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Sylvia Browne

Sylvia Browne

Overview
Sylvia Browne is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 who describes herself as a psychic
Psychic
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception , or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot...

 and spiritual medium
Mediumship
Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

. She has made several appearances on Larry King Live
Larry King Live
Larry King Live is an American talk show hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was CNN's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly....

, was a weekly guest on The Montel Williams Show
The Montel Williams Show
The Montel Williams Show is a syndicated talk show hosted by Montel Williams. On January 30, 2008 it was announced that The Montel Williams Show would stop production on new episodes at the end of the 2007-2008 television season after seventeen years...

, and hosts her own hour-long show on Hay House Radio
Louise Hay
Louise Hay is an American motivational author, and the founder of Hay House, a publishing company. She has authored several New Thought self-help books, and is best known for her 1984 book, You Can Heal Your Life.-Biography:...

, discussing paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 issues and giving callers advice in her role as a psychic.

In 1992, Browne was convicted of investment fraud and grand theft
Grand theft
Grand theft or grand larceny is a category used to rank the severity of crime associated with theft.Generally, in the United States it is defined as intentional taking property of others in an amount exceeding the state statutory amount....

, and has been involved in numerous controversies regarding her claims and predictions, with reports about her failed predictions and claims appearing in several newspapers.
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Unanswered Questions
Quotations

Noory: Of course, this is after the fact, with the 12 or 13 coal miners they found successfully.

Browne: I know.

Noory: Had you been on the program today, and had they not been found, would you have felt as if, because they had heard no sounds, that this was a very gloomy moment, and they might have all died?

Encyclopedia
Sylvia Browne is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 who describes herself as a psychic
Psychic
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception , or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot...

 and spiritual medium
Mediumship
Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

. She has made several appearances on Larry King Live
Larry King Live
Larry King Live is an American talk show hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was CNN's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly....

, was a weekly guest on The Montel Williams Show
The Montel Williams Show
The Montel Williams Show is a syndicated talk show hosted by Montel Williams. On January 30, 2008 it was announced that The Montel Williams Show would stop production on new episodes at the end of the 2007-2008 television season after seventeen years...

, and hosts her own hour-long show on Hay House Radio
Louise Hay
Louise Hay is an American motivational author, and the founder of Hay House, a publishing company. She has authored several New Thought self-help books, and is best known for her 1984 book, You Can Heal Your Life.-Biography:...

, discussing paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 issues and giving callers advice in her role as a psychic.

In 1992, Browne was convicted of investment fraud and grand theft
Grand theft
Grand theft or grand larceny is a category used to rank the severity of crime associated with theft.Generally, in the United States it is defined as intentional taking property of others in an amount exceeding the state statutory amount....

, and has been involved in numerous controversies regarding her claims and predictions, with reports about her failed predictions and claims appearing in several newspapers. Critics such as James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, with whom she has had a long running feud, say that she is a cold reader whose readings are indistinguishable from those achieved by mentalists
Mentalism
Mentalism is a performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis, mediumship, mind control, memory feats and rapid...

 using cold
Cold reading
Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, illusionists, and con artists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do...

 and hot reading
Hot reading
Hot reading is the use of foreknowledge when giving a psychic reading in stage magic performances, or in other contexts. The reader can gain information about the person receiving the reading through a variety of means, such as background research or overhearing a conversation...

 techniques. Recent press coverage has asserted that she is overall inaccurate. A detailed three-year study of her predictions about 115 missing persons and murder cases, published in Skeptical Inquirer
Skeptical Inquirer
The Skeptical Inquirer is a bimonthly American magazine published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry with the subtitle: The magazine for science and reason....

, concluded that despite her repeated claims to be more than 85% correct, "Browne has not even been mostly correct in a single case."

Biography


Browne was born in Springfield, Missouri
Springfield, Missouri
Springfield is the third largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and the county seat of Greene County. According to the 2010 census data, the population was 159,498, an increase of 5.2% since the 2000 census. The Springfield Metropolitan Area, population 436,712, includes the counties of...

 to Bill Shoemaker and Celeste Coil and she is the elder of their two daughters. Her father was Jewish and had many jobs including mail delivery and jewelry salesman, and was vice president of a major freight line. Her mother was Episcopalian, and her maternal grandmother Ada Coil was a devout Lutheran. However, Browne said in 2001 that she was Jewish.

