When a psychic predicts something, he often faces scrutiny because for each believer, there is an equal or greater number of skeptics. While many of these so-called oracles try their hand at predicting sports game results and Hollywood award winners, others try to build their name with more lofty predictions.
These predictions are among the most widely regarded psychic failures.
Prediction: Jamaican Woman can Telephonically Determine if Spouse Is Cheating
In the late 90s, late night infomercials featured a Jamaican soothsayer claiming she could see into your future. With just a phone call for a free psychic reading, Miss Cleo was enlightened to your situation and could tell you what you needed to do to fix your relationship, job, or other troublesome situation before you were doomed.
Not only was Miss Cleo a hoax psychic, but she wasn’t even Jamaican. Turns out Miss Cleo, better known as Youree Dell Harris, was born in Los Angeles, California. The employee of the Psychic Readers Network became the face of the organization that would inevitably be sued by the masses and the Federal Trade Commission.
The landmark settlement meant Harris and her cohorts were required to return any uncashed checks, cancel the existing $500 million in customer bills, and pay a $5 million fine, an estimate of about half of what was collected in her three year tenure (4).
Prediction: Planetary Alignment Causes Major Earthquake
Born as Michel de Nostredame, French-born Nostradamus Latinized his name after he decided to forego his apothecary work for more occult work. His popular annual almanac publications included some 6,338 prophecies. He went on to publish a book titled Les Propheties, which was widely admired for its predictions. Even royalty took notice and summoned him for his psychic abilities. The book is still widely published to this day.
Amongst his predictions included a particular planetary alignment in May that would cause a massive earthquake and larger than egg-sized hail. Dutch numerologist Frank Hoogervorst took it a step further and claimed that Nostradamus’ prediction would take place on the evening of May 28, 2015 and would cause California and other costal areas to crumble at the hand of a 9.0-9.8-magnitude earthquake (3). The day came and went without so much as a tremble and Nostradamus’ 500-year-old prediction was once again laid to rest.
Prediction: Shawn Hornbeck and a Dreadlocked Hispanic Man
One of the most popular oracles of modern time, Sylvia Browne was a self-proclaimed psychic and medium that constantly made her way into the limelight.
She was well known for her involvement in many high profile missing persons cases. Amongst those was the case of 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck.
When Shawn’s parents appeared on the Montell Williams Show, Sylvia Browne told them their child was kidnapped by a dark-skinned, possibly Hispanic, man who wore dreadlocks. She went on to tell them their son was unfortunately dead and buried in a wooded area near two boulders.
Four years later, while searching for 14-year-old Ben Ownby, police discovered Ownby and Hornbeck alive in Kirkwood, Missouri (1).
Their captor, Michael Devlin, was a middle-aged Caucasian male with short hair. The boys were found less than 50 miles away from their homes and returned to their elated parents who had never given up hope.
Devlin was charged with 78 counts of molestation and abduction and Sylvia Browne’s reputation was further solidified as a hoax (2).
Prediction: Ranch Site of Horrendous Mass Murder
In June 2011, Presley Gridley, who went by her clairvoyant name “Angel,” called police, describing a mortifying scene. Gridley claimed the location was the scene of a mass murder and police could expect to find headless corpses, rotting limbs, and a mass grave of children.
The sheriff’s office acted accordingly, sending officials from various government offices and cadaver dogs. When media caught wind of the situation, they swarmed the area with reporters and helicopters.
After finding no trace of human remains on the property, the ranch owners, Joe Bankston and Gena Charlton, rightfully sued Gridley for defamation. The false report of a massacre had resulted in injury to their reputations as well as financial loss after police raided and destroyed their property. The judge ordered Gridley to pay the plaintiffs a sum of $6.8 million for their losses (5).
Psychics have existed for centuries and their mysticism will continue to draw attention from even the strictest nonbelievers. Although these psychics all managed to fail miserably, the desire for a glimpse into the future will keep people interested in the world of the unknown for years to come.