desperate.
Lamont Hamilton, for instance, promotes himself as a “recognized and respected intuitive spiritual counselor, writer, speaker and educator” and “internationally known as a top Clairvoyant for his predictions.” For 2013 those included things like “[a] global U.N. tax will be enacted this year to help fund disaster relief and poverty,” which may at least tell you a bit about his target audience; and “[a] mind-to-mind telepathic telecommunication device will be developed for the mentally ill to help people communicate better,” which tells you a bit about his general (lack of) grasp of reality; “[a] truce is seen in the Middle East before late summer after one or more spiritual leaders emerge in the region to bring stability to several countries now in conflict,” which demonstrates beyond any doubt that Hamilton is a complete idiot; and “Supreme Court Justice Ruth Gingrich [sic] steps down from the Supreme Court after an illness,” which sort of affirms everything. He tried again with “[a] discovery that diseases can be transmitted or transferred by pure thought from one location to another will be found” for 2014, just to emphasize that psychic abilities is not the only hilariously silly bullshit he subscribes to.
Sidney Friedman, on the other hand, “claims a documented predictions accuracy of 71%, and a near 100% success rate with his Oscar predictions, missing only twice.” You can read the details yourself, but at least his failed prediction that “[a] new, odd, unexpected source of fuel for cars, trucks and/or machinery is announced” does undeniably suggest that he’s a sucker. Meanwhile, Judy Hevenly claims that her “clientele includes royalty, former presidents, Hollywood movie stars, and heads of state,” and one can only suspect that her description of her clientele is as accurate as her predictions (she, too, tried the “[a]n unexpected vacancy on the Supreme Court moves a conservative court to a liberal one” one; a reasonable guess, but ultimately pretty good evidence that her psychic abilities are shoddy). For 2014 she predicted that “Pope Francis to appoint the first woman cardinal to the Vatican,” which suggests that she doesn’t really know how these things work, and that “Scotland breaks away from United Kingdom and becomes independent.”
Vicki Monroe, a “psychic medium and spiritual messenger” who has “touched the lives of countless people across the globe,” tried “Congress will deal with gun control: Automatic weapons and high-powered rifles, semi-automatics that belong in war zones will be removed, and only used in situations where they are absolutely necessary,” and look: When you try this kind of guess you sort of demonstrate that it is not only your psychic abilities that are wanting. Monroe did, however, land a job on the absolutely despicable TV show Cell Block Psychic, where she would talk with convicted murderers to put them in touch with the “spirits” of their victims, to the pretty reasonable protests from grieving families.
Diagnosis: Not only are they con artists; they are apparently also pretty hopelessly ignorant about how the world works – it wouldn’t be hard to come up with better predictions than theirs – and that tells you plenty of non-flattering things about those who listen to them.