Browne says that visions started appearing when she was five years old and that her grandmother Ada Coil, who she said was a psychic
Psychic
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception , or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot...

 medium
Mediumship
Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

, helped her understand why she had them. Browne also asserts that her great-uncle was also a psychic medium and was "rabid about UFOs."

Browne started to give claimed psychic reading
Psychic reading
A psychic reading is a specific attempt to discern information with clairvoyance and the resulting statements made during such an attempt. The term is commonly associated with paranormal-based consultation given for a fee in such settings as over the phone, in a home, or at psychic fairs...

s in 1974 and has attracted followings of supporters and detractors. She has given thousands of one-on-one readings and with a wide variety of groups and individuals; as of 2008, she charges $850 for a 20-30 minute telephone reading. Browne claims to have provided information to police departments and the FBI as a psychic detective
Psychic detective
A psychic detective is defined as a person who investigates crimes by using their claimed paranormal psychic abilities. A number of people claim they have psychic abilities that have allowed them to assist police in solving kidnapping and murder cases, or locating a corpse...

. James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

 has researched this and in at least one case found that a police officer Browne claimed to work with did not work at the police department.

In April 2008, Sylvia Browne launched a new website billed as "an online spirituality destination that includes articles, blog postings, and videos from Sylvia."

On March 21, 2011 Browne suffered a massive heart attack in Hawaii and her website asked supporters for donations. Previously in May 2003, she told Larry King
Larry King
Lawrence Harvey "Larry" King is an American television and radio host whose work has been recognized with awards including two Peabodys and ten Cable ACE Awards....

 in an interview that she will die when she's 88 years old.

Marriages and children


She was married to Gary Dufresne from April 1959 until 1972. in that time she moved to Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

. Dufresne said in a February 10, 2007 interview that he does not think Sylvia has any paranormal abilities, and that she admitted it, saying that the gullible deserve to be taken advantage of. Dufresne again called Browne a "fraud" in a 2010 interview with KMOV-TV.

Sylvia acquired the surname Brown from Kenzil Dalzell Brown during the third of her five marriages, and added a final e after she was indicted on security fraud charges. In September 2002 she and Larry Lee Beck ended their marriage. On Feb. 14 2009, Browne married a man she calls “Michael, my archangel,” an owner of a jewelry store.

Sylvia says her son Christopher Dufresne is psychic, and attributes this to a genetic predisposition. Her website says "If Sylvia is the best psychic around - then Chris is the second best."

Sylvia Browne Corp. and Novus Spiritus


Browne is the head of the Sylvia Browne Corporation, Sylvia Browne Enterprises, and the founder of a church in 1986 in Campbell, California
Campbell, California
Campbell is a city in Santa Clara County, California, a suburb of San Jose, and part of Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Campbell's population is 39,349...

, known as the Society of Novus Spiritus. In a 2010 interview, Linda Rossi, Browne's business manager, told KMOV-TV that Browne's business earns $3 million a year.

According to its website, the church has forty ministers, though only a small number are actually paid employees. Those that are paid also work for Sylvia Browne Corporation and Sylvia Browne Enterprises, and are members of the Board of Directors of Novus Spiritus.

Novus Spiritus refers to itself as "Gnostic Christian." It states that it follows the same traditions and teachings which Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 himself followed, yet does not exclude Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, or Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. The society teaches the Biblical works of Jesus Christ while also incorporating the Gnostic Gospels (ex: Gospel of Mary Magdalene), and says that while the Bible is a "marvellous book" and should be used as a teaching tool, it is not the "unaltered word of God".

Books



Browne is the author of dozens of books on paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 and spiritual
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 topics, including The Other Side and Back, Adventures of a Psychic, Astrology Through a Psychic's Eyes, and, most recently, All Pets Go To Heaven: The Spiritual Lives of the Animals We Love.

In Browne's books, she discusses ways that she believes people may better their lives and be more loving towards people and other living beings. She discusses a wish for people to feel that they are loved by God. Browne reports that the entity of God comprises a male and female part, named Om and Azna respectively. She states that the entity of God loves all people and living beings equally, no matter what one's specific religious or spiritual beliefs are. According to her, this includes atheists, people who do not believe in a God or Gods. Browne writes that people's actions and intentions are what define a person and soul, and that people of all religions, spiritual beliefs, and non-beliefs may go to Heaven or the Other Side, as she refers to Heaven. Browne writes that she presents her beliefs in a way that allows readers or listeners to take what they want from her teachings and leave behind what they do not agree to be true.

