Posts Tagged prediction

Bad News Prediction: Gossip, Girls!

Regular readers of this site – albeit ones with long memories (I’ve been bad for the whole blogging malarky for a while, I know) – will know that from time to time I like to take a punt on what I think will be in the newspapers soon, to see how good my predictive PR powers are. Here’s a quick, very short and possibly utterly wrong prediction:

Gossip, Girls! How British Women Are Queens Of The Chinwag

British women really are queens of gossip, chattering more than twice as often as men, according to the latest research.

More than half of British women admit to gossiping more than once a day, with many confessing to spending over 600 hours each year discussing the latest celebrity news, with men trailing behind with under 300 hours each year.

Top topics for girly gossip included football veteran and alleged philanderer Ryan Giggs, and new addition to the Royal family and national sweetheart Pippa Middleton.

The survey, carried out by <total guess here – The Carphone Warehouse>, questioned 3000 people as part of the launch of their new <phone/contract/promotion>.

Top 5 gossip topics

  1. Ryan Giggs
  2. Pippa Middleton
  3. Britain’s Got Talent
  4. Cheryl Cole
  5. The Royal Wedding

Now, as I say, all of this is pure prediction, and like all predictions it might fall flat on its face! The gender angle is a bit of a guess, as is the number of hours per year, but I’ve a good feeling about a few of the other details. I’ll let you know if it pans out!

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Psychics, Pies and Challenging Lies

I love a psychic story. It’s like catnip to me. Give me a local reporter shamelessly pandering to the nonsense of a purported sage or mystic, and I’m instantly all fired-up with lovely apoplectic ire. ‘Talks to the dead, does he?’ ‘See the future, can he?’ The irritation caused by yet another credulous, fact-free, pseudoscientific puff-piece just feeds me. Which is why I was delighted to find a report in local paper Wigan Today reported this week on the psychic pieman. ‘Oooh’, I thought, ‘Here we go’. So, who or what is the psychic pie-man? Well, apparently, Wigan-based baker Kevin Warrilow has put aside the pastry knife and taken to the crystal ball after undergoing an ‘unexplainable’ transformation in his life. The paper explains:

“Things changed dramatically after the pie shops hit financial problems and he began to be guided by the spirit of a beautiful Afro-Carribean (sic) woman called Lisa, whose face would materialise in curtains, doors or tables to tell him of the new direction his life must take”

I think the key phrase there is ‘financial problems’ – after converting his pie shop into a Love and Light Spirituality Centre and flogging crystal, tarot readings, Angel Cars and incense, I think it’s safe to say his income is somewhat flourishing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Divination 101: The A-Z of ‘-mancies’

Rooster - courtesy of Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rooster_Profile.jpgPreviously I’ve written here on the ideomotor effect, specifically with regards to a Ouija board. Feel free to read it again, if you like. In researching that, I found I was coming across a wide variety of methods for getting answers about the future, and not all can be explained by the ideomotor effect. So, with that in mind, I wondered: could I fill a full A-Z with bizarre methods people have used to tell the future? Is there a form of divination for every letter of the alphabet? Well, sit tight kids, and you might just find out…

The word Divination itself derives from the Latin ‘Divinare‘ – “to foresee, to be inspired by god or gods”, the dictionary defines Divination as:

The practice of attempting to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by occult or supernatural means.

It’s the supposedly occult or supernatural means that will make up the main scope of this article. Some of these methods you may have heard off, some you won’t, some may seem non-too-outlandish and some are just downright odd. I’ve only picked 26 ways to supposedly foretell the future but whilst researching this blog series I discovered at least 157 methods. I hope I’ve included one or more of your favourites but if not please feel free to add it in the comments. Also this is meant to be both irreverent and sarcastic and in one or two special cases accurate, unlike divination itself. This week: A-E! Read the rest of this entry »

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Astrology 101: Debunking The Dirty Dozen

As we were sat around MSS HQ (which, being skeptics and all, you’re no doubt 100% aware of the fact it doesn’t actually exist), it occurred to us that there is an awful lot of woo out there, and not everyone can be expected to be fully versed in every bit of it.  I’d never heard of Pascal’s Wager (as Mike charmingly announced to the world).  People we’ve spoken to had no idea why homeopathy and acupuncture were pseudomedicine.  Some forms of woo are so obscure people may not have even heard of them (please please please spend 5 minutes looking up Breatharianism, for your next ‘what’s the harm?’ conversation).  We’ll be giving a basic intro to the pseudoscience and fuzzy thinking behind some of those in the near future, as part of our ‘Skeptic 101‘ series.

Then there are the other topics – the ones where everyone knows it’s nonsense, but you might not have the facts to hand next time you’re accosted by a woo-peddler on the subject.  Bigfoot.  Crop Circles.  Dowsing.  For me, Astrology falls firmly into this second category.

Twelve signs, twelve months, twelve types of people.  In the whole world. From looking at the positions of the stars and planets at precisely the moment of birth, it’s possible to predict character, future events, love life and a whole manner of cold, hard facts about a person.  Except it isn’t.  Because that’s ridiculous.  We all know that.  So here’s your at-a-glance guide to the woo that is astrology. Read the rest of this entry »

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Clairovoyant Cabbie predicts pregnant passenger’s due date! Or ‘How basic cold reading can be used to monkey with strangers’

According to The Sun, a mysterious taxi driver has predicted the due date of a passenger’s unborn child, with a level of insight labeled ‘Spooky’ by the mum-to-be.  As the article explains:

“The cabbie said: “You’re expecting a baby” — and at that stage she was not even showing a bump.  He then said the tot was due on August 9 — which is the date she had just been given by her gynaecologist.  The mystic cabbie then went on to tell her the baby would be born five days late, at 11.10am on August 14.”  Source: The Sun: 01 June 2009

Quite the miracle, indeed. Or is it?  Let’s break the story down piece by piece.

First of all, the cabbie guessed the mum-to-be was pregnant.  Cool.  After having picked her up from her first ultrasound scan.  OK.  Which, unless I’m mistaken on these things (I’ve never been pregnant and have never had an ultrasound), takes place at a hospital.  Convenient. In an Obstetrics and Gynaecology ward.  Ah.  So a cabbie charged with picking a woman up from the Obs & Gynae entrance speculated she may be with child – perhaps not the greatest stab in the dark to have made.

Read the rest of this entry »

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