I'm a card carrying member of a skeptic association ("Les Sceptiques du Québec"
), and each year we organize a "prediction contest".
The goal is to demonstrate that when making predictions, there's always some that will become reality, and astrologers and other charlatans are just lucky, from time to time. For instance, 99.999999% of all astrologers or other charlatans did not predict 9/11. Here in Québec, one astrologer said she knew about it, but she didn't want to tell because she thought it would create panic. Sure...
The 0.000001% missing is to take in account an astrologer from Hong-Kong who made a very vague allusion to some possible problems in the American sky the day of 9/11. If we are being very generous and we say this guy was right, we can also say he was lucky.
So our little contest demonstrates that you are going to be right once in a while, no matter what you predict. Our stats show a success rate of around 20%. It has picked up a bit in recent years because people taking part in the contest tend to make more "serious" predictions. Whereas, in the past, people had fun making the silliest predictions (I, for one, once predicted a tsunami would hit Switzerland. See what I mean...). Last year, the success rate was 16%, and the #1 prize went to a guy who predicted a major crash in Iran with a margin of error of 2 days. He predicted the crash would take place Feb.14, and it unfortunately happened Feb.12 (unfortunately for the people who died, not for the prediction itself).
You can test this by yourself (that's what being skeptic is all about). Make a list of, say, 100 predictions. 100 "events" that you think will take place before Dec 2003. And see by yourself the results. If you made "reasonable" predictions, unlike mine about a tsunami in Switzerland, you'll probably be on the money 15%-20% of the time.
Here's a few prediction of mine, feel free to add your own:
UA will close one of its hub
Boeing will end the 757 production
At least one minister will resign from Blair's cabinet
The Yankees will win the World Series
The Cubs will win the World Series
OJ will not find the real murderer
There are going to be massive demonstration in the streets of Montréal this fall
There are going to be massive demonstration in the streets of Paris this fall, maybe some ATC strikes also
Americans will find no WMD in Iraq
Paul Martin is going to be Canada's next Prime Minister (easy one)
Never let the facts get in the way of a good theory.