Paranormal claims


Browne says she knows what it is like in heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

. In her book The Other Side and Back, she says the temperature is a constant 78°F
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

 (25.6°C
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

), that there are no insects–-unless one wants there to be, that pets go to heaven, and that one can build one's house wherever one wants unless it obscures the view of a river or some trees, in which case one needs permission. She asserts that the "other side" exists approximately three feet above ground level and at a "higher vibrational level" and so is difficult for humans to perceive. However, like other psychics, she claims to have been born able to perceive a wider range of "vibrational frequencies".

Browne declares that she can see angels and that they look similar to depictions in paintings, but have different traits depending on their "phylum
Phylum
In biology, a phylum The term was coined by Georges Cuvier from Greek φῦλον phylon, "race, stock," related to φυλή phyle, "tribe, clan." is a taxonomic rank below kingdom and above class. "Phylum" is equivalent to the botanical term division....

." She has also claimed that they do not speak. Her granddaughter, who is purportedly psychic, claims to have witnessed the angels that Browne states surround humans.

Browne professes the ability to speak with her spirit guide
Spirit guide
"Spirit guide" is a term used by the Western tradition of Spiritualist Churches, mediums, and psychics to describe an entity that remains a disincarnate spirit in order to act as a guide or protector to a living incarnated human being....

, "Francine," and has given details of 54 of her own former lives as divined by her.

Predictions


Although Browne has made many public predictions, scientific skeptic James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

 says her accuracy rate has been no better than educated guessing. Among her claims were:
  • That Bill Clinton
    Bill Clinton
    William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

     was falsely accused in the Lewinsky scandal
    Lewinsky scandal
    The Lewinsky scandal was a political sex scandal emerging in 1998 from a sexual relationship between United States President Bill Clinton and a 25-year-old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. The news of this extra-marital affair and the resulting investigation eventually led to the impeachment of...

     -- proved incorrect.
  • That Bill Bradley
    Bill Bradley
    William Warren "Bill" Bradley is an American hall of fame basketball player, Rhodes scholar, and former three-term Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party's nomination for President in the 2000 election.Bradley was born and raised in a suburb of St....

     would win the 2000 U.S. presidential election with the Reform Party
    Reform Party of the United States of America
    The Reform Party of the United States of America is a political party in the United States, founded in 1995 by Ross Perot...

     coming in second -- he didn't and they didn't.
  • The "hiding in caves" of Osama bin Laden
    Osama bin Laden
    Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

     and Saddam Hussein
    Saddam Hussein
    Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

     -- Hussein was found in a "spider hole" in the ground and Osama bin Laden was hiding in a mansion in Abbottabad, a city in Pakistan.
  • The death of bin Laden -- later revealed by the Central Intelligence Agency
    Central Intelligence Agency
    The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

     to be incorrect.
  • A guilty verdict in the 2005 child molestation trial
    People v. Jackson
    People vs. Jackson was a 2005 trial involving recording artist Michael Jackson. The accuser was a boy, Gavin Arvizo, who was 13 years old at the time of the alleged crimes...

     of Michael Jackson
    Michael Jackson
    Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

     -- Jackson was acquitted of all charges.
  • The cure and prevention of breast cancer
    Breast cancer
    Breast cancer is cancer originating from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas; those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas...

     by the end of 1999


Janet McDonald
Janet McDonald
Janet McDonald was an American writer of novels for young adults as well as a memoir, Project Girl, about her own upbringing and education. Her best-known children's book is Spellbound, which tells the story of a teenaged mother who wins a spelling competition and a college scholarship...

, an author of books for young adults, describes her experience receiving a psychic reading via phone, for which she paid Browne $700. Browne predicted a "really long life" for McDonald, who died of cancer at 53 just over four years later.

On September 3, 2001, Browne stated on Larry King Live that she would accept the James Randi Educational Foundation
James Randi Educational Foundation
The James Randi Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 by magician and skeptic James Randi. The JREF's mission includes educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled...

