Exposing PseudoAstronomy

December 28, 2010

2010 Psychic Predictions Roundup: Audience and Professionals on Coast to Coast AM Majorly Fail


Introduction

Every year, the late-night number-one-rated four-hour radio show Coast to Coast AM spends December 30 and 31 taking “psychic predictions” from the audience, and January 1 with invited “psychics” for predictions for 2010. I had a lot of free time while taking pictures at the telescopes in early January so I listened diligently to all 12 hours and recorded every prediction.

Let’s see how they did, shall we?

Edited to Add: It’s come to my attention (Oct. 2011) that Cal Orey (see the “Professionals” section below) has this post listed on her homepage as me indicating that she was the highest hit-rate “psychic” on Coast to Coast for 2010 predictions. I’ll repeat here what I do below: She was highest because she got 1 right out of 3 that I considered specific enough to actually judge; the other 6 were too vague or obvious to refute or deny. One correct prediction about an earthquake in California is not something that I, personally, would be bragging about. But I’m happy to have her link to my blog.

Audience

Art Bell ran the audience nights and he was very specific: One prediction per customer per year, and no predictions about assassinations, politically-motivated, nor abstract religious ideas would be taken. This year, there were a total of 110 predictions that were recorded. I actually recorded all the ones that made it to air, so in the document I link to below, you will see some items crossed out. Those are ones that Art did not record. My own comments are included in [square brackets] and are things that were not said on the show.

Click here for the PDF with all the audience predictions.

I have now gone through and – with a little help on some items I didn’t know about, scored them. First off, there were 5 predictions that I considered too vague or not actually for 2010, so that gets us down to 105 predictions. Based on my information, 6 came true. That’s a hit rate of 5.7±2.3%. (Uncertainty is calculated by taking the square-root of the number of counts and dividing by the total — this is standard Poisson statistics.)

Here are some of my favorites:

14. Obama goes live on NBC saying that aliens do exist and there will be an alien with him who speaks to the whole world.

16. A lot of people who are handicapped will get out of their wheelchairs and will walk again. (Qualifier: “If they truly believe.”)

26. Re-discovery, by September, of the entrance to the hollow Earth at the North Pole.

52. God is actually a being of light and he is moving back towards us at the speed of light. The result is that he’ll send a laser pulse in that direction and tell us what a bad job everyone’s doing.

81. A celebrity will be exposed as a cannibal.

And my all-time favorite … one of the only hits: 102. There will be no really big changes, it’ll be “pretty much the same-old-same-old.” There’ll be some crises, medical advances, etc., but that’s what happens every year.

Professionals

As a skeptic, I will admit that I derive great joy in seeing professional purveyors of woo resoundingly fail. And the “professionals” that C2C invited on did just that, none with a hit rate above 33%, and that high one was by virtue of only making 3 specific enough predictions to score.

Click here for the PDF with all the “professional” predictions.

In scoring these, I think I was fairly generous, as you may note if you look at the document linked above.

Edited to Add: The percentage correct that I list below are based on (# correct) / ((# predictions) – (# too vague)). I add this because I noticed some confusion on how I gave Orey 33% instead of 11% (1/(9-6) vs. 1/9).

To summarize, here are the scores for each person:

  • Christian von Lahr: 3 out of 15 with 1 too vague for 21%.
  • Paul Guercio: 0 out of 6 with 2 too vague for 0%.
  • Glynis McCants: 0 out of 9 with 8 too vague for 0%.
  • Tana Hoy: 1 out of 16 with 5 too vague for 9%.
  • Cal Orey: 1 out of 9 with 6 too vague for 33%.
  • Terry and Linda Jamison: 1 out of 17 with 5 too vague for 8%.
  • Mark Lerner: 0 out of 5 with 4 too vague for 0%.
  • Jeffrey Wands: 1 out of 16 with 1 too vague for 7%.

The combined generous hit rate was 11.5±4.3%. This is statistically identical to the audience’s hit rate. The one who got the most right was Christian von Lahr with 3, though due to small numbers because of incredible vagueness or obviousness, Cal Orey came out on top percentage-wise.

A trend you will note if you look at the document linked above is that the pros were all, in general, fairly vague in their predictions (fully 1/3 of them were unusable). Or, they were incredibly obvious to the point that they couldn’t be used to score any “psychic-ness.” For example, Cal Orey “predicted” that Italy will have “another quake.” Well, considering that there are tens of thousands of earthquakes of magnitudes >4.0 every year across the planet, this is like saying, “During 2010, the sun will appear in the sky,” or “a politician will tell a lie or half-truth.” Duh.

