Sylvia Browne Has Some ‘Splainin to Do

Three women in Cleveland who disappeared ten years ago were found alive this week and three brothers who allegedly kidnapped them have been arrested. One of the women actually called the police and it turns out that they were living a few blocks from where they were abducted from:

Three brothers connected to the disappearances of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been arrested.

The men, ages 50, 52, and 54, are expected to be charged within the next 36 hours.

Cleveland Police confirm that the three women were located in a house on Seymour Avenue Monday afternoon.

All three seem to be in good health.

“I can’t wait to talk to her, I can’t wait to hold her, to see her,” said Gale Mitchell, Amanda’s aunt.

According to police a woman claiming to be Amanda Berry called 911 Monday. She said she was kidnapped 10 years ago and said she is currently at a home at 2210 Seymour.

But as DJ Grothe linked on Facebook, not long after Berry disappeared, her mother asked renowned “psychic” Sylvia Browne if she was still alive and she said she was dead.

Amanda Berry’s mother traveled to New York to tell her story to Psychic Sylvia Browne on the Montel Williams Show. The show was a shot at getting her daughter’s picture before the eyes of millions of Americans. “On April 21st 2003, 16-year-old Amanda Berry left her part-time job never to be seen again,” the show began. With that, TV viewers across America now know a girl from Cleveland is missing. But Amanda Berry’s mom wanted more than her daughter’s picture on national TV. She wants answers. “Can you tell me…Is she out there?” Berry’s mother Louwana Miller asked. “I hate when they’re in the water,” Browne said. “She’s not alive honey.” It was bad news from the world-renowned psychic. It’s what Miller didn’t want to hear. “So you don’t think I’ll ever see her again,” Miller said. “Yeah in Heaven on the other side,” Browne responded. “I’m sorry.” Montel took a commercial break and Amanda’s mom broke down. Although the FBI says Sylvia Browne has never solved one of their cases, Miller has faith in psychics. “It hurts my mind but it eases it; now I know,” Miller said.

Sounds like she should stop believing in psychics.

29 comments on this post.
  1. Gregory in Seattle:

    I am reminded of when the Psychic Friends Hotline when bankrupt due to “unforeseen financial difficulties.”

    Fraudsters, the whole lot of them. It’s a pity they cannot be charged and convicted for the harm these charlatans cause.

  2. parkjames:

    Brown is a complete sociopath. How she still has even an ounce of credibility with anyone is beyond comprehension.

  3. Tabby Lavalamp:

    Sounds like she should stop believing in psychics.

    It’s too late for that. Louwana Miller died in 2006 believing her daughter was dead.

  4. mikeyb:

    Scam artists and their accomplices never explain themselves, whether they be right wing talkers, televangelists or woo peddlers. Just take the money and hide in your mansions with your gullibility gotten gains. Expecting moral behavior from these types makes as much sense as expecting ethical behavior from psychopaths. Not gonna happen.

  5. ethanhobart:

    “Brown is a complete sociopath. How she still has even an ounce of credibility with anyone is beyond comprehension.”

    I think it is unfair to sociopaths to equate them with Sylvia Browne.

  6. glodson:

    It’s too late for that. Louwana Miller died in 2006 believing her daughter was dead.

    And Browne will continue to defraud people, and emotionally traumatize others for the sake of her greed.

  7. grumpyoldfart:

    “It hurts my mind but it eases it; now I know,” Miller said.

    Now there’s gullible.

    I don’t have any sympathy for the ratbags who collaborate with people like Browne. If they didn’t throw money at the charlatans the problem would practically disappear.

  8. Gretchen:

    DJ Grothe gave a very good talk at Skeptics of Oz on the harm done by fraudulent psychics, and the importance of skeptics focusing their attention on this. He emphasized that we should recognize that the psychics (whether they know themselves to be fraudulent or not, and Sylvia Browne almost certainly does) are victimizers, and people who believe them– grieving people, worried people, people in a vulnerable state of mind– are their victims. First Louwana Miller lost her daughter, then she was deliberately deceived about her daughter’s status. And it would’ve been a deliberate deception even if her daughter had turned out to be dead, because Sylvia Browne had no fucking clue what she was talking about, but pretended she did.

    Psychics are not fun. They’re not good for “entertainment purposes.” They’re professional liars, and they do tremendous damage.

  9. Gretchen:

    I don’t have any sympathy for the ratbags who collaborate with people like Browne. If they didn’t throw money at the charlatans the problem would practically disappear.

    And that’s some victim-blaming right there.

  10. glodson:

    I don’t have any sympathy for the ratbags who collaborate with people like Browne. If they didn’t throw money at the charlatans the problem would practically disappear.

    You don’t have sympathy for a woman with a child missing who desperately wants an answer, who is in pain, who is seeking any help? I get not being overly sympathetic for the person who seeks a psychic for advice over something stupid. But this is how they make the money, by offering help to those who needed it. They get their hooks in by manipulating emotions.

    People like Browne are vultures of human misery. This woman was distraught. And Browne used that for her own profit.

  11. richardelguru:

    Ah the harms of the psychic
    :-(

  12. dingojack:

    Ed, sorry to be a total pedant but:-
    “One of the women actually called the police and it turns out that they were living a few blocks from where they were abducted from…”
    Is the last ‘from really necessary?
    Dingo
    ——-
    PS: the problem with ‘psychics’ is proving fraud. It’s quite difficult to prove that they knowingly passed on false information;, how can one tell if they know it’s false or not?

  13. Raging Bee:

    This is not the only time Sylvia Browne has been spectacularly wrong on TV. Which leads to the question: How many times does she have to be that dead wrong before broadcasters just drop her for good?

