Ms. Browne's final contact with the spirits
November 22, 2013 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Sylvia Browne, famous for her claims of psychic abilities, has gone on to her reward.

Browne made a name for herself by giving psychic readings, appearing on TV shows such as The Montel Williams Show, That's Incredible! and Larry King Live, writing quite a few books, and founding the Novus Spiritus church.

Ms. Browne's psychic gifts appeared to be quite particular, however, since they seemed to fail her with some regularity. In 2002, she informed the parents of disappeared child Shawn Hornbeck that the boy was dead; Hornbeck was found alive in 2007. She did the same thing again with the mother of kidnapping victim Amanda Berry - Berry was found alive in 2013, but her mother had long since died, still believing her daughter was dead. Perhaps erring on the other side, in 2006 Browne declared on Coast to Coast AM that she'd always known that the men trapped in the Sago Mine would be found alive, only to learn that earlier news reports were wrong, and almost all of them were quite dead.

A more exhaustive report of the inscrutable nature of Browne's psychic powers was put together in 2010 by Ryan Shaffer and Agatha Jadwiszczok. In 2007, journalist Jon Ronson went on a cruise put on by Browne and wrote about his experience in an article for the Guardian.

But Browne was undaunted. Continuing to share her gifts with the world, she revealed the truth about the temperature in heaven (a comfortable 78 °F, or 25.6 °C if you prefer) and routinely revealed truths about the next world with the aid of Francine, her spirit guide. The angels even saw fit to tell her ahead of time when she could expect to depart our world, trusting her with the burden of this knowledge: In 2003, while giving sage advice to callers on Larry King Live, she indicated that she would die in her 88th year.

Sylvia Browne died on November 20, 2013, at the age of 77.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER (94 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Didn't see that one coming.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:23 AM on November 22, 2013 [17 favorites]


*rips open envelope, revealing that I predicted that would be the first comment in the thread, am now hopefully America's new go-to psychic*
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:25 AM on November 22, 2013 [27 favorites]


There are few things that fill me with impotent haterage more than Sylvia Browne and people like her.

Good riddance, you loathsome fraud.
posted by phunniemee at 7:26 AM on November 22, 2013 [51 favorites]


BROWNE: Well, that is, that's upper respiratory. But I also would have someone check your colon area.

CALLER: My colon area?

BROWNE: Yes.

[LARRY] KING: OK. Do you know when you're going to die?

BROWNE: Yes. When I'm 88.
posted by basicchannel at 7:27 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sylvia Browne died on November 20, 2013, at the age of 77.

Missed it by that much.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:28 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, you have to admit, 88 looks a whole lot like 77, right?
posted by eriko at 7:29 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I just loved the juxtaposition between a colon-checking response and another fun incorrect prediction.
posted by basicchannel at 7:30 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sounds like someone never studied their 11s times tables.
posted by bondcliff at 7:30 AM on November 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't specifically believe in an afterlife per se, but I think it would be a marvelous dramatic symmetry if Browne had to explain herself to Amanda Berry's late mother. For me, it's not the lying about psychic abilities, it's the fact that she freely toyed with the emotions of people who were already hurting inside.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:31 AM on November 22, 2013 [24 favorites]


she revealed the truth about the temperature in heaven (a comfortable 78 °F, or 25.6 °C if you prefer)

seems a little warm for heaven..
posted by theodolite at 7:36 AM on November 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


Sorry, I just loved the juxtaposition between a colon-checking response and another fun incorrect prediction.

To be fair she did know a lot about pulling things out of one's arse!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:37 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Didn't see that one coming

I did.

Pay me.
posted by flabdablet at 7:38 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also

:
posted by flabdablet at 7:39 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Good riddance to bad rubbish.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:41 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]




seems a little warm for heaven..

Hank Jr. has something to say about that.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:42 AM on November 22, 2013


The one time I picked up one of her books, it was about the afterlife and how when you die you'll go to a heaven where all of your loved ones (including your pets) will be there to hang out with you, you'll go to concerts by history's greatest musicians, have meals cooked for you by history's greatest chefs, talk politics and philosophy with history's greatest thinkers, etc., etc., ad nauseam (literally in this case, because reading all this drivel and thinking about the money this fraud was making off people who really want to believe her made me feel sick).
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:45 AM on November 22, 2013


I hope she's as right about the afterlife as she was about this one.
posted by Etrigan at 7:46 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


CALLER: My colon area?

