Shoehorning

via Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking

Shoehorning is the process of force-fitting some current affair into one’s personal, political, or religious agenda. So-called psychics frequently shoehorn events to fit vague statements they made in the past. This is an extremely safe procedure, since they can’t be proven wrong and many people aren’t aware of how easy it is to make something look like confirmation of a claim after the fact, especially if you give them wide latitude in making the shoe fit. It is common, for example, for the defenders of such things as the Bible Code or the “prophecies” of Nostradamus to shoehorn events to the texts, thereby giving the illusion that the texts were accurate predictions.

A classic example of psychic shoehorning is the case of Jeanne Dixon. In 1956 she told Parade magazine: “As for the 1960 election Mrs. Dixon thinks it will be dominated by labor and won by a Democrat. But he will be assassinated or die in office though not necessarily in his first term.” John F. Kennedy was elected and was assassinated in his first term. This fact was shoehorned to fit her broad prediction and her reputation was made as the psychic who predicted JFK’s violent death. In 1960 she apparently forgot her earlier prediction because she then predicted that JFK would fail to win the presidency. Many psychic detectives take advantage of shoehorning their vague and ambiguous predictions to events in an effort to make themselves seem more insightful than they really are.

Court TV exploited the interested in so-called psychic detectives with a series of programs, one featuring Greta Alexander. She said that a body had been dumped where there was a dog barking. The letter “s” would play an important role and there was hair separated from the body. She felt certain the body was in a specific area, although searchers found only a dead animal. She asked to see a palm print of the suspect—her specialty—and the detective brought one. She said that a man with a bad hand would find the body. Then searchers found a headless corpse, with the head and a wig nearby. The man who found it had a deformed left hand.* The letter ‘s’ can be retrofitted to zillions of things. Many scenarios could be shoehorned to fit “hair separated from the body” and “bad hand.” (Fans of psychics will overlook the fact that Alexander’s reference to the bad hand was supposedly made after looking at the palm print of the victim.)

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