‘Psychic’ Sylvia Browne is Dead

Sylvia Browne, the “psychic” whose appearances on talk shows like “Montel” and “Larry King Live” made her a well-known celebrity despite her not-even-close-to-the-truth predictions, died earlier today at the age of 77.

It was 10 years ago when Browne told Larry King she knew when she would die:

King: OK. Do you know when you’re going to die?

Browne: Yes. When I’m 88.

It was one of many wrong predictions.

She made news this past May after three women who were missing for over a decade in Ohio and presumed dead were found to be alive.

Browne had gone on television in 2003 to tell one of the victim’s mothers that her daughter had died:

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.

It was an awful thing to say to the mother, it was entirely made up, and, thankfully, it turned out to be completely wrong.

In 2001, Browne appeared on “Larry King Live” agreed to take the James Randi Educational Foundation’s $1,000,000 Challenge to prove that she really did have psychic powers. It turned out to be a promise she never kept:

I don’t delight in her death. I do, however, object to the decisions she made during her life. She took a lot of money from a lot of desperate people. She had no qualms about giving people false hope and (as we saw) false despair. I don’t know whether she really believed she had psychic powers or whether this was just a really long con. Either way, she was obviously very good at convincing people she had magical powers — to the tune of at least $3,000,000 a year in profit for her businesses at her peak fame.

I’m sure there will be a lot of stories about her in the coming days. It would be nice if the writers would point out that there never has been — and, I believe, never will be — any proof that people can see into the future or “cross over” to the “other side.” It’s neither disrespectful nor impolite to point out that Browne’s “psychic powers” were never substantiated by any shred of evidence.

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.

  • WallofSleep

  • CJ Klok

    Ding dong, the witch is dead…

    • Abbé Faria

      Margaret Thatcher died in April.

    • mlbhl

      Last I heard Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman are still among the living.

  • Castilliano

    Okay, this is funny, but I was just thinking about her before coming to this site.
    neenee neenee neenee neenee
    OMG, I’m the new top psychic!

    Or, perhaps, that’s because I was watching “Storm” by Tim Minchin and thinking how horrible Sylvia was for lying to grieving parents, and to the parents of the missing girl found some months ago, telling them their child has died.

    Good riddance, Sylvia. Good riddance.

  • Mario Strada

    I bet she did not see this coming!

    • islandbrewer

      I should have seen this coming.

    • Sven2547
    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

      TMZ is polling: She saw it coming [Yes] [No]
      Cast your vote on the linked article.

    • Gitte

      Her own death is probably the one thing she did see coming. At 77 she had to know it was close.

      • Carly Sturgeon

        It actually says in this blog, quoting an interview she once did, where she ‘predicted’ it would happen 11 YEARS AFTER it actually did. Days, weeks, or even months, I would have said ‘yeah, she was close’. 11 years, though? Not so much, IMO.

  • Guest

    The death of another human being is no laughing matter, it is tragic and so forth. Death is a sad thing.

    But I don’t believe in “You can’t speak ill of the dead.” I spoke the truth about her as she was living and I’ll say it after her death – She was a vulture and a bloodsucker of the lowest kind. And that may be mean to vultures and vampires.

    • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      I see no tragedy in the death of a 77 year-old.

      • Guest

        It’s how I see it really. I see a tragedy in the death of any human being, old or young. They were someone’s family, someone’s friend, someone’s loved one. Go tell that to them that this is no big deal she died since she was 77.

        • WallofSleep

          “Go tell that to them that this is no big deal she died since she was 77.”

          I highly doubt that’s what CP meant.

          • Guest

            Oh, I’m sorry then. What did he mean? It was a pretty direct sentence, but I may have misunderstood something. Surely he can’t mean that I think it equates the death of a young child or something.

            • Art_Vandelay

              A tragedy usually implies something out of the ordinary occurring with unfavorable results.

