Psychic Agenda

First rule of predicting the new year: Keep it obvious. It will be a cold winter in the Midwest. It will rain a lot in April. We'll learn more about the human genome. Second rule: Say every adverb three times. "2001 will be a very, very, very good year," says the very, very, very perky psychic Kim O'Neill. "Stock such as Halliburton will go up."

Which brings us to the third rule: This is George W. Bush's year. The Houston economy "will be really, really, really strong because Bush is in office." The stock market? It "will stabilize, with Bush in office." The housing market? "Incredibly strong," because well, you know.

"With Bush in office, there's going to be an increase in tourism, and Houston is going to be attracting a lot more trade shows," O'Neill says.

The only true test of such claims is to go back and see how accurate previous predictions were. Gene Emory, who has been tracking psychic predictions for the past 20 years, has found little reason to place much stock in the business of foretelling the future. O'Neill's own record is mixed. She did correctly predict an increase in Inner Loop construction. On the other hand, O'Neill also mistakenly foresaw Texas would be nuked by Saddam Hussein; Hillary Clinton would be assassinated; and that men would rediscover romance. O'Neill admits she only envisions what is "most likely to occur at the time you do the reading." In Emory's experience, however, predictions are either obvious, broadly worded or wrong. (Or, perhaps, tainted by personal biases?)

Bush will be known as "the president that did more historically than any other in uniting Democrats and Republicans," O'Neill says, adding that he will serve two terms and be "very, very, very popular."

When pressed, O'Neill won't say who she voted for, but she admits, "I have very passionate beliefs, and there are issues that are very important to me, but I won't talk about them."

Fair enough. But we're willing to make a prediction.

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Dylan Otto Krider