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Meditation 1090
88 came early for Sylvia

by: John Tyrrell

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In 2003, Sylvia Browne predicted she would live to 88. As for so many of her other psychic predictions, she was wrong. She died this week at 77.

There are those who say we should not speak ill of the dead, particularly the recently dead. It is contrary to our humanist values.

As Sylvia Browne made a living,  callously and mendaciously, exploiting the dead - whether recently deceased, long deceased, or only deceased in her sick psychic/psychotic mind - I see no problem in criticizing her - and in using her as an object lesson in what professional psychics are; that is fundamentally dishonest swindlers preying upon the weak. It is out of respect for the victims we should take every opportunity to denounce psychics, dead or alive. We owe self-proclaimed psychics no such respect.

In checking out her website this morning, you still cannot get to the content - which features a glowing obituary - without first seeing a popup requesting money. "Sign up today to get unprecedented access to Sylvia." It's all about the money. But , there is a rare (for Sylvia Browne) truth here - access to Sylvia now would indeed be unprecedented.

The website also has a schedule for the events over the next six months (including a Mystical Voyage at Sea) where the misguided can pay to see Sylvia live. The existence of this schedule demonstrates she really didn't see her end coming.

Her website also contains a list of 40 predictions she made in 2000 for the next 100 years - largely a mixture of fantasy and science fiction extrapolations. In case it disappears from the website (or hopefully, the whole Sylvia Browne website disappears) I've reproduced the list here to check for her continued failure as a psychic. Already the 40th prediction has failed dismally.

40. Aliens will begin to show themselves in the year 2010, they will not harm us, they simply want to see what we are doing to this planet. They will teach us how to use anti-gravity devices again, such as they did for the pyramids

Number 19 will fail dismally (my own psychic prediction made using absolutely none of my psychic powers) in ten years time.

19. Atlantis will begin to show itself by 2023 and be fully visible by 2026.

Failure was not a stranger to Browne. By her own failed estimate, she was 87-90% successful. Skeptical Enquirer's detailed study (i.e. not an estimate) of Browne's success rate for 115 predictions made publicly on "The Montel Williams Show" came up with a success rate of precisely 0%.

Speaking of Montel Williams, in response to Williams' comments on the death of Sylvia Browne, The Amazing Randi made the following Facebook post:

When Sylvia Browne died, Montel Williams offered this sappy eulogy:

"A beacon that shined [sic] for so many was extinguished today, but its brightness was relit and will now shine forever for many of us from above."

To explain to this apparently dense man where his judgment has reverted to the level of a 5-year-old, I’ll point out that Browne was not at all funny "ho-ho" but frightening – to anyone with any compassion. She fed eagerly on the insecurities, the grief, the need and desperation, of her victims. They turned to her for help, at great cost -- $850 for a 20-minute telephone chat as she squatted before the TV camera like a taloned Jabba the Hutt confronting Luke Skywalker – played by Montel – and graveled out anything-but-funny, unfounded, useless, and damaging pap that added to their confusion and pain – but which made Montel and his sponsors ecstatic, because they could hear those cash register sounds as their products slid off store shelves.

And she let 10+ years go by yet never tried for the JREF million-dollar prize, as she’d agreed to do when we both appeared together on Larry King Live so many years ago…

I agree with JREF President D.J. Grothe that we do not celebrate her death, even as we criticize the way she lived. But I’ll be quite frank with you, I cannot mourn at Browne’s passing — she really hurt far too many people, and always so unapologetically.

It's unfortunate that she only stopped hurting so many people by dying.

James Randi

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