Some of my favorites were:

von Lahr: Something really big with one of Obama’s daughters involving the letters “P,” “I,” “N,” and “K.” Note that the letters may have spiritual meaning instead or be turned, like the “P” into a “b,” “d,” “6,” or “9.” It could also look like a bed or a wheelbarrow [so, basically you can retrodict anything to this]. The letters are also in the word, “kidnap.”

Orey: If San Francisco gets another quake in 2010, Arnold won’t be very happy.

Lerner: There won’t be a catastrophe.

The one that ticked me off the most was, by far, Tana Hoy, who, if you were/are able to listen, almost seemed scared that we all knew he was just making things up. He started off the interview by calling the host, Ian Punnett, “Ryan,” and then stated obvious things that had already been announced.

The pair that I thought were most full of themselves were the “psychic twins,” Terry and Linda Jamison. They started the interview by claiming that everything they predicted for 2009 had come true, and when they were on later in 2010, they claimed that everything they had predicted in January would still come true. I couldn’t find a C2C interview they did for 2009, but I found one for 2000.

On November 2, 1999, they claimed AIDS would be cured by 2002, “breast cancer drug break-through by 2003,” “a cancer cure, especially for breast cancer by 2007,” 60% of cancer cured by 2008, a cloning of body parts “in the not too distant future … in diagnostic chambers,” and people with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, MS, and spinal cord injuries will be walking “within the decade.” Yeah …. didn’t quite happen. And by my tally, they only had one hit for 2010, and it was incredibly vague but I gave it to them. They had some monstrous fails, such as shiitake mushrooms as a prevention for breast cancer and hurricanes devastating Florida. They even failed on some actual statistically likely hits, like a major storm hitting the gulf.

Final Thoughts

As we go into 2011, many, many people will look to alleged psychics, astrologers, mediums, etc. for forecasts about the year ahead. When I first started my blog in late 2008, I averaged about 10-25 hits/day. Then I did a parody of my own psychic and astrologic predictions for 2009, and my hit rate spiked by a factor of 5.

And yet, when we actually write down what these people say and we look at the misses along with the hits, we find that these people are basically full of you-know-what. They aren’t any more “psychic” than the average person making wishful forecasts.

The main difference between these professionals and the lay person is their vagueness. The C2C audience members were willing to make generally very specific predictions such as “Lake Tahoe is actually a volcano,” versus the professionals who know that being specific is to their detriment so will usually try to be more vague, such as “no major tsunami for quite awhile.”

Please let me know if you enjoyed this post – either by commenting and/or taking a moment to rank it with a star count just under the tags for the post. It took a lot of time to write these down and score them and I want to know if it’s worth doing for 2011.

Also, if I have made any mistakes in my scoring, please let me know and I will correct it ASAP.

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22 Comments »

  1. Great post, cheers!

    I enjoy watching these predictions majorly fail. In a similar vein, I was initially drawn in by Michael Drosnin’s Bible Code predictions, but then watched as they failed one by one. Anthrax attacks in Israel (in 2007 I think), Yassar Arafat being assassinated just outside his bunker (he didn’t, he died of natural causes in a Paris hospital). And despite the epicness of his fail, he brought out the Bible Code III this year.

    I’ll be sharing this post with friends. Keep up the good work in 2011!

    Comment by Dave — December 28, 2010 @ 1:16 am | Reply

  2. These predictions need to posted on a dedicated website in bold title to get attention.

    Comment by ND — December 28, 2010 @ 7:11 am | Reply

  3. It’s interesting that for some time I’ve privately offered Stuart the opportunity to comment about, and/or attempt some feeble debunking of, the prophecies and predictions of Billy Meier. How strange that he not only hasn’t jumped at the opportunity, being such a bright lad, but that he’s ignored the invitations…and, of course, makes no mention of Meier here.

    I guess that, in order to elevate himself in some way, Stuart’s targets are the obvious and easy, dopey pretend psychics that appear on various radio shows, etc. Of course I’m glad to have been a guest on C2C myself, some 13 times discussing Meier’s abundant, specific, impeccably accurate information and to have easily fielded the challenges of the shows various hosts.

