Sylvia Browne

Sylvia Browne has stopped being alive and moved on to the next phase, which she told us is a matter of being permanently 35 and living on a street full of beautiful houses of all different styles.

The obits are calling her a psychic. Not a “psychic” but a psychic. Yo, news media? She wasn’t a psychic. Nobody is.

One of the things she’ll be remembered for is telling Amanda Berry’s mother that Amanda was dead. Amanda was not dead, she was imprisoned in the horror-house of Ariel Castro, but Amanda’s heartbroken mother didn’t live to find that out.

I don’t mean this to prompt any gloating in the comments. Don’t gloat.

But, she was not a psychic. She was a “psychic” and a fraud.



  1. says

    I’ll say here what I said at PZed’s, that I have sympathy for those who loved her and are grieving, though I cannot grieve her going myself. I can’t find it in me to sneer at those who loved her, even though some of them are following in her footsteps; for all that they may be people who behave contemptibly, they are still human beings and still can hurt at the loss of someone they love. Being a hypocrite is not a thing that makes one non-human.

  2. Pieter B, FCD says

    It’s days like this that I wish I believed in Hell. She scammed thousands out of millions. Those in the media who aided and abetted her are no less culpable. After epic fails like telling the woman whose fireman significant other died in the collapse of the WTC that he had drowned, she continued to be given air time. Plague take ’em all.

  3. Schlumbumbi says

    I don’t mean this to prompt any gloating in the comments. Don’t gloat.


  4. REV says

    I predicted that she would die. In fact, I also predict that you will die. And you, and you, and you. And me.

  5. cubist says

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. The world is a marginally better place now that Sylvia Brown is no longer capable of telling viciously destructive lies to vulnerable people.

  6. theoreticalgrrrl says

    Actually, Sylvia has told more than one family that their missing child was dead when they were in fact quite alive and eventually rescued from their abductor.

  7. says

    I’ve too much class to gloat because this woman has a bereaved family* but, seriously, this is a good result. Not only can Browne no longer prey on desperate, sad, lonely, gullible or grieving people, not only can she no longer give people like Mrs Berry false closure, but this ghoulish woman’s ultimate prediction – her age at the time of her own death – was also wrong by a decade. Along with the pain she caused and the dollars she squeezed, that should be her epitaph – the final testament to her “gift”.

    *If she was one of my relatives she’d have heard, often and in explicit detail, what the family thought of her “profession”. We’re a no-nonsense bunch and Browne’s nonsense was of a particularly rank variety.

  8. James Howde says

    How long do you think before her fellow psychic start relaying messages from St. Sylvia? Within a week is my guess.

    And Rev (#6) I’ve seen enough police dramas to know that the only way you could predict all these deaths is if YOU are in fact doing the killing!! (cue dramatic music)

  9. says

    I don’t see any need for quotation marks around the word. I define a psychic as somebody who defrauds people (possibly including her- or -himself) by claiming supernatural powers. End of.

  10. Bernard Bumner says

    I don’t think there is any need to make conspicuous show of compassion for her friends and family – as Ophelia points out, they are exceedingly unlikely to read this.

    But there is really nothing to gloat about, anyway, since there is no restitution by the death a con-artist. She was never honest or contrite, humble or helpful. She was unrepentant of her fraud, and unapologetic even that she grew rich by profiteering from the suffering of others. The damage was done, and she made no effort to undo it, even though she may have been the only person who could.

    Even if psychic powers existed as she claimed, then it could be nothing other than ethically dubious to sell such vague waffle to grieving families, and with such an admittedly high rate of false information. She was an irredeemable parasite who turned raw emotions into easy money.

  11. moarscienceplz says

    She was a parasite who preyed on gullible people. To paraphrase Moms Mabley, “They say you shouldn’t say nothin’ about the dead unless it’s good. She’s dead. Good!”

  12. says

    Mary Ellen – you may define it that way but I don’t think most people do…or, at least, it’s highly ambiguous. I think seeing it in a news source that way suggests that it’s a real thing.

  13. says

    Why would you assume that someone is “putting on a show of grief” for Ms. Browne’s family, because they’re unlikely to read it? Is empathy really such a despised trait here? Or is it that I can’t comment to say something nice about someone unless I’m sure they’ll read it? I don’t get that.

    I said I sympathized with those who love her because, actually, I do sympathize with them. Grief sucks. And I’ve no interest in ignoring their grief or that it sucks just because I think the woman was a fraudster, nor do I think that her son, who apparently pulls the same con, doesn’t deserve sympathy because his mother died, for frak’s sake. And I wasn’t aware that “the target is likely to read it” was a criterion for commenting. Is this general, or only if I want to say something not sneering?

  14. says

    Caitie, Bernard said “make a conspicuous show of compassion” not “putting on a show of grief.” Just for precision.

    To me it just sounds a bit pointlessly pious, that’s all. I mean, of course people who valued her are sad that she’s gone. I don’t see any real reason to point that out. They won’t be reading this, so we don’t need to counteract our criticisms of what Browne did with recognition of their grief, and I don’t see what the point of mentioning it is other than that.

    But it’s not that you can’t. Nobody said you can’t.

  15. says

    I don’t mean seriously to quibble here, but when somebody says “I’m a psychic”, given that there are no supernatural powers, they are by definition a fake, although they may sincerely believe.

    So one thing that typing the quotation marks when referring to Sylvia Browne does (“psychic”) is open the possibility that the writer is indicating that THIS one was fake, but there are people out there whose psychic powers are real.

    That makes sense to me, anyway. We might indicate that somebody who thinks they’re and activist and is really quite feeble (like maybe a celebrity who lends their name to something, but doesn’t actual DO anything for a cause) an “activist” — they are a fake activist, as opposed to real activists. So using “psychic” to indicate a fake one implies (to my eye) that there are, or the writer believes there could be, real ones.

    But I don’t have a lot invested in this! No big deal.

  16. Schlumbumbi says

    I just don’t like gloating about anyone’s death (with a few possible exceptions).

    And you don’t think this is one these exceptions ?

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