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Striking a Happy Medium PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

While making the rounds of the news sources, I came across this straightforward article from the Trinidad & Tobago Express. Tony Deyal, a Caribbean journalist, discusses perhaps the most famous "hit" in all of psychic prophecy:

Parade magazine in 1956 quoted Dixon as predicting: "As for the 1960 election Mrs. Dixon thinks it will be dominated by labour and won by a Democrat. But he will be assassinated or die in office though not necessarily in his first term."

What was not said is that Dixon actually predicted that John F. Kennedy would fail to win the presidency and that Richard Nixon would be victorious.

Yes, that's right. She "predicted" a Democrat would become president would be assassinated, and that Republican Richard Nixon would win office. How could she lose? She couldn't, and she didn't.

Jeanne Dixon, born Lydia Emma Pinckert, died in 1997. Though she claimed to be a devout Catholic, she apparently disregarded Leviticus 20:27:

A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.

Fortunately for people of reason, she has largely faded from the public mind. But it's important to remember her, because her betting on both sides of the coin toss earned her a lifetime of fame and fortune, thanks to those who choose to believe rather than perceive.

Tony quotes Mark Twain to illustrate Dixon's technique:

A man who goes around with a prophecy-gun ought never to get discouraged. If he will keep his heart and fire at everything he sees he is bound to hit something by and by.

The hits are touted, and the misses are ignored or explained away (I can't be right ALL of the time!) This particular brand of confirmation bias is now known as the "Jeanne Dixon Effect," and I hope that's the major part of her legacy.

Of course, the current crop of "psychics" use the same technique, because it remains effective.

I'd like to thank Tony for reminding me of Jeanne Dixon, and also for quoting Twain. More Twain quotes on prophecy can be found at twainquotes.com.

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written by Rogue Medic, January 13, 2009
If you predict that everything, that could happen, will happen, eventually you will be correct. Overwhelmingly, as with Jean Dixon, you will be wrong.
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written by cwniles, January 13, 2009
Mr. Deyal wrote a very entertaining piece. He makes some very good and some very humorous observations. And one can never go wrong quoting Mark Twain.

"I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's."
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written by Simon, January 13, 2009
As recently as last month, UK's 'Fortean times' magazine had a cover article on 'Jeanne Dixon, the psychic who predicted the Kennedy assasination', more proof, alas, that woo woo seldom stays debunked!
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written by Willy K, January 13, 2009
Strike a happy medium?

Is that a prediction that someone is going punch that grinning fool, John Edward, in the face? smilies/tongue.gif

As long as he is sent over to the "other side," preferably the other side of the planet. smilies/wink.gif
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written by Wizard, January 13, 2009
With all her amazing psychic powers to see into the future; and yet she couldn't predict her own death !
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written by MadScientist, January 13, 2009
"... woo woo seldom stays debunked!"

I walked into a shop last year wearing my "Elvis is dead, get over it!" shirt and the guy at the sales counter goes "noooo! That's not fair! I'm sure he's flipping burgers somewhere in Tennessee".

"Is that a prediction that someone is going punch that grinning fool, John Edward, in the face?

As long as he is sent over to the "other side," preferably the other side of the planet."

No! There are enough kooks on this side of the planet; send any more and I might have to pack up and move back to Arizona. Send John Edward across the river Jordan - preferably into one of the numerous mine fields in that part of the world.
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written by Kuroyume, January 13, 2009
Amazingly, these 'bonafied' psychics never seem to be able to do anything concrete and worthwhile like determining their own futures (incarceration, death, or fines) let alone major catastrophes (like Katrina, 9/11, the Dec. 26th tsunami). Wow, they are good! (high sarcasm)

1. I'd like to be the first to say this: Gory Yeller (claimed, shotgun, copyright, trademark). smilies/tongue.gif I did a Google search and noone seems to have made this nice juxtaposition of Uri Geller's name. smilies/smiley.gif

2. If anyone saw the show "The Brain" on the History Channel, they were both impressed but then disappointed by the inclusion of Gary "may the Schwartz be with ya" Schwartz and John (is there an 'M') Edward as part of this two hour special. I was so disgusted that I literally skipped past their assinine proposals about the brain's so-called 'sixth sense' (worth about six cents of ponderance afaiac) and continued onward. There was a short (very short), abbreviated blurb about the Skeptical Inquirer having doubts but it was totally disproportionate to the time given to this idiot and his compadre (who is which is easily juxtaposed).

