Psychic medium and author Sylvia Browne speaks to the audience during her appearance at Route 66 Casino's Legends Theater on November 13, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico / CNNA testament to the awesome power of belief in metaphysical gobbledygook like “psychic powers” is the persistence of famous “psychics” like Sylvia Browne. She has made a career out of making predictions that always fail to come true, yet she continues to make media appearances as though she were still a credible predictor. She’s been on the Larry King Show many times, and for years, was a weekly guest on the Montel Williams Show (which recently ended its run). No one — not one single person — in the mass media ever asks her any hard questions, such as how she could have been so very wrong about the Sego mine disaster in 2006 (WebCite cached article). The mass media, in fact, make a lot of money foisting people like Browne on the (largely gullible) public, so they have no incentive to want to make her look bad, even if that happens to be very easy to do, because she’s so frequently wrong.

Thus, it’s left to the skeptical media to expose Sylvia Browne as the fraud she is. And the most recent issue of the Skeptical Inquirer has done exactly that:

The most extensive study of alleged psychic Sylvia Browne’s predictions about missing person and murder cases reveals a strange discrepancy: despite her repeated claim to be more than 85 percent correct, it seems that Browne has not even been mostly correct about a single case. …

According to Browne, “my accuracy rate is somewhere between 87 and 90 percent, if I’m recalling correctly.”

This article disputes that statistic by examining the criminal cases Browne has performed readings on. This research demonstrates that in 115 cases (all the available readings) Browne’s confirmable accuracy was 0%.

The analysis was rigorous and exacting, and the report fairly specific in its findings:

In the 115 cases reviewed with Lexis-Nexis and newspaper sources, Browne was wrong in twenty-five cases, and the remaining ninety either have no available details about the case outside of the transcript or the crime is unsolved so there is no way to confirm Browne’s claims.

The following data is organized as a list to allow the reader to independently research the names. Importantly, since Lexis-Nexis and similar Internet sources mainly gather information about recent events, one should keep in mind that she says she’s at the top of her game. In June 2009, Browne told Seattle Weekly about her psychic ability: “I think you get better, like anything else you get better with time.”

We welcome Browne to supply independent proof of just one case that was she correct about.

Browne has a history of being wrong or unhelpful in many predictions. In the course of this research, we examined a variety of sources to study Browne’s involvement with law enforcement. In these readings, Browne was sometimes paid by some families of the victims, charged at least one police department $400, and received money as well as publicity from her appearances on television.

The report ends with a complete catalog of all 115 cases examined, as well as a full explanation of how and why she was wrong, in the 25 they were able to verify. There is little to dispute here, although I’m sure that Sylvia Browne’s “true believers” will immediately and categorically dismiss this analysis as merely the work of “skeptics” (and you know how horrible those “skeptics” are!) and refuse even to begin to acknowledge even one of the points it makes. Nevertheless, the only rational conclusion one can reach … based on the objective and verifiable evidence presented … is that Sylvia Browne is wrong. Flat-out wrong! And her continued claims to be right 87-90% of the time, makes her a liar; and since she makes money being a liar, this in turn makes her a fraud.

The willful complicity of the mass media in Browne’s fraud scheme makes them her co-conspirators … but that’s another matter, to be addressed some other time.

Update: We can add one more to the 25 verifiable predictions Sylvia has made. Her accuracy rate remains solidly zero, since once again, she’s been proven wrong.

Hat tip: Skeptic’s Dictionary.

Photo credit: CNN.

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2 Responses to “Sylvia Browne Busted!”
  1. […] one post generates the second-largest number of hits on my blog (with the top hit-generator being the one on how dismally poor Sylvia Browne’s prognostications […]

  2. […] her claimed psychic powers — has never been able to provide any evidence to this effect, and has been shown to have been wrong, on numerous […]