Psychics strike less than guesses
An extensive study has found that allegedly psychic predictions are correct about 11 per cent of the time - less frequently than random guesses.
Australian Skeptics Inc has been tracking predictions from Australian TV shows, radio segments, newspapers, and back issues of New Idea and Woman’s Day, covering 20 years of bold claims.
The study found that out of more than 3,800 predictions made by 207 Australian psychics between 2000 and 2020, just 11 per cent were unambiguously correct. This is a worse accuracy rate than random guesses from a control group of non-psychics produced.
“TV shows want to fill five minutes. They simply couldn’t care less about accuracy, as long as the psychic is entertaining, people won’t remember the segment or predictions anyway,” says chief investigator Richard Saunders.
Just five out of 57 psychics correctly predicted the result of the Melbourne Cup. One psychic correctly made the less specific claim that the Cup would be won by a “dark brown horse”.
A strike rate of 11 per cent may sound relatively good, given that predicting the future is extremely difficult. However, the researchers put together a control group of non-psychics in 2016 to make predictions about 2017. This group achieved an accuracy rate of 27.2 per cent.
“If you collect thousands of predictions, they can’t all be wrong, that would be impossible. By sheer necessity of random fluke, some would have to be correct,” said Mr Saunders.
“It just goes to show anyone can play this game.”