'Striking a Happy Medium' should surely be construed as hitting an imbecile who pretends to talk to dead people. The entire ediface is constructed upon the most untenable of propositions without evidence and wholely based upon people's hopes, fears, and fantasies. That they receive any notariety at all is implacable!
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written by Roo, January 14, 2009
Like Willy K, I was wondering if this article was about someone getting arrested for clobbering Sylvia Browne. But, of course, ALL mediums are happy, since they're raking in the money for churning out some VERY worn old rope.
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History Channel Has History of Disappointing
written by Jim Shaver, January 14, 2009
Kuroyume, yes I caught most of that show and was similarly disgusted when they included credulous interviews with Schwartz, Edward, and Radin in an otherwise good and reasonable documentary about science. But then, we are talking about the History Channel here, which broadcasts an aggravating balance of excellent, educational shows and complete crap. Sigh.
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written by Cuddy Joe, January 14, 2009
Do any of you other skeptics constantly struggle, like I do, with the impulse to use what I know about being a psychic to go rake in some righteous bucks of my own?
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written by BillyJoe, January 14, 2009
In Australia we have the same problem with the ABC. Even in science programs they seem to think they need to give time to all the differing points of view, including teh inane ones.
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written by Roo, January 14, 2009
Do any of you other skeptics constantly struggle, like I do, with the impulse to use what I know about being a psychic to go rake in some righteous bucks of my own?

Cuddly Joe - yes!! In the current climate, I have considered making some easy money by selling my 'powers' (especially in these financially troubled times). Or upping the ante by employing my dog as a 'psychic consultant' - if an oily little tick like Sylvia Browne can charge $850 for a 30-minute 'reading', then just imagine what riches Jasper and I could rake in... smilies/grin.gif

But I know full well that I could NOT live with my conscience if I were to leech off the vulnerable and desperate with made-up prognostications. The money and fame would be good, but I want to be able to sleep at night.

That said, Cuddly Joe - here is a free, one-time-only, personalised fortune from Jasper, just for YOU: Joe, your planets are aligning and the outlook seems auspicious. It has been revealed to Jasper that, at some time during the next twenty-four hours, you will have to visit the bathroom. Woof!

Amazing, eh? Donations via Paypal, if YOU would like your future revealed by the all-seeing doggie. smilies/wink.gif

It beats me how Browne and their ilk can be quite so callous. That life is not for me, no matter how broke we are.
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"Prediction" (smirk)
written by Desertphile, January 17, 2009
I "predict" that a Fundamentalist Christian will murder President Obama while Obama takes the Oath of Office, just as Obama mutters the unconstitutional phrase "So help me god" at the end. This will be just before a Fundamentalist Muslim tries to throw a shoe at Obama, causing the Muslim to put his shoe back on and fade away into the crowd. Churches across the USA will praise the murderer, and The Idiotic Moron From Alaska will insist she should be the new president.

I hope I'm wrong about all of this except Ms. Palin.
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Answering "Cuddy Joe"
written by Desertphile, January 17, 2009
"Do any of you other skeptics constantly struggle, like I do, with the impulse to use what I know about being a psychic to go rake in some righteous bucks of my own?"

I used to write for American Astrology magazine, knowing full well that astrology is nonsense. I suspect most of the freelance writers knew it also, and I suspect The Starlog Group did also.
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written by BillyJoe, January 17, 2009
From writing nonsense to making cheap predictions. smilies/sad.gif
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