Clouds in the Crystal Ball | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 02.01.2002
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Clouds in the Crystal Ball

The beginning of every new year is a time for prophets to predict what the future will hold. But a look back at the predictions they made twelve months ago for 2001 shows that their crystal balls must sometimes be dull.


Tell me what you see...

Prophets have been forecasting the end of the world for as long as the earth has existed. "It's just around the corner, repent and prepare!"

The predicted date would come and go and the world has always kept on turning - at least up to now. So the prophets would either keep a low profile or quickly explain why the end of the world had to be postponed to a new date.

January predictions

What better time for predictions than the onset of a new year? Who wouldn't want to know what 2002 will bring? Peace and prosperity? War and disaster? Love and happiness?

But how accurate are these predictions?

Scientists in Germany have now taken a closer look at the predictions clairvoyants made one year ago for 2001.

Germany's Forum for Paranormal Sciences, an organization dedicated to researching things that normal science cannot explain, found that most prophecies for 2001 were miles off the mark.

Forum manager Edgar Wunder told dpa news agency that no expert foresaw the War in Afghanistan or the September 11 attacks. On the contrary: one prominent German seer had even forecast the world would enter a period of peace in 2001.

Nothing happens

On the other hand, events which prophets had predicted for 2001 never happened. One of them had foreseen a disastrous earthquake in Romania for September 7, 2001. But nothing happened: unimpressed by the prophecy, the earth remained totally calm in Romania.

Other seers had forecast an economic upswing twelve months ago. Reality, however, proved them wrong when recession hit economies all over the world.

Predictions impossible

Edgar Wunder says the examples show definite predictions simply aren't possible.

To support that claim, Wunder draws on research he conducted a few years ago.

In the 1990s he studied forecasts of some 200 clairvoyants. He discovered that only four percent of the events they had forecast actually happened.

And according to Wunder, these four percent were probably just lucky guesses.

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