BROWNE: Yes.


She was *so full of shit* that the drawers of people with whom she was speaking would fill up with excrement.
posted by hell toupee at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Missed it by that much.

If we assume she was working in base 9, she's only three years off. And 9 is only one off from 10, so that's like two years off which is a couple of years which is really nothing; how fast does two years go by? Like that.
posted by griphus at 7:49 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well clearly that means she's not really dead yet! Alert the morgue!
posted by ian1977 at 7:50 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are few things that fill me with impotent haterage more than Sylvia Browne and people like her.

Good riddance, you loathsome fraud.


What fills me with impotent rage about Browne and her kind is that she doesn't know she's a fraud. She sincerely believed she had psychic powers, so she was totally oblivious to the agony she inflicted on her victims with her false predictions. She was able to deceive others so successfully because she deceived herself so well.
posted by ogooglebar at 7:50 AM on November 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


The one time I picked up one of her books, it was about the afterlife and how when you die you'll go to a heaven where all of your loved ones (including your pets) will be there to hang out with you, you'll go to concerts by history's greatest musicians, have meals cooked for you by history's greatest chefs, talk politics and philosophy with history's greatest thinkers, etc., etc.,

Which means history's most talented people are all in hell, having to perform on demand for morons for eternity.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:52 AM on November 22, 2013 [71 favorites]


She sincerely believed she had psychic powers

Why do you think that? Just curious.
posted by ian1977 at 7:52 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


At least she was consistent about one thing; she really must not have thought she was going to die this year.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 7:55 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Momma once said, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all, so
posted by kmz at 7:56 AM on November 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


If she had only predicted she would die at 77, she would have lived until 88.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:56 AM on November 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think we can know for sure, less so now that she's dead, but I always got the sense that Browne knew she was fleecing people. I only say this because of the way she dodged James Randi's million dollar challenge. It suggests she knew, on some level, that she was full of shit. At the very most, she may have believed in her own powers in the same way that kids believe in Santa Claus - even when they really, really do, they still don't.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:56 AM on November 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Momma once said, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all, so

That's funny because my momma used to say, "if you don't have anything nice to say, come sit next to me!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:58 AM on November 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


I only say this because of the way she dodged James Randi's million dollar challenge.

I've seen some of the rationalizations Randi-dodgers use, and it is amazing how sincerely they believe they're for real and how sincerely they believe that Randi is a monster with some dark agenda.
posted by Etrigan at 8:00 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh sweet! Check out the next 100 years!

She made these predictions in 2000. Including "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."

And because of this anti-gravity tech..."Third floor of houses have rollback roofs to allow Hovercrafts to come and go."
posted by ian1977 at 8:00 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


My momma used to say "get the fuck out of that Spencer's Gifts, we're leaving the mall."
posted by griphus at 8:00 AM on November 22, 2013 [31 favorites]


"Addictions will be a thing of the past because of a brain stimulation, which eradicates all addictions, with no side effects."

BUT WHAT IF I BECOME ADDICTED TO BRAIN STIM!@!@!
posted by ian1977 at 8:01 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Guardian link above: "...I said, 'Sylvia, how can you tell people this kind of stuff? You know it's not true, and some of these people actually are probably going to believe it.' And she said, 'Screw 'em. Anybody who believes this stuff oughtta be taken.'"
posted by ovvl at 8:01 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


At the very most, she may have believed in her own powers in the same way that kids believe in Santa Claus - even when they really, really do, they still don't.

