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Predictions: Sylvia Browne's Annual Predictions for 1996
An examination of Browne's annual predictions for 1996.
Sylvia Browne has stated that she has an "accuracy rating" as a psychic of 87%. Is she really this accurate?
We have no way of judging her private readings, and even the majority of readings she gives on the Montel Williams show are impossible for us to judge.
One area where her accuracy can be judged is in her "annual prediction" lists, made towards the end of each year, predicting events for the following year.
This article is the first in a series which will examine her annual predictions, year by year.
I start this series with the oldest list of her annual predictions which I could find: her predictions for 1996. I obtained this list from an archived copy of the page 1996 Predictions by Sylvia Browne, which states that this list was issued in November of 1995.
(An archived copy of the page was used due to the fact that these annual lists were all removed from her site back in 2001.)
The following predictions are quoted verbatim from that page, and are broken up into the same categories as they were on that page.
In order to judge these predictions for accuracy, it was necessary to make certain assumptions.
Here are the assumptions:
Some might find these assumptions to be overly limiting. But without assumptions, non-specific predictions - and most of Browne's predictions are far from specific - are totally meaningless.
If I make any other assumptions about a given prediction, I will say so when discussing that prediction.
On to the predictions...
President Bill Clinton
Prediction: "Bill Clinton will be reelected President."
But this was a pretty safe bet. Historically, U.S. presidents running for a second term have a far better chance of winning the election than the competition does.
Prediction: "Bob Dole will be the Republican Presidential candidate."
Again, a pretty safe bet. At the time this "prediction" was made, Dole had been far ahead of the other Republican hopefuls since he had entered the race in April 1995.
Prediction: "Republican party starts moving towards being moderately liberal."
Rating: UNKNOWN - TOO VAGUE.
The prediction is so vague that I cannot determine whether it is right or wrong.
Prediction: "Another "Million Man March" in the South to show solidarity."
There was no "Million Man March" in 1996. There was a 1997 "Million Woman March" in Philadelphia, 1998 brought a series of "Million Youth Marches" in various locations, a 2000 "Million Family March" in Washington DC, and a ten-year anniversary "Millions More March" in Washington DC in 2005.
Prediction: "More states will accept Gay marriages. Supreme Court issues a favorable ruling."
No states even considered same-sex marriage legislation in 1996. Hawaii considered same-sex "domestic partnership" legislation that year, but it failed to pass the lower house, never making it to the governor's desk.
Three years later in 1999, California was the first state to pass "domestic partnership" legislation in 1999, and actual gay marriage was not legal in any state until 2004, when Massachusetts passed such legislation.
I find no 1996 Supreme Court ruling "favorable" to same-sex marriage.
Dow Jones Industrial Average 1986-2006 (1996 inside red lines)
Prediction: "Federal budget will not balance in 7 years, more like 10 years."
The federal budget was balanced three years later, in 1999. By 2006 - which would equate to Browne's claim of "more like ten years later," the federal budget was in far worse shape than it was when she made her prediction, and remains so as of this writing.
Prediction: "Our economy improves: more jobs, more small businesses flourish."
This was in no small part due to the "dot-com bubble" which had started in 1995, and which was already well-known. Many small internet companies started and thrived for a few years before the bottom fell out, and the dot-com economic bubble burst in 2000-2001.
Prediction: "Stock market keeps rising until February, then levels out and begins to go down. Not a plunge, just a downward trend."
Another vague one. I will assume Browne is referring to the American stock market. But which indicator? The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)? The NASDAQ? The S&P 500?
As it turns out, the prediction is wrong regardless of which of these indicators we use. The market did not "begin to go down" in February, but climbed fairly steadily and steeply from then until the end of the year.
Prediction: "Interest rates go down."
Rating: UNKNOWN - TOO VAGUE.
This one is way too vague to call. Which interest rates - Prime? Fed funds? Others?
By "go down," does she mean over all through the year? Down for how long?
Depending on how we answer these questions, the prediction could be right or wrong. For instance, if we decide she meant ANY interest rate, down for ANY amount of time, the prediction would be true - but it would be true for any year.
Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Prediction: "The war in Bosnia is not really squelched until late July; troops are sent in."
