Yesterday, three women escaped from a house where they say they were held captive for a decade. One of those women was Amanda Berry, whose mother, Louwana Miller, was told by ‘psychic’ Sylvia Browne in 2004 – a year after her disappearance – that she was dead:
Miller: Can you tell me if they’ll ever find her? Is she out there?
Browne: She’s–see, I hate this when they’re in water. I just hate this. She’s not alive, honey. And I’ll tell you why, here we go again. Your daughter was not the type that would not have called you… I’m sorry they didn’t find the jacket. I’m sorry they didn’t find, because that had DNA on it.
Louwana Miller died in 2006, without having full closure on the case of her missing daughter – though news reports from that time indicate that Sylvia Browne’s comments ended her hopes that Amanda might be found alive. “She was never the same” from that point on, said one person that knew her.
This is not the first time that Sylvia Browne has been horribly wrong about a missing person. In 2007 Shawn Hornbeck was found alive, after Browne had previously told his parents that he was dead. In 1999 she told a missing girl’s grandmother that she had been kidnapped and put into slavery in Japan, but four years later her body was found in the U.S. – investigators found that she had been killed shortly after her abduction. The list of terrible gaffes goes on.
I’m not an easy person to anger, but this list of cases gets my blood boiling, and here’s why: the incorrect calls I could live with, if it was offered privately just as a “I’ve got a feeling, but I could well be wrong”. But to go on TV, and tell these people outright the fate of their children in public – sometimes even rebuking them when they throw doubt on what you’re saying – is just wrong on so many levels. Perhaps some readers of this blog are Browne fans; I can’t apologise for my opinion. If there’s one skill I have, it’s being able to pick a person’s character very quickly, and Browne has always sent a shiver up my spine (for all the wrong reasons). The growing list of cases where she hurt families with misinformation only confirms my gut feeling.
And if you are someone who thinks there might be something to psychic powers or mediumship, there’s a further reason to dislike Browne. Her ineptitude and callous attitude throws the entire field into disrepute, even though there are some indications that ‘something’ might be going on that is worthy of scientific investigation. While this woman has (somehow!) made a fortune peddling her nonsense, scientific researchers struggle for funds to research aspects of mediumship properly.
There could well be something to mediumship. Heck, Sylvia Browne may even have some minor psychic powers, who knows? But no medium has ever been shown to be right 100% of the time, and so anything that comes from them should always be taken with a grain of salt. Certainly not told flatly to the parents of missing children on popular TV shows. Browne’s track record now offers ample evidence that if she has any psychic talents, they are buried deep and rarely show themselves amongst a farrago of incorrect and harmful statements.
Stop Sylvia Browne. Don’t buy her books, watch any TV shows she is on, or reward her in any way for what she does. Enough is enough.