My daughter, the one that told us over dinner that she didn't believe in god, straight-up asked us this morning if Santa was real because she already knows that flying deer is made-up and impossible and there's just no way that one person could get to all the homes on earth in one night to deliver the presents. Do you all think that six is too young to get a subscription to the Skeptical Inquirer?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:05 AM on November 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "
My daughter, the one that told us over dinner that she didn't believe in god, straight-up asked us this morning if Santa was real because she already knows that flying deer is made-up and impossible and there's just no way that one person could get to all the homes on earth in one night to deliver the presents.
"

Your kid sounds awesome.
posted by notsnot at 8:07 AM on November 22, 2013 [9 favorites]




Somewhere out there is a spirit guide saying "Ah fuck, who am I going to dick with now?"
posted by happyroach at 8:12 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


you'll go to concerts by history's greatest musicians, have meals cooked for you by history's greatest chefs, talk politics and philosophy with history's greatest thinkers, etc., etc.,
...
Which means history's most talented people are all in hell, having to perform on demand for morons for eternity.


I would pay cash money to see Sylvia Browne requesting Heaven's best french fries and eliciting a trilling "GO FUCK YOURSELF" from Julia Child.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:13 AM on November 22, 2013 [26 favorites]


Randi is a monster with some dark agenda.

That almost makes me like him more
posted by phunniemee at 8:14 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's hard for me to express happiness that someone is dead, I mean, she must have had a family, right? However I am comforted by the fact that this person is no longer inflicting herself upon the world.

I will be similarly comforted when Dick Cheney joins her wherever the...Hell...they think they end up.
posted by polly_dactyl at 8:20 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


BUT WHAT IF I BECOME ADDICTED TO BRAIN STIM!@!@!

It's all right, because BrainStimLite(R), BrainStimElite(R), and FamilyBrainStim(R) will all be owned by Disney(R), which means it will be wholesome and uplifting by definition.
posted by aught at 8:22 AM on November 22, 2013


To paraphrase, "And Jesus wiped his hand on the brow of the blind man a second time and told him, now you see the truth. Tell no one, in fact do not even return to your village."

So I mean, laugh it up, but Sylvia Browne was capitalizing on the fact that there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world, and people are desperately seeking answers, understanding and self-acceptance. And they will turn to absolute idiots. They will pack the megachurches on Sunday.

True faith on some level is not taught, it does not come from the television, it does not require calling a 1-800 number, and in all fairness, it doesn't come from the pulpit either. "Evangelism" is by definition a farce. In turn, Browne was a psychic-evangelist-charlatan of the highest magnitude. How she didn't run for office is beyond me.
posted by phaedon at 8:22 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


a comfortable 78 °F

She just didn't realize Heaven and Hell both converted to metric a long time ago and that's C degress, not F.
posted by aught at 8:24 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I, for one, would like to see the long form birth certificate.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:25 AM on November 22, 2013


How she didn't run for office is beyond me.

Well why would she after what happened to John Edwards?



(I know the s makes a difference; I just couldn't resist.)
posted by TedW at 8:26 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, facts and reason just will not help the believers. The Guardian article author should have done a follow up on the woman that didn't have any relative named Doug. Did her total moment of disillusionment point her to a more rational viewpoint or did she find a psychic that was a bit more optimistic?
posted by sammyo at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2013


Browne was a charlatan of the highest magnitude. How she didn't run for office is beyond me.

Why have to show up to an office and vote and do things when you can lounge around on cruises and tell lies for a living?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's a more fitting obit for her:

Sylvia Browne, Infamous Fraudster and Criminal, Dead at 77.
posted by peep at 8:29 AM on November 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Some deaths call for a bottle of wine to be popped open. This is one of them. Especially knowing that while this thief is dead, James Randi remains with us.
posted by ocschwar at 8:35 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some deaths call for a bottle of wine to be popped open. This is one of them.

Well, for such an occasion, I suppose spirits would be more appropriate.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:40 AM on November 22, 2013 [25 favorites]


http://sidespin.kinja.com/sylvia-browne-infamous-fraudster-and-criminal-dead-at-1469431524

admittedly that is a ripe old age
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:52 AM on November 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


sylvia-browne-infamous-fraudster-and-criminal-dead-at-1469431524

admittedly that is a ripe old age


Born roughly a billion and a half years ago, I'd say she did look pretty good for a slime mold.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:03 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


My brother said he wasn't going to my cousins wedding because 2 fortune tellers told him to avoid weddings. He lives on the other side of the atlantic and I haven't seen him in person for years.