's $1,000,000 challenge to demonstrate supernatural abilities in a controlled scientific test. James Randi stated in 2007 that Browne had not contacted him and no longer wished to reach him.

A January 2007 episode of Anderson Cooper 360 featured Linda Rossi, Browne's business manager for 35 years, and James Randi. Randi proposed that Browne undergo a test where she would provide readings for ten sympathetic people, each of whom would then identify their own reading among the ten. Rossi declined on Browne's behalf.

A detailed three-year study of her predictions about missing persons and murder cases, by Ryan Shaffer and Agatha Jadwiszczok for the Skeptical Inquirer
Skeptical Inquirer
The Skeptical Inquirer is a bimonthly American magazine published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry with the subtitle: The magazine for science and reason....

, has found that despite her repeated claims to be more than 85% correct, "Browne has not even been mostly correct in a single case." The study's authors collected Browne's televised statements about 115 cases and compared them with newspaper reports that are believed to be factual. They found that in 25 cases where the actual outcome is known, she was completely wrong in every one; and in the rest, where the final outcome is unknown, her predictions could not be substantiated. The study indicates that the media outlets that repeatedly promote Browne's work have no visible concern about whether she is untrustworthy or harms people.

Investigator Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell is a prominent skeptical investigator of the paranormal. He also works as an historical document consultant and has helped expose such famous forgeries as the purported diary of Jack the Ripper. In 2002 he was one of a number of experts asked by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr...

 believes modern day self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward
John Edward
John Edward McGee, Jr. is an American television personality and professional psychic medium. He is best known for his TV shows Crossing Over with John Edward and John Edward Cross Country....

, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea
Rosemary Altea
Rosemary Altea is a New York Times best - selling author and psychic medium. She has appeared on various televisions shows, including Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show "20/20," "Unsolved mysteries", "Prime Time, with Diane Sawyer," "Politically Incorrect," "Leeza," "The View," and Fox and...

 and James Van Praagh
James Van Praagh
James Van Praagh is a self-proclaimed medium who has written several books on spirituality and spirit communication.-Early life and career:Van Praagh was born in Bayside, New York and is the youngest of four children...

 are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines as these methods risk exposure. They instead use “mental mediumship” tactics like cold reading
Cold reading
Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, illusionists, and con artists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do...

 or gleaning information from sitters beforehand (hot reading
Hot reading
Hot reading is the use of foreknowledge when giving a psychic reading in stage magic performances, or in other contexts. The reader can gain information about the person receiving the reading through a variety of means, such as background research or overhearing a conversation...

). Group readings also improve hits by making general statements with conviction, which will fit at least one person in the audience. Shows are carefully edited before airing to show only what appears to be hits and removing anything that does not reflect well on the medium.

Her performance scheduled for Halifax, Nova Scotia
Metropolitan Halifax
Metropolitan Halifax , often referred to as Metro Halifax, or Halifax, is the urban part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, a regional municipality that covers a large area of Nova Scotia, including rural areas...

, on April 1, 2011 was cancelled "due to unforeseen circumstances." It was later confirmed that she suffered a massive heart attack while in Hawaii on March 21, 2011.

Television and radio appearances


Browne has been a frequent guest on US television and radio programs, including Larry King Live
Larry King Live
Larry King Live is an American talk show hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was CNN's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly....

, the Montel Williams Show
Montel Williams
Montel Brian Anthony Williams is an American television personality, radio talk show host and actor. He is best known as host of the long-running The Montel Williams Show, and more recently as a spokesperson for the Partnership for Prescription Assistance...

, and Coast to Coast AM
Coast to Coast AM
Coast to Coast AM is a North American late-night syndicated radio talk show that deals with a variety of topics, but most frequently ones that relate to either the paranormal or conspiracy theories. It was created by Art Bell and is distributed by Premiere Radio Networks. The program currently...

. During these appearances she usually discusses her abilities with the host and then performs readings of audience members or callers. Browne hosts her own hour-long show on Hay House Radio
Louise Hay
Louise Hay is an American motivational author, and the founder of Hay House, a publishing company. She has authored several New Thought self-help books, and is best known for her 1984 book, You Can Heal Your Life.-Biography:...

, discussing paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 issues and giving callers advice in her role as a psychic.

