I’m Getting A Feeling

Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer, after getting back from The Amazing Meeting 5 dropped his telescope and picked up the story about the Sylvia Brown misstep.

For living in the US and with no access to – um – media or those living outside the US, Sylvia Brown is a self proclaimed psychic. (Of course with no access to media, how are you reading this? Are you psychic?) Where in Germany one can find psychics in the backs of cheap magazines and on late night television. Psychics in the US are of a different calibre. It is not unusual for psychics to get airtime on both daytime talk-shows and primetime specials.

But what’s special about this case?

James Randi has the rundown. The parents of the recently recovered kidnap victim Shawn Hornbeck consulted both Brown and psychic James Van Praagh while searching for their lost son. Brown claimed that the child (11 at the time) was dead and had been aducted by a “dark-skinned man, he wasn’t black – more like Hispanic.” She also claimed he wore dreadlocks and drove a car with fins. She also described where the body would be found. Needless to say, the person arrested for the abduction and captivity of Shawn, who is “still with us,” was white. dreadlock-less and not connected to any of the other bullshit she produced on that day. Another good source for the story is skeptico.

There is a nice wrap up done by Anderson Cooper. Phil presents the video and I thought I would just including it here for my click-lazy, non-sceptical reader(s).

What I find really interesting are the clips showing Larry King interviewing Sylvia Brown. One has to wonder if there will be a King / Cooper spat at CNN. I would however rather watch Cooper over King. (And Jon Stewart over both).

As best I can tell, Larry King is the ultimate talk show verbal slut. He’ll have almost anyone on his show who can create audible verbalizations, it isn’t terribly important whether those verbalizations have any basis in reality or fact. Larry King will simply claim to be presenting the opinions, offering people with something to say a forum to say it.

Of course I don’t know whether Larry King would deem it appropriate to interview Holocaust denial experts like Willis Carto, Mark Weber or white supremacist April Gaede (it would be interesting television) or whether he would ask National Vanguard leader Kevin Alfred Strom to appear. But he has no problem repeatedly inviting people like Sylvia Brown or James Van Praagh. The latter is entertainment, the former tasteless. Mr. King I beg to disagree; and I suspect Pam and Craig Akers would agree with me.

I have to applaud Anderson Cooper and of course James Randi and Phil Plait for continually bringing this kind of thing to light. I will also do my linkage good dead for the day and point readers and Google to Robert Lancaster’s page about all things Brown-ian. He has the myths, the misses and the videos. If you do nothing else, add this to one of your posts today. Maybe someday, we can get StopSylviaBrown above Sylvia Brown in Google searches.

Stop Sylvia Brown

Of course I’m a little psychic myself and I’m getting a feeling right now. A feeling that Cooper and King might not really like each other. And one of them has something to do with dreadlocks, and fins, near water, in the dark…

13 comments so far

  1. Shoes and Grenades on

    You make some excellent points here. I also made a blog post on Sylvia Brown recently, but I really enjoyed how you called Larry King a “Verbal Slut”. It is very true! I have a link in my post to the Larry King video where James Randi and Sylvia Browne are both on and she agrees to take the “Million Dollar Challenge”.

    Larry King is about ratings – nothing more. At least shows like Mythbusters are starting to bring skepticism into the public’s attention.

  2. blc303 on


    The problem isn’t that Larry King is about ratings, ALL news programs, cable and otherwise are about ratings.

    Mythbusters, Bullshit, and other similar programs are gaining in popularity because the ratings driven drivel irritates the sceptics. The sheep keep watching Fox, CNN and the evening news.

    Or maybe not… What was the comment from one of the jurors on the Libby case? “A hotel manager who said she reads a lot of ‘celebrity magazines’ but ‘no news magazines.’ She added, ‘I am the master of all things pop culture, but don’t know anything about current events.'” I feel better.