I'm a total skeptic and I find it very upsetting that a charlatan can direct his life like that. I managed to win the vaccination debate with him and his partner some yeas ago, but this is definitely a regression of rational thinking.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 9:04 AM on November 22, 2013


More than once, with the television cameras rolling, Ms. Browne told the parents of a missing child that their son or daughter was dead — sometimes she would say precisely where — only for the child to be found alive later. In 2004, she told the mother of the Ohio kidnapping victim Amanda Berry that her daughter was dead. Ms. Berry, held captive for more than a decade, was rescued this May.

Well all righty then.
posted by jquinby at 9:12 AM on November 22, 2013


Montel Williams was once asked in a radio interview why he has Sylvia Browne on his show. He said, "She's great! She's a funny character! She's hysterical!"

When asked why he never watched the Montel Williams show, Gerson said, "He sucks! He makes the world a worse place! Who needs him?"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:12 AM on November 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


broken clock, twice a day etc

I don't wish anyone to die. I just wish these hucksters would stop with their...umm...huckstering

(i know, dream on)
posted by lampshade at 9:17 AM on November 22, 2013


Browne's books, along with Glenn Beck's, were some of a few that I ever vaguely considered "misplacing" behind a library shelf when I was shelving. I'd never do that of course, but the temptation was there occasionally.
posted by codacorolla at 9:20 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Good riddance.

I think Tim Minchin said it best:

By the way,
Why is it OK
For people to pretend they can talk to the dead?
Is it not totally fucked in the head
Lying to some crying woman whose child has died
And telling her you're in touch with the other side?
That's just fundamentally sick
Do we need to clarify that there's no such thing as a psychic?

What, are we fucking 2?
Do we actually think that Horton Heard a Who?
Do we still think that Santa brings us gifts?
That Michael Jackson hasn't had facelifts?
Are we still so stunned by circus tricks
That we think that the dead would
Wanna talk to pricks
Like John Edwards?
posted by lazaruslong at 9:30 AM on November 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


She sincerely believed she had psychic powers, so she was totally oblivious to the agony she inflicted on her victims with her false predictions. She was able to deceive others so successfully because she deceived herself so well.

That's more than self-deception. That's a complete lack of empathy coupled with a monstrous narcissism. That's a recipe for someone who could pretty much countenance any atrocity so long as they fed their own ego.

If hell existed....
posted by lumpenprole at 9:31 AM on November 22, 2013


She's not dead. She's been kidnapped.

No, but seriously Sylvia, stay in touch!
posted by Decani at 9:33 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


How wonderful could an afterlife be if you're expected to take psychic calls from every douchebag with "a gift"?
posted by dr_dank at 9:36 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, but seriously Sylvia, stay in touch!

So theoretically, couldn't she communicate with even more people now than when she had to do it though our earthly contrivances?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:37 AM on November 22, 2013


Given her track record, I'm now very worried that this will take place. Where's a Jaeger when you need one?

"Although I do believe that the world will sustain itself, I don’t believe we’re going to be here after about 95 years,” she said. “People get very concerned about that, but it’s not going to be some type of horrible monster coming out of the sea and eating you or tearing your flesh off and throwing people down into a pit of hell.

posted by arcticseal at 9:37 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


A dear friend of mine has been sucked in by a local psychic. Fortunately, it's a relatively benign situation, and the predictions are romantic in nature, because I have no hope of changing any minds. It is extremely frustrating because it was a few "XYZ happened to ABC when they were a child" types of statements which sealed the deal, and when I heard about them, I just couldn't stop thinking of ways that they could be faked or structured such as to be broadly applicable to as many people's childhoods as possible, a matter of skill and technique, and so on, but it proved impossible for me to explain my position without offending my friend, and I wasn't even trying to change their point of view.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:42 AM on November 22, 2013


Good riddance to bad rubbish. Seriously, screw her. She treated people like shit and took advantage of them when they were most vulnerable and desperate.
posted by zarq at 9:45 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't hate all "psychics" or "mediums" or whatever you want to call them. Though I also don't believe in them.
I think some of them perform excellent humanitarian and therapy-like services for people who would not otherwise get that type of relief. For instance, I think most of Theresa Caputo's (the Long Island Medium on tv) work is like that. It's beneficial to the people she meets with to get the official OK to move on with their lives and stop blaming themselves and what have you. These are not usually the same demographic that would go get standard therapy so if they need to hear it from a medium, fine by me.

