Following up from Monday’s post on how Sylvia Browne was wrong about Shawn Hornbeck, and yesterday’s speculation on what we would see if even one psychic was real, I note the New York Daily News reports the story of Sylvia’s blunder, with what is apparently Sylvia herself offering some lame excuses and rationalizations:
"I'm terribly sorry that this happened," she told the Daily News. "But I think my body of work stands by itself. I've broken case after case."
"I think it's just cruel to jump on this one case in which I was wrong," she added defensively. "I've said thousands of times I'm not God."
I don’t think anyone expects her to be God. I would, however, expect her to be able to tell the difference between dead and alive. Seriously – isn’t that just about the most important distinction you can make? (What would you think of a doctor who couldn’t tell if someone was dead or alive?) Really, what is the point of asking a psychic if she can’t even get that right? And what did she give us – the body would be found “in a wooded area” – that’s about as generic as it gets. All that was missing was “near water” – another old standby of the pretend-psychic. And don’t forget all the wrong guesses about the abductor – the Hispanic with dreadlocks, driving an old car with fins. A lot of use that was.
And her claim of having broken numerous cases is not substantiated by the facts. Of course, it’s easy to claim you’ve broken cases – not so easy to back up such a claim. The truth is, Sylvia’s history is one of blunders totally consistent with a cold reader making guesses and playing the odds. For example the Sago miners are alive. Or your mother is dead. Or, your boyfriend died “ in water”. It’s notable that Sylvia doesn’t list her actual supposed “successes”. So with this list of proven failures, why should we believe her?
Nobody is suggesting Sylvia has to be right every time, just that she should be right significantly more than chance. Of course, if she really was psychic, she could demonstrate that by honoring her agreement to be tested for Randi’s million dollars – something she has avoided for over five years now. It’s really no surprise she continues to avoid this one clear opportunity to have her psychic abilities tested in a way that controls for cold reading and guesswork. Meanwhile, Montel continues to tape shows with the old fraud. Shame on you.