    The only problem is that the non-sceptical them outnumber the critical us. I’m afraid they are winning. (Or maybe I’m just being mind controlled 😉 )

  3. Mom4truth on

    As a daughter of a very gifted intuitive person, I feel it is important to offer a bit of information about Sylvia Browne that I have recieved as a result of her gift. Sylvia was once an extremely gifted lady, one who was meant to help many people on earth today. But her gift is from a power greater then her own and when she started pursuing money and other worldly pleasures, her gift was taken away. Now she only gets bits and pieces of information and she is forced to speculate (truly gifted people are not allowed to be wrong as their gift is from God, and HE is never wrong). Without her staying close to the light and using her gift in the manner God intended, she is no longer allowed to have it. I hope that she finds her way back to the light or that she will at least see that she can no longer help in the same way and quit before she misleads others. Also, please do not discount all “psychics” because they are not all wrong. Granted, many people claim they are gifted and they will have to answer to someone higher than you or I. However, there are those who are placed here to help us get through life. Trust your heart and your instincts when it comes to contacting someone who claims to be gifted. May God bless you all with peace and knowledge! Have a great day.

  4. Teresa on

    Excuse me while I have flashbacks to an unhappy childhood that was a wasteland of nothing but just this sort of banality. I’ll be over here in the corner, rocking back and forth chanting the eternal mantra of “if you can’t prove it or disprove it with material evidence, you can say anything is true and believe it, and ask others to believe it too woo woo woo.”

  5. Mom4truth on

    How sad for you that you are unable to believe in something far greater and more positive than anything you may have ever experienced before simply because you do not have “material evidence”. I am not asking that you or anyone else believe in what I wrote, I simply feel that sometimes it is important to stand up for the truth when it is something important (just as you believe you did)to you. As always, it is up to each individual person to choose whether or not they want to incorporate new (or previously heard)information into their lives or if they chose to disbelieve it. I’m sorry that you had an unhappy childhood where such beliefs as those I have expressed, have become boring to you. Therefore, I choose, as is my right, to send your negativity back to you and wish you well. I hope that you have a wonderful day and a life filled with happiness and success.

  6. Teresa on


    Not boring, alarming. As with Sylvia Brown the belief in these things can cause real harm to people.

    When that harm is pointed out, there’s a lot of hand-waving and excuses. Like “They diverted from God’s plan”.

    Maybe God’s plan was for us to live in a material world as material creatures and not make up magic fairy stories to torture bereaved parents with.

    She told those poor people that their son had been murdered. How can you make that OK by saying “Oh she diverted form God’s plan by taking money?”

    She diverted from Gods plan by being a lying fraud, and she caused suffering and pain. She compounded it by taking money.

    How convenient for you that you can come in here, give testimony on behalf of such nonsense that causes such pain, and then “send the negativity away.”

    Some of have to live in the real world with real consequenses for our actions.

    I also hope that you have a wonderful day and a life filled with happiness and success. Just not at the expense of desperate, gullible people who just want answers and are willing to go anywhere to get them.

