Bugged by prophecy

There has been an issue that has been bugging me for some time. Usually, it has just been a slight buzz in the back of my mind, but several incidents in TV shows and books have brought it to the front. The issue is prophecy, premonitions, ESP, all that gobbledygook, mumbo-jumbo being treated as a real thing. As a skeptic, I know that if a person makes 100 predictions (by whatever means they wish) and one – by chance – comes “true,” they will focus on that one and ignore the 99 failures. But what do we see in TV and movies and in books? A character has a premonition or a prophetic dream and not only does the premonition or dream come true, it’s a key plot point. Have you ever seen a character’s premonition or dream not come true? And I’m not talking about the psychic the main characters make fun of because their predictions are wacky only to have one come “true” so that everybody becomes a believer. About a month or so ago there was an episode of Castle about a psychic. I believe at one point Beckett points out all the time that is wasted by the police following psychic “leads” that are just gobbledygook mumbo-jumbo. That’s true. But did they leave it there in the world of reality, or did they leave it on a “it just may be possible” ending? I know, I know, it’s fantasy, it’s escapism, but shouldn’t art try to imitate life?

I’ll end this with a great quote from the Babylon 5 episode “The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari.” This was what Vir’s image in Londo’s prophetic dream told him: “Prophecy is a guess that comes true. When it doesn’t, it’s a metaphor.”


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