In 2004, Psychic Sylvia Browne Told Amanda Berry’s Mom Her Daughter Was Dead

***Update***: It gets worse (via @BuzzFeedAndrew):

You may have seen the news tonight that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight — women who went missing over a decade ago and were presumed dead — were found to be alive.

Two quick things:

1) The man who inadvertently helped rescue them, Charles Ramsey, just gave the greatest press conference of all time (highlight at 2:25):

Uncle Ruslan, you’re down to number two.

2) More relevant to this site… Berry disappeared in April of 2003. In 2004, her mother (now deceased) went on The Montel Williams Show to talk to psychic Sylvia Browne to see if she could get any insight into how her missing daughter was doing. And Browne, in typical fashion, got it completely wrong:

Louwana Miller: Can you tell me if they’ll ever find her? Is she out there?

Sylvia Browne: She’s — see, I hate this when they’re in water. I just hate this. She’s not alive, honey. And I’ll tell you why, here we go again. Your daughter was not the type that would not have called you.

Miller: So you don’t think I’ll ever get to see her again?

Browne: Yeah, in heaven, on the other side.

Despicable. And dead wrong.

At least this story has a happier ending than the one Browne made up in her head.

(via Doubtful News)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • MsC

    Sickening what Sylvia Browne did to Amanda Berry’s mom, who died in 2006. I hope this helps end her career as a charlatan.

    • Raymond Burleigh

      Probably not. Browne will claim she was right – she said Amanda’s mom would see Amanda again in heaven. Since the mom died before Amanda was found then, Sylvia will claim, she was right – she’ll see Amanda in heaven. She’ll ignore the comments about water and “she’s not alive”, of course.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Amanda was probably having a bath when Sylvia did her reading.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        She was also wrong when she said “She’s not alive, honey” Hard to back out of that one.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

            Failed in all those cases too.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Geoff-Offermann/632132964 Geoff Offermann

          Sylvia (with smoker’s voice): There shouldn’t be an apostrophe. I said, “She’s not a live honey.”

    • Billy Bob

      Doubt it. She’ll just tell people about all the “correct” predictions she’s made. Predictions so broad or vague, almost anything can “confirm” them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        Yes, and only morons and the gullible will believe her.

        • Compuholic

          And we all know that this is already enough. It is not like morons are a scarce resource. There is enough of them for all the psychics, astrologers, homeopaths, and pastors to make a good living.

      • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.s.balfour Andrew S. Balfour

        There aren’t any.

    • WallofSleep

      If it were that simple, superstition and religion would have died out long before the dodo. Sadly, our capacity for believing impossible, unverifiable bullshit is greater than the density of any black hole.

    • Derrik Pates

      People will still find a way to confirmation-bias this massive, total failure out of the picture. There are still plenty of people out there who want to believe (read: suckers).

    • NutDunk

      well she did have a 50/50 shot

    • http://twitter.com/elizabethandjam elizabeth

      it won’t. she was also wrong about shawn hornbeck. told his mother that he was killed and wasn’t even KIND of right about the circumstances. she is the LOWEST of the low. sylvia browne is a fucking cretin.

    • Zugswang

      She’s been wrong countless times before, and she still manages to get airtime peddling lies to the grieving and the gullible.

  • Matt Womack

    The interview was pretty good, I must admit. Thanks for the link.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

      Apparently the best part was his racial stereotyping.

      • WallofSleep

        I thought it was funny.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

          No doubt jokes based on racial stereotypes are funny. I didn’t comment on whether it was funny. That’s a matter of taste.

      • Matt Womack

        He was trying to bring humor to a difficult and emotional experience. The way he described the kidnapper was actually brilliant and haunting. The humor was an unexpected bonus. “Dead giveaway” will be a new Internet meme.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

          Yeah, but the brilliant and haunting part wasn’t the highlight. It was the assumption that no white woman would run into the arms of a black man. Funny, if a fire happened at a KFC and some white guy remarked how he knew something was wrong because of all the blacks running from the fried chicken I don’t think it would get such approval.

          • WallofSleep

            Yeah, as a straight, white male, I have the luxury of not having to give a single shit if some random minority stereotypes people of my color. I’m rather privileged that way.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

              All blacks share that same privilege of not giving a shit. BTW, privilege theory is a leftist dogma based on an equivocation and deeply flawed intellectual reasoning. “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” is sophomoric.

              Look at the way you are using it. To prop up a double standard. It is also used as a tool to delegitimize any argument made by someone who happens to have a certain skin color.

              • WallofSleep

                “All blacks share that same privilege of not giving a shit.”

                I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but never mind that for now.

                I don’t know about all this privilege theory, leftist dogma, or invisible knapsacks, but I do know that in Western society, and especially in the U.S.A., being a white, straight, male most certainly is a position of privilege. You’d have to be a blind fool living in denial not to see that.

                Look, I agree that what you’ve pointed out is a double standard. It just happens to be a double standard that I couldn’t care less about. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg. However…

                When we get on the subjects of income inequality, marriage inequality, or the inequality found in the legal system, these are double standards that actually do hurt people. That’s something I can give a shit about.

                But I simply can’t be arsed to give a shit about some random minority making a humorous yet stereotypical remark about white people.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                  “I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but never mind that for now.”

                  It means the only valid meaning of the word that you could have possibly mean. That blacks have the same rights as whites in this regard. Do I need to pull out the dictionary to show you the ten alternate meanings of the word. You can’t just flip between meanings. There are meanings of the word privilege that are neutral and others that are negative, and you can’t just flip between them like you are.

                  You as a white person have the privilege of “not giving a shit”. same goes for black people. They can “not give a shit” if the like. Guess what, some make that choice about these kinds of jokes when white people make them. They don’t give a shit because “sticks and stones”.

