From time to time here, I try to check out the predictions of our psychics, mystics, seers and fortunetellers to see whether any of their visions have come true.
One of the reasons these charlatans prosper is that the press, in general, gives credence to their frauds by its credulous reporting of them.
Newspapers and television also love to please their audiences by reporting dubious testaments of extraterrestrial visitors, ghosts, reincarnation, precognition and other improbabilities.
Not only does the press exuberantly report the predictions of psychics, without skepticism, but it also rarely returns to test their accuracy.
A case in point is a story published in The Times of Oct. 14, 1934, which has been copied and sent to me by Carl Hodapp of Glendale.
It is an interview by E. C. Van Aiken with "Hollywood's Most Famous Seer," Mrs. Mabel Smith, an astrologer.
Van Aiken noted that Mrs. Smith was gracious in giving him her time, since clients were "lined up in rows," waiting to consult her.
"In addition to motion picture stars," he wrote, "her clientele includes film studio officials who frequently summon her for advice prior to launching ambitious programs and govern their actions by the advice she gives."
Oddly, since television was already a fact, Mrs. Smith never mentioned the impact of commercial television.
What she did see, back in 1934, was that Franklin Roosevelt would die in his first term of office. "If he does not step out," she predicted, "the stars indicate he will not complete his term alive." (He was reelected three times.)
Mrs. Smith also predicted that the United States "could never have a war with Japan." For the United States, she foresaw a revolution that would smolder in 1937 and "burst into flame" in the fall of 1941. In that fall, you may remember, Japan was about to bomb Pearl Harbor, and the United States was about to enter a period of supreme patriotism and unity. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition."
She predicted that Adolf Hitler would be assassinated, "and not by a Jew."
"His (Hitler's) chart shows he would make a great bid for power; but he runs against a combination of financial and socialistic forces which must smash his attempts and split his country into strife."
Well, if the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Union could be considered "a combination of financial and socialistic forces," she might have been right; somehow she overlooked World War II, the most destructive and widespread war in history.
Mrs. Smith was right in foreseeing that the Soviet Union would become a mighty nation, but she thought that it would do so peacefully by installing a socialist regime in a leaderless Germany.
"Eventually," she said, "but at a late date, a great war will begin in Russia's attitude toward the rest of the world."
We can hope that Mrs. Smith was just as wrong about that as she was about everything else.
Meanwhile, getting back to our own times, a reader has sent me the latest crop of predictions, for the second half of 1986, from National Enquirer magazine's stable of "10 leading psychics."
Without naming these eminent prognosticators, I will list just a few of their predictions for the next few months:
Liz Taylor will have "a hot romance" with pioneer heart surgeon Dr. Christiaan Barnard. (Whatever came of the prediction that Liz would marry Prince Rainier?)
"Richard Chamberlain will become a national hero when he grabs the controls of a plummeting plane after the pilot suffers a heart attack. He will land the craft and save the passengers' lives."
Angela Lansbury, star of "Murder, She Wrote," will solve a real-life murder mystery while she's on a Caribbean cruise. "A woman's body will be discovered in the cabin next to hers and she'll track down the killer."
"Liberace will trip over the hem of one of his extra-long fur coats, breaking his ankle--and in the confusion, a thief will steal two of his diamond rings."
As long as we have psychics, we'll have press agents.
"Princess Di and Queen Elizabeth will shock observers when they get into a loud argument in public."
Don't wait for it. They're both too well bred.
But the psychic thinks up something like that and prays, prays that it happens and makes him or her rich.
"Joan Collins will reveal that she's going to have a baby--by a surrogate mother."
Wouldn't it be up to Joan's husband to reveal it, since he's got to be the natural father?
Of course, we find the usual predictions of not-improbable events--a disastrous earthquake in Japan, the assassinations of Moammar Kadafi and the Ayatollah Khomeini, and the separation of Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda (she'll take her jewels).
You just go on predicting something like that and sooner or later you'll be right.
I myself predict a disastrous earthquake in Los Angeles.
Sooner or later.