    So that you can view some of the information that put a rather large obstacle in Stuart’s road to self-glorification yourselves (and have a go at it if you wish) here are three links to get you going:

    http://theyfly.com/WILL_HUMANITY_WAKE_UP.html

    (a compilation of dozens of Meier’s already corroborated prophetic information)

    http://theyfly.com/India_1964.html

    (foundational evidence and information from 1964)

    http://www.theyfly.com/newsite

    (an overview of Meier’s specific environmental warnings, dating back to 1951, of manmade environmental damage and destruction that is clearly now upon)

    If people want to stay in their own little bubbles of denial, if they want to adhere to the religious tenants of the Church of Skeptology, whose followers try to force reality to conform with their already formed beliefs and prejudices, then so be it. It will have the same effect as pulling the covers over one’s head so as to not be noticed by whatever actual danger has entered one’s home.

    But perhaps there are some genuinely scientifically minded, critical thinkers who aren’t so smug and certain about everything that they unwittingly play the part of the fool in a modern day version of the Catholic Church vs. Galileo.

    Comment by Michael Horn — December 28, 2010 @ 10:12 am | Reply

    • Michael, is there a reason your IP address changes every time you try to post to my blog?

      Anyway, yes, I have gotten your e-mails, no, I am not interested in being at your beck and call for debunking your claims. I do what I want to do in this area and I am busy with other things. I have already shown to my satisfaction that your claims of Meier’s Apophis predictions are simple retrodictions here, and that is the extent of my interest at this time.

      I will continue to ignore your unsolicited e-mails.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — December 28, 2010 @ 10:38 am | Reply

      • Stuart, re my IP address, please, you sound like a conspiracy theorist. Your “satisfaction” is an interesting criteria, since your investigative skills leave a lot to be desired. I referred you to an enormous compilation of documentation of Meier’s corroborated information. Some of it is so specific in language, uncannily exactly or nearly exactly the same as the language used LATER when the “official discoveries” were made. So you’ve chosen to focus only on Apophis. Well, I’m sure we’re all glad you did and perhaps it’s also just a coincidence that the Russians have chosen to call for a united mission to deflect the asteroid from its course (rather than attempt to blow it up – or just ignore it a la NASA) and that’s what Meier was also told was absolutely necessary.

        The truth of the matter is that you can’t debunk Meier’s information, of course. And that will only become more obvious as time goes on – as if about 100 specific hits is already enough for an intelligent, truly scientifically minded individual to EXTEND his interest.

        Rest assured though that there will be no point in prodding you further, you’re characteristically self assured and content to remain within the religiously rigid confines of the illogical skeptical perspective and you don’t wish to be disturbed.

        Comment by Michael Horn — December 28, 2010 @ 11:42 pm

      • Michael, the issue with your IP address is that posts are screened on this blog for unique IP addresses. If an IP address has posted before and I approved it, it is automatically approved next time you try. But the last several times you have posted comments, they all have come from different IP addresses so I have to manually go in and approve the comments. Not a conspiracy theorist, merely wondering.

        Anyway, the purpose of this post has, yet again, as I warned you before, nothing to do with Billy Meier’s claims, and I kindly asked you to refrain from posting such unrelated information. Unless you would like to point NOW to SPECIFIC predictions Meier has made for 2011, then your information is irrelevant.

        I have already asked you to point out where my analysis of Apophis was wrong, where I clearly showed that Meier’s link between a “red meteor” and Apophis is a clear retrodiction, and each time you have simply side-stepped the issue. As I stated before, I have no interest at the moment in further exploration of Meier’s claims, and it is not relevant to this topic unless you want to do as I said in the preceding paragraph, in which case I will analyze them at the end of 2011.

        I will now warn you at this point that posting yet another long treatise that is not directly on the topic of specific 2011 predictions to this post – or showing where I have erred in my Apophis analysis in one of those posts – as a reply will be your last post to this blog. I have only banned one person before and I don’t want to do it again, but my readers and I are getting tired of you posting the same thing over and over again that is not relevant to the topic.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — December 28, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

  4. Great article! And 33% isn’t too bad. Here is the article I penned and was published in my Earth Changes column Jan. 1, 2010, Oracle 20-20 Magazine:

    EARTH CHANGES

    I Feel the Earth Move…

    By Cal Orey
    JANUARY ‘10 – NEW YEAR’S FORECASTS

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”—Charles Dickens

    Recently, I sensed that my Osage Indian roots may be the link to my sensitive nature to sensing both good and evil… Since the age of 8, my teachers noted my “gift” of creative writing–which entails using intuition. And my predictions often come to me in the same way during the creative process of my articles and books.
    While my forecasts are about Earth changes, I also sense other things by receiving cues that come to me in dreams, visions, word/picture images, body signs–as well as observing Mother Nature, and historical events. The secret to predicting the future is to not tune out our intuition or gut instincts but pair it with knowledge for self-preservation.
    Positive thoughts can help stop negative things from happening–but sometimes it is not enough and we must take action like a fierce Indian warrior. And sensing future Earth changes (and forewarning people) makes me a “healing type medium.” What’s more, practicing preparedness can help you, like me, play the role of the survival of the fittest.

    A Potpourri of Predictions for 2010
    1. Earthquakes
    * The West Coast will have a moderate-strong earthquake, of a magnitude of at least 6.0, possibly more, and it will happen by the summer. Possible epicenters are: Offshore Northern California (near Petrolia or Eureka) and/or Southern California (San Fernando Valley). A 5.0+ is also likely to strike the San Francisco Bay Area (East or South Bay) this year and will be widely felt.
    * The Pacific Northwest may get an overdue major quake—at least a 7.0–may hit Alaska and a tsunami is possible. Washington and/or Offshore Oregon could experience a strong earthquake that will make national news.
    * The Midwest could experience another widely felt moderate quake as it did on April 18, 2008.
    * A major 7.0+ earthquake may hit one or more Mediterranean countries (Greece, Turkey, Italy) and/or Asian countries such as Taiwan, Japan or China which may spawn a destructive tsunami. Another devastating underwater temblor may happen (again) in the Indian Ocean region.

    2. Global Events
    Earth changes will continue to happen around the world. Drought, famine, flooding, and severe winter storms will affect various parts of America (the Midwest and Northeast) and in some regions around the world. The hurricane and tornado season will pan out to be stronger than weaker in 2010. But other regions in America may experience milder winters and summers than in the past years.

    3. Health Care
    Like Mother Nature’s wrath, the health care reform will continue to be an ongoing debate. Meanwhile, the uninsured will go without and the insured will be paying higher premiums and deductibles and end up getting less care. The stress of ailing health care will create more social unrest in America. Cash paid directly to doctors and getting health needs met out of the country will become a growing trend.

    4. Economy
    While I predicted a recession for 2008, a double dip recession may occur—or at least feel like turbulent times. The middle class will struggle to make ends meet and the “haves” and “have nots” will be more defined this year. Inflation will affect prices in both food and health care—but online items, clothing, and housing costs will offer good deals. Money issues will continue to affect all age groups around the nation.

    5. Food
    Due to lack of jobs and health care, healthier home-cooking will continue to be popular. People will make smarter, healthier food choices and junk foods will not be as popular. (And this is a good thing that can lead to good health habits.) Some food shortages due to Mother Nature’s rain and drought will affect a price increase for consumers.

    Overall, 2010 will be a year full of life’s ups and downs. Stronger family ties will form as people in America and around the globe face challenging times ahead.

    Comment by cal orey — December 28, 2010 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  5. P.S.
    I did note on C2C that NorCal would get a 6.0…On January 9, 2010 a 6.5 hit Offshore NorCal and was widely felt in NorCal. I was less than 30 miles from the epi. NorCal is listed in the Recap for C2C Special Predictions 2010.
    Callie (woman)

    Comment by cal orey — December 28, 2010 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

    • Callie, my apologies for getting your gender wrong, I hadn’t listened to the episode in a year and just went off the name “Cal” (I used to work with a guy named Cal, short for Calhoun). I have fixed the pronoun. I also just now re-listened to the half hour with you and you are quite right, you made a rather specific prediction that I have now separated out in my sheet to give you 9. Though, after some input from some other folks, I’ve left your hit rate at 1 out of 3, downgrading the now #4 prediction about So. Cal seeing a 5.0+ quake to just too obvious to really count based on past years’ data. But, you were quite right that there had not been a 6.0+ in northern California for several years, so I gave you an unconditional check mark there.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — December 28, 2010 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

      • Hi Stuart and other readers,
        Just got through a three day power outage at Lake Tahoe. (I did predict severe storms for 2011, the entire West Coast (submitted article first week of Dec., running now at Oracle 20-20 Magazine (online).
        Anyhow, just noticed a couple of days ago, Indiana did get a widely felt 3.8 (some reporters called it “moderatel felt in more than one state, etc.) and the intensity was a V; only about 10,000 folks reported feeling it to the USGS vs 40,000 for the April 18, 2008 IL eq. See above for Midwest prediction. Did I note it on C2C? I think I did.

