left, Nostradamus presents his magic mirror to the Queen of France.
The message has spread from in-box to in-box, through bars and over dinner tables: Nostradamus
predicted the 9/11 disaster more than 500 years ago.
"In the year of the new century and nine months, from the sky will come a great King of
Terror -- In the city of York there will be a great collapse; two twin brothers torn
apart by chaos while the fortress falls; the great leader will succumb; third big war
will begin when the big city is burning."
Nostradamus biographer -- and skeptic -- James Randi scoffed.
"This happens every time there's a major disaster," Randi said, citing the Challenger
explosion and President Kennedy's assassination. The prophecy "never shows up in French,
it always shows up in English for some reason. This quatrain just never existed. I spent
a considerable amount of time in France looking up every single word the man wrote."
Nostradamus, who was born in St. Remy in 1503, died 1566,
was a physician and astrologer whose work most
commonly appears in 12 "centuries" of 100 quatrains each. According to Randi, nothing
Nostradamus predicted ever came true, and many prophecies that seem accurate were made
up after his death.
Why has Randi devoted so much energy to debunking false prophecies by Nostradamus and
"I tried to find out why people believed he was a prophet when he failed grandly. They
continue to believe because they like it to be true and they need it to be true," he said.