Monday, February 2, 2009

Sylvia Browne.. Gifted Psychic or Talented Fraud?

You may or may not have heard of Sylvia Browne, but chances are if you have ever been stuck home with a cold, you have channel surfed past an episode of Montel Williams and decided to find out if she was the teensiest bit legitimate.

Sylvia Browne claims to be able to see angels and a wider range of vibrational frequencies than most human beings. On the Montel Williams show, Browne takes questions from the audience often about loved ones who have passed away or are missing. Most of the time she is vague or very general but the people just want to be reassured their loved ones are in a better place so they choose to believe her. This could also be interpreted as the Forer effect. In the video below, Browne was not so accurate.

To be fair, Browne never claims to be 100% accurate, but she had been doing this for years. She knows how to read people. One famous skeptic, James Randi believes Browne is just very good at cold reading. But I don't know, she wouldn't have gotten this famous just because people want to believe her.

The biggest problem with Sylvia Browne is the fact that if she is a fraud, she is not only taking hundreds of dollars from people, she is putting them through emotional turmoil for no good reason. In 2002 she told a couple their son, Shawn, was dead and exactly where to find his body. He was found four years later, alive. There are a lot more examples of Browne telling a family the person they are looking for is alive only for it to be revealed they have been dead all along. Look here for more details.

Browne claims to have helped the police solve hundreds of cases over the years. To give her the benefit of the doubt, skeptics do tend to focus on the negative. Confirmation bias occurs when people choose to interpret new information in a way that confirms their own preconceptions and avoids anything that contradicts what they already believe.

It is important to be careful with information psychics give you, even if they have a good reputation. A certain level of skepticsm never hurt anyone, right?

If you are still convinced Sylvia Browne is the real thing, check out her predictions for 2009 here.


  1. i used to watch her on Montel! I actually read one of her books before I ever saw her and thought there were a lot of interesting ideas about the soul's path. Then I saw her and wow it took a lot of the credibility away and she actually makes me laugh quite a bit now. But I still haven't forgot some of the theories I came across in her "Book of Dreams"!

  2. She has so many books, it's ridiculous. A lot of her theories about the afterlife and the soul are really interesting. I just can't tell if she's really psychic! How do you explain being SO off on some things? (like in the video) sure, she can't always be right.. but why would she see something that wasn't even close?