    The people who go out of their way to give airtime to fraudsters like Browne are AT LEAST as guilty as the fraudsters of whatever harm comes of their actions.

  14. Raging Bee:

    You don’t have sympathy for a woman with a child missing who desperately wants an answer, who is in pain, who is seeking any help?

    Was she the one giving money to Browne? I think the original criticism was aimed at sleazy worthless hacks like Montel Williams, who used this occasion to give Browne yet another opportunity to cash in.

  15. glodson:

    Was she the one giving money to Browne? I think the original criticism was aimed at sleazy worthless hacks like Montel Williams, who used this occasion to give Browne yet another opportunity to cash in.

    I took it as directed at the mother. If I’m wrong, then that’s my bad for misunderstanding.

    Don’t get me wrong, Montel Williams and his ilk are in the same boat as Browne. I feel sympathy for those who seek out a psychic out of desperation. Yes, they should think critically, but if they are so hard up to seek an answer, and any answer will do, it is not shocking to see them give out the cash to those who answer them.

    So, I would include people like Williams in this, as they give these frauds the air of respectability they need to con more people. If the comment was meant for people like Williams, then I wholeheartedly agree and misunderstood. However, if the comment is directed at people who do pay(I don’t know if Berry paid Browne anything) when desperate for any answer, then I disagree with the comment and see it as victim blaming.

  16. cry4turtles:

    I agree with Bee. I doubt Brown and this distraught mother would’ve met if not for the main charlatan shit stain Williams.

  17. Raging Bee:

    cry4turtles: If I’m reading the article right, the missing persons’ family members went to Montel solely to get on TV so they could make the public aware of the case and how important it was — a perfectly understandable and worthy goal in itself. If Montel had had an ounce of decency, he would have kept the show focused on them, and not brought in any psychic or other shallow distraction.

    Let’s see how well our enterprising, competitive corporate media ensure accountability within their own ranks…

  18. d.c.wilson:

    John Edward may have to cede the title of “Biggest Douche in the Universe” to Sylvia Browne.

  19. nooneinparticular:

    “Sounds like she (Berry’s mother) should stop believing in psychics.”

    It could be wrong, but I read that Berry’s mother, Louwanna Miller died in 2006. So, if true, she doesn’t currently believe in anything, including psychics.

  20. Geds:

    Raging Bee @14: I think the original criticism was aimed at sleazy worthless hacks like Montel Williams, who used this occasion to give Browne yet another opportunity to cash in.

    And don’t forget that Montel Williams does adverts for payday loan places, which are right up there on the list of predatory financial institutions. He seems to have decided that peddling in fraud and human misery aimed at the desperate is the way to go.

  21. Raging Bee:

    d.c.wilson: At least Edwards doesn’t make misleading and/or hurtful claims about living people who might benefit from the truth. His BS is (AFAIK) confined to people whom everyone already knows are dead, so at least it doesn’t raise false hopes or mislead people who are trying to locate and help someone.

  22. Christopher Denney:

    You average run of the mill person believes in magic.
    They may call it something else, horoscopes, fortune cookies, praying, or tarot.
    I see the evidence of magical thinking (can’t remember who I first heard use that phrase) all over.
    At work I see it everyday from people who don’t understand how computers work, but it’s basically anything people don’t understand is ascribed to magic. Some say goddidit, others use other words, but it comes down to magic. And since everything is magic it ought to work how they want it to work… e.g. “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?”
    If someone has confidence and the right kind of showmanship you can sell psychic predictions to just about anyone, because many are already prepared to believe.

  23. d.c.wilson:

    Raging Bee:

    That’s why I said he should give up the title. Maybe Parker and Stone will do a follow up episode.

  24. ambulocetacean:

    Browne also falsely claimed that Shawn Hornbeck was dead.

  25. Hugo:

    I read the transcript of the segment online, and one thing Browne said struck me, describing the person who did it:

    Browne: Now, the thing that gets me is this sort of Cuban-looking, short kind of stocky build, heavyset…

    From the photos I saw online, the kidnapper seems to be short, stocky and heavyset. I couldn’t find out if he was of cuban descent or not, but he he is at least hispanic. In fact, his last name is CASTRO! Get it? Cuba…Castro?

    And she told her she’d next see her daughter in Heaven. The mother died a few years later, so if Heaven exists, she was half right.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in psychics or Heaven, but I hate it when there are enough coincidences or half truths to make me consider that some people could at least be mediocre psychics.

    PS. I am aware that this isn’t Sylvia’s first major goof.

  26. Childermass:

    Tonight I noticed that Ms. Brown is listed as the entertainment in the ad of some casino. One would think a psychic could make more money betting than entertaining people at $30-$60 in the great metropolis of Shawnee, OK.

  27. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    It’s quite difficult to prove that they knowingly passed on false information;, how can one tell if they know it’s false or not? – dingojack

    In Browne’s case, her record of failure in similar cases indicates that she at least should know that the “information” is likely to be false. Whether that’s enough for a conviction, I don’t know, but here’s an interesting piece of information about Browne from the linked article:

    In 1992, she was indicted on several charges of investment fraud and grand theft. She pleaded no contest to “sale of security without permit” – a felony – and was given 200 hours’ community service.

  28. democommie:

    “It’s too late for that. Louwana Miller died in 2006 believing her daughter was dead.”

    John Edward can let her know.

  29. dingojack:

    Nick – IANAL so I’m not sure that ‘a resonable expectation’ is good enough legally (morally, however, it’s a complete no brainer).

    Dingo

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