On some occasions Browne is paired with other guests, including skeptics such as James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

. These shows often feature verbal sparring between the two, with each trying to convince the audience that the other is wrong. One such Larry King show, in 2001, involved Browne agreeing to be tested by Randi to verify if her abilities were true. she has not yet conducted the test. In March 2004, their feud escalated on the popular St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

 radio program The Paul Harris Show when Randi accused Browne of lying.

Browne appeared on CNN's Larry King Live
Larry King Live
Larry King Live is an American talk show hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was CNN's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly....

eight days before the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, but did not predict the event. After the fact she claimed she had disturbing dreams involving a lot of fire in the week preceding the attack.

Browne has also appeared on the television soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

 The Young and the Restless
The Young and the Restless
The Young and the Restless is an American television soap opera created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell for CBS. The show is set in a fictional Wisconsin town called Genoa City, which is unlike and unrelated to the real life village of the same name, Genoa City, Wisconsin...

as herself in December 2006.

Sago Mine controversy


On January 3, 2006, Browne was a guest on the U.S. radio program Coast to Coast AM
Coast to Coast AM
Coast to Coast AM is a North American late-night syndicated radio talk show that deals with a variety of topics, but most frequently ones that relate to either the paranormal or conspiracy theories. It was created by Art Bell and is distributed by Premiere Radio Networks. The program currently...

with George Noory
George Noory
George Ralph Noory is a Lebanese-American radio talk show host.As of 2010, he is the weekday host of the late-night radio talk show Coast to Coast AM. He is heard across the United States and Canada on many AM and FM stations as well as on XM Satellite Radio. His show is one of the most listened...

. At the start of the broadcast it was believed that 12 of 13 miners trapped by the Sago Mine disaster had been found alive. When Noory asked Browne if she had had any psychic premonitions regarding the men—if she had felt "that this was a very gloomy moment -- and that they might have all died?" she replied, "No, I knew they were going to be found." Later in the program it was revealed that the earlier news reports had been an error, and only one of the men was believed to have survived. At this point Browne contradicted her earlier statement, stating that "I don't really think there's anybody alive", and, "How crazy for them to report that they were alive when they weren’t!" Browne later argued that she had never specifically stated that the miners would be found alive, only that they would be found, and that she was referring to the bodies of the dead miners being found. In the October 3, 2007 episode of Coast to Coast, Noory identified this incident as the reason he has not invited Browne back to the show.

The Montel Williams Show


Browne was a weekly guest on The Montel Williams Show
The Montel Williams Show
The Montel Williams Show is a syndicated talk show hosted by Montel Williams. On January 30, 2008 it was announced that The Montel Williams Show would stop production on new episodes at the end of the 2007-2008 television season after seventeen years...

for many years. In the episodes in which she appeared, known as "Sylvia Wednesdays," she took questions from audience members asking for advice about health, love, and finance, as well as information about deceased or missing loved ones. In 2000, Brill's Content "examined ten recent Montel Williams programs that highlighted Browne's work as a psychic detective (as opposed to her ideas about "the afterlife," for example), spanning 35 cases. In 21, the details were too vague to be verified. Of the remaining 14, law-enforcement officials or family members involved in the investigations say that Browne had played no useful role."

In 2002, Brown told Gwendolyn Krewson that her daughter Holly, who had been missing for seven years, was living in Hollywood, California and working as an exotic dancer in a nightclub. In 2006, dental records were used to positively identify a body found in 1996 in San Diego, California
San Diego, California
San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round...

 as that of Holly Krewson.

Browne stated that Ryan Katcher, a nineteen-year-old who disappeared during the night in November 2000 in Illinois, had been murdered and could be found in an iron mine shaft a few miles away from the Katcher home. Katcher was later found in his truck in a pond in Illinois and had died of drowning.

In 1999, Browne told Audrey Sanderford that her six year old granddaughter Opal Jo Jennings had been taken from Tarrant County, Texas
Tarrant County, Texas
Tarrant County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, it had a population of 1,809,034. Its county seat is Fort Worth. Tarrant County is the sixteenth most populous county in the United States and the third most populous in Texas. The county is named in honor...

 to Japan and forced into "slavery
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

", in a town she named as "Kukouro" or "Kukoura". No such town exists in Japan. In August of the same year, Richard Lee Franks was arrested and charged with Jennings' abduction and murder; he was convicted the next year. Jennings' remains were found in December 2003, and autopsy revealed that she had died from trauma to the head within hours of being abducted.