What Sylvia Browne did, on the other hand, is harmful and irresponsible. And I don't think she believed in her "powers" which just makes her an outright liar and much worse in my book than people who mislead others but with good intentions (still not a great thing to do). Telling people random crap that really does affect their lives in negative ways and changes the way they behave and think about real issues is to me much different than counseling people who miss dead people.

I guess I see the difference as prescriptive vs supportive. No one should be answering questions about things they truly do not know. Answering the question "is my missing kid alive" is irresponsible and manipulative. People will act on that advice, and it will be wrong many times. Answering the question "is my dead kid at peace" by basically always saying yes (sorry to blow up your spot, Theresa) will help grieving people feel better and not actually affect things that matter like search efforts and other people's time and money. That is a much less offensive practice in my opinion.
posted by rmless at 10:02 AM on November 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't hate all "psychics" or "mediums" or whatever you want to call them.

That makes one of us.
posted by grubi at 10:05 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just couldn't stop thinking of ways that they could be faked or structured such as to be broadly applicable to as many people's childhoods as possible, a matter of skill and technique

Indeed.
posted by Gelatin at 10:08 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's beneficial to the people she meets with to get the official OK to move on with their lives and stop blaming themselves and what have you.

Couldn't they do this through therapy without having to rely on someone lying to them? As much as I hate his style Dr. Phil does the same thing as the Long Island Medium, but without having to use slight of hand and fairy tales.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:08 AM on November 22, 2013


A sociopath's work is never done.
posted by spitbull at 10:11 AM on November 22, 2013


I've awakened from a sound sleep at 2:00 AM, with the memory of lies I told twenty years ago causing me cold sweats.

I cannot even imagine the life she must have led.
posted by Mooski at 10:27 AM on November 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


I believe what these people do is horrible and evil. They use the desperation and grief of the bereaved for their own ends, both financial gain and personal glorification. It's sick and wrong and I, for one, am glad that this one has been stopped.

Fuck her. Fuck John Edward. Fuck all of them.
posted by blurker at 10:56 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I interviewed Sylvia Browne for my college newspaper. She was nice.
posted by chrchr at 10:56 AM on November 22, 2013


FAMOUS MONSTER didn't get an eponysterical? for shame, metafilter!


oh, and great post/great thread.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:57 AM on November 22, 2013


Fuck her. Fuck John Edward. Fuck all of them.

I used to confuse that guy with John Edwards and didn't understand the outrage.

Now I confuse them more often.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:19 AM on November 22, 2013


As much as I hate his style Dr. Phil does the same thing as the Long Island Medium, but without having to use slight of hand and fairy tales.

Sylvia Browne. Such a lowly coward, it makes Dr. Phil look good.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:36 AM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


She always had such a sour fucking face, like she ate a lemon and hated everybody. If I were her publisher I would NOT have put her face on the cover of every book. She looks like my mean aunt.

Also, that cruise story convinced me that she knew she was full of shit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:42 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sensitive to these things, and I can feel Sylvia Browne coming through...she's trying to reach you all...to tell you...

Ah.

No, sorry. Turns out I just had wind.
posted by reynir at 11:51 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sorry, I'm straight-up glad she's dead.

The world is better off without some people.
posted by Imperfect at 11:55 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do you think that? Just curious.

Well, this is embarrassing. I'd read about how some psychics and cold readers are so successful because they deceive themselves first, and I'd thought Browne was mentioned as an example, but now I can't find my reference. Apparently I didn't want to believe that someone could be so willing to profit off of others' suffering for so long. I won't apologize for thinking better of someone than she deserved, but I do apologize for posting my comment so sloppily.
posted by ogooglebar at 11:59 AM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd read about how some psychics and cold readers are so successful because they deceive themselves first, and I'd thought Browne was mentioned as an example, but now I can't find my reference.

