Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

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Michael McCarthy

Originally published in BASIS




August 1982

[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 choice of topics. One of her stylistic marks is the “either/or” prediction, of which this is an example: “The threat of a Soviet invasion of Poland still casts a somber shadow across the whole of Europe. IF THAT HAPPENS, it is LIKELY TO OCCUR in March or early April. IF IT DOES NOT HAPPEN, the Soviet Union will later in 1982 call in its loans to the Polish government” (emphasis added). In other contexts, this appears as “if the invasion has not occurred by (period), then it will not occur at all.” Note her use of “likely to occur”; even if the Soviets invaded in July (now a moot issue), her “likely” is an out. “Probably” and “likely” are commonly scattered in her predictions.

Secondly, many of her predictions are vague, or involve personal issues in the lives of pop figures, much of which cannot be confirmed or denied in any event. For example: “Jeanne Kirkpatrick (UN ambassador) is in serious danger from the middle of June through mid-July. During this period, diplomats around the world will be in danger and at least one will die, PROBABLY in July” (emphasis added). Even if Mrs. Kirkpatrick is not in the papers for a life threat, the nature of the serious danger and the likelihood that a threat might go unreported makes a denial of this prediction difficult. Added to this is the problem of defining a “diplomat”.

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