[Ed. Note: Both Ken Bomben and Mike McCarthy did excellent analyses of Jeanne Borger's predictions. Although J.B. is not strictly Bay Area, she is widely known enough that an analysis seems instructive. Since we published Ken on the specifics, let's see the fine job Mike did on the methods.]
It must be borne in mind that a large number of Ms. Borger's "predictions" are not easily checked, due to her careful phrasing, not to mention her cho
There are still signs posted on telegraph poles throughout the Bay Area, seeking information about missing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu who disappeared from outside her home in Tracy, CA, on March, 27. Tragically, we now know that the little girl was murdered.
As reported in Inside Bay Area, Los Angeles-based psychic Dani Pedlow claims that she assisted Tracy police in solving the case. Pedlow asserts that she predicted the location where the little girl's body would be found. For this supposed assistance, she believes she is entitled to a portion of a $30,000 reward. Pedlow sent a letter to the Tracy Police Department, telling them so.
However, Tracy Police deny that Pedlow contacted them for anything more than the reward, "We never reviewed or utilized any information from a psychic during this investigation," Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman said.
This is fortunate, since there is no historical evidence to suggest that psychic detectives
Janet Adams plead "no contest" to charges of fraud. BAS reported the self-described psychic's arrest in December, 2008.
Adams originally plead not guilty, but prosecutors threatened to add fraud charges on behalf of two other victims, and Adams agreed to accept a jail term of up to six years and to make restitution to all three victims. The case filed against her involved an elderly woman who gave Adams $80,330 based on promises that it would keep the victim's husband from dying, and would avert harm to other people.
According to the Oakland Tribune:
A number of victims approached police after Adams' Dec. 18 arrest, but prosecutors could only press charges in cases with "intrinsic fraud," [San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve] Wagstaffe said.
"When you get a quid pro quo ??? 'your husband will die if you don't give me money,' what she's saying is, 'I will prevent it from happening,' and that's the falsehood," Wagstaffe said. "She can't prevent the husband from dying in two weeks unless she has some powers we don't know about."
If that was the case, "she probably wouldn't have pleaded no contest," Wagstaffe added.
Robert Byers, Adams' attorney, took a less skeptic
Senator Claiborne Pell passed away on New Year's day. The 90 year-old former Senator from Rhode Island is fondly remembered by the tens of millions of students who have been able to go to college thanks to the financial aid grants named in his honor.
Skeptics have their own reason to mourn the six-term Senator. He earned the nickname "Senator Oddball" from Time magazine for his obsession with ESP. The Washington Post's obituary explains that he earned the moniker because of:
a 1987 incident when, fearing an extrasensory perception gap with the Soviets, he invited carnival-level spoon bender Uri Geller to Washington to demonstrate his skills. Sen. Pell also attended a symposium on UFO abductions.
In addition, Pell hired a Senate staffer to investigate ESP.
During the 1990 campaign, the aide played speeches by Bush and other high officials on the topic of Iran backward. In doing so, Sen. Pell informed the secretary of defense, the word "Simone" had been discerned, and he described this as "a code word that would not be in the national interest to be known."
"It sounds wacky but there may be some merit to it," Sen. Pell commented. He told an interviewer later that the "Simone" issue "had not been helpful in t
Janet Adams, a self-described psychic, was arrested for bilking an 85-year-old woman out of $80,330. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Adams told the victim "that her husband would die of a heart attack if she didn't immediately pay $13,000 for 'special prayers,' the prosecutor said."
On subsequent visits, the purported psychic extracted more and more money from the elderly victim, until her (still-healthy) husband noticed the odd transactions.
The Chronicle explains that:
Adams has victimized numerous women in San Mateo County in the past and was sent to state prison in 2004 for two years on a theft conviction, authorities said. At that time, Adams worked as a palm reader at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival.
My crystal ball tells me that the victim, who visited Adams the first time "on a lark," has learned her lesson. Hopefully Adams will learn hers, too.
The photograph of Adams is from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department,
San Francisco resident Lisa Marie Miller bilked a Santa Clara woman out of $108,000 and a sports car by giving her "spiritual cleanings", according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle (available here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/09/BA8H14KOHF.D... ).
Lisa Miller apparently was carrying on the family business: Psychic at Pythiaher mother in law was recently convicted on similar charges, and a sister in law is under investigation for bilking a woman out of $36,000 in payment for a similar "psychic cleansing." She received two months in jail, five years probation, and is required to pay restitution. Oh -- and not to ever engage in fortune telling, spiritual advising, and the like. There is considerable commentary on story at the Chronicle's blog.
July 2007 news included the case of a cat named Oscar who allegedly predicted which patients in a hospice would soon die. As SF Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll noted (30 Jul 2007), this seems a bit of a stretch.
"... Oscar's 'uncanny knack of knowing when people are going to die' [looks fishy]. Apparently he walks aloofly around the halls of the Providence, R.I., nursing home where he lives, and then settles down with a person who, only a few hours later, dies. Oscar somehow intuits the imminence of death and provides succor in these last hours - or so the story goes.
"From the evidence, an equally viable theory is that Oscar kills people, but no one has mentioned that possibility.
We are the Bay Area Skeptics (BAS), a group of people who support the testing of paranormal claims, but are unconvinced by any of the supposed proofs of psychic powers that have been presented so far. We are committed only to finding out the truth about so-called psychic powers, whatever that truth may be. Nothing would be more exciting than to discover the existence of a genuine psychic power, if such a thing exists. However, experience has sadly shown that t