Michael Shermer usually prefers to give people the benefit of the doubt until they show otherwise. That is not the case for him with Sylvia though.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:14 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good. And I hope there's some charlatan and parasite getting rich off of the grief of her loved ones.

I think Rebecca Watson had the best eulogy.
posted by Legomancer at 12:35 PM on November 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Couldn't they do this through therapy

Yup, but the people I know who believe in this stuff are not people who go to therapy. I have a friend who I feel could really benefit from therapy but she is against it for all sorts of reasons (that I personally don't agree with but you can't force it). But she will go to a tarot card reader.
So at least people like that are getting relief somewhere, in my opinion.
posted by rmless at 12:36 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


No better psychic ability than logic and observation -- funny how people take basic skills and turn it into a lucrative carny career...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:37 PM on November 22, 2013


So at least people like that are getting relief somewhere, in my opinion.

A lot of the "advice" they are getting from these grifters is just fueling their cognative dissonace, reenforcing their negative behaviors, and furthering their disfunction, not to mention the money they are shelling out for this "service"!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:49 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good riddance, you degenerate fraud! Go lie to grieving families in hell!
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:30 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the last decade, Sylvia Browne has been my automatic go-to example of a modern charlatan, an evil charlatan, and the physical incarnation of everything I hate about the New Age movement.

She was a shitty actor. For someone who pretended to be enlightened and in tune with the spiritual world, she was one vicious human being. The Guardian article really helps to convey her personality. How appropriate that the article is by the wonderful Jon Ronson, who wrote the book The Psychopath Test. (How could anyone be mean to Jon Ronson? More proof of her evil.)

I've always had friends of different spiritual persuasions. The ones who didn't buy into pop culture bullshit were also generally reasonable enough people who bore no resemblance whatsoever to Sylvia's persona. If you're going to preach love and light, if you have any degree of self-awareness, how can you turn around and spit such awful vitriol at anyone who dares to disagree with you?

I had one True Believer lightworker starseed friend who owned every one of Sylvia's books. This friend called me a "dark soul". My own running joke afterward all throughout high school was that I had no soul. The friendship kind of really didn't end well. (The final straw for me was when this fluffbunny "love and light"-preaching friend abandoned me when I first became homeless; I was standing on her doorstep and she wouldn't let me in.) My own philosophy is that if your spirituality does not allow for shades of grey, or darkness along with light, you didn't grow up on planet Earth.

I wish I could feel more sympathy for her avid fans, but pity is the best I can do. Then again, I don't claim to be full of love and light and spiritual gifts and enlightenment.

Sylvia Browne deserves a Hell that is dark and cold and full of spiders.
posted by quiet earth at 4:32 PM on November 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Sylvia Browne deserves a Hell that is dark and cold and full of spiders."

Man, that's being pretty damn harsh on the spiders!
posted by TDavis at 5:14 PM on November 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


True faith on some level is not taught, it does not come from the television, it does not require calling a 1-800 number, and in all fairness, it doesn't come from the pulpit either.

Like true scotsmen, then.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:52 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


There can be no money-making scheme lower or more disgusting and dishonorable than was Sylvia Browne's career, which is now, at least, over with.
posted by knoyers at 9:59 AM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Do you all think that six is too young to get a subscription to the Skeptical Inquirer?

Skeptic magazine, a similar publication, has a Junior Skeptic section in each issue.
posted by Monochrome at 12:49 PM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the few things I really dislike about being an atheist is my belief that people like her and Dick Cheney will never have the probably quite shocking experience of being turned away at the Pearly Gates. Neither of them knew a moment of doubt in heir own righteousness, and I fully expect that Cheney will die with that smirk on his face, having never been punished for bad actions here, nor in the afterlife.
posted by thebrokedown at 4:08 AM on November 26, 2013


"How? How do you sleep at night?"

"I sleep at night between silk sheets on a heated, king size auto-massage water bed with piped music on a very quiet street with a companion whose beauty would make you weep with desire".
posted by flabdablet at 4:58 AM on November 26, 2013


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