The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

New Years Psychic Prediction Failures: 2012 Year in Review

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 2, 2013

Well, here we are once again, and it’s time for that time-honored tradition of checking the accuracy of famous psychic predictions of the past year.  As you’ll see, when subjected to scrutiny, the vast majority of these predictions fail pretty badly.  However, there are all too many faithful followers of psychic woo who want to believe that it works.  One of the primary ways in which believers fool themselves is to cherry-pick the predictions and results; in skeptic-speak, we call this “counting the hits and ignoring the misses”.

psychic fair cancelled

Ummm… yeah.  It’s kind of like that.  Image source

And there are a LOT more misses than hits, folks.  In addition, many of these psychics tend to make very vague and ambiguous predictions which can be twisted and interpreted in a number of ways.  This creative interpretation of misses or vague predictions after-the-fact as hits is well documented in the history of psychic woo.  Let’s see how well those predictions for 2012 worked out by referencing this About.com article from one year ago…

A LOT OF people are looking at 2012 with a mixture of dread and hope. The last few years have been tough financially for many people, and there’s been all of that apocalyptic talk about Mayan calendars and doom and gloom. What will really happen in 2012 I’m sure will surprise all of us. Recently, readers like you made your predictions for 2012, but we always seem to be curious about what the professional psychics foresee. Here are selected predictions for 2012 from some of the most well-known and sought-after psychics, seers, and mentalists from around the world.

Let’s just begin this exercise by examining the first psychic on the list:

LaMont Hamilton

LaMont “Monte” Hamilton is an ordained minister, Reiki Master healing practitioner, registered hypnotherapist, and holds multiple degrees in business, psychology, and education, and has worked in the paranormal field full time for over 25 years.

*  With many questions surrounding the coming mystical events of 2012, I do not see any overriding one day cataclysmic event that will destroy or kill most people like those prophesies or being portrayed in the media.

I suppose this is a reference to the so-called Mayan apocalypse which was supposed to take place on December 21st, 2012.  Now, making the prediction that this doomsday scenario would NOT take place is essentially a no-brainer (and also something which skeptics, like yours truly, have been saying ever since the true believers have been pushing it).  This is especially true since the history of end-of-the-world predictions is completely full (as in 100%) of utter failures.  So basically, this prediction is about as astonishing as predicting that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.  Not very impressive.

* 2012 will be a year of spiritual fulfillment for most countries and people that want positive changes for their lives and futures. Many empires and ruling families that have created hardships for millions of people will fold and crumble during this historic year including Russia, China, Thailand, and North Korea.

The first part of this prediction is so vague as to be meaningless: what is meant by “spiritual fulfillment”?  Not to mention, is it really such an earth-shattering prediction to say that “people… want positive changes for their lives and futures”?  This kind of prediction requires nothing more than a basic understanding of human nature, so it is hardly anything special.

Now let’s examine the second part of the prediction where it gets more specific about the downfall of regimes in Russia, China, Thailand, and North Korea.  A quick search of the Internet reveals that none of the countries listed underwent any kind of “regime change” mentioned in the prediction.  That’s a swing and a miss (x4, one for each country).

* Accident seen around U.S. President Obama as he trips or falls in the early months of 2012.

Nope.  Didn’t happen.  However, President Obama did get hurt playing basketball… in 2010.  Whoops…

* An Iranian revolution is seen before late summer, where spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are removed from power.

A quick check of Wikipedia shows that neither man has been removed from power in Iran.  So, once again, when the prediction gets specific, it doesn’t fare too well.

* China loses its reputation as a world financial leader after clashes with protesters begin over economic reform and foreign investments start to fail.

This one is a little tough, partly because it is ambigious as to what exactly “loses its reputation as a world financial leader” means.  It was true that there were concerns over a year ago that China’s economy was suffering a downturn; however, in the second half of 2012 it seems that the Chinese economy is undergoing a rebound.  In fact, this BBC News article from just today (Jan. 1st, 2013) reports that the manufacturing sector in China is growing, fueling economic growth there.  So, all in all, I’m going to call this one a wash – neither a hit nor a miss.

* Japan is seen embroiled in another dispute, possibly with China, where military action will be threatened against Japan, or a partial Naval blockade will occur.

Well, to Mr. Hamilton’s credit, just a few days ago in late December there was a dispute between China and Japan regarding some Japanese fighter planes flying over some islands in the East China Sea.  However, from what I can tell, no military action was threatened nor did any kind of naval blockade occur.  Therefore, since the specifics were off, I’m calling this one a miss.

* Threats or a rumor of a planned assassination attempt against French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a foreign land will be reported.

Nope.  100% incorrect… unless you count the assassination plot against Sarkozy from 2008.  These are supposed to be pre-dictions, aren’t they?

* During the months of January through March of 2012, we’ll see some panic in countries like the U.S., U.K., Spain, France, Egypt, Russia, and China due to hostilities among its citizens for greater political and financial reforms. Most of these protests will pick up speed after August of 2012 leading to a climatic end of the year.

