Wrong Again! Three women and their families couldn't be happier! / PsiCop modification of original picture from Skeptic North (URL: http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/01/2009-psychic-predictions-part-2-sylvia-browne/)The discovery of three kidnap victims in Cleveland, who’d been missing for 10 years or more, has made national news (WebCite cached article). This is fantastic news, although famed psychic Sylvia Browne … who’s claimed an accuracy rate of 87-90 percent … probably isn’t too happy about it. You see, as ABC News reports, back in 2004 she’d pronounced Amanda Berry dead, right to her mother’s face, on The Montel Williams Show (cached):

A year after Amanda Berry disappeared in Cleveland, her mother appeared on “The Montel Williams Show” to speak to a psychic about what happened to her daughter.

Psychic Sylvia Browne, who has made a career of televised psychic readings, told Louwanna Miller on a 2004 episode of the show that her daughter was dead, causing Miller to break down in tears on the show’s set.

“She’s not alive, honey,” Browne told Miller on the show, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”

Sadly, Miller died believing Browne’s declaration just a little while later:

Miller told the newspaper that she believed “98 percent” in what Browne told her. Miller died a year later from heart failure.

Predictably, Browne is now avoiding accountability for her failed declaration:

Browne did not return phone calls seeking comment today by ABC News. The Montel Williams show, through syndicator CBS, also did not return calls for comment. The show no longer airs new episodes.

Here’s ABC News’ video report on Browne’s catastrophically erroneous declaration:

That Browne was wrong … again … isn’t news to those capable of reviewing her vaunted accuracy. As I blogged some time ago, her accuracy rate is a big, fat, fucking goose-egg. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Zip. Not one of her predictions that could be verified, proved true. Not a single one.

The ABC News article goes on to chronicle other noted examples of Browne having been demonstrably wrong, and further, elaborates on how “psychics” prey on people who have missing relatives, and that their “tips” are unhelpful. I find this amazing, because the mass media typically are complicit with fraudsters like Sylvia. It’s rare for them to be so candid in calling out psychics, their lies, and other assorted games. It’s something that just doesn’t happen.

Photo credit: PsiCop modification of original on Skeptic North.

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  • Proof is in the pudding. I've always said that if psychics were for real, they'd be the richest, most powerful people on earth. If I were psychic, you can bet your ass I'd be using my psychic abilities to predict stock and commodity prices, horse races, lottery picks, etc. I consider myself a relatively ethical person, but everyone has their price. 😉

    • Great point Eric! Psychics' lack of success in many aspects of life all at once, kind of contradicts the idea that they have magical powers.

    • Elizabeth

      Wow, you're brilliant. That isn't what they do. Good Grief.

  • Janice

    Sometimes psychics are wrong sometimes they are right. I called http://www.psychicsbyphone.com and spoke to someone for quite a bit of money. The second person I tried predicted things accurately while the first was totally wrong. I wonder is it just 50/50 chance that they know what they are talking about?

    • Re: "Sometimes psychics are wrong sometimes they are right."

      Correct. Sometimes they're right. There's a reason for that. It's an interpretation based on their use of techniques known as "warm reading" and "cold reading," among others. Basically they use statistical probabilities in order to swing things to their advantage, but in a progressive way. Their own subject does the "homing in" for them.

      A classic example is when a psychic says you have a loved one who's a "J' or "M." Why do they do this? Because virtually everyone has someone close to them whose name begins with a J or an M. It's up to you to rummage through your life and pick out a J or M. Once you've got someone in mind, you're likely to provide the psychic subtle cues that will help him or her get closer to whoever it is. Again, they will continue to use statistical probabilities to help them get there, and keep feeding off whatever cues you send out.

      At any rate, this fuzzy crap is just another indictment of their own supposed magical powers. If I'm in front of a psychic and if the spirit of some deceased loved one is standing behind me talking to him/her, AND if the psychic can communicate with that spirit, it stands to reason the psychic should be able to get a lot more information from the spirit, at the start, than just a letter in his or her name. They ought to have heard something more like, "Hi Mrs Browne, I'm Jimmy, his great-grandfather!" or something like that. Assuming they have the powers they claim to have, what the psychic gets ought to be a whole helluva lot clearer than what they say they get.

      As an aside, I've "tested" a couple of supposed psychics myself. Each time the psychic was doing the tapdance of cold reading and/or warm reading on me. I kept my mouth shut and was not forthcoming about anything. The psychics both would ask me lots of questions like "Am I right?" and I just said, "You don't know for sure?" Both times the psychic ended up stalled out, unable to tell me much of anything.

      The bottom line is, the psychics' record is not even as good as 50/50, given that, at the outset, they're employing methods based on statistical advantage that encourage you to provide information you don't think you're giving them.