In 2002, Browne told Lynda McClelland's daughters that their mother had been abducted by a man with the initials "MJ" and taken to Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a city in the central region of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Orange County, and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. According to the 2010 US Census, the city had a population of 238,300, making Orlando the 79th largest city in the United States...

, but was still alive. McClelland's body was found buried less than two miles from her home in Pennsylvania. The man charged and convicted for the murder was David Repasky, McClelland's son-in-law, who was present for the reading.

In 2003, Browne claimed that eleven year old Shawn Hornbeck had been abducted by a very tall man with long black dreadlocks and a blue sedan, and that his body could be found near two large, jagged boulders in a wooded area about 20 miles southwest of Richwoods. Her claims led to a refocusing of search efforts of numerous people calling in with tips regarding possible spottings of the rock formations Browne had mentioned. Hornbeck was found alive four years later, having been abducted by a white man with short brown hair who drove a small white Nissan pickup. Browne told the New York Daily News
New York Daily News
The Daily News of New York City is the fourth most widely circulated daily newspaper in the United States with a daily circulation of 605,677, as of November 1, 2011....

, "I'm terribly sorry that this happened, but I think my body of work stands by itself. I've broken case after case...I think it's cruel to jump on this one case in which I was wrong."

In 2006, Browne told the fiancée of Robert Hayes, who was murdered, that Hayes was robbed by a man at a casino for his poker winnings and there was video evidence. However, it was later revealed by police that Hayes was having an affair and was robbed by the woman and three people in a set up Hayes and he was shot at an ATM. There were no press reports about his going to a casino or playing poker. She predicted the crime would take a "good two years," but the case and trial happened within the year he was killed.

In January 2007 Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper
Anderson Hays Cooper is an American journalist, author, and television personality. He is the primary anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360°. The program is normally broadcast live from a New York City studio; however, Cooper often broadcasts live on location for breaking news stories...

 reported on Browne's 2003 claims and interviewed the Hornbeck parents, Randi, and Browne critic Robert S. Lancaster
Robert S. Lancaster
Robert Starrett Lancaster is an American computer programmer and skeptic who created the websites Stop Kaz and Stop Sylvia Browne.-Biography:...

 (Browne declined to be interviewed). Hornbeck’s parents, Pam and Craig Akers, reported that in order to “talk to [Browne] additionally,” they would have had to pay her standard fee. Craig Akers recalled the standard fee as being $700 for one hour. Browne’s business manager issued a statement denying that Browne has ever charged a fee for her work on a missing person’s case.

In August 2007 the Montel Williams Show was awarded The Truly Terrible Television (TTTV) Award for peddling pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

 and superstition
Superstition
Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events....

 to its audience for every episode that has showcased Sylvia Browne, Other winners have been Psychic Detectives
Psychic Detectives
Psychic Detectives or Psychic Investigators is a television program produced by StoryHouse Productions for Court TV, as of 2006 in its 5th season. The program documents real-life cases of situations in which police departments have enlisted the aid of psychics in solving difficult cases...

, Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Paranormal State is an American paranormal reality television series that premiered on the A&E Network on December 10, 2007. The program follows and stars the Pennsylvania State University Paranormal Research Society, a student-led college club...

 and SciFi's Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters is an American paranormal reality television series that premiered on October 6, 2004, on Syfy . The program features paranormal investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson who investigate places that are reported to be haunted. The two originally worked as plumbers for Roto-Rooter as...

.

In June 2008, Ofcom
Ofcom
Ofcom is the government-approved regulatory authority for the broadcasting and telecommunications industries in the United Kingdom. Ofcom was initially established by the Office of Communications Act 2002. It received its full authority from the Communications Act 2003...

 ruled that ITV2
ITV2
ITV2 is a 24 hour, free-to-air entertainment television channel in the United Kingdom owned by ITV Digital Channels Ltd, a division of ITV plc. It was launched on 7 December 1998, and is available on digital television via satellite, cable, IPTV and terrestrial platforms. The channel has the...

 "breached standards with a repeat of the Montel Williams Show in which a 'desperate' couple were told by a psychic their missing son was dead - even though he turned up alive last year." The ruling concerned "breaching rule 2.1 of the Broadcasting Code, which relates to protecting viewers against offensive material."

