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Predicting More Predictions

by Mark Edward, Nov 08 2008

Of course my predcition for election day was100% correct! Need you ask? The proof is all there printed out in the sealed envelope, honest. But really when we drill down to the bottom line, who cares? Since right now the tabloid media isn’t exactly busting down my door for my visions, the particular sealed envelope in question may have to remain sealed and left as a sort of time capsule to be revealed by some future generation. I don’t even mind taking my accolades posthumously if that’s the way it has to be. Look at how well Nostradamus has done with his rants.

Now if I had been taped beforehand on the air with The Skeptologists, this whole scenario might have turned out differently…  Such is the plight of the unknown psychic: The discerning soothesayer has to have a platform to hurl from. Without that, there’s no place for anything to stick to. Without a following, a meatheaded television interviewer or a publisher, there’s no telling how many fantastic visions and prognostications go completely ignored by the masses. And what a shame that is right? I find most of them that I read hilariously surrealistic. Most psychics put out such ridiculous tripe, it’s like they are not even trying. Give me a break. What good does it do to predict the end of the world – again? Fortunately or unfortunately depending on which side of the fence you are sitting on, there’s always someone somewhere publishing these space-fillers. It could be The National Enquirer, The Weekly World News or possibly even Skeptic magazine. In 1991 the predictions printed in the Enquirer turned out to be only 1.1% correct. A chimp could do better than that. Now with the Internet, there’s no end to the possibilities. Predictions are like finding faces in clouds or patterns on a shag rug. They are all over the place once you start looking for them. There’s no limit to the things anyone can predict and with so much crap out there, it’s possible one or two of them might by the laws of probability actually come true. I only missed predicting that whole Madonna divorce story by a week or two. Damn. Timing is everything. Or is it belief that is everything? I frequently get the two mixed up.

But again, who cares a fig what a person like myself might predict anyway? I could claim to be Jeanne Dixon re-incarnated, but she was not that good at predicting either. She got that one JFK hit right … big deal. How does one get a track record in the predicting business anyway? Is it called “luck?” – which leads to another irritating little belief we might one day examine…

In the meantime, I’ll make a short list of some of the things that “come to mind” and get them ready just in case we hit prime time. Why not? Dogs and pet predicions are aways popular or maybe something about the British royals finally returning to their grey reptilian roots might have to be dredged up if I can’t think of anything better. Right now nobody’s asking so I’ll stick with the “rock-star fall” bit for a few more days. BTW: With self-fulfilling prophecies being what they have sometimes been known to be and in the rare instance that dear old Ozzy is reading this right now, mind the step mate.

“I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.” – Steven Wright

15 Responses to “Predicting More Predictions”

  1. ejdalise says:

    Well, if you won’t dip your toe, I will.

    I predict a total solar eclipse for Hawai’i on July 22, 2009. I could predict the time too, but that would just be showing off.

    I also predict I will NOT win the lotto in the next 12 months (although I would love to be wrong on that one).

    I predict the Higgs Boson will not be discovered in 2009. It’s waiting until 2012 (December) to come forth.

    I predict Indigo children will shift into violet as their parents will mostly see them coming towards them.

    Whew . . . tired now . . . must rest.


  2. “A chimp could do better than that.” haha you are probably right on that one. In fact that might make for a really good science experiment. chimps making predictions and seeing how many come true lol.

    But in all seriousness I have one thing to say.. people who claim to be psychics really irritate me.

  3. Max says:

    Anybody play prediction markets? There it’s easy to tell the prophets from the chimps. The prophets are the rich ones. To make the big bucks, they not only have to be right, but they have to be right when the majority is wrong.

    It’s trickier to analyze the success rate of the market as a whole. If anything, it’s a good way to identify the prophets, and then just consult with them and forget about the market.

  4. Jim Brock says:

    Well, you can add my experience to the list. Many years ago, when I was fathering children, I had only one dream at a time that foretold the sex of the child to come. Four for my wife and I, and one for a friend. Each was accurate. The uncanny part is that when our fourth child was in utero, the standard one dream was somewhat iffy. I told my wife that I thought the child would be a boy, but it was unclear.

    Turns out that it was a girl, who in later life proved to be a lesbian.

    Can anyone explain that one? I am a skeptic in most matters, but this one actually happened to me in the 1950s-early 1960s.

    As a long-retired lawyer with a chemical engineering background, I don’t take these things lightly.

  5. Max says:

    Self-fulfilling prophecy? i.e. Did you raise her as a boy, and she became a lesbian?

  6. Max says:

    I expected to get some grief for my silly answer to Jim. Here’s the serious answer:
    1. Did you go on record with your predictions before you, or better yet, before anyone knew the sex of the child from a sonogram?
    2. The lesbian kid is kind of tricky. At first, that prediction sounds more specific than the other ones, but if “a boy, but it’s unclear” covers lesbians, then it also covers boys, gays, and other gender-benders, which is LESS specific.
    3. Did you neglect to mention any wrong guesses you made?
    4. If your story holds up, then the probability of guessing the sex of five children is about one in 32. How many one-in-32 events happen in your life? Guessing one right ain’t exactly winning the lottery.

  7. Jim Brock says:

    Well, Max, this was a long time ago, before the use of sonograms to determine sex. And it wasn’t simply a series of guesses, it was a series of dreams…one only each time. Still sounds strange to me.

