| Putting the psycho in|
|Men who stare at goats|
|By the powers of tinfoil|
| Some dare call it|
|What THEY don't want|
you to know!
“”Astrology is just a map of the personality, but we are more than our ego personality. Life is sometimes a train and sometimes a car. Life is sometimes full of free ice cream and next a slap in the face. The questions I pose through meditation are "who is driving the car?" "Who is on the train?" "Who eats free ice cream one moment and is hit in the face the next?" Who is "this…THIS, ten-thousand times… This?"
|—John Hogue in the process of jumping the shark|
John Hogue (b. 1955)[note 1] describes himself as a "world authority on Nostradamus" and a "rogue scholar". We describe him as woo-meister and bullshit artist. In a stopped clock moment of remarkable quality, Hogue had the foresight to title the biography he hosts on his website as An Idiot’s Autobiography.
Most of his "work" is focused on making future predictions based on Nostradamus, astrology, or a mixture of both. He makes a great many predictions in every direction; whenever possible he goes back and revises the ones that didn't pay off,[note 2] and—lo and behold—some of his guesses actually stick.
Even other astrologers think Hogue is just making stuff up. Then again, astrologers can never agree on anything. Hogue has managed to garner what seems to be a comparatively small but loyal following; his 2015 book Trump for President: Astrological Predictions managed to become Amazon.com best-seller in the "prophecies" category, and his other books also seem to sell reasonably well. Some have even gone so far as to suggest he is the reincarnation of Nostradamus himself! His status as a crank is verified by many appearances on Coast to Coast AM.
“”[Nostradamus'] writing is muddled enough to be taken any way one wishes. His ambiguities have kept the controversy of his prophecies alive, and even enhanced his stature as a seer in the centuries following his death (just as he predicted).
Penn Jillette: We'll play along. This Antichrist—what do we call him?
John Hogue: [Consulting his own book] This one is called "Mabus", m-a-b-u-s. There are a couple of ways to decode that word. M-a-b-u-s, uuh, reversed, which is a common practice in the 16th century, becomes "Subam". If you can then, uh, always replace one letter with another…
Penn Jillette: Who says you can do that!?
John Hogue: …the "u", the "a"; Saddam.
Penn Jillette: ...as in Saddam Hussein. But what's this about moving letters around?
James Randi: The rule of dropping a letter out or adding a letter is something invented by the Nostradamians, because if you add or subtract a letter, or add and subtract a letter to any word, you can make it into almost anything you want, if you move it around enough.
Penn Jillette: …which is exactly what this whackjob is doing! Ladies and gentlemen, this is the very definition of bullshit.
In addition to replacing the "u" with an "a", he fails to mention how he obviously "reversed" the "b" into a "d", never mind the fact that "Saddam" is spelled with two "d"'s. The bill thus lands on one letter reversal, two letter replacements, and letter added outright. Hogue continues;
We're not sure why Hogue would need to reverse the "m" into a "w", since he's already established you can just replace letters as he sees fit. The concept of a "silent "h" in Latin" is not only a gross oversimplification, it is also a red herring by Hogue, since he himself just spelled out the letters as "b-u-s"—with the addition of a "silent h", which he then instantly proceeds to say out loud in "busH". A "silent letter" does not mean: a letter you don't write yet somehow get to pronounce. A "silent letter" means: a letter you write but don't pronounce.
Thus, Hogue's mystifying technique goes as follows;
- Inserting a brand new letter into a word where it never belonged in the first place.
- Pronouncing said new letter out loud, allowing it to alter the phonetics for said word.
- Referring back to said insertion as having been "silent".
Finally, he tops it off by very clearly jumping back and forth between Latin and English rules for pronunciation; he claims the "silent "h"" belongs in the word in the first place in reference to Latin grammar rules, yet he uses that same Latin grammar rule to add the "h" that is required to get the full phonetic picture for the English (not Latin) pronunciation of the word in question ("Bush"). Besides, what happened to the "a"? Is it also "silent"?
Actually, this isn't "one-man Scrabble" after all, since Scrabble has actual rules; you can't just make shit up on the fly.
The game is quite easy to play. We note that if "Mabus" is reversed, the "s" is dropped at the beginning, an "a" is added at the end, and the "u" is replaced with an "o", "Obama" is clearly revealed.
“”I've read just about everything that John Hogue has written, particularly this book; [Holds up book] Nostradamus and the Millennium—very attractive book. On page 124, he names the Antichrist. And the Antichrist he names as Khomeni, the Ayatollah Khomeini. Shortly after that the Ayatollah died, so he didn't fulfil his duty to be the Antichrist, aaah, but that doesn't stop John Hogue! He doesn't pause for a second! He writes a second edition! [Pulls out identical looking book] Looks the same… just about the same, because when we look in here—oh! Gee, the Ayatollah isn't in here anymore! Who has suddenly become the Antichrist? Saddam Hussein. You can't rewrite your books after their predictions don't happen! But John Hogue apparently thinks that's kosher. Apparently, he thinks you can do that. [Shakes head in disapproval] I don't think so.
