Dry As Dust

A Fortean in the Archives

Floods, "Pressure", and Nuclear Death

The start of a new year is a time for looking back, for looking forward, and - perhaps most entertainingly of all - for checking out how well the world's assorted psychic doom-mongers have been doing in the prediction stakes.

Thirty years ago now, Irving Wallace and David Wallechinsky asked many of the leading sensitives of the day to list their forecasts for the future, then published the results in ever-wonderful People's Alamanacs 1 & 2 - which readers of this blog will know still rank among my favourite reading matter. A few hedged their bets with the sort of vague, undated prognostications that you can never really label "wrong" - suggesting that "a cure for blood diseases will be found" sometimes between 1975 and the far-distant future strikes me as a fairly safe bet. Most, though, filed startlingly-precise and unmistakably media-friendly predictions revolving around imminent disaster on a national and global scale.

In an attempt to be fair, I've checked every prediction from the Almanac #1 that's both firmly dated and reasonably unambiguous, and tried to choose a balanced selection from them. Bearing in mind, then, that a far-seeing psychic gazing into his or her crystal ball back in 1975 ought to have been able to predict the collapse of Communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, AIDS, Gulf Wars I and II, the Falklands conflict, a female British Prime Minister, the assassination attempt on President Reagan, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the rise of reality television, the death of Diana, the destruction by plane of the World Trade Center, and the Boston Red Sox finally winning a World Series, let's take a look at how the Almanac's all-star line-up fared.


Psychic #1

Malcolm Bessant of the College of Psychic Studies, London

Predictions for 1975-80

• In a few years, New York will be uninhabitable. The water level will rise and eventually flood the city out of existence.

• By 1979, the US will have a war with China.


Psychic #2

David Bubar, Baptist minister and broadcaster

Predictions for 1975-80

•There will be mass murders, a kind of genocide, in South America.

Predictions for 1981-1990

• Love, as we know it, will cease to exist. Intuition and clairvoyance will become more important. Psychics will hold important government positions.

• The chemicals and antibiotics consumed by present-day peoples will cause generations of the 1980s to be grotesquely tall.

• Parts of newspapers and magazines will be 3-dimensional, somewhat like silent movies.

• A "Thought-Action-Deed" machine (TAD) will appear in 1986. Using the machine, scientists will be able to tune into past, present, or future events based on a computer analysis of the pattern of history. By 1996, TADs will be released for mass production.


Psychic #3

Criswell, a former mortician who claimed his predictions were 86% accurate. (This is the same Criswell who appeared in that most memorable of B-movies, Plan 9 From Outer Space.)

Predictions for 1975-80

• From 1975 to 1978, the Devil will rule the earth.

• In 1976, tidal waves and earthquakes will devastate Hawaii.

• The year 1977 will be one of disaster. No rain will fall for 10 months. Tides will end. Ships will run aground. A "black death" will wipe out thousands of people. The availability of water from snow and ice will cause migration of desperate people to the North and South Poles. After this drought, torrential rain will come, followed by floods. A woman in Pratt, Kansas, will save the lives of 500 people and become a national heroine.

• On August 27th, 1977, Lago Maggiore in Switzerland will begin to boil as a volcano rises in its center.

• In 1978, Lake Michigan will be drained for land use.

• From November 28 to December, 1980, Pennsylvanians will be afflicted by an outbreak of cannibalism caused by an experiment that goes awry.

Predictions for 1981-1990

• By 1981, birth-control substances will be in the water system, put there by the Federal Government. In order to conceive, people will have to get a pill from the government.

• In 1981, Montana will become the penal state. All criminals given prison sentences will be sent there.

• On February 11, 1981, a foreign power will attempt to bomb the US with atomic weapons. The attempt will fail, but 50 people in Vermont will be killed.

• In 1982, a dying planet named Bullanon will come so close to earth that it will affect earth's gravity, shifting the poles. This will cause the rise of a lost continent which will bridge West Africa and Southeast South America, and trigger earthquakes, the destruction of cities, erutions of volcanoes, storms and tidal waves. It will also cause a 40-day snowstorm with ice, resulting in a "white death."

• In 1985, a Caucasian woman, called the Lady of Light, will become leader, 1st of the Orient, then of the world. Under her leadership, men will become slaves and women will hold the power. War will end; the world will become a near-paradise. Her end will come after she is raped in Africa, then dies in childbirth.

• On October 18, 1988, a meteor will hit London, almost detroying the city.

• On June 9, 1989, Denver will be wiped out by a "pressure" from outer space, which will turn solids into a jellylike mass.

Predictions for 1991-2000

• Buses will be driven by atomic power.

• The world will come to an end on August 18, 1999. A black rainbow (a magnetic disturbance in the atmosphere caused by gravitational pulls in the universe) will draw the oxygen from earth. Earth will leave its orbit and race to the sun. The only earth people left will be colonists on 200 space stations.



Jeane Dixon, businesswoman and author

Predictions for 1981-1990

• The US will have its first woman president.

Predictions for 1991-2000

• Jesus Christ will be seen "bodily" in the Holy Land, and all Jews will proclaim him Messiah.

Predictions for 2001-2005

• With the advent of the year 2000, China will emerge as the greatest industrial power on earth. Within 5 years, China will conquer all of Asia and move into the Middle East. The US and its allies will engage China in a nuclear war. The resultant "nucelar blasts, radiation, firestorms, followed by pestilence," will cost China millions of lives. China will go down in defeat.


Psychic #5

Ann Jenson, a seer from Dallas, TX

Predictions for 1975-1980

• By 1976, the US stock market will fall to a point close to the low reached during the 1929 Wall Street Crash.

• All fighting will cease in Vietnam by 1980.

Predictions for 1981-1990

• There will be greater co-operation between the US and USSR. There will be a worldwide move to make "rules for peace".

Predictions for 1991-2000

• There will be "calamities" during man's further exploration of space.

• There will be discoveries of life-giving planets.


Psychic #6

Dr. N, "a prominent physician and psychiatrist"

Predictions for 1975-1980

• In 1980, Spain, Africa and Israel will have far more power than they do now.

Predictions for 1981-1990

• The next President will die in office after serving for 12 years.

• By 1986, one of every three children will be deformed in some way by radiation. Because of this, the Government will mount a huge research program in genetics and embryology.


I could go on, at some length - there are pages and pages of this stuff, and believe me, I've tried to be fair. I suppose you could take David Bubar's prediction of mass murder in South America sometime in the period 1975-1980 as a foretelling of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre in Guyana (in fact, I'm pretty darn certain he would), but his suggestion that the incident would be "a kind of genocide" suggests he was imagining something on a larger scale. And I imagine it might just have been possible to miss a nuclear war that only killed 50 people in Vermont. Other than that, Ann Jenson is really the only predictor whose views are even remotely close to what actually happened, and even there it wasn't too much of a stretch to, say, predict an end to the Vietnam War in 1975. Predictions of disaster in space between 1991 and 2000 might be taken as a reference to the two Space Shuttle disasters, but Challenger blew up in 1986 and Columbia disintegrated in 2003. As for Criswell , he'd really need to revise down his boast of being "86% accurate" - that is, if he hadn't failed to forsee his own demise on 4 October 1982.

Anyway, here, in a spirit of inclusiveness, is my own prediction of things to come, good - and I'm being a tad conservative here - for the years, ooh, let's say 2008-2100:

• No reliable method of fortelling the future will be discovered.

I'm willing to be proved wrong. But I'm betting I'm the only prognosticator on this list who'll boast a 100% accuracy rate come January 1, 2101.

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