              • Guest

                I don’t know, I guess I’m soft and dramatic. I didn’t really call it a tragedy anyway, I said it was tragic. As in “causing or characterized by extreme distress or sorrow.”. Death pretty much tops that.

                • Stan

                  I don’t find death tragic at all, It’s an essential part of existence and, in fact, a necessary component of evolution.

                • WallofSleep

                  “It’s a feature, not a bug”.

                  Lewis Black, paraphrased

                • unclemike

                  “I see a tragedy in the death of any human being, old or young. ” –ThyGoddess

                  “I didn’t really call it a tragedy anyway, I said it was tragic.” –ThyGoddess, 31 minutes later

                  “LOL” –unclemike

                • ThyGoddess

                  I was merely reusing the words of another. My first word was tragic. However, arguing on that matter that was a mistake since I was wrong. I retract myself as I was obviously inaccurate. I greatly apologize for any literary distress I may have caused.

                • Psychotic Atheist

                  I don’t know if her death tops that. She caused plenty of distress and sorrow while she was alive. So her staying alive was pretty tragic too.

              • AmandaM

                I would call a death an unfavorable result in any circumstance. Therefore, it is tragic no matter what the cause. When does anybody ever say “I have some happy news, my grandma just died.”

                • Art_Vandelay

                  A tragedy usually implies something out of the ordinary occurring with unfavorable results.

                  Two things there. I’ve highlighted the one that you ignored.

                • Random_Lurker

                  When Grandma was 82 and had an inoperable tumor that had been causing excruciating pain for the past 3 months, to the point that she voluntarily refused further treatment.

            • WallofSleep

              “What did he mean?”

              I have no idea, that’s why I used the word “doubt” rather than “know”.

              At any rate, a death can be sad without qualifying as an actual tragedy.

            • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              All I meant is that I see nothing tragic when somebody dies of old age. It may be sad for friends and family, but being sad doesn’t make it tragic.

              • AmandaM

                77 isn’t really that old anymore. People live well into their 90′s now.

      • mlbhl

        That is because you are probably not close to 77. Be careful as I am 75 and not nearly ready to die nor is my family ready for me to go. It would be at this point a tragedy for many. You are too quick to dismiss the significance of any life based on age and assume not a tragedy. You ought to be ashamed but I will chalk it up to ignorance in insensitivity.

        • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          I’ve lost elderly family members. I’ve never considered that tragic. It devalues completely the concept of a tragedy to use that word for the natural death of a person who has enjoyed a long, full life.

          • mlbhl

            A long full life – can we expect from you a shelf-life date for when that occurs? You are being so smug about this. Let us all know when our time for enjoying a long full life comes to an end so we can expect a death without any tragedy. I hope you note your own and are not surprised when your non-tragedy occurs. You are in no position to determine a tragedy that is not your business. We may be using the wrong terms so check the dictionary although someone earlier in the postings did just that. Now that people are living so much longer than in previous generations our adjustment to what is really old age and time to go may also change.

            • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              If I died tomorrow, in my 50s, I’d hope nobody would consider it tragic.

              Death is natural. It is seldom tragic.

              • mlbhl

                I am glad we are not friends and are not related. Do you have a wife, children, living parents, siblings, good friends, co-workers Ask them. Seriously.

              • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                I would hope they would say I’ve lived a good life, and that I would be missed. But again, no tragedy.

          • AmandaM

            Just because a person dies as a senior, it doesn’t necessarily mean they died of natural causes. Sometimes, they die from falls, which shortens their lives. Sometimes, they die of complicated diseases and suffer for years.

      • brian_x

        In this case it’s somewhat akin to (if not quite as awful as) Jimmy Savile going to his grave peacefully, without ever having faced prison time for all the girls and young women he raped.

    • mandas

      Everyone dies ThyGoddess – as will both you and me.
      And laugh? Why not? Would you prefer we all be miserable about something that is inevitable? It’s only sad if it comes too early or occurs badly.