                  If this guy was your boss instead of some random black guy and had turned you down for a couple promotions then you’d start giving a shit. What you do at that point is either find a new job or complain about it. Well being white your complaint would be laughed at. Feel privileged now?

                  “I do know that in Western society, and especially in the U.S.A., being a white, straight, male most certainly is a position of privilege.”

                  Really? In what sense of the word privilege. Last time I checked it is democrats like Elizabeth Warren pretending to be a minority to gain access to special privileges.

                  You have to clarify your communication and thinking. Do not equivocate, and do not make false assumptions. What exact privileges do you believe white people have that black people don’t. More specifically what EXACT privilege do you have as a white person that a black person doesn’t have because they are black, which in this case, effects your ability to act in the way you did and prevents the black person from doing the same.

                  Why exactly doesn’t a black man have the luxury of not having to give a single shit if some random white person stereotypes blacks? In the exact same sense that you do. I’m not talking about his boss. But some well meaning low income white southern dude who just rescued a black woman from a fire and made a statement like this. He sees a fire, smoke at the KFC, kicks down the door and rescues a black female employee, and then claims, “I knew something was wrong when I saw her running from the chicken”.

              • Daniel_JM

                Cool story bro. Did you hear it from Glenn Beck or Michael Savage?

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                  I think for myself mostly and privilege theory is obvious nonsense. Thomas Sowell, the black economist, might be some good reading for you though. He applies valid rational thinking to these kinds of generalized victimhood claims.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

              Ironic that the left which wishes to forcibly squelch speeach on campus by punishing and ejecting students on mere offense at language, ignores offensive behavior if the perpetrator is a member of certain privileged groups. What happened to the whole offense is in the eye of the receiver? I find double standards offensive. So this jguy is as offensive to me as the KFC example. If granting unearned privilege is wrong, and it is when the term is used correctly, then why is it OK when explicity done by leftists for their favored groups? Problem is that leftists don’t use that definition. They use a definition that means ” white people”.

              • WallofSleep

                “If granting unearned privilege is wrong, and it is when the term is used correctly, then why is it OK when explicity done by leftists for their favored groups?”

                I dunno. Try asking a leftist.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                  You’re the one using leftist terminology and meaning. That you are ignorant of its source is not my problem. Being a white male is not obviously a position of “privilege” unless you use the ideological definition. There are no special laws that give whites privilege over blacks which is the kind of privilege that is wrong. In fact the opposite is true. Just because your unthinking and unsupported assumption is that it is obvious does not make it so. Have you adjusted for all variables like a Thomas Sowell would, or are you just making assumptions of causes based on effects.

                • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

                  Thomas Sowell is a hack. (That’s not necessarily an argument against your position; I just thought I’d state it for the record.)

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                  TCC, You are an ignoramus.

              • Gus Snarp

                “Racism has no economic power unless it is enforced by law. ” That is demonstrably false.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                  Gus, wrong. You are just ignorant of economics. Thomas Sowell in fact shows all sorts of empirical evidence that it is not only true, but that the opposite belief is falsified.

                • Gus Snarp

                  So when two people dressed identically and with identical job and credit histories show up to look for houses or apartments and the white one is shown one set of houses and apartments and the black one is shown another set, or told there are no vacancies, that’s not evidence of economic power of racism? Because that happens on a regular basis. There’s plenty of evidence, from controlled studies like this, that African Americans are less likely to get jobs, mortgages, good interest rates, apartments, and homes than identical white applicants.

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                I see there are a least 19 more ignorant people here by all the down voting. Fact is, whether you like it or not it is not in the economic interest of an actor in the free market to act on any biases. If women are being underpaid by 50% in any industry compared to their productivity, then the first economic actor, male or female who takes advantage of it will reap enourmous benefits. These free market incentive cause a bidding war that bids wages up to the same as those against who there are no biases.

                The rate of profit generally tracks the inflation adjusted rate of interest, around 2%. Labor is on average 70% of cost. A wage disparity of 50% is going to mean that there is huge profits to be made bidding up the wages of those against whom the bias is practiced. If the women really are producing at the same rate as the men and getting only half the wage then someone need only hire an all woman staff to garner an additional profit of 35% above the 2%. That’s nearly 18 times the profit. One can then easily drive the bigoted employers right out of business by dropping prices.

                However then someone else can bid up the price of the woman’s wages.

                Fact is that when you adjust for all the factors this is exactly what happens in free markets.

                This is why racists run to the government to get laws to enforce against other non-racist business owners. Blacks were not allowed to sit on the back of the bus, go to movies with whites, etc. specifically because there were laws passed. White owners of movie theaters did NOT want this segregation because it is hard to pack the seats and cuts into profits.

                I have only scratched the surface here. You can’t just assume that because the earth seems flat, and the sun seems to go around it that it is true. Seems is not reality.

                It would seem like banks are discriminating, and that forcing banks to loan to blacks would help them, but that is based on a whole lot of economic ignorance. They are discriminated against and it is on the basis of income and other valid factors. When the government stepped in to force banks to lend to blacks they got people into loans and situations they could not afford, and that harmed them.

                Blacks were not benefiting as much as whites from the run up in housing prices in the bubble, but that was true because they are on average poorer. Poor whites didn’t benefit either. The price run up was an artificial artifact of governmental loose monetary policy. It wasn’t aimed at white people. Had the government taken a hands off approach during the popping of the bubble then those same more well off people would have lost out. Prices would have dropped below their original purchasing prices because of all the extra unwanted inventory. Instead, they were propped up again harming the poor, and benefiting the rich. So policies leftists like Paul Krugman advocated (he made many statements supporting Greenspans printing of money [and even said it was too little] prior to the popping of the housing bubble) and was a big advocate of printing money during the latest crash [and again claims not enough money was printed]). It’s like Krugman hates the poor.

          • FelyxLeiter

            The double standard is that white men are considered more safe and trustworthy than black men are in our society. The historical prejudices claiming that black people are dangerous (or always eating fried chicken) have perpetuated for decades. Your example of a supposed “double standard” doesn’t even make sense. This man was highlighting the fact that there are prejudices against black men, especially when it comes to the safety of white women. I can tell you as a white woman that this is still a pervasive undercurrent in our society. This man wasn’t making any sort of slur against white women.

            On the other hand, this country has a pretty notable history of white people making fun of black people as stereotypically lazy/poor/uneducated for eating fried chicken. Your example is just a nonsensical hypothetical of a white man remarking that black people were running from a fire at a chicken restaurant. If your hypothetical white man used the event to make a joke that has repeatedly been used as a slur against a particular race THAT HE ISN’T PART OF for generations, then he’s just an asshole. I don’t understand how you can possibly equate the two.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

              Felyx, Crime statistic are that black men are more dangerous that white men. They commit a clearly disproportionate number of crimes to their ratio of the population. So you are wrong. That is the “unfortunate truth”.

              Why is his expressing an “unfortunate truth” about white women by stereotyping considered to be just fine, but if a white person does the same it is considered wrong? Just imagine if this victim joked that she was considering running back in the house when she saw the race of her rescuer?

              See my much longer comment replying to Eli above to understand why this is a double standard. You don’t see it as one because you are equivocating between different meanings of what it is to stereotype.

              It is considered bad for white people to stereotype in all meanings of the word. Black people get a pass with all meanings. In this case he has stereotyped the behavior of a single white woman from his biases about the behavior of all white women. It’s the same exact thing as being surprised a particular black man passed up some chicken.

              • FelyxLeiter

                No Brian, black men are disproportionately arrested and prosecuted for their crimes. That’s not the same thing.

                He wasn’t expressing an “unfortunate truth” about white women. He was expressing an “unfortunate truth” about how balck men are perceived by society at large. Apples and oranges. AGAIN, he wasn’t slandering white women with his statement. He was sarcastically slandering black men, because they’re the ones seen as the “bad guys” in said situation.

                “It’s the same exact thing as being surprised a particular black man passed up some chicken.”

                If you really believe that, then I’m truly sorry that you’re too dense to argue this any further with. Do you know ANY black men or women? Do you know any white women, for that matter? This is ridiculous. Stop making yourself a victim. Black people do NOT get a pass from all stereotyping. This man explicitly called out a stereotype against black men, NOT white women.

                Making a joke about your own race, especially when your race has been a brutally abused minority for hundreds of years, is completely different from joking about, or being completely oblivious, to another race that has been a brutally abused minority for hundreds of years.
                I guess I’ll have to be the 5+ poster to mention “privilege” here.

          • McAtheist

            Or perhaps merely a reflection of the society he lives in?

        • Michael

          I expect that Tumblr already has a lot of response photos of women hugging their black boyfriends/husbands with captions that it is gonna happen every day.

      • Eli

        Who are you claiming he racially stereotyped? I assume you mean white women, since that’s who he was talking about.

        But as a white woman, I can tell you that wasn’t exactly a stereotype; he was stating an unfortunate truth about our society. Women (of any race) in most situations aren’t going to hug a man they don’t know, but that’s especially true if the man is black and the woman is white, precisely because of negative stereotypes about black men being more dangerous. That feeling of distrust is present even in white women who KNOW that stereotype of black men isn’t true, but it’s just such a pervasive part of our culture it’s hard to escape. Which is why I call his statement “unfortunate.”

        Any discomfort his statement created I attribute to the fact that it’s uncomfortable to joke and talk so frankly about racial issues and bluntly point out a reality we’d rather didn’t exist. But it’s not because he said anything generally untrue or harmful, because he didn’t.

        • Michael

          I think they mean interracial couples. I could see someone being upset at the notion that their white girlfriend was only with them because something is wrong with her.

          Not that he meant that, of course, but it can be taken that way.

          • Eli

            Given the context of what just happened, I think it’s pretty clear that’s not at all what he was referring to, but maybe I’m giving some people too much credit….

            • Michael

              I think he was making a joke that “women that pretty don’t run up and hug guys like me” but he tried to be more specific because otherwise he’s accusing any women who do run up and hug him of being less pretty than her, and by definition such women can actually get within arm’s reach of him.

              In removing one unfortunate implication he spliced in another by accident, you can’t proofread the spoken word.

              In short, he made a joke and not everybody found it funny. Some people consider this noteworthy.

              • Eli

                “women that pretty don’t run up and hug guys like me”

                Maybe I’ll just have to watch that clip again, but it seemed pretty clear to me that he was not really trying to make a joke, but consciously talking frankly about race and the kind of desperate situation he concluded an presumably average white woman in the US would experience to get past his not-incorrectly-perceived bias. And laughing to lighten the tone of just what he said because obviously, given the reaction even just here, it’s not insignificant.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                  The actual quote is:

                  “Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white woman ran into a black man’s arms.”

                  He made no mention of his looks. The assumption is that white women don’t “run into the arms of” black men. Which is obviously false. White women who are friends with black men, married to black men, girlfriends of black men do this all the time. Guess what, I’m not black and there aren’t random little pretty white woman running into my arms all the time. So it is an incorrectly perceived bias.

                  I understand he was making a joke but it is obviously based on a racial stereotype, and one that isn’t true.

                • Michael

                  Given how things are emerging, no I don’t think he used the systematic rape of a few innocent victims to hit out at a specific demographic. I think he told a joke to lighten the air. Was it funny? That’s for the listener to decide but given he’d just learned that he had been living beside a real life horror story I think his judgment can be cut a few slacks.

                  If he were taking advantage of this situation to hit out at a specific demographic … that would be unthinkable, but I’m sure he wasn’t.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

          He said: “Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white woman ran into a black man’s arms.”

          There was a locked door between him and the woman that he had to knock down prior to any possibility of an embrace happening. He must have realized “something was wrong” before he kicked in the door. When she was still trapped yelling for help you can be pretty sure she wasn’t making a race specific appeal.

          So his comment is in fact a lie to begin with. He did not realize that something was wrong when a white woman embraced a black man. He knew long before that. Yet notice how he chalked it down to one more example to be used for reaffirming his racial biases.

          I’ve had white women take evasive actions in situations like dark streets. This guy would interpret a woman crossing to the other side of the street as racial bias. Three of my white friends and I as teenagers stop to help a stranded woman get out of the snow at night and boy was she nervous. For example, she pulled her fur coat tight above her breasts. Something she wanted to advertise where she was going but not to some white guys stopping to help her get out of the snow.

          I was a little insulted by her behavior but I can understand.

          Those negative stereotypes about black men being more dangerous are just as true as any assumption that white women are more likely to be afraid of a black man. The criminal statistics are that black men are far more dangerous than white men. That too is an unfortunate truth about our society. Yet, here you are saying that there are white women “…who KNOW that stereotype of black men isn’t true…” Your statement is false if you use the word “stereotype” in the same sense that you forgive this guy for using it. You forgive this black man for stereotyping all white women because it is “not exactly a stereotype” and an “unfortunate truth”. In that sense black men being more dangerous in our society is “not exactly a stereotype” either.

          The only way to interpret your statement that white women can KNOW the stereotype about black men isn’t true is if we add in the implicit words you leave off. This way we can expose your EQUIVOCATION. It is equivocation, and poor thinking that allows you and the other commenters to come to the false conclusions that you do. Your statement is only true if it has certain words added. If it were “…who KNOW that stereotype of black men isn’t true [ABOUT EVERY BLACK MAN]…”

          Guess what. The stereotype that white women won’t run into the arms of a black man isn’t true either. In the same sense that the stereotype about black men being more dangerous isn’t true. Stereotype’s aren’t true about everybody. Yet, they could be used to make judgments, as this guy pretends he did (but did not because he lied).

          So the unfortunate truth is that women ought to be more scared of black men than white men [on average]. That unforunate truth is NOT caused by white women but by the average behavior of black men vs white men. There is a significant difference in the behavior of black men and white men.

          It is quite clear he went out of his way to make this point about white women, but actually the point he should be making is about black men. That is if he was really trying to communicate “unfortunate truths”. On the other hand if he was just using a stereotype to judge a particular white woman based on that stereotype then he’s as wrong as any racist.

          Now this was a on the spot interview (not a press conference) and I’m sure if I was talking with him and pointed this out he would probably be much more reasonable than the other commenters here are being. I know because I talk with blacks the same exact way I talk with everyone else. There is only a minority who wouldn’t be able to grasp my point here. He would likely admit that it was not the point at which he knew something was wrong, but it was the much earlier point.

  • WallofSleep

    Despicable indeed. “F” Sylvia Browne, and “F” Montel for putting her in the spotlight. To quote Stan Marsh:

    “If people believe in asshole douchey liars like you, we’re never gonna find the real answer to those questions. You aren’t just lying, you’re slowing down the progress of all mankind, you douche!”

    • Gus Snarp

      Montel’s worse than she is. Sure, she’s a despicable con artist, but Montel knows it and chooses to cash in on it while giving her legitimacy and a much wider audience.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Geoff-Offermann/632132964 Geoff Offermann

        How does that make him worse? She knows it too and cashes in on it every day.

        She’ll be dead soon, thankfully.

        • Gus Snarp

          “…….while giving her legitimacy and a much wider audience.”

  • ortcutt

    This is why I only trust Miss Cleo.

    • WallofSleep

      That’s a blast from the past. Back in those days, I had a gf that would always pester me to let her call one of those “free” psychic hotlines on my phone.

      Me: I’m surprised you believe in that psychic bullshit. No, you can’t use my phone for that crap.

      Her: Why not? It’s free.

      Me: I’m actually more shocked that you believe that bullshit.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    Amanda Berry’s cousins claim to have been praying for her every day since the abduction. They had faith that she would return.

    While you celebrate decreased confidence in psychics, be sure to mourn increased confidence in faith and prayer.

    • justme

      yeah believing in psychics is just absurd….the magical man in the sky however…now that makes sense

    • RobC

      Yes prayers to a god that let this happen in the first place.

      • Mairianna

        Prayers to a god that kept these girls from their family for 10 years, where they were probably abused and neglected! Praise Jeebus!

        • Pepe

          But he’s “all powerful” and all…

          • malincanada

            It wasn’t His fault they were kidnapped. He was busy that day giving AIDS to babies in Africa.

            • Pepe

              Such a loving god.

        • JWill83

          All this hate on God whenever something bad happens Anti-Christians love to spew and throw it in the faithful’s faces “Where’s your God now?”…He did not cause these girls to be kidnapped nor is he giving babies in Africa AIDS, or any other horrible actions human beings commit against each other even the AIDS is a result of human actions. So you want Him to control the free-will of criminals but not yours?! You all must not understand that by giving us freewill, we are left to make our choices whether they be good or bad. I actually feel bad for those faithless ones, they are like children who grow up without loving parents. Even in the darkest of times those who are faithful will always feel God’s love no matter how hopeless their situations are, and knowing that even after all the suffering there is Heaven to look forward to. Call it a fairytale if you will or mindless belief in the impossible, my life is fulfilled. Can you honestly say the same? I would bet that this man who did these horrible things to these girls doesn’t believe in God either. Anyone capable of doing these things to another human being doesn’t truly believe in God. (I’m also aware there are plenty of so-called Christians who go to church every Sunday, but commit the most vile of sins, I don’t consider them true Christians either.)

          • malincanada

            It’s not “Hate on God”. We’re pointing out that theists who believe that God is responsible for everything that happens, have to square that belief with the terrible things that happen in the world.

            Your point of view (“He has given us free will”) seems a much more reasonable view of a possible God. Something closer to deism which allows for a God, but not one that intervenes directly in any way.

  • Geoff Boulton

    From the BBC ‘Their cases were re-opened last year when a prison inmate tipped off
    authorities that Ms Berry may have been buried in Cleveland. He received
    a four-and-a-half-year sentence in prison for the false information.’

    What a shame that Browne won’t get the same treatment!

  • Rain

    went on The Montel Williams Show

    He promoted the myth that she was never wrong, and that she never made any money from her books. His sanctimonious motivational speaking Marine Corp pimping ass pretended like he believed anything she ever said, including when she described in detail what heaven looked like. Completely uncritical of any baloney whatsoever. How dare he be a sanctimonious motivational speaking Marine Corp pimping ass. He is not worthy of the title.

    • allein

      “that she never made any money from her books”
      Ha. I’ve been to a couple of her book signings (not voluntarilay; I worked in the bookstore). They were always packed to the rafters with crazy people. Though John Edward’s crowd might have been worse.

      • Mairianna

        My sister used to pay over $200 for a seat at one of her events. It made me cry. My sister had many physical disabilities and she really thought that moron could help her. Very sad….

        • allein

          I have a coworker whose brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Last week at lunch she was talking about trying to go see Teresa Caputo (the “Long Island Medium”) and taking her sister-in-law with her, and also apparently she’s been trying to get a private sitting with her for a while, but was saying now she “really” needs it. She’s hoping for some kind of message from him. While I can’t fault her for that, it bothers me that she believes in that and would waste her money. We’re work-friends, but not that close, and even under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t say anything (except maybe that I don’t believe in it, if I were asked), but given the recent tragedy in her life, I really don’t feel like I could say anything. But still, it bothers me that there are people out there who take advantage of people in a vulnerable state of mind. If she goes, I just hope she gets some kind of comfort out of it, I guess.

  • K.E. Nightbird

    But it’s NOT a happy ending. Berry’s mother gave up all hope after that consultation with Browne… And she died shortly after. Browne may be indirectly responsible for Berry’s mother’s death. Browne is very likely responsible for Berry and her mother NEVER being reunited.

    Brown is a piece of crap, and she should be skewered in the press and stripped of her riches. Give it all to Berry, DeJesus, and Ramsey. Or give it to James Randi along with a badge that allows him to arrest psychics that prey on grieving family members.

    • http://twitter.com/elizabethandjam elizabeth

      i wish they would sue her. tbh i think sylvia browne is one of the worst fucking people out there. how despicable, how low do you have to be to make money off of people’s grief. to be a fraud so completely. what a nasty piece of shit

    • Tessa

      Possibly the three men who kidnapped Amanda Berry are also somehow, maybe, like, responsibly for the fact that Berry and her mom will never be reunited, too. Maybe, like, even more than Sylvia Browne.

      Browne is horrible but her crimes are nothing compared to these kidnappers.

      • Pedro Lemos

        Of course. But one would think that this is obvious to everyone, even the nutjobs who believe in psychics, and needs not be mentioned.

  • Hailey

    Is there anything Sylvia Browne can be formally charged with here? She is such a con artist! Browne must be laughing all the way to the bank at the gullible people paying up the ass for her psychic readings and buying enough of her books to make her a bestselling author. Shame on Christianity for encouraging belief in the supernatural and giving credence to bizarre claims; all it does is give rise to con artists like Browne.

    • Kingasaurus

      You’re right, of course.

      But Sylvia is an extremely slippery character. When confronted with these things, she often admits she can’t be right every single time. That gives her an out by giving the impression that people who believe her psychic visions are taking their own chances with it. Her “powers” are both amazing and not perfect. It’s a clever way to simply get around any accusation of fraud by claiming you’re just the vessel for these amazing predictions and you can never guarantee that any particular one is accurate.

      While you’re at it, you let other frauds like Montel Williams tell everyone how great you are and give you a platform to boot. Her fawning sycophants with no critical thinking skills do the heavy lifting for her. It’s very calculated, insidious, and impossible to nail down.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Yes, the families should sue her for defrauding them. Not for the money but to expose her in public. I’m sure they have more important things to worry about than this con artist right now, though. And that’s where their focus needs to be. Yikes. I can’t even imagine what they’ve been through.

    • http://twitter.com/elizabethandjam elizabeth

      there should be a class-action suit.

    • justme

      You’ll have to charge every head of every religion with the same crime then……

  • compl3x

    Next time someone tells you psychics don’t hurt anyone, show them this.

  • SeekerLancer

    And James Randi says to the world, “I told you so.”

    • Guest

      Just to state the most obvious fact.

      ANYONE claiming to be psychic is in one, or both, of only two states.

      1) A CON ARTIST.

      2) MENTALLY UNWELL.

      Join the campaign to change the stupid, ambiguous laws which condone LEGALSIED THEFT!

      Contact your M.P. (or rep) and request the issue be raised on parliament to prevent advertising or performing by these thieves.

    • Bob Cash

      Just to state the most obvious fact.

      ANYONE claiming to be psychic is in one, or both, of only two states.

      1) A CON ARTIST.

      2) MENTALLY UNWELL.

      Join the campaign to change the stupid, ambiguous laws which condone LEGALISED THEFT!

      Contact your M.P. (or rep) and request the issue be raised on parliament to prevent advertising or performing by these thieves.

  • LesterBallard

    I’d like to punch Browne right in the fucking face

    • Artor

      Punch her in the purse. It’ll hurt her more.

      • LesterBallard

        How true.

  • forests

    all mediumship is fraud but the afterlife is real. see NDE research

    • allein

      Any particular research you’d like to cite for us? “See research” is rather useless for making your case.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      At least provide a link.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      see NDE research

      There isn’t any “research” on NDEs, only a collection of anecdotes. It would be unethical to do the sort of research necessary, not to mention extremely difficult.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ssbevan Scott S Bevan

        To respond to some of these comments a true equalitist sees no black and no white,he/she just sees people. What this guy said was racist in the way that he’s still stuck in the persecution mindset that a black man couldn’t possibly have a white girlfriend because white people hate blacks. He was being down on his own race as well as implying a blanket insinuation against white people. He’s likely experienced much racism to come to this view,joke or not. Being racist to people turns people racist,that’s what many do not get.

        Anyway this whole thing is just yet more proof,(as if we needed it by now),that we shouldn’t listen to any hokum and things that can not be scientfically tested and proven to be true.

    • SeekerLancer

      I see a bunch of anecdotal evidence and unverifiable claims and the fact that we can induce similar lucid dreams under laboratory conditions without nearly killing someone. Even worse, none of the studies I know of with results in favor of near death experiences have been subject to peer review.

      Also despite what you may have heard the experiences vary between cultures, so which religious version of the afterlife is the real one? Which person’s NDE was the truth?

    • decathelite

      Translation: “Everyone else is wrong about their superstitions but I’m totally right about mine.”

  • http://twitter.com/christopherburd Christopher Burd

    It is mildly distasteful that commenters here are exploiting this news story to ride their own hobbyhorse about the psychic industry

    Either Sylvia Browne believes she has psychic powers or she doesn’t. After all, a good number of psychics are sincere, if deluded. If she was sincere, she can’t be “despicable”, which implies moral culpability. If she is a conscious charlatan, that’s obviously a bad thing, but doesn’t in itself amount to “despicable” behaviour, in my opinion. That would really depend on her motivation. If by telling this woman that her daughter was dead, she meant to help her achieve closure, then her motivation was kindly and not despicable. Remember that anyone, psychic or not, could have predicted with reasonable certainty that the girl was dead, since that’s almost always the outcome of these cases.

    Counterfactually, suppose the girl had been dead but the psychic assured the mother that she was still alive. I guess you’d still call her “despicable” for encouraging false hopes. You can’t win with you guys.

    The fact that the girl was — miraculously — alive shouldn’t affect our judgement of the psychic’s. If you think about it, a judgement of culpability has be to based on what we know or can guess of her motivations, based on what it was reasonable to believe at the time.

    • Doug Little

      Without any evidence of the girls condition it is indeed despicable to abuse a position of authority as Browne did for her own personal gain. You don’t seriously think that Browne is sincere about her ability?

      • http://twitter.com/christopherburd Christopher Burd

        She could be. I’m never surprised at people’s ability to believe their own bullshit.

        • Artor

          Yep. And I bet you believe you’ve presented a rational argument in your posts above.

    • blasphemous_kansan

      (previous comment snagged because of a link. If it shows up later, sorry for double post.)

      >>”It is mildly distasteful that commenters here are exploiting this news story to ride their own hobbyhorse about the psychic industry”

      So Sylvia Browne bullshitting the grieving family members of loved ones for money and book sales is ok, but people here calling her out on it is “distasteful”? Got it.

      Regarding your second paragraph; do you know anything about Sylvia Browne? Evidence of Sylvia Browne’s shamelessness (and arguably malice) in these situations is well documented. A website ‘stopsylvia’ happens to have them all collected in one place, including instances of us having traveled down this road with Ms. Browne before. Like this, EXACT road. Lots of good citations included there.

      Regardless of her status as a charlatan, the assertion that Ms. Browne’s main goal is to provide closure is hilariously naive, mainly because this can be accomplished without: multi-million dollar media empires pumping out over 50 books, non-disclosure agreements at live performances, ridiculous hourly rates for private consultations, hawking alt-med bullshit.

      >>”Counterfactually, suppose the girl had been dead but the psychic assured the mother that she was still alive. I guess you’d still call her “despicable” for encouraging false hopes. You can’t win with you guys.”

      Correct. Any person claiming to have powers derived from some sort of psychic phenomena cannot “win” in the sense you’re describing unless they can prove the existence of this phenomena under proper testing conditions. You are totally correct here. The skeptical judgement of psychics remains unchanged by the outcome of individual cases: the are selling lies, and profiting from the memories of the dead.

      >>”The fact that the girl was — miraculously — alive shouldn’t affect our judgement of Sylvia Browne. Our judgement of her culpability should be based on what we know or can guess of her motivations and on what it was reasonable to believe at the time.”

      Good point. Here’s what we know or can guess of her motivations: sylvia browne profits directly from the suffering she inflicts onto others and faces zero responsibility for the consequences of her words, and is full of shit and likely knows it. Fuck her motivations and fuck her.

      • http://twitter.com/christopherburd Christopher Burd

        “So Sylvia Browne bullshitting the grieving family members of loved ones for money and book sales is ok, but people here calling her out on it is “distasteful”? Got it.”

        I didn’t say it was OK, I said it was not “despicable”. There’s a big range there.

        For all I know, she may be a despicable person in general, but in this case she only told the mother (with false or delusional certainty, sure) what any well-meaning person might have: that her daughter was (probably) dead. OK, she didn’t say probably, but that pretty small point to hang “despicable” on.

        • blasphemous_kansan

          >>”I didn’t say it was OK, I said it was not “despicable”. There’s a big range there.”

          And I disagree: it is despicable to claim supernatural knowledge of an event that where there is none. It’s still telling that you found more grievance with commenting behavior here than Sylvia Browne’s initial dishonest, mean-spirited, arrogant, behavior in falsely counseling the mother where she was not qualified to do so.

          >>”….but that pretty small point to hang “despicable” on.”

          With all due respect: are you fucking kidding me? You seriously see no large difference between these two statements: “Your daughter is probably dead” and “I’ve received a vision that says your daughter is definitely dead”? This is a perfect point on which to hang “despicable” and a host of other negative monikers (others like “shithead”, “fraud”, and “coldhearted unfeeling unsympathetic money grubbing smoky zombie toad” also come to mind) because she is claiming certainty and she is telling the mother, with no proof whatsoever, that she should be certain as well, because…..psychic stuff, now buy my book. And now she’s wrong (not for the first time) and we’re somehow taking the low road for calling her out on the harm that her bullshit industry does to real people? Please explain this.

          All this blabbering about her intentions and how much she believes her own bullshit is completely irrelevant to her level of “despicable-ness” because the harm that she does to people is the same. The only distinction with regards to her earnestness is that if she doesn’t believe her own bullshit then she’s a liar who is also an unlicensed grief counselor and doing active harm to people. If she believes it, then she’s a mentally ill person who is acting as an unlicensed grief counselor and doing active harm to people.

          Seriously, read up on the wonderful history of Ms. Browne at StopSylvia. Despite the domain name, it’s very well-researched and cited material. Even when she tells parents that their kids are alive, she is hardly selling false hope. Until now, the most famous fuckup of Browne’s came when she told the parents of a missing teen that he was sold into white slavery in the eastern hemisphere! He tragically turned out to be dead, I believe mere miles from where he lived. Her character is completely indefensible, and it’s ludicrous to debate her level of “despicable-ness”, because she’s maxed out.

          • http://twitter.com/christopherburd Christopher Burd

            “You seriously see no large difference between these two statements: “Your daughter is probably dead” and “I’ve received a vision that says your daughter is definitely dead”?”

            I see a small difference, particularly if she doesn’t claim 100% accuracy. (And, assuming for a moment that psychic powers exist, why would they be 100% accurate? The other senses aren’t.) It’s obvious that what’s making you angry is anyone claiming psychic powers about anything.
            As for “unlicensed grief counsellor” — the implications of your comments are striking.

            • blasphemous_kansan

              >>”I see a small difference, particularly if she doesn’t claim 100% accuracy.”

              Wow, just wow. A small difference, really? I have no rebuttal. Your response is simply galling, and you seem to have about as much empathy and sympathy for grieving people as Ms. Browne. Fucking Disgusting.

              >>”(And, assuming for a moment that psychic powers exist, why would they be 100% accurate? The other senses aren’t.)”

              I’m not ready to make assumptions about a human sense that has NOT BEEN SHOWN TO EXIST AT ALL! It’s quite ridiculous to debate it’s hypothetical accuracy when the question of existence is currently negative, isn’t it? Should we also debate whether unicorn tastes like chicken?

              >>”It’s obvious that what’s making you angry is anyone claiming psychic powers about anything.”

              Umm, no, what makes me angry is people lying to other people about serious things, profiting off of it, and then dancing their merry way into the night, consequence free. As I have repeated, many, many times. What also makes me angry is discussing the topic with people like you who keep dancing around that harm that she does, concentrating instead on her good intentions, her accuracy, or whether she really believes it. It’s all so much fluff while she causes more people to suffer. Can you really not see this? Have you actually done any of the reading about Ms. Browne that I pointed out, or would you care to address any of the other points I made?

              >>”As for “unlicensed grief counsellor” — the implications of your comments are striking.”

              Would you care to share those implications? For what it’s worth, I agree. My comment was meant to imply that an unqualified person is acting as a mental health and spiritual authority at a time in people’s lives where they are incredibly sensitive and impressionable, and harming people in doing so. Will you argue this point?

              So far in our conversation you’ve changed the goalposts 3 times already. You started with discussing her motivation and just wanting to provide closure, then moving onto quibbling over her hypothetical accuracy and semantics, and now with your last comment we’re actually into the existence of psychic powers themselves. Will you move the goalposts again, or do you have a point other then defending this human slime?

    • Gus Snarp

      suppose the girl had been dead but the psychic assured the mother that she was still alive. I guess you’d still call her “despicable” for encouraging false hopes. You can’t win with you guys.

      Yes, anyone who is making up lies about someone else’s missing loved ones and pretending to know anything at all about it, particularly in order to make money, is despicable, and they cannot win with me.

      • http://twitter.com/christopherburd Christopher Burd

        Suppose if a police detective had said to the mother, “Ma’am, I have 20 years experience in cases like this, and I think, for your own sake and your family’s sake, you have to accept that your daughter is dead.”

        Would this have been ‘despicable” rather than tragically wrong? Of course not. All Sylvia Browne adds to the mix is a bit of psychic mumbo-jumbo. So, THAT seems to be what’s getting you guys angry.

        • Gus Snarp

          No, she adds lies. She also subtracts the 20 years of experience of your hypothetical detective and, in cases of people not “lucky” enough to talk to her on a talk show who pay for a reading, a few hundred dollars from their bank accounts.