If taken individually, the first phrase of the prediction ("The war in Bosnia is not really squelched until late July") would be rated as WRONG, as there was no "squelching" being done in July of 1996. The US-led NATO peacekeeping forces had been in place since December of 1995, and remained for several years, long after July of 1996. In no meaningful way was anything "squelched" in July of 1996.
The second phrase of Browne's prediction ("troops are sent in.") would be rated as ALREADY KNOWN. The war in Bosnia ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in mid-November of 1995. President Clinton went on national television on November 27, 1995 to ask the country's support of his plan to send in American troops to lead the peacekeeping mission. Browne's predictions were issued three days later, on November 30, 1995.
Taken as a whole, I have given the prediction a rating of WRONG.
Prediction: "A nuclear test moratorium is imposed on France."
On June 13, 1995, France's president Jacques Chirac announced that France would conduct 8 nuclear tests between September 1995 and May 1996. On August 10, 1995, Chirac stated that, once its testing was complete, it would halt all nuclear tests. France also announced that it favored a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that would prohibit any nuclear test or nuclear explosion.
On January 27. 1996, after France had conducted six of eight planned tests in the South Pacific, Chirac announced the end to French testing, as he had previously announced.
While there was some political pressure on France to stop the testing, there was, in no sense, a moratorium on the testing "imposed" on France.
On April 6, 1998, France and Great Britain voluntarily ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
This is a close prediction for me. Did France end their announced testing earlier than they had planned? Yes. But was a moratorium "imposed" on them? No. Had Browne phrased her prediction differently, say "France ends nuclear testing early due to international opinion," I would probably give this a rating of RIGHT. As she phrased it though, I cannot.
Prediction: "California is in for a 2 year dry spell. Some rains in February, but not much."
Below is a graph from the California State Department of Water Resources (click the first link below to see a larger version).
I have drawn a red rectangle around 1996 and 1997, which would be the two years of the "dry spell" that Browne predicted.
While 1996 has considerably less precipitation (the light blue bar) than 1995, 1997 has more than 1995.
As for the "Some rains in February, but not much", the second link below loads an article describing flood conditions in northern California in late 1996 and early 1997.
Prediction: "Colorado gets close to flood conditions due to excessive snow and moisture."
I can find nothing to support this prediction, and the following seems to contradict it.
An academic paper (linked below) from Colorado State University, the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute and the Colorado Water Conservation Board states that there was a localized drought over southwestern Colorado from late 1995 into 1996. It also states that it was "very wet state-wide" in 1995, 1997 and 1999," and does not include 1996 in that description.
Prediction: "April brings flooding to some Southern states."
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's web site, here is the number of flood disasters reported in the entire United States (not just the Southern States) within 1996:
Not a single flood disaster reported to FEMA in the entire country within April of 1996.
It would appear that flooding in the south during April is not uncommon. If you experiment with the FEMA Disaster Search (linked below), you will see that there were floods in southern states during April of 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 and 1999 (I only checked the '90s). Given this, Browne's prediction would not have been that impressive even if it had come true.
Prediction: "Gradual health reforms begin in consideration of the elderly and physically challenged."
Gradual health reforms were common throughout this period, as health care reform was a priority within the Clinton administration. But they did not "begin" in 1996, nor do I find any major developments in this area starting in 1996.
Prediction: "A preliminary vaccine for AIDS is tested on a control group; findings are favorable."
Rating: UNKNOWN - TOO VAGUE.
First, Browne does not seem to know what a control group is. In a clinical trial, the control group is the group which does NOT try the experimental treatment.
That aside, while clinical trials for AIDS vaccines did take place in 1996 (many were announced prior to this prediction being published), no major breakthroughs were announced.
The only thing which keeps me from giving this prediction a rating of WRONG is the vagueness of the statement "findings are favorable." How major are the "findings?" How "favorable" are they?
Strictly judged, predictions such as this one can only be judged as RIGHT (if a breakthrough is announced) or UNKNOWN, if none is announced, because we cannot know if perhaps there was a small breakthrough somewhere.
If there was any breakthrough, it could not have been very significant - today, eleven years later, there is still no AIDS vaccine.
Prediction: "A new type of pneumonia virus is found that seems impervious to drugs."
