Sylvia Browne

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Putting the psycho in
Icon psychic.svg
Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil
...but for all her power, couldn't foresee her own demise!
Iron MaidenWikipedia's W.svg, The Clairvoyant[1]

Sylvia Browne (1936—2013) was one of the most popular, self-serving, and blatantly callous "psychics" out there.[2] Now she is just one of the deadest.[3] She was the leader of an allegedly Gnostic church called the Society of Novus Spiritus, based around the teachings of her channeled "spiritual guide" Francine; she promoted both a mother and father God, and claimed to teach Christianity the same way Jesus did. She publicly espoused both an afterlife (and afterlife communication) and reincarnation.

Career highlights and problems[edit]

Sylvia was a regular on the Montel Williams syndicated TV talk show, until it was cancelled by CBS, where she was known for claiming to speak with the dead and famous for several notorious flameouts (including mis-predicting the outcomes of the Shawn Hornbeck case and, on the syndicated radio show Coast to Coast AM, the Sago Mine Disaster). Her method of "psychic" operation seems to be simple cold reading.

Browne attempted to claim James Randi's Million-Dollar Challenge,[4] but after agreeing to the initial terms she made no further effort after 2001. In addition, those who consulted with Sylvia ($850 was the current going rate for a phone call) stated that she seemed quite fond of lecithin supplements for some reason.

Due to her disproportionate fame for her cold reading ability, she managed to attract the attention of a Robert S. Lancaster, an anti-bullshit writer who started a two-year exposure campaign to point out just how crap a fraud she was.

According to Quackwatch Browne gave inaccurate and dangerous medical advice that she was not qualified to give.[5]

A 2010, Skeptical Inquirer article examined 115 missing person and murder cases Browne commented on, and discovered she was correct zero times.[6]

"You had one job. One. Job."[edit]

  • Sylvia Browne made a spectacular mistake when she used her "powers" to gain insight into the outcome of a mining accident. First reports suggested all but one of the miners had survived so Browne said this was not a "gloomy moment" and "I knew they would be found." Later, when it became clear in fact all but one of the miners had been killed she changed her story and said the dead miners were crazy to report they were alive and she meant their bodies would be found. Most people would consider finding bodies a very gloomy time.[7]
  • Browne went on The Montel Williams Show to inform Louwana Miller, mother of Ohio kidnapping victim Amanda Berry, that her missing daughter was dead. [8] As it turns out, Berry was very much alive. According to Joe Nickell, editor of Skeptical Inquirer, "The [Ariel Castro abduction] is a test case for all psychics. Why didn't one psychic wake up in the middle of the night and know where they were?" [9]
  • She once predicted that Bill Bradley would win the 2000 U.S. presidential election and that the Reform Party would come in second[10] – neither event occurred.
  • She also predicted that she knew Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were "hiding in caves." Hussein was found in a "spider hole", which could be described as a cave, but bin Laden was hiding in a mansion, surrounded by an army base.[11][12]
  • She said that Bin Laden was dead long before his 2011 death.[13][14]
  • She predicted a guilty verdict in the 2005 child molestation trial of Michael Jackson[15] – Jackson was acquitted of all charges.
  • She died aged 77. Never saw it coming, having forecast that she would live to be 88.[16]

Runs in the family[edit]

Browne's son, Christopher Dufresne, is also in the business of psychic readings. Sylvia claimed that her son's psychic abilities are equal to her own—which, to be fair, is technically true. While Sylvia charged $850.00 for a 30-minute phone reading, Christopher charges $500 for a 30-minute phone reading.[17] Undercutting your own mother, how could you?

See also[edit]


  1. Switched the lyrics from "his" to "her". Forgive us, EddieWikipedia's W.svg. Snark was on the line.
  2. Stop Sylvia Browne is a site containing many, many exposes on Sylvia.
  5. Sylvia Browne: Psychic Guru or Quack?, Quackwatch
  6. Psychic Defective: Sylvia Browne’s History of Failure, Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 34.2, March/April 2010
  7. Sylvia Browne reveals she’s a hypocrite as well as a fraud.; TV Psychic Misses Mark on Miners
  8. [1]
  9. Sylvia Browne's Failed Amanda Berry Prediction Returns To Haunt Her
  10. Browne, Sylvia (2000). "Predictions for the year 2000". Archived from the original on August 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-18. [dead link]
  12. Coast to Coast AM, The Other Side, October 22, 2003. Saddam was captured on December 13.
  13. In 2004 Sylvia Browne wrongly reported Bin Laden Dead
  14. Dear Sylvia, September 9, 2009.
  15. Setoodeh, Ramin (January 14, 2005). "Psychic Sylvia Browne's Predictions for 2005". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  16. Predicted using her "god-given" "abilities" at The 'fortune'-ate life of Sylvia Browne, along with a rant saying she also died at 26.