      • Guest

        I just meant I won’t be happy she’s dead.

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

      The death of another human being is no laughing matter […]

      Except that it sometimes is.

      Jimi Heselden, British owner of the Segway motorized scooter company, was killed when he accidentally drove off a cliff on a Segway at his estate at Thorp Arch near Boston Spa.

      Wikipedia: List of unusual deaths

    • Abbé Faria

      I work in a nursing home, so to me death, although it can be sad, is the natural end of a life. And most deaths are good, either quietly in their sleep or as an awaited end after illness. Death isn’t always tragic, sometimes it’s their only relief from pain.

  • Art_Vandelay

    I’m completely indifferent about her dying but her not being able to exploit and profit off of other people’s grief kind of can’t be a bad thing. Not that I want any psychics or mediums to die…I just want them to stop being psychics and mediums. Anyway…never a bad time to quote Minchin but this is fitting…

    By the way,Why is it OK
    For people to pretend they can talk to the dead?
    Is it not totally fucked in the head
    Lying to some crying woman whose child has died
    And telling her you’re in touch with the other side?
    That’s just fundamentally sick
    Do we need to clarify that there’s no such thing as a psychic?

    What, are we fucking 2?
    Do we actually think that Horton Heard a Who?
    Do we still think that Santa brings us gifts?
    That Michael Jackson hasn’t had facelifts?
    Are we still so stunned by circus tricks
    That we think that the dead would
    Wanna talk to pricks
    Like John Edwards?

    • Itarion

      I love that poem.

    • allein

      Nitpick – the “psychic” is John Edward (who I have unfortunately seen in action twice*). John Edwards is the politician.

      *I’ve also seen Sylvia once.

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

    I’m glad her nonsense has ceased, and I hope she won’t be added to anyone’s afterlife speed-dial.

  • Diane Roberson

    Sorry she passed but she charged $750.00 for 30 minutes of bullshit. And on Montel she also told a mother her son was dead when he had been abducted by a child molester. He finally escaped and went home imagine the mothers joy at seeing her son and being pissed about being lied to.

    • Art_Vandelay

      She told the mother of one of those three girls that were held captive in Cleveland for 10 years and just escaped earlier this year that her daughter was dead too.

      • Aernz

        If I’m not mistaken, the mother died of grief before she was able to see her daughter again. We can only wonder if there could have been a reunion had the psychic not interferred with her bullshit.

  • Diane Roberson

    Does anyone know what killed her a plastic surgeon perhaps !!!!

  • LesterBallard

    Didn’t see that one coming, did she? Well, I’m sure she’ll be communicating with those who believe.

    • Itarion

      Aww… beat me to it. By a long shot, really.

  • Whitney

    While I might not delight, I’m glad she’s gone. I cannot have pity, sympathy, or respect for those who go out to profit on the misery of others. I know someone else will just take her place, but still, to prey on those already suffering is beyond monstrous.

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

    My apologies to anyone unable to view this comment section for the past ~5 hours. A post of mine apparently broke Disqus on this page. I posted a link to Wikipedia, which I think was the cause. I have contacted them with details.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Use your new power wisely, grasshopper.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Brown was clearly trying to possess you to take down the site. She doesn’t like what was being said.

      Maybe you should get an exorcism, just incase?

  • Nik Pfirsig

    “Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,

    Had a bad cold, nevertheless

    Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,

    With a wicked pack of cards.” – T.S. Eliot ( excerpt from “The Wasteland”)

  • Intelligent Donkey

    I am happy that she’s dead. Really. I read the headline, and I thought “Great!”

    Yes, she had friends and family, and they will probably mourn her. You know who else had friends and family? Adolf Hitler.