Drug-resistant strains of many diseases are found from time to time. A strain of pneumonia resistant (not impervious) to drugs was found in 1992, four years prior to this prediction (see link below), but I find no mention of one turning up in 1996, nor of any which seemed impervious.
Interestingly enough, the article linked below was published in September of 1995, just months before Browne published these predictions.
Prediction: "Water pollution is found to be a problem in the Southern states."
Water pollution is a problem everywhere, including the Southern states.
I find no record of there being any particularly significant findings of water pollution in the Southern states in 1996.
Graph of earthquakes in Southern California in 1996
Prediction: "Mexico has another large earthquake in December, near 6.9 magnitude."
According to the first usgs.gov link below, here are all of the earthquakes within Mexico which were of a magnitude 6.0 or greater:
None occurred in 1996. The only ones which have occurred since then were in 1999 and 2003.
According to the second usgs.gov link below, there were no significant earthquakes within Mexico in all of 1996.
Prediction: "Southern California has two small quakes, one in January and another in October."
Another very vague prediction.
First, Southern California has dozens of earthquakes every day, the vast majority of which are "small." In 1996, there were more than 15,000 measured quakes (see image above), averaging more than forty per day. So, predicting that there will be "two small quakes" in Southern California in a given year is a bit like predicting that there will be two small cars on the Los Angeles freeways tomorrow.
If we interpret this prediction literally - that there will only be two quakes - it is obviously wrong.
If we interpret it as meaning that the two largest quakes in Southern California in 1996 will be small, and that they will occur in January and October, she is still wrong. The two months with the largest SoCal quakes in 1996 were a 5.2 quake in Ridgecrest in January, and a 4.9 quake in Ridgecrest in March.
Prediction: "Northern California has a small quake in February, near Livermore or Modesto."
Yet again, another vague prediction. How small is a "small quake? How near is "near" Livermore or Modesto?
As with Southern California, Northern California has dozens of earthquakes every day. So to predict a "small" one "near" Livermore or Modesto in a given month/year is nearly meaningless.
Add to that the fact that I find no mention of a notable quake in either of those towns in February of 1996, and I have to give this one a rating of WRONG.
Prediction: "Sandra Bullock gets married, it only lasts 4 months. She then goes away to a retreat to regroup."
Bullock did not marry in 1996. Her first marriage was in July 2005, to Jesse James. They are still married as of this writing (October 2007).
Prediction: "John Travolta has another baby."
John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston did not have a child in 1996. Their first child was born in 1992. Their second was not born until 2000. I find no rumors or reports of Travolta fathering a child outside his marriage.
Prediction: "Sylvester Stallone marries a woman not in modeling whom he meets at a horse ranch."
Stallone did not marry anyone in 1996.
He did marry in 1997 to Jennifer Flavin (a model), after a ten-year on-again, off-again relationship. They are still married as of this writing.
I don't know if they met at a horse ranch, but Browne says "meets" as though they would meet in the future, whereas Stallone and Flavin had met each other back in 1987.
Prediction: "Liz Taylor finds a new man, from the world of cosmetics."
Taylor's marriage to Larry Fortensky ended in late 1996. Did she "find a new man, from the world of cosmetics" that year? I find no evidence of it.
So, let's see how Browne did:
Only three predictions right out of a total of twenty-five, making for an "accuracy rate" of 12%.
If we ignore those four predictions which we could not determine to be right or wrong, that gives her three right out of twenty-one, giving her an accuracy rate of slightly over 14%.
Either way, it is far below her claimed accuracy rating of 87%. And it is well within what would be expected from simple educated guessing.
Was Browne's poor performance with her predictions for 1996 typical, or was it simply a bad year for her? I will be examining her record, year by year, over the coming weeks. It should prove interesting.
If anyone disagrees with the rating I have given to any prediction, please feel free to let me know. If you provide links to sources which support your opinion, I will gladly examine them, and perhaps change the rating I gave the prediction.
My sincere thanks to all the people who helped in researching these predictions, and who supplied me with most of the research links mentioned above. Without them, this article would have taken far longer to research and write than it did.
Clicking on any of these links will load a separate browser window for viewing the linked page.
StopSylviaBrowne.com is not responsible for the content of any of these linked pages.
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