They Oddly Did Not See This Coming

Susan Gerbic

We have all seen those clever memes on social media of pictures from a psychic fair with an additional sign that says, “Cancelled due to Unforeseen Circumstances.” We pass them around and have a little chuckle; well we are at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (or at the end if you believe psychic Jeanette Wilson, but I digress). I’ve been wondering how many psychics made plans for events that would have occurred during the COVID-19 distancing period or even if any of them had just admitted publicly that they did not see this coming. So, I had a look, and while it might seem to be pretty obvious that not a single psychic predicted the COVID-19 crisis, I think it’s important to document this collective failure in one place, which is why I’m writing this article. And NO, Sylvia Browne did not predict COVID-19.

From the survey I conducted on June 5–6, 2020, of psychic websites and Facebook event pages, it is clear that they are taking full advantage of online classes, workshops, and group readings. Most were already doing this before it became their best and only option, but now it seems to be escalating with free reading giveaways and pretty aggressive marketing of their brand. This was a fun reminder of the randomness of the business of psychics. I noticed that John Edward is selling facemasks and hand sanitizer on his website if you are interested. James Van Praagh and Tim Braun were the only ones I could not find a post or event showing they had to cancel something pre-planned. Braun and Van Praagh mostly communicate by Facebook videos and were not doing a lot of events before COVID-19. Van Praagh has an exhausting social media presence, every day at noon (Pacific time) he does a Soul Care video and keeps up a steady stream of positive affirmations. Actually, many psychics post affirmations every day; I suppose it is a quick way to keep your followers engaged.

I did not see anyone challenging the psychics saying, “Why didn’t you see this pandemic coming and warn us?” But then I did not expect to. Most of the people posting on these psychic’s social media are their true fans; it seems pretty likely that negative comments would be removed and the poster would be banned. One thing I habitually do when visiting these websites is to archive all the content. I have a Chrome plugin on my desktop for the WayBack Machine so it just takes me seconds. I made sure to capture all these websites on my adventures today, so they won’t be able to pretend later to have predicted the pandemic, as we will have the proof in their own words that they didn’t see it coming.

So, to be crystal clear, not a single one of these so-called psychics predicted the pandemic crisis and in fact scheduled events that would have to be later cancelled. Why? If we were to challenge them and ask why they did not see this coming, the response I am sure we would get is, “It does not work that way!” To which my answer would be, “Oh, so, what good are you then?”

Thank you to the Operation Grief Vampire team for their help with this article. 

Theresa Caputo Event in Reno


Susan Gerbic

Affectionately called the Wikipediatrician, Susan Gerbic is the cofounder of Monterey County Skeptics and a self-proclaimed skeptical junkie. Susan is also founder of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project. She is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and writes for her column, Guerilla Skepticism, often. You can contact her through her website.