Hogue has an annoying tendency to retroactively change his predictions
if when they conclusively fail to deliver, beyond all shadow of a doubt. In the 1987 edition of Nostradamus and the Millennium he names Ruhollah Khomeini as the Antichrist. Khomeini inconveniently died in 1989, so the 1991 second edition names Saddam Hussein as the Antichrist with no mention of Khomeini. Saddam has also inconsiderately died since, so in 2008 he named Osama bin Laden as the Antichrist—who has since also snuffed it. The current runner-up is Obama; judging from Hogue's previous predictions, Obama is now cursed and should very, very likely die in just a few years.
“”John Hogue: "At 45 degrees latitude, the sky will burn. Fire approaches the great new city.". Latitude 45 degrees—the only new city since Nostradamus' time that you could call great and new and vast, is the city that rests, uh, between 40 degrees and 41 degrees latitude—which is Manhattan, in New York. Now, that's a little off.[note 3]
James Randi: ...he's way up in Canada someplace! When [Nostradamus] said "the new city", he was referring to Naples. He refers to it several times in his writings, and he makes it clear that he's talking about Naples. Not New York City.
|—Penn & Teller: Bullshit!|
Who needs maps when you can shoehorn?
In his 1998 book 1000 for 2000 Startling Predictions for the New Millennium from Prophets Ancient and Modern he makes a great many predictions—among others, the results of presidential elections, and states that he's been right about this since 1968 (when he was 13).
Well, let's see how often he's right.
|726: President Clinton will complete his final term, despite all attempts to unseat him. (1993)||This is true, but nothing extraordinary about that prediction.|
|727: By 2050, historians and public alike will view President Clinton as one of the three most important presidents of the 20th century (the other two being Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Richard Nixon). People in the mid-twenty-first century will view Clinton’s sexual scandals with less cultural intolerance. They will focus more on his initiatives in foreign and economic policy that paved the way for a new era in international unity in the coming fifty years. (1992)||This claim is unverifiable until 2050 (when no one will remember this clown or his predictions) but one doesn't need obscure medieval writings to see that views about sex are changing. We don't really see a "new era in international unity" coming, but who knows…|
|728: Arizona Republican Senator John McCain has the best chance to defeat Democrat Al Gore in 2000. However, the Republican party will suffer defeat once again, because it may choose another George Bush and a Dole as its candidates – to be exact, George W. Bush and a woman vice-presidential candidate like Elizabeth Dole or Senator Kaye Baily Hutchinson of Texas. (1998)||Dubya chose Darth Vader as running mate, and |
|729: The Republican party will be a casualty of millennial fever. The right-wing fundamentalists in that party will split it apart over religious extremist views. (1994)||What is "millennial fever" supposed to be? Y2K? So far, the GOP hasn't split, and the closest it is to spitting was The Donald making vague threats about running as an independent (he eventually won as a Republican).|
|730: The next president will die in office, most likely in his first term. (1994)||Just flat-out wrong.|
|731: The next president will not be assassinated. He will succumb to health problems, perhaps heart trouble, or he will die in some air accident. (1994)||Nope (even though many perhaps hoped for it). Most people die due to health problems. Even presidents. Abraham Lincoln, JFK, James Garfield, and William McKinley were assassinated, with JFK being the only one not over a century ago. William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin Roosevelt died due to health problems.|
|732: It pains me to say it, but I believe that the president will be Al Gore. Although he may suffer an untimely death while in office, I can say that he will be remembered as a visionary leader, compared by some to President Kennedy. Like Kennedy, he will launch a national race – not the Space Race, but a race to make America ecologically responsible before it is too late. (1992)||Al Gore was almost president. Does that count? He's also still alive. And while he's sometimes put forward as a visionary leader, it's not due to his political work, and the only race he started is the race to spread FUD surrounding global warming.|
|733: President Gore will have a woman as his vice president. (1992)||He wasn't president at all, and so far there hasn't been a single female vice president. Joe Lieberman was Gore's running mate, so it's unlikely his VP would have been female.|
|734: A woman will be president much sooner than anyone expects. She will not be elected, but will become president upon the death of the president elected in 2000. (1994)||Nope. Although it was everyone's fear in 2008 that something like this could happen.|
|735: Hillary Clinton will be a president of the United States before 2010. (1998)||If at first you don't succeed, try again (again she lost).|
- Or as Hogue rather cringeworthily puts it on his biography, "slipped through the vaginal curtains onto life's stage." Truly a poet of our time.
- See the "Revisionism" section of this article.
- Yeah, no shit it's "a little off". It's in Canada!
- Time Cube Law. . Be warned that it is long, rambling, and conforms to the
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, episode 1.04, End of the World
- John Hogue, Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies (Rockport, MA: Element, 1997), p. 11.