  7. Mom4truth on

    I can see that regardless of how I try and voice my beliefs, you will find a way to make me sound naive and in some way stupid. That is why I say, and why I am continuing to send your negativity back to you. I will not allow you to degrade my character or my message of how not all gifted people are out to rip people off. To suggest that I somehow go through my life negating responsibility or somehow ignoring the mistakes I have made or that I will make in the future, goes to show how willing you are to lash out at someone who holds different beliefs then you do. I have not said that you are inappropriate or somehow morally bankrupt because of your beliefs, I do not agree with you and no amount of negativity or judgement on your part will ever make me say any different. If you would like to re-read my postings you will see that I am not trying to say that Sylvia Browne is someone who should not assume responsibilty for what she told those poor people. In fact, I believe I stated that she needs to quit “helping” people until and if she gets her personal life in order. For you to try and make it sound as though I am condoning her actions is not only inappropriate, but mean spirited and I can’t fathom why you would want to be this way. I did not say that she diverted from God’s plan by taking money, rather she was following God’s plan for her life and when she got wrapped up in this material things, she deviated. One cannot be gifted and use that gift for financial gain, that would go against the whole purpose of the gift in the first place. Meaning that if someone is using their gift to further their lifestyle (which can’t be taken with them when they die) rather then using it to help people through life (which furthers their soul and the soul of others), then why should they continue to be allowed to use it? The answer is that they are not, it is taken away. Then they learn humility and the affects of using such a blessed gift for self gain.
    Finally, Teresa, I appreciate you well wishes for me,although I doubt there sincerity. However, do not worry about me, I will be fine, I will follow my beliefs and I will continue to speak out for those who are gifted and I will listen with an open heart, because of God and the gifts he has given my mom, I will have a happy and successfull life. I truly wish you peace because without it, you will continue to lash out at people who only want to help and who are good people. I will not respond to you any longer because it is futile and I believe that instead of letting my words stand and be what they are, you will try and manipulate them into something you want others to believe. By continuing this, I lend you credibility and in my viewpoint, you have none. God bless you and yours.

  8. Teresa on

    That boy’s parents wouldn’t have been harmed if they hadn’t believed in superstition.

  9. Teresa on

    Well, not by Sylvia I mean.

  10. blc303 on


    Ahem…Wow. Were do I start?

    How about the end. Yes Mom4truth, I think Teresa does want you to have a nice day. She is one of those people who believe that her right to swing her fist stops at your chin. Everyone should live peaceful and enjoyable lives; regardless of their beliefs and proclivities. I feel the same way and will start by sincerely wishing you the same. A peaceful, wonderful, fulfilled life, if your reality is filled with soothsayers and magic, so be it.

    But (and that had to come didn’t it?) your belief in a God-given gift is somewhere I just can’t go.

    I’d like to try to break down your comments in two parts. One, Sylvia Browne had a gift but lost it while, or perhaps due to, making millions; since she has lost the gift she should just stop what she is doing. Two, there are gifted God fearing loving “psychics,” who are never wrong. If one believes in God, one must believe there are people He talks to and He lets those people see the future.

    As to the first argument, I think we would agree, Sylvia Browne should just stop what she does. I’d love to see your evidence showing a reduction in her ‘hits’ over time. Just a list, something like 1990 – 100% correct predictions, 1991 – 95% and so on. This would give me much more confidence that Sylvia Browne is, or was, truly gifted and not just a confidence person. I’m afraid no such list exists. I think Sylvia Browne is scum.

    As to two, whether the gifts we are talking about come from God, I’d make some predictions.

    We have never met, but I feel you have a love for objects, you are a bit of a collector. You may or may not have a case to keep your treasures in, they might even be pets, but you have a certain tendency to buy or acquire things that you don’t need, just because you love that kind of object.

    I don’t believe that time is linear, it twists and turns and sometimes, for some people, time can play tricks, people can see or feel things from different times. I just don’t think people who make their money as psychics are doing that.

    Not all are real con-artists, some just have a gift for understanding others, knowing what needs to be said without any recourse to conscious trickery. Most however know exactly what they are doing. They prey on the gullible and the weak. They are despicable.

    I really don’t think you’re stupid; stubborn perhaps, but not stupid. Your reality, a world filled with a personal God, effecting and adjusting every thought, every moment opens up a wonderful feeling of fulfilment and joy for you. Your world is filled with people who can see and help and understand. I think that’s great!

    My world is colder, more impersonal, harder. I believe that understanding can never come from without but only from within. A true Christian can never disparage another person, Christian or otherwise because the true Christian knows they have sinned themselves; a true Christian must accept others and learn to understand, embrace and love all. I simply try to understand and accept, with or without a God. Love and understanding are key.

    I also still think Sylvia Browne should be thrown into a cesspool.

  11. Teresa on


    Thanks for the nice words. You were right, I DID mean my good wishes sincerely, although mom4thruth would have no way to know that; so thanks for vouching for me.

