A contemptible "psychic"
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I've made no secret of my total disdain for those who call themselves psychics. As I've written before in my Psychic Scam article and the ensuing discussion, there are two types of psychics; those who are deluded, and those who are frauds.
Perhaps that is why someone sent me the link to two cold readings done by Sylvia Browne on the Montel Williams show - Sylvia Brown Worlds Worst Psychic. A clip of the first of the two readings is also available on YouTube Sylvia Browne on Montel. There is also a transcript of this one in the Wikipedia article on Sylvia Browne.
In both the readings, distraught individuals are trying to find out what happened to loved ones. In both case, Browne jumps to assumptions and gets it totally and impossibly wrong. In the first, she says person drowned, this before she heard he was one of the 9/11 firefighters, and in the second she says "She was shot" to parents who said their daughter dropped dead suddenly in her room. The mother replied "They found nothing on the autopsy..." Sylvia interrupted, saying "I don't care but it looks like something hit her in the chest."
This phony incompetent psychic adamantly, indeed arrogantly, continued to maintain her position in spite of evidence to the contrary. She showed absolutely no empathy for those who asked for her help.
Of course these clips were selected to show Browne at her worst, and no doubt she occasionally gets things right. But there is nothing mystical about cold reading. It is just a talent based on verbal and physical cues.
In my view, Sylvia Brown is not a psychic; she is a contemptible fraud. She should be ashamed of taking money for what she does.
- September, 2001 on the Larry King show, Sylvia Browne publicly agreed to take Randi's $1,000,000 challenge. It has now been over five years; Randi has met every single one of her subsequent objections to participating - and she still has not taken the challenge. It is not her psychic ability that tells her she would lose - it's her lack of psychic ability.