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Yet Another Sylvia Browne Fiasco PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

browneAmanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight – three women who went missing over a decade ago and were presumed dead – have been found to be alive. This item especially interested me because in 2004, on the totally irresponsible Montel Williams Show, “psychic” Sylvia Browne told Amanda Berry’s mom that her daughter was dead, causing her great shock and sorrow. And the mother, Jouwana Miller, went to her grave believing – only on Browne’s word – that her daughter had been murdered. She died in March of 2006, and friends were of the opinion that her passing was hastened by Browne’s totally uninformed and callous guess…

The gravel-voiced talk-to-the-dead woman (born Sylvia Celeste Shoemaker, 1936) who says that she sees and hears ghosts, used to be “Brown.” She added the “e” in an attempt to distance herself from her former husband, Kensil Dalzell Brown, known as “Dal,” with whom she was involved back in 1988 in a $1.3 million loan scheme involving a gold mining operation using the “psychic’s” magical powers, a plot that sent Dal to jail and Sylvia to probation.

Literally for decades now, I have been directing attention to the fact that Browne has been a continual, proven, failure. This is only the most recent example.

Early in 2010, an article in Skeptical Inquirer provided an extensive study of Sylvia Browne's predictions about missing persons and murder cases, along with her messages and visions “from beyond the grave.” It examined every episode of the Montel Williams TV show after 2002, when she began to be featured there regularly, and explored older cases in newspapers, finding 115 examples of these appearances and articles, and comparing them with the actual facts and Browne’s oft-repeated claim that her accuracy rate, to quote her exactly:

     …is somewhere between 87 and 90 percent, if I'm recalling correctly.

Sylvia’s recollection – strangely – is very, very, poor. It was shown that in not one of those 115 records – some of which had to be recovered from data that had been deleted from video records and/or published documents – was she correct!

Browne was once a weekly guest on The Montel Williams Show, where she performed a range of supposed feats from ghost detecting to offering details about missing persons and/or murder cases. The James Randi Educational Foundation, Sharon Hill’s DoubtfulNews.com and StopSylvia.com (the forum of Robert Lancaster) have closely examined each available transcript to track Browne's accuracy. We found that Browne was correct zero times – not once! – in those 115 cases.

In June of 2009, Browne stated, when asked about her claimed powers, that

     I think you get better. Like anything else you get better with time.

We’re waiting breathlessly for this improvement, Ms. Browne. When do you think we might expect it? I’m asking for a prediction, please…

As a matter of interest, I’ll mention that Browne has continued her bizarre relationship with Williams, now appearing with him in a series of TV commercials selling a $200 food blender. As we might expect, that product is full of woo-woo, too. It is claimed to be a “Digital Emulsification System” – an impossible terminology! – but as we know, any 6-syllable word is sure to attract buyers…

As for her claims that she is consulted by law enforcement, in none of these cases has Browne ever supplied independent proof that she has ever helped law enforcement.

I must express my thanks to Sharon Hill’s DoubtfulNews.com and Bob Lancaster’s StopSylvia.com. These friends have been aboard the JREF wagon for years now, and we couldn’t wish for better allies.

How blatant liars like Browne can survive such exposure is the mystery to which I still have no answer, except that folks out there just seem to prefer to have fantasy and deception rule them…

Folks, I seriously suggest that each reader of this news write to or call your local newspaper editors, radio and TV stations, to express your concern at the dismay, sorrow, and grief that Browne creates. That way, we just might attract enough attention to this taloned fraud. Please consider spending a few moments on this, will you? News persons will react to their consumers' comments, believe me. Encourage them to publicize this latest Browne farce…

You’ll be striking a blow for rationality and reason by doing this.

Thank you.