February 17, 2024

How Do Astrologists and Mediums Gain Fame with Just One Accurate Prediction Among Hundreds?

Posted on February 17, 2024  •  5 minutes  • 938 words
Table of contents

The question

Recently, on February 16, 2024, Alexei Navalny met his demise within the confines of a Russian prison. On that very day, as per my habitual routine, I found myself perusing the Google Trends page, stumbling upon a curious phenomenon:

Alexei Navalny

Well, to be honest, it’s not quite a phenomenon, merely a customary spike amidst political turbulence. A crisis equals a spike.

I pondered, Life is indeed peculiar… This man relinquished everything, including the most precious of commodities - his life - in defiance of an oppressive regime. And now, he’s but a blip on the Google Trends radar, no longer at the zenith of public interest.

But that’s just lyrical musing. What truly piqued my interest was recalling another spike I had observed: the earthquake in Turkey of 2023 . This led me to the seismologist Frank Hoogerbeets , who seemingly predicted the earthquake and consequently attained viral fame. Behold:

Frank Hoogerbeets

The earthquake struck on February 6, 2023, coinciding with Frank’s moment in the spotlight. However, it was a fleeting fame, unlike Navalny’s.

Note: I must clarify, I’m not drawing a parallel between Navalny and Hoogerbeets. Their contributions to human history exist on disparate planes and are incomparable. I’m merely examining the graphs through the eyes of a cynical observer fascinated by human psychology.

Now, this Frank… I’m genuinely intrigued by how to capitalize on this phenomenon. He makes predictions en masse, and occasionally, one hits the jackpot: it’s accurate. Who cares about the thousands that miss the mark? Do the masses consume any information they’re served? Perhaps not. Yet, the spike emerges.

Is there a discernible pattern? A theoretical foundation, maybe? Likely so. We’re aware that the business of astrologists and the like is thriving.

I went and asked ChatGPT:

Explain how prominent astrologists and mediums gain recognition. For instance, imagine a prophet, “A,” who makes 100 predictions on various topics. If one of these predictions comes true, “A” suddenly gains fame. Let’s delve into the details of how this process works.

The answer

Prominent astrologists and mediums often gain recognition through a combination of social, psychological, and media-driven mechanisms. This process can be broken down into several key factors:

  1. Volume of Predictions: By making a large number of predictions across various topics, individuals like our hypothetical prophet “A” increase the likelihood that at least one prediction will coincidentally align with future events. This is essentially playing the odds.

  2. Public Memory and Selective Attention: The public and media tend to remember the hits while forgetting the misses. When one of the predictions comes true, it is highlighted and shared, often overshadowing the many incorrect predictions. This selective memory helps to build a narrative of accuracy around the individual.

  3. Confirmation Bias: People tend to interpret information in a way that confirms their preexisting beliefs. If they believe in the possibility of accurate predictions, they are more likely to notice and give importance to the predictions that come true, further enhancing the medium’s or astrologist’s recognition.

  4. Vagueness and Broad Interpretations: Many predictions made by astrologists and mediums are intentionally vague, allowing for broad interpretations. This generality means that a wide range of outcomes can be seen as fulfilling the prediction, increasing the perceived accuracy.

  5. Social and Digital Amplification: In the digital age, social media platforms can rapidly amplify a single correct prediction, reaching a global audience quickly. This viral spread can significantly boost the individual’s recognition almost overnight.

  6. Psychological Needs: People often seek comfort, hope, or understanding in the face of uncertainty. Astrologists and mediums fulfill this need by providing predictions that seem to offer insight into the future. When a prediction appears to come true, it validates this search for meaning and can convert casual followers into true believers.

  7. The Barnum Effect: This psychological phenomenon occurs when individuals believe that highly generic and broad statements apply specifically to them. Many predictions exploit this effect by being just specific enough to resonate personally with many people, while still being applicable to a wide audience.

  8. Marketing and Self-Promotion: Astrologists and mediums who gain fame often know how to market themselves effectively. They may highlight their successful predictions, share testimonials from satisfied clients, and use various media channels to build their brand.

In summary, the recognition gained by astrologists and mediums can often be attributed to a mix of psychological biases, strategic ambiguity, the inherent unpredictability of the future, and the amplifying power of social and traditional media.

The Evaluation

  1. Indeed, this notion holds weight. “Bruteforce never fails,” declares a quantum cryptanalyst, critiquing elliptic cryptography. “Shoot in every direction, you might eventually hit someone,” proclaims a Russian occupier engaged in combat in Ukraine.

  2. Once more, a valid insight. Announce your predictions boldly, fail, and no one will recall your mistakes.

  3. Ah, what an exquisite observation. A vast majority of Homo sapiens lack a cognitive skill known as “critical thinking.” For them, beliefs are paramount. “Scientific method, perhaps?” - “No, that concept is foreign to us.” Cater to the crowd’s desires, and you’re guaranteed to hit the mark.

  4. A solid observation, yet it diverges from our intended focus.

  5. Here we have the case with Frank.

  6. Uncertainty emerges as the focal theme. Let’s examine:

Countries with the highest interest in the prediction: Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, and Morocco

Predictably, the neighbors of Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria showed great interest. Yet, Morocco and Afghanistan, often grappling with their uncertain futures, also displayed significant concern.

  1. This revelation warrants further investigation.

  2. Clearly, this is an evident point. We shall bypass it.

To be continued

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