    Nothing of value was lost, and the world is now a better place.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      Really, you’re comparing her, abet indirectly to Hitler. You’re comparing a fraud and a liar who preyed on grieving people to line her own pockets with a dictator who started WWII and is primary responsible for the brutal murder of millions. Let’s be more realistic. Here, I’ll fix it for you.

      “Yes, she had friends and family, and they will probably mourn her. You know who else had friends and family? Joseph Stalin.

      • allein

        Isn’t that supposed to be “STALIN!”?

  • David McNerney

    For the most part, I like funerals – they are sad and all that, but they are also a celebration that this person before us has brought some good to the world and we should celebrate their life because of that.

    The corollary of that is that if the world is a better place without them then we should celebrate their death. And I’m not really up for making apologies about that.

  • Drakk

    May nobody remember her name.

    • Camorris

      No! Let her name take on the same connotation for psychic charlatans as “drink the Kool_Aid” does for religious shysters.

  • ShoeUnited

    Who would have seen that coming?

  • Rain

    Her business will go on without her. Still scamming money from people.

  • PrimateZero

    Sylvia Browne died…. so it goes.

  • http://plus.google.com/+OleOlson novenator

    obligatory “Bet she didn’t see that coming”

  • Lark62

    Sylvia Browne has passed over to the other side. I can hear her. She’s speaking to me, but it’s so faint. What to do? What to do? She has given me the answer. Quick, write your questions for the dearly departed on the back of $100 bills (use as many as you need) and send them to me. Do it now, before the spirit leaves ……..

  • canaduck

    I thought she was a fairly harmless, crappy charlatan until I found Robert Lancaster’s fascinating research site, http://www.stopsylvia.com.

    She was an incredibly unethical and nasty woman. I won’t be delighting in her death, but I certainly won’t mourn her either.

    • Lark62

      Attributed to Mark Twain:

      I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.

      • curtcameron

        Another:

        I won’t attend her funeral, but I approve of it.

  • Brodestar

    My sympathy goes out to her surviving family. That being said she was a con woman who got rich on others tragedy. Like every other “psychic” out there she prayed on the hopes and need to believe in something that religion had done the ground work building up. There has never been any evidence that anyone can see into the future or actually communicated with the dead.

  • SeekerLancer

    Unfortunately there are loads of con-artists willing to take her place deceiving people for profit.

  • peter g

    Lets hope the recipients of all her ill gotten gain do something good with it.
    p.

  • Terry Firma

    Must watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKyzBe0CA2Q#t=71

    What a bag of shit, this woman.

  • allein

    Ha, that’s what my friend was just saying at lunch :)

  • The Vicar

    Disqus comments wouldn’t load on this post last night. My guess was that a huge number of people wanted to make some variation on the obvious joke.

    No, I’m not condemning that.

  • NEFER

    NOBODY KNOW WHEN THERE GONNA DIE,,,,

  • AmandaM

    I don’t like seeing people get rich off of other people’s misery. But, I hate to point out that “psychics” are not the only ones who do this. From the government, to car sales people, it is a common fact that people make money taking advantage of the vulnerable. No one was forced to take her seriously.

  • Mariam

    I don’t believe in hell, but if there is such a place, there should be a special are in hell for preditors who prey profit off of the most vulnerable. Ms. Brown did just that. Her psychic scam and 300,000 a year was off the backs of those who were desperate enough to turn to her. Dead or alive.. shame on her

  • BillYeager

    From previous page:
    “You may also like – ‘Psychic’ Silvia Browne is Dead”

    Yes, I do! Spooky, how did it know?

    I detest the whole ‘you must not speak ill of the dead’ bollocks. She was a loathsome woman when alive and her toxic influence will continue to help perpetuate other fraudulent scams and ‘woo’ promotion by the hucksters in her ‘industry’.

    I am glad she is dead. The world is a better place without her in my opinion. She took advantage of vulnerable people and abused their trust for her own selfish gains.

  • Mick

    I’ll bet the other psychics are already offering the family big bucks for he customer list.


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