    My animosity was for the ideas she expressed and the needless suffering they cause, not for her.

  12. Mom4truth on

    blc 303,
    Thank you for your view points and I will say that I do appreciate that you appear to have an open mind when it comes to other people’s opinions and beliefs. As I said before, I do not expect other people to adopt those beliefs that I hold, to simply listen (or in this case read). There is a piece of advice that came to me through my mom that I always try and remember. It is that for every person her gift helps, there are dozens of others that it won’t. Is the gift faulty? No, it is because people are either unwilling or unable to believe in something as all encompassing as Gods love and his desire to not send any of us down here to this “cold world” without as many tools of understanding HIS true nature and the Nature of the other side as possible. It is one of my faults that I have a hard time walking away from those whom I know will not “see” for lack of a better word, what I am offering. I don’t want them to have to shoulder the negativity of this world any more than neccessary. I need to remember that everyone remembers the truth when they cross.
    I am truly greatful for the knowledge before hand because it makes everyday a little bit easier.
    I have not said so before now, but I do think it is important to say that we are all sent down here with a piece of the “gift”. It is another way God sends us here with a little help. It of course is your intuition, that little voice that leads you down a certain path. That voice is your piece of God, your connection, never broken, sometimes blocked, but always present, father.
    I couldn’t help but notice that you wrote “fearing” in reference to God and then crossed it out. You are correct. In my belief, there is no need to fear God. That of course goes against most man-created religion, so I will leave it at that.
    I just re-read what you wrote about understanding coming from within, and while it may not appear so, I agree. I also believe that understanding of God comes from within, however I believe we differ in that I believe there are those who help us along our path of understanding.
    I wrote in one of my posts to Teresa that I am not exempt from responsibility for my past and future mistakes. So in that I also agree with you, I have “sinned” and I am sure I will today and tommorrow. I will do my best not to, but it is the human condition. My goal is to use the knowledge I have been given and will be given to learn to make fewer and fewer missteps.
    I had a laugh when I read of your ideas of what I am like at home. I have to say that I am not a collecter of anything except crosses, I do not go anywhere with out wearing one. There are no curio cabinets or other display cases in my home. I do have one dog and one cat which I think is fairly normal. I also have two children who go to a private “Christian” school in our town. So most of the time the items you’ll most find in my house are toys, veggie tales books and crayons! Oh, and the shoes that are ever present by the garage door!
    I think you may think I am materialistic and I would say that yes and no. Do I struggle with wanting things now and not later? Yes, for example: a new Tahoe. Ughhh! Working on that one. Do I need to have a million little things around me? Heck no, I would have to clean them! Seriously though, in some ways I am, I do not want to be because that is seriously negative and I am trying to better myself—as with other things, it is something I work on everyday!
    There are no soothsayers or magic in our home or my mom and dad’s for that matter. What you will find are blessed crosses (holy water) on a wall in every room, bibles that we are working through, and journals of our learnings from the other side and from our scripture studies.
    I know it may be surprising for some, but to believe in intuitives is not to believe in a women or men with a crystal ball, hoop earrings, insence and tarot cards (true intuitives do not need these things). It is to believe in God, in the people who do His work and who to try and be good people every day.
    If Teresa truly meant her comment sincerely, than great! However, I do not like it when people appear to be representing my words in a way that I did not present them. Go figure, I am human too, and as I said I am a work in progress. Am I stubborn? When I know what I know? YES!!
    Also, if we are to be truly God like, we need to forgive Sylvia her trespasses, just as we would hope we would be forgiven for ours. God Bless and have a FANTASTIC day!!!

  13. blc303 on


    I appolgize that it took a while for your post to appear; you got caught in my moderation queue and I hadn’t noticed.

    I am formulating a response. When I get it done, I will post it as a ‘depersonalized’ blog entry and link to it from here. I am not ignoring you.

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