        Comment by cal orey — December 31, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

  6. First time reading your blog, Stuart, but wanted to chime in and say thank you for the work you’ve done in gathering all of the statistics. It’s sad that no matter how well the skeptical and scientific community debunks this stuff that it will keep coming back in hordes and droves. I’m sure sometimes it feels like you are preaching to the crowd, but keep up the good work all the same; even if one person stops believing in this garbage, it is worth it.

    As a side note, the Google ad directly below your article advertises for “100% free psychic readings” – any chance of getting that changed or removed?

    Cheers and good work!

    Comment by Joshua — December 29, 2010 @ 12:27 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Joshua. Unfortunately, I have no control (that I know of) over the ads on the blog. In fact, I can’t even see them … it could be because it’s my blog, but when I go to other WP blogs I don’t see them either. Could be because I’m logged in. Sorry …

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — December 29, 2010 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

      • I figured that was probably the case. Better below the article than above it, at least!

        Comment by Joshua — December 29, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  7. P.S. Just to be clear and to the point regarding the Red Meteor/Apophis information, what you’re actually saying is that the information Meier published, if he indeed didn’t retrodict it, is most likely accurate. Otherwise you’d simply say that it’s inaccurate. And of course that raises the question, again, of how he would have known about it some two decades before “official discovery”. Trying to dismiss that – and the rest of his information – with an unsubstantiated attack on his character is rather unscientific..as well as indecent.

    Comment by Michael Horn — January 1, 2011 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

    • No, I stated he made a vague “prediction” about a red meteor destroyer in 1981, and then years after Apophis was discovered retrodicted that to Apophis. If you want to further discuss that, then do so on that post. No further claims about Billy Meier will be permitted in the comments section of this post.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — January 1, 2011 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

  8. This looks like another spike in your statistics ;)
    Maybe this is something you might consider putting up on http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Main_Page. Entertaining and informative… as always! Thank you.

    Comment by Sparx — January 4, 2011 @ 6:48 am | Reply

    • Feel free to add it yourself. I’ve never edited that site and I think it would look like a COI if I did it.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — January 4, 2011 @ 2:38 pm | Reply

  9. Thank you for your efforts toward helping people find the truth. Which, clearly, isn’t being predicted on the Art Bell show. (Though, to be fair, he’s a greatly entertaining show to listen to driving home late at night from the airport after a long, grueling business trip.)

    Comment by ***Dave — January 7, 2011 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

    • Oh, I agree. I have a love-hate relationship with the show. The guests are generally certifiable (Hoagland ….), George’s concept of “interview” is “tell me what you think and I’ll agree,” but I just can’t stop listening …

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — January 7, 2011 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  10. [...] my recent post on looking over the 2010 “psychic” predictions made on a popular late-night radio p…, I thought that for 2011 I would take a look at some sources other than just who happens to phone [...]

    Pingback by Picking Apart a Sham: 2011 Astrology Predictions from Terry Nazon « Exposing PseudoAstronomy — January 12, 2011 @ 1:21 am | Reply

  11. I just saw the twins for the first time and they project an image of such sureness. I wonder if they believe what they say or if they are scammers? I thought perhaps there was some possibility they were accurate until they started talking about past lives. I’ve been down that road and came to the conclusion that reincarnation is untrue. I am a Christian and really believe that Jesus is the way to the Father. In my process I have concluded that reincarnation is untrue. If you look at the world and human nature you can see that it has not changed in thousands of years although on the surface we look more sophisticated. Also, who’d want to come back here anyway? What gets me is that these people are so convincing and so many people are probably sucked in by them including Whoopee and others.

    Comment by JeanTerry — July 11, 2011 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  12. [...] a tradition that I started in 2010 and continued in 2011, I am posting a “psychic roundup” to celebrate the end of one [...]

    Pingback by 2012 Psychic Predictions Roundup: Laypeople and Professionals Both Continue to Fail « Exposing PseudoAstronomy — December 29, 2012 @ 4:01 pm | Reply


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