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May 15 2013

Fellow ‘Psychics’ Distance Themselves From Brown

With Sylvia Browne getting a huge backlash after her claim a decade ago that Amanda Berry was dead was disprove by Berry showing up alive, other “psychics” are trying like hell to distance themselves from her. Oh yeah, we knew she was a fraud, they claim, but we’re totally different.

But what makes Sylvia Browne’s haters so vitriolic isn’t that she’s occasionally wrong; it’s that she’s colossally wrong, about huge, important things like whether a mother should give up hope in the search for her missing daughter. This, say several psychics and mediums interviewed by The Daily Beast on Thursday, is what makes Browne’s work different from the garden variety mind-readers of the world, if not downright despicable.

Sloan Bella is another well-known psychic who has appeared on several national television shows throughout her 25-year career. Once, when she was first starting out, Bella met Browne on the NBC series The Other Side, she said. It didn’t take Bella long to figure out that Browne had “staged her reading,” she told The Daily Beast. Her son had worked through the crowd before the show began, gathering information she could use to appear more psychic.

“He asked everyone in the audience what they were there for. Someone’s mother died, and I noticed she repeated it verbatim,” Bella said. “I’ve not known her to use her gift. I’ve known her to script. I don’t know that she’s authentic in her gift at this point in her life. Maybe she’s trying to keep the money coming in, or something.”

Most psychics won’t come out and make the kinds of bold statements like “Your daughter is dead,” Bella added. “I would never say that to someone unless I knew it to be true.”

Neither would Belinda Bentley, the L.A.-based psychic told The Daily Beast; not with that level of assuredness, anyway.

“What bothers me is the delivery,” Bentley said. “I like to leave room for doubt, that I’m not 100 percent. When Sylvia Browne gives her delivery, there’s 100 percent no doubt in her voice. No room for ‘maybe he or she is alive.’”

Browne’s wrongness did irreparable damage, said George Kresge, aka “The Amazing Kreskin.” Her prediction about Berry was an “abuse,” he told The Daily Beast, “of the image and the position they have. Her credibility as a psychic is zero, which I think is too high a level to give her.”

Kreskin calls himself a “mentalist” and claims to be able to do no more than read people’s thoughts — not speak to the dead, which he doesn’t believe is possible.

“If a person can communicate with the dead, why in all these years have none of those people simply contacted someone and asked them: ‘You were murdered? Who murdered you? A crime was committed in which you died? Give us the details.’ Wouldn’t it be a great gift of their powers to help solve a murder?”

Okay, this should be easy to test. In fact, all of these people can win a million dollars merely by submitting their “powers” to testing under proper observational conditions. They can prove to all the world that they’re entirely different from Browne. Hell, we don’t even need to get that formal with it. Let’s just have them do readings on random people while being videotaped, then we’ll take all the claims they made and add them up and see how often they were right. I bet it wouldn’t be more than 10% of the time in any sufficiently large sample.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    Synfandel

    I don’t know where you get the “10%” figure, Ed. It would depend heavily on the precision of the predictions and the probability that any particular prediction is correct by chance. I expect that their percentage accuracy would be close to that expected by random guessing—which could be 10% or could be 95%, depending on what’s being predicted.

  2. 2
    anubisprime

    All rubbing grubby little sweaty hands cos the competition just got less…is all!

  3. 3
    Barefoot Bree

    Still hoping this is the beginning of the end for the despicable Browne. But I’m waiting (but NOT holding my breath) for Montel Williams to wise up and dump her, too. The backlash needs to grow and some of it splash on him before he does, though.

  4. 4
    Modusoperandi

    They should’ve seen this coming.

  5. 5
    blf

    If memory serves me right, Browne once agreed to take Randi’s million dollar challenge, and has been backpedaling and denying and obfuscating ever since, avoiding actually doing so.

  6. 6
    Doug Little

    I would never say that to someone unless I knew it to be true.

    But isn’t truth what you are meant to give them when they come to you for a reading? If not then anybody off the street is as effectual as the best psychic as long as they can waffle on with generalities. Unless everybody going in is aware that it’s for entertainment purposes only.

  7. 7
    zippythepinhead

    Poor Sylvia, it’s like being kicked out of the “No Homers” club.

  8. 8
    doublereed

    It sounded like the mother was still holding out a lot of hope for her survival and Sylvia was basically trying to help her move on by telling her she was dead. You see the rationalization from Sylvia’s perspective quite easily why she would want to give a definitive answer.

    No, I’m sorry Psychics, you don’t get to blame Sylvia and talk like you’re any better than her. Bunch of vultures.

  9. 9
    democommie

    Randi was on NPR last Saturday. He said, in polite language that Brown was a complete fraud. If she’s not, well, “TRUTH” is the best possible weapon in a libel suit.

    I’d say that Sylvia Brown stands to collect the original $M or any libel judgment around the same time that I go on stage with Buddy the Wonderdog and get him to do one, JUST ONE FUCKING TRICK*, for his adoring audience–iow, not while either of us is still around. Otoh, maybe we can do something with Mr. Edward, after we “cross over”.

    * Other than making treats disappear. Buddy is to treats what the massive black holes at the center of numerous galaxies are to stardust; if they fall into his gravity well, they’re gone!

  10. 10
    d.c.wilson

    ” It didn’t take Bella long to figure out that Browne had “staged her reading,” she told The Daily Beast. Her son had worked through the crowd before the show began, gathering information she could use to appear more psychic.”

    Gee, why am I not surprised that a fellow “psychic” knew exactly what to look for when spotting a fraud?

  11. 11
    rory

    It feels a little unfair to me to lump Kreskin in with Browne and her ilk. He’s basically just a magician whose particular specialty is mentalism, and as far as I know (and admittedly I might be ignorant) he’s never made a buck off of exploiting people the way the so-called clairvoyants have.

  12. 12
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    “Hmmmm. I hear my spirit guides speaking. They’re telling me something. They tell me that either the Turing Test has been passed OR the other of the original post is a homo sapien.”

    Likewise for comments 1-11.

    Anyone want to bet against me having a success rate greater than 10%?

    I could do this all day.

  13. 13
    Johnny Vector

    There was some psychic this morning on whatever horrid daytime TV they have on in my cardiologist’s waiting room. I can only surmise that they wanted to drive my blood pressure up so they could prescribe medication and get their kickbacks from big pharma.

    I heard a huge bunch of misses, and a couple of oddly specific statements that were clearly primed (I notice she only said she didn’t talk (directly) to anyone before the show). Best of all was when she missed with the classic “I’m getting a name that starts with J.” A room full of people there to see a psychic, and nobody comes up with a J name? What are the odds of that? See, truly supernatural!

  14. 14
    democommie

    “A room full of people there to see a psychic, and nobody comes up with a J name? What are the odds of that? See, truly supernatural!”

    Blame it on that thickheaded Swede, Jumpin’ Jiminy Jorgenson.

  15. 15
    brundlefly

    When I was in college I worked at a touristy place in New Orleans that employed a lot of psychics. It’s not something I believe in, but if they were frauds they never dropped the facade. I became very good friends with a number of them and they never showed any signs of being anything other than good, honest people.

    Again, I’m a skeptic about their actual abilities, but not all psychics are conscious frauds. However, I suspect that the ones who end up on daytime talk shows are more likely to be con men.

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