(Investigator 55, 1997 July)

When four psychics and a skeptic make predictions on television and results are compared – with $30,000 at stake – who wins?

The skeptic, John Foley, minced no words: "They genuinely believe it. But they're deluded. They go through a self delusion process."

Mr Foley is secretary of the South Australian Skeptics Association. He admitted that he is sometimes impressed by: "The more spectacular frauds such as Uri Geller and Doris Stokes. But they are frauds and put under test they cannot make it work."

The TV program was Today Tonight (Channel 7, Adelaide) on November 4.

A month earlier each of the five contestants made four predictions in writing of events to occur within four weeks.

Mr Foley selected predictions randomly by dropping a dart on a rotating "wheel of fortune", divided into segments, on which predictions were written.

The four psychics and the skeptic, all of Adelaide, were confident:

Radio psychic Rosemary Wailer boasted of "high powered energy" which came out of her and required care she didn't "zap" herself: "I had runs where I constantly blew up the clothes dryer or the washing machine or the light bulbs… 80% of what I tell people is going to happen."

Sue Cavanagh-Lang – a "Chaos magician" – said, "As a child I could see spirit objectively, that is, with my physical eye. Now I tend to see them psychically with my psychic eye."

John Foley said, "Nobody's ever been able to predict the future. My result will be just as accurate as yours and I don't claim to be psychic."

Raelene Leach replied, "You can sit there and argue all you like but the big thing is we know and you don't!"

Psychic Justine Papps didn't say much.

The four events predicted by each contestant were:

A month later the results were out and the scores were:
Rosemary Wailer        1/2
Sue Cavanagh-Lang      1
Raelene Leach             0
Justine Papps             1/2
John Foley                    2

The half points were for predictions which were half right. For example, a prediction of an "unexplained power blackout" was half right because there was a power blackout but it was not "unexplained".

The clear winner was the skeptic and his throw-a-dart method.

Then came the arguments – with the person who scored least arguing most:

Leach:        Skeptics are trying to destroy the truth.
Foley:        We're not trying to destroy; we're trying to find it.
Leach:        They have closed minds.
Foley.        (quoting a dictionary): A skeptic is 'One who considers' and
                 that's what we do.
Leach:        You're on the scientific plane; we're on the supernatural. We
                  know what we do.
Foley:         The supernatural being the superstitious. We argue with the
                  facts. What do you argue with?
Leach:        We don't worry about the facts... In your area one plus one
                  makes two but in the spiritual area one plus one makes six.
Foley:         In other words it doesn't work.
Leach:        It does work.

The Australian Skeptics have an ongoing $30,000 challenge for anyone who can demonstrate paranormal powers.

More true reports about "psychics" on this website: