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.

  • 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.

  • 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://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

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

  • 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!”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    Failed in all those cases too.

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • Daniel_JM

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    There aren’t any.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • compl3x

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


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