Sylvia Browne–Going down?

Awhile back, I posted a blog entry showing why Syliva Browne is no psychic, with an audio file of one call from her appearance on Larry King Live on 7 December 03. Here, she tries to convince a caller that her mother has died when she is clearly alive. It’s embarrassing for Sylvia, and really funny.

It’s also funny how she keeps evading James Randi‘s Million Dollar Challenge. It’s been over five years since she agreed to the test and agreed to the protocol it would use. And ever since then she’s used every excuse in the book–and maybe written one or two new ones–to avoid it.

You can see all of that, and also all of what I talk about below, on Randi’s special Sylvia Browne page.

All of that’s funny, but other “predictions” of Sylvia’s are downright serious and even sad. The attention of the media has been drawn to the case where Shawn Hornbeck has been finally returned to his parents after being abducted for more than four years. Most of the attention has been drawn towards Sylvia Browne. That must be because her psychic powers helped police find the abductor and return Shawn home, as she claims to have done with “tens of thousands” of people, right?

Uh, no. The attention is on Sylvia because she was wrong, wrong, wrong. She got the most fundamental fact wrong: She said that Shawn was dead, causing the parents much grief. Many might have given up the search after that. She may have even led the police the wrong way with her wrong guesses, saying that the perpetrator was dark-skinned (he wasn’t) with long hair and dreadlocks (he had short hair). She told them Shawn’s (dead) body was between two boulders, when he was very much alive in the abductor’s apartment, no boulders in sight. But at least here there’s a happy ending, no thanks to Sylvia.

You can see all of that at Randi’s Sylvia page, as well as a link to Sylvia videos on YouTube, a couple of which I’ll talk about below.

There’s one video that breaks my heart, where parents want to know why their child died, and Sylvia claims “she was shot.” But the parents said she died quietly in her room. She keeps trying to rephrase things and change things around to make her “prediction” be correct, and it’s clear all she’s doing is upsetting this grieving couple.

There’s another that makes me want to rip her throat out, where a woman says that they never found her husband’s body. “Look for him near water,” Sylvia says. The woman, completely disturbed, explains that her husband was a firefighter who died in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. Again, Sylvia tries to make it look as if she’s right, to no good ends.

What really irks me is Montel Williams during all of this. He’s right there, trying to provide excuses for Sylvia. Maybe the girl was hit in the chest with a baseball; maybe the firefighter was drowned with water from a fire hose. Sylvia I expect it from; she’s nothing but a con artist. The people she does the reading for, they’re grieving and vulnerable; they’re just victims. But Montel? He should be better than that. He should be ready to call her on the mat when she’s clearly wrong. And if that means that she refuses to come on his show anymore, then so be it. But Montel apparently cares more about ratings than the people Sylvia is clearly harming.

And that’s the thing: whenever skeptics go around debunking psychics, there are always people around to say, “Why are you peeing on their parade? After all, no one’s being hurt!” Look at the videos I mentioned, and then see for yourself if it looks like no one’s being hurt.

You can see all of it at Randi’s Sylvia page, linked above, and more at

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