At the Gibson Amphitheater, Universal Studios, Los Angeles, Dec. 29, 2009 Skeptic/Mentalist Mark Edward
Mark Edward
Mark Edward is an American psychic entertainer and mentalist, author of 14 books on mentalism, séance theory and production. Also a Steering Member of the Center for Inquiry's Independent Investigations Group West and a noted critic of pseudoscience...

 approached the microphone during the question portion of Sylvia Browne's show and said he had been hearing voices in his head, they were giving him the names...Opal Jo Jennings...Terrence Farrell...Holly Krewson and the Sego Miners. Browne could not tell he was lying and explained the voices were his spirit guides.

James Randi feud


James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, a retired stage magician turned investigator of paranormal claims, has been a vocal critic of Browne. On September 3, 2001, Browne stated on Larry King Live
Larry King Live
Larry King Live is an American talk show hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was CNN's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly....

that she would accept the James Randi Educational Foundation
James Randi Educational Foundation
The James Randi Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 by magician and skeptic James Randi. The JREF's mission includes educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled...

's $1,000,000 challenge to demonstrate supernatural abilities in a controlled scientific test. , Browne has not taken the test.

There are several reasons Browne cites for being unable to complete the JREF challenge:
  • She was unable to contact Randi.
  • She does not need or want the money.
  • Neither Randi nor the JREF has $1,000,000.
  • Randi would not put the money in escrow
    Escrow
    An escrow is:* an arrangement made under contractual provisions between transacting parties, whereby an independent trusted third party receives and disburses money and/or documents for the transacting parties, with the timing of such disbursement by the third party dependent on the fulfillment of...

    .
  • She has "nothing to prove" to Randi (apparently no longer accepting the challenge)


In support of her final statement, Browne often quotes Randi as saying that he'll never have to pay the money because "I always have an out." Randi, in turn, states that this quote is taken out of context and his actual words were "I always have an out—I'm right," referring to his belief that no one can win the challenge because no one possesses any kind of paranormal ability.

Some have questioned the logical inconsistency of her statements that she is not interested in the money, yet at the same time requires proof of its existence. In addition, Randi demonstrates that the money is held by an independent investment
Investment
Investment has different meanings in finance and economics. Finance investment is putting money into something with the expectation of gain, that upon thorough analysis, has a high degree of security for the principal amount, as well as security of return, within an expected period of time...

 firm, Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is an American multinational bulge bracket investment banking and securities firm that engages in global investment banking, securities, investment management, and other financial services primarily with institutional clients...

, and that proof of its existence can be obtained by requesting a copy of the most recent account statement from the JREF, by telephone, fax, letter, or e-mail. Though a few persons have requested and received copies of the documentation, no request has ever come from Browne.

Browne retorts that the JREF refuses to put the money into escrow
Escrow
An escrow is:* an arrangement made under contractual provisions between transacting parties, whereby an independent trusted third party receives and disburses money and/or documents for the transacting parties, with the timing of such disbursement by the third party dependent on the fulfillment of...

, a decision that she says implies that the money does not exist. Randi originally defended the decision, highlighting the allegation that the challenge rules clearly state the money will not be placed in escrow. However, as of November 2003, Randi decided to make an exception for Browne, and declared that the money will be placed in escrow, proposing either Larry King
Larry King
Lawrence Harvey "Larry" King is an American television and radio host whose work has been recognized with awards including two Peabodys and ten Cable ACE Awards....

 or Montel Williams
Montel Williams
Montel Brian Anthony Williams is an American television personality, radio talk show host and actor. He is best known as host of the long-running The Montel Williams Show, and more recently as a spokesperson for the Partnership for Prescription Assistance...

, both supporters of Browne, as suitable escrow agents. Though formal letters were mailed to both King and Williams notifying them of their nomination as possible escrow agents, neither made a reply. Browne never accepted nor acknowledged Randi's exception concerning the escrow matter.

After making this announcement, Randi stated on his website, "We have now met each and every objection made by Sylvia Browne, except that she does not like me."