          But mainly, it’s the lying about things she knows nothing about that makes her despicable. Why is that so hard to get?

        • Artor

          Holy false equivalency Batman!!! Is your hypothetical cop charging hundreds of dollars for his expert opinion? Is he claiming to actually see the supposedly dead girl, or just telling her the odds, based on his actual experience?

    • Artor

      Yes, it’s terribly unfair how people here are calling out a callous fraud for exploiting vulnerable people and making her money off bald-faced lies. How dare they?!?
      Seriously, fuck you. You can’t win with us guys? Bullshit. Try honesty and decency, and we’ll appreciate the hell out of that. But why should we cut some slack for an asshole who makes her living off of lies and deceit?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jesbabbra J.j. Babbra

    Best press conference of all time indeed. Even better than the doctor’s input.

  • A3Kr0n
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1220871538 Alan Eckert

    My mother-in-law used to live with a psychic. Their eyes on on your wallets rather than their crystal ball.

  • LoudGuitr

    Sylvia Browne, like all psychics, is a fraud and a criminal for stealing people’s money. She has hidden from James Randi’s challenge to verify her ability, and in so doing has eschewed the million dollar reward she would receive if she could prove her claims. In the meantime, she charges hundreds for over-the-phone psychic readings. She should be in prison for theft and fraud.

  • Mick

    The psychics are still in business because the hoi-poloi are stupid enough to pay the consultation fees.

  • Sue Blue

    As far as I’m concerned, people like Sylvia Browne should be prosecuted for fraud. They do exactly what any con man does – steal people’s money under false pretenses, make promises that can’t be kept, and bullshit their way into people’s lives and bank accounts. If we prosecute and jail the guy who marries little old widows and then drains their bank accounts, why can’t we prosecute these “psychic” charlatans?

  • dheydrick

    Can we all finally tell Sylvia Browne and Montel Williams to sit down, shut up, and quit wheeling and dealing that psychic crap?

  • http://plus.google.com/u/0/111051039748078110427/about novenator

    The last FB update of the kidnapper read “thank god for miracles” or something like that too.

  • http://twitter.com/AshNorrisToBe Ash

    The whole “honey she’s not alive” thing REALLY got me? Why say it like that!? Why not say can I see that woman back stage or something or better yet not said anything at all!!!

  • sein

    sylvia is a big fraud….I knew from the first time I heard her disgusting voice….who can trust someone who sounds like that?

  • glasses

    I agree, Sylvia Browne is a charlatan, a deceiver, and her advice is straight from the pit of hell. But don’t confuse her with Christianity. Isaiah 8:19 calls these charlatans “wizards” and says they “peep and mutter.” They are worthless! God does nothing in the dark. There is no light in these low-lifes, only darkness.

    • blasphemous_kansan

      “When you understand why you dismiss [Sylvia Browne's] gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours”.
      -Stephen Roberts (slightly edited for the topic)

  • Drew M.

    “The man who inadvertently helped rescue them…”

    This line bothers me because there was nothing inadvertent about it; she cried out for help and he answered. Now, had he accidentally kicked out a brace that was keeping her from opening the door, that would be inadvertent.

  • Dingus Jonezzz

    My ex-wife buys into this fraud. I asked her one day why she doesn’t predict the Powerball numbers. She said Sylvia doesn’t use her powers for that kind of stuff. So I suggested she predict the numbers and give the winnings to needy people. Again, she said Sylvia doesn’t do that. If she can talk to the dead, surely she can pull some strings and get a heads up from the other side, right? Oh, how I hate psychics!

  • Bob Cash

    Just to record the first, most important fact . . .

    ANYONE claiming to be psychic is in one, or both, of only two states.

    1) A CON ARTIST.

    2) MENTALLY UNWELL

    I get hundreds of wholehearted comments agreeing (naturally) but few seem to DO anything.

    Join the campaign to change the stupid, highly ambiguous laws which actually condone this LEGALISED THEFT!

    Email your M.P. (or rep) and request the issue be raised in parliament to prohibit advertising or preformances by these thieves.

  • P.Girl

    I used to like and respect Montel, but NO MORE………He is a fraud and as despicable as Sylvia Browne…..Once I went to one of her shows here in Sacramento for entertainment…….I DID NOT want a reading! And she sat upon a big high-back chair that reminded me of a throne…….and was so effin rude, condascending and crotchety to the audience…..I will never forget that. I told my friend at the time: “I will NEVER do this again , and that woman is a phony and a bitch.” She even had the nerve to tell us the Pope was dead…….WRONG AGAIN……I have never been one of her “followers” (they make me sick when they gush all over the old crone!), but then again, I never used to know how evil she truly is! Remember her radio appearance on Coast to Coast when she said the trapped miners were fine and alive, when they were dead!

  • Alphonso

    I think it’s really cool that Sylvia is doing a read for someone genuine though…they could just as easily have been plants…all kudos to Montel and the show organisers…the results are there for the world to see and make up its mind…

    Sylvia has certainly been spot on in some instances and if people choose to believe her why not?…and another thing, someone on here may think clairvoyance is rubbish and then, go out and buy a designer brand handbag that is way overpriced…Who’s the stupid one?…everyone has their Achilles heal…what’s yours?

  • Alphonso

    …i agree, it was unfortunate about how Sylvia handled the reading with Amanda Berry’s mum…it would be traumatic for any parent to be told that their child was dead and it may have contributed to her own death, who can say?…I wonder if she (Sylvia) has learned from the experience?

  • peace

    If you don’t like Sylvia call her 682 970 6525 let her know how you really feel. She has ruined enough people’s lives.


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