Well, this one is a mixed bag.  There weren’t really any panics and/or protest of the kind mentioned – “hostilities” is kind of vague, but it implies violent protest – in the U.S., U.K., France, or China.  In Spain and Egypt, there were protests of the kind mentioned, but that is hardly surprising because those protest movements were merely extensions of protests and panic that began in 2011.  So that’s four misses and, at best, two vague non-predictions.

However, one interesting thing is that on New Year’s Eve, there was a political uprising (of sorts) in Russia – the situation is still developing, so it’ll be interesting to see where it leads.  While this might seem like a direct hit, I’m not inclined to categorize as such, because the prediction above was specific about the protests/panic starting in the first quarter of 2012, not at the very end of the year.  So I’ll classify this one as a wash – neither a hit nor a miss.

* Exciting discoveries of two new planets with possible life forms will be announced by NASA this year, with one being a blue planet.

NASA did announce the discovery of a number of new exoplanets (something it has done consistently for years), but it didn’t announce any exoplanets that contained life forms.  In fact, the closest it came to that specific prediction was the Oct. 17th, 2012 announcement of the discovery of Alpha Centauri Bb, an exoplanet which is Earth-sized but not within the habitable zone of its parent star.  Sorry, that’s a miss.

* Russia will encounter two setbacks in its space program in 2012 due to accidents or explosions within their launch vehicles.

Amazing!  This did indeed happen… in August of 2011.  It doesn’t really count as a prediction after the event being predicted has already occurred, does it?

* President Barak Obama will face conservative Republican Mitt Romney as the U.S. Presidential choice after the 2012 primary elections.

Okay, this one was a no-brainer.  Anyone with even a very basic understanding of the U.S. political scene could have easily predicted this, no psychic powers required.

* Israel will encounter several assaults and explosions in or near military bases in 2012 after two countries gang up on them.

Well, from what I could find, there wasn’t really any violence or attacks in or on Israeli military bases in 2012, though there was an attack on one of their bases by radical right-wing Jewish settlers in December of 2011.  But that was in 2011, not 2012, and the violence came from Israeli citizens within Israel, not from outside countries.  Another miss.

* Iran will see a nuclear-related explosion to one of its two reactors this year due to an accident or apparent sabotage.

I’ll be damned – an actual hit.  According to this Sept. 17th, 2012 article from the New York Times:

Iran’s most senior atomic energy official revealed on Monday that separate explosions, which he attributed to sabotage, had targeted power supplies to the country’s two main uranium enrichment facilities, including the deep underground site that American and Israeli officials say is the most invulnerable to bombing.

However, at the same time, this seems to possibly be a bit of post-diction by Mr. Hamilton as well, because it seems suspiciously similar to a news story from December of 2011 about the same kind of explosions.  That said, I’m going to have to qualify it as a honest hit, though I would like to also point out that even a broken clock is still right twice a day.

* A conflict or battle in outer space will occur this year between two countries, most likely involving Russia or Iran when communications satellites are attacked.

Battles in outer space?  Nope, not even close.  A clear miss.

* Illness seen around former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger this year relating to a heart attack.

Apparently this prediction is a complete dud, despite the fact that Kissinger is 89 years old and had open-heart surgery in 1982.

* In the Philippines, China moves to take over or influence the area. Civil war breaks out between competing gangs or political forces in the Southern region.

There is a civil war in the southern region of the Philippines, but it has been ongoing to a certain degree or another since 1969, and it shows no involvement on the part of China.  So yeah, another whopping miss.

How did our psychic do?  Not very well… when I run the numbers, here’s the breakdown:

# of Predictions = 26

# of Hits = 1

# of Misses = 18

# of Vague/Ambiguous/Washes = 7

So, all in all, Mr. Hamilton – a so-called psychic “expert” – got only 1/26th (that is, 3.84%) of his predictions correct, and that one is somewhat luke-warm given the potential that it could have been the result of post-diction.  Otherwise, the vast majority of his predictions were either too vague to be meaningful or outright stone-cold misses.  Seems to me the results speak for themselves.  I submit that if you subject the predictions of any psychic to similar scrutiny that you will see similar results.

As a final note, I will make a prediction of my own for 2013: James Randi’s Million Dollar Prize will remain unclaimed by any psychic, because the professionals are smart enough to stay away (since they realize they don’t have special powers), and any true believers will quickly find out their paranormal abilities don’t exist (though they will continue to believe they have them).

Oh yeah, and I predict that I’ll be back here in one year to illustrate, once again, how miserably psychic powers fail :)

2 Responses to “New Years Psychic Prediction Failures: 2012 Year in Review”

  1. [...] psychic predictions can backfire when people actually take the time to examine them critically (such as keeping track of the New Year predictions made by prominent psychics which are complete and …).  But sometimes, especially when dealing with those who are really going for the gusto (like Ms. [...]

  2. [...] When Psychics Fail: … on New Years Psychic Prediction F… [...]

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