Isn’t it funny how psychics, and their defenders, always have excuses ready to go when the “psychic” turns out to be utterly wrong? Actually, it’s not funny, especially when people’s lives are at stake, or when families are grieving over loved ones. Here’s yet another example of how blowhard Sylvia Browne made a huge mistake in declaring someone to be dead, when she really wasn’t.
One of the world’s most recognizable self-proclaimed psychics was wrong yet again about the fate of a missing child, and her followers on social media are taking her to task.
Browne’s prediction about the fate of Amanda Berry was not her first attempt to explain the fate of a child, but her fans on social media demanded acknowledgment from the self-proclaimed spiritual leader.
On Wednesday, Browne released the following through her Facebook page:
For more than 50 years as a spiritual psychic and guide, when called upon to either help authorities with missing person cases or to help families with questions about their loved ones, I have been more right than wrong. If ever there was a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time. Only God is right all the time. My heart goes out to Amanda Berry, her family, the other victims and their families. I wish you a peaceful recovery.
On Facebook and Twitter, Browne sends inspirational messages to hundreds of thousands of fans, often advertising her latest appearances or one of 45 books she has published (most recently Afterlives of the Rich and Famous). She reached a high level of visibility after years appearing as a regular guest on Montel Williams’ television show, a long-running daytime talk program that subsisted on paternity test results, cheating spouses and half-baked psychic predictions before it stopped production in 2008.
Browne’s Facebook followers are using her most recent post to ask for a better answer about Amanda Berry. Photograph: Facebook
“I remember you on Montel Williams telling the family of Amanda Berry she was dead,” wrote one commenter on Browne’s Facebook page. “What do you have to say for yourself? What a horrible horrible thing to say to a family holding on to nothing but hope and faith.”
“Can you admit that you’re a hack now?” asked another.
“I hope todays events seal it for you and everyone else who take advantage of those in mourning,” wrote another.
Browne announced the death of Amanda Berry in 2004, when she appeared on Williams’ show to tell Berry’s mother, Louwana Miller, that her daughter was “in heaven and on the other side” and that her last words were “goodbye, mom, I love you”. Miller would die a year later, of heart failure.
In fact, Berry escaped Monday from a Cleveland home where she had been held captive with two other women for more than a decade. A child who is hers was also removed from the home, according to police.
As Jon Ronson wrote in his 2007 profile on predatory psychics, Browne has spoken face-to-face with many distraught parents and wrongly forecasted life or death. Shawn Hornbeck was a missing child whose parents were told by Browne that their son was buried between two boulders. When he was found alive after four years in 2007, Browne’s publicist told CNN in a written statement: “She cannot possibly be 100% correct in each and every one of her predictions. She has, during a career of over 50 years, helped literally tens of thousands of people.”
For her part, Browne told Montgomery Media in Pennsylvania in April that she’s exceptional at spotting imposters:
“You can always see when they start doing guessing games.”
On Facebook, some of Browne’s fans are defending her predictions. “everyone makes mistakes. Even doctors, lawyers … Psychics,” wrote one.
“Sylvia you were right on for me, you have my support,” added another.
The Guardian has asked Browne for comment.
Are there people who are really psychic? Who knows. I don’t discount the possibility. I’ve had things happen to me that made me think perhaps I was able to see something that was going to happen before it did. But it’s far more likely that it was just a coincidence, and our minds just want to link these things when we’re right. We don’t remember the times we were wrong, because that’s not “freaky.” Hell, statistically speaking, you can take a multiple choice test in a subject you know nothing about, guess every answer, and still average about 65% correctness. I feel that’s pretty much what every single psychic averages. So yeah, they’re bound to be wrong sometimes. Because they don’t have super powers. They are making educated guesses. That’s all. And once again, I’m glad Sylvia Browne was wrong.
Thanks to my brother Jeff for letting me know about this story