Browne's website posted a message sometime after August 1, 2005, apparently directed at Randi, stating that Browne never received confirmation of the existence of the million dollars (which Randi said he sent by certified mail), and suggesting that perhaps Randi sent the package to her previous business address. However, Randi's May 30, 2003, weekly newsletter indicates the documents were mailed over two years before the date Browne said she relocated. Randi said he has a certified mail receipt from the U.S. Postal Service (Certified Mail item #7003 0500 0002 3034 8133) indicating that the package was refused by Browne at 12:08 p.m. on May 22, 2003.

Legal issues and criminal convictions


In 1992, Browne and her estranged husband, Kenzil Dalzell Brown, were indicted on several charges of investment fraud and grand theft. The Superior Court of Santa Clara County
Superior Court of Santa Clara County
The Superior Court of Santa Clara County is the California Superior Court for Santa Clara County.-Judges:The current judges are:* Joyce Allegro* Mary Arand* Kenneth Paul Barnum* Thang Nguyen Barrett* Paul R. Bernal* Susan Bernardini* Arthur Bocanegra...

, California, found that Browne and her husband had sold securities in a gold-mining venture under false pretenses. In at least one instance, they told a couple their $20,000 investment was to be used for immediate operating costs. Instead, the money was transferred to an account for their Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research. Browne pleaded no contest
Nolo contendere
is a legal term that comes from the Latin for "I do not wish to contend." It is also referred to as a plea of no contest.In criminal trials, and in some common law jurisdictions, it is a plea where the defendant neither admits nor disputes a charge, serving as an alternative to a pleading of...

 to securities fraud
Securities fraud
Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a practice that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses, in violation of the securities laws....

 and was indicted on grand larceny
Grand Larceny
Grand Larceny is a 1987 thriller film directed by Jeannot Szwarc and starring Marilu Henner, Ian McShane, Omar Sharif and Louis Jourdan.-Plot summary:...

 in Santa Clara County, California on May 26, 1992. Browne and Brown received one year probation each. Dalzell's disposition included "County Jail 4 months with credit for time served of 21 days," while Sylvia's included 200 hours of community service.
Additionally, the airing of one of Browne's false predictions in June 2008 caused Ofcom
Ofcom
Ofcom is the government-approved regulatory authority for the broadcasting and telecommunications industries in the United Kingdom. Ofcom was initially established by the Office of Communications Act 2002. It received its full authority from the Communications Act 2003...

 to rule that ITV2
ITV2
ITV2 is a 24 hour, free-to-air entertainment television channel in the United Kingdom owned by ITV Digital Channels Ltd, a division of ITV plc. It was launched on 7 December 1998, and is available on digital television via satellite, cable, IPTV and terrestrial platforms. The channel has the...

 "breached standards with a repeat of The Montel Williams Show
The Montel Williams Show
The Montel Williams Show is a syndicated talk show hosted by Montel Williams. On January 30, 2008 it was announced that The Montel Williams Show would stop production on new episodes at the end of the 2007-2008 television season after seventeen years...

in which a 'desperate' couple were told by a psychic their missing son was dead - even though he turned up alive last year." The ruling concerned "breaching rule 2.1 of the Broadcasting Code, which relates to protecting viewers against offensive material."

Browne has often spoken of working with the police and FBI as a psychic detective
Psychic detective
A psychic detective is defined as a person who investigates crimes by using their claimed paranormal psychic abilities. A number of people claim they have psychic abilities that have allowed them to assist police in solving kidnapping and murder cases, or locating a corpse...

, but according to The Skeptics Dictionary, in 21 of Browne's 35 cases, the details she gave were too vague to be verified, and in the remaining 14 Browne played no useful role.

External links





Criticism

Predictions

Court records

Media and transcripts
  • Video: Browne's predictions analyzed January 19, 2007 Live with Anderson Cooper
    Anderson Cooper
    Anderson Hays Cooper is an American journalist, author, and television personality. He is the primary anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360°. The program is normally broadcast live from a New York City studio; however, Cooper often broadcasts live on location for breaking news stories...

     on CNN
    CNN
    Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

    . (CNN Video) (Browne and James Randi
    James Randi
    James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

    ) (Browne and John Edward
    John Edward
    John Edward McGee, Jr. is an American television personality and professional psychic medium. He is best known for his TV shows Crossing Over with John Edward and John Edward Cross Country....

    ) (Browne's manager and Randi) (Browne's manager and Randi)


Nova-Gnostic Christianity