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Can Making Predictions Cause Death?

1916 photograph of an execution by firing squa...
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Here we are  in the 21st century, and it looks like making predictions could be bad for your health, and actually cause death – your own. A Lebanese man, Ali Hussain Sabat, was arrested in Saudi Arabia and is now awaiting a possible beheading. Yes, beheading. The reason? He’s accused of sorcery for making predictions on Lebanese television. I’m not writing about this to be gruesome. It’s been my contention that hard-and-fast predictions are useless, and now I can say that they’re worse than useless. They can kill you. Maybe that’s far fetched and is making light of a terrible situation, but the truth is that predictions can cause harm.

If you tell someone that something will happen, you could be influencing them to do something that they would not otherwise do – and your prediction could be totally wrong; or your prediction could be right because it amounts to a self-fulfilling prophesy. Of course, you could also positively influence outcomes, too. But is that really what you mean to do when you make a prediction? Personally, I avoid making outright predictions, and when I do, I’m very careful about it. Predictions can be fun, but taking them seriously can be dangerous.

Here’s the flip side: Lives have been saved by people following their intuitions to not do something. Bad premonitions about plane flights have saved lives. Following this sort of prediction can be a good thing. One could argue that it usually is.

The truth is that predictions aren’t really good or bad. The trick is to use discernment in how you use the information that may or may not be true. Development of intuition and discernment go hand-in-hand.

Ali Hussain Sabat’s execution has been delayed. I do hope that he is released soon and allowed to return to his wife and children in Lebanon.

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