    I wonder about the odds being one in thirty two. Each time this might be the odds, but five in a row?

    Did I mention that the other four dreams were very specific as to sex? Only in one case was the dream less than determinative.

    I don’t subscribe to the theory that homosexuals are created by environment, and I don’t think modern science does either.

    And there were NO wrong “guesses”, ie dreams. Each time the dream was revealed to others before the child was born. You can believe it or don’t, as the saying goes. Still a strange experience, not repeated since.

  8. Max says:

    Jim, I checked that the sonogram was invented by the 60’s before posting my reply, but I didn’t check how sonograms were used at the time.

    The probability of guessing one baby’s sex is about one in two. The probability for five babies in a row is one in 32.
    Coming up with predictions while dreaming is just as meaningless as coming up with them while drunk. A guess made in an altered state of consciousness is still a guess.

    Last time I checked, scientists were saying that homosexuality is 30% genetic and 70% environmental. How much of the environmental factor is inside the womb and how much is upbringing I don’t know, but I’d bet that upbringing plays a role, especially for girls. But I digress.

  9. Josh says:

    @ Jim
    Further on the circumstances of your predictions:
    Firstly, did you specifically state your prediction at the time to somebody else, or did you only recall it later? Dreams, your recollection of them, and your memories of your thoughts while waking up are notoriously unreliable. If you didnt explicitly get a reliable witness its possible you dreamt one thing, but later at the time of the birth you only had partial memory of the dream and your “memory” was fabricated by your mind to fit your new knowledge.
    Secondly, what exactly were the circumstances when your predicted your friend’s child? Did you know at the time of the dream exactly who the prediction referred to, or only dream that “somebody is having a girl”? There is potential here for confirmation bias – if more than one birth occurs within a reasonable timeframe, you may be falsely recalling the specific person who was the subject of the prediction.
    And finally, the dreams could be correct, but with a biological explanation. For example, iirc there are links between sexual determination and maternal hormone levels, and you could have picking up on those hormone levels through various cues.

  10. The Blind Watchmaker says:


    I agree with the above. Some other things to consider.

    1 in 32 chance (for predicting 5 children’s sexes correctly) is better odds than rolling a double six on any given backgammon roll. Most of us have done this many, many times.

    If you consider that many, many people likely make predictions about the sex of their future children, then it is highly likely that occasionally someone will get 5 in a row. That person will then attribute some significance to this random event.

    This is similar to the “Myth of the Hot Hand” in basketball (see Thomas Gilovich’s excellent book, “How We Know What isn’t So, the Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life”)

  11. Jim Brock says:

    Guys: I tole ya it was a long time ago. A LONG time ago. And I did tell my wife the morning after each dream. Like I said, still seems strange to me that (1) I would have such a dream repetitively and (2) that they were invariably accurate.

    There are things, as it is said, in this world that are stranger than the eye can see or the brain imagine.

    I am a skeptic, but…

  12. Jim Brock says:

    BTW: In figuring the odds, how do we factor in the number of dreams that do not concern the sex of children in utero? That is, what are the odds of HAVING such a dream at all, or having five of them, each one specific and accurate, with no such dreams being inaccurate. Assuming that in a nine month period I would have slept roughly 270 times, with maybe rem dreams twice or three times a night, seems the odds are a helluva lot less than one in thirty two. Five out of 540, or 810? With the odds at n x p x q x…(with n, p andq being the odds of each event) seems that the whole thing gets long odds.

  13. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    @ Jim Brock,

    “There are things, as it is said, in this world that are stranger than the eye can see or the brain imagine.”

    Classic “Argument from Personal Incredulity”.

    The fact that you tend to dream about such things increases the odds that you will continue to do so. Dreaming about a future child is not random chance. It is human.

    What is so hard to imagine, really? The odds are pretty good that many would have the same experience, then assign some significance to it.

  14. DanielB says:

    My favorite thing to do to examine events like Jim’s prophecy is to lay out the premise and compare with with a skeptical hypothesis.

    Jim is saying that his dreams either had access to future information, or chromosomal information about the contents of a uterus, 4 out of 5 times. Or 5 out of 5, if you hold the popular belief that lesbians are men. To do this, there would have to be cellular level remote viewing phenomena using some kind of undetectable energy, or traditional psychic magic.

    Let’s compare that premise with a skeptical alternative, which would be that Jim is lucky. I don’t think it’s off the table that Jim simply remembers being lucky and was not.

    Jim dreams nightly, and remembers the dreams that are significant. While your wife was pregnant the first time, dreaming about the child’s sex was significant. You were right, and there was a 1 in 2 chance (50/50) of that.

    Due to the success, it became very significant for you to make a predictive dream. After a single predictive dream for each pregnancy, it was no longer as significant because you already made a prediction. Therefore I suggest it is reasonable to assume you there was an extremely high likelihood of a unique predictive dream each 9 month period. That’s back to the 1 in 32; the only unique event here is that Jim made a big deal out of the first prediction.

    No magic is required at all.

    Honestly, I dreamed about having my daughter before I knew her sex, and though I have no data, I bet it’s extremely common. I dreamed my second kid will be a boy named Simon. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

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