- Category : Spiritualist
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 6/3 - Role Model / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (7,20)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Limitation 2
Sylvia Browne (born Sylvia Celeste Shoemaker, October 19, 1936) is an American author who describes herself as a psychic and spiritual medium. She has appeared regularly on television and radio, including the shows Larry King Live and The Montel Williams Show, and hosts an hour-long Internet radio show on Hay House Radio.
Browne has been the subject of frequent criticism for making psychic predictions that were later proven false. These have included several predictions related to missing persons, most notably Shawn Hornbeck and Amanda Berry.
Browne grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. Her father held several different jobs, working at times in mail delivery, in jewelry sales, and as a vice president of a major freight line. Browne's father was Jewish, her mother Episcopalian, and her maternal grandmother a devout Lutheran; Browne identified herself in 2001 as Jewish.
Browne claims that she started seeing visions at the age of five, and that her grandmother, who claimed to be a psychic medium, helped her understand what they meant. Browne also asserts that her great-uncle was a psychic medium and was "rabid about UFOs."
Browne is the head of the Sylvia Browne Corporation and Sylvia Browne Enterprises. In a 2010 interview, Browne's business manager said that Browne's businesses earn $3 million a year.
Browne started to give psychic readings in 1974, and has performed thousands of one-on-one readings for a wide variety of groups and individuals. As of 2008, she charged $850 for a 20– to 30-minute telephone reading.
Browne is the author of dozens of books on paranormal and spiritual topics.
In Browne's books, she discusses how 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 Browne, this includes atheists, people who do not believe in a God or Gods. Browne writes that people's actions and intentions define a person and soul, and that people of all religions, spiritual beliefs, and non-beliefs may go to 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 with.
Television and radio
Browne has been a frequent guest on US television and radio programs, including Larry King Live, The Montel Williams Show, That's Incredible!, and Coast to Coast AM. During these appearances, she usually discusses her abilities with the host and then performs readings for audience members or callers. Browne hosts her own hour-long Internet radio show on Hay House Radio, where she performs readings and discusses paranormal issues.
On some occasions Browne is paired with other guests, including skeptics, often leading to debate about the authenticity of Browne's psychic abilities. These shows often feature verbal sparring between the two, with each trying to convince the audience that the other is wrong.
Browne appeared in a 1991 episode of Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories. In the segment "Ghosts R Us," she portrayed herself in a recreation of events that purportedly took place in a haunted Toys R Us store. Browne also appeared as herself on the television soap opera The Young and the Restless in December 2006.
In 1986, Browne founded a Campbell, California church known as the Society of Novus Spiritus. The church describes itself as "Gnostic Christian", and says it espouses the traditions and teachings followed by Jesus Christ, while also incorporating the Gnostic Gospels and not excluding Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism. The Novus Spiritus website says that while the Bible is a "marvelous book of learning and hope", it is not the "unaltered word of God".
According to its website, the church has forty ministers, although 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 church's board of directors.
Browne says she knows what it is like in Heaven. In her book The Other Side and Back, she says the temperature is a constant 78 °F (25.6 °C), that there are no insects unless one wants there to be, that pets go to Heaven, and that a house can be built wherever one wants. She asserts that the "other side" exists approximately three feet above ground level and at a "higher vibrational level" and that makes it difficult for humans to perceive. Like a number of 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." She has also claimed that they do not speak.
Browne professes the ability to speak with her spirit guide, "Francine," and has given details of 54 of her own former lives as divined by her.
Browne has made many public predictions which have subsequently been proven false, including the following:
In January 2000: "Democrats will win the 2000 United States Presidential election with Bill Bradley, with close competition from the Reform Party." Bradley withdrew from the Democratic primary in March. The Reform party came in fourth in the November election, with 0.43% of the national popular vote.
In 2002: Browne told the parents of 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, who had disappeared earlier that year, that Shawn was dead and had been kidnapped by a dark-skinned man with dreadlocks. Hornbeck was found alive in 2007; his kidnapper was Caucasian and short-haired. In June 2008, UK television network ITV2 was sanctioned by Ofcom for reairing the Montel Williams episode featuring Browne's original prediction.
In approximately January 2003: author Janet McDonald would live "a really long life." McDonald died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 53.
In November 2004, to the mother of kidnapping victim Amanda Berry, who had disappeared 19 months earlier: "She's not alive, honey." Browne also said she had a vision of Berry's jacket in the garbage with "DNA on it." Berry was found alive in May 2013.
In January 2005: "Michael Jackson will be convicted." Jackson's trial on child molestation charges began January 30, 2005; in June he was found not guilty on all charges.
In January 2012: Browne predicted that President Barack Obama would not be re-elected as President of the United States. (In September, she made a different prediction that Obama would be re-elected.) Obama won the presidential election in November with 51.06% of the national popular vote and 62% of the electoral college.
Psychic detective cases
In 2000, Brill's Content examined ten recent Montel Williams episodes that highlighted Browne's work as a psychic detective, spanning 35 cases. In 21 cases, the information predicted by Browne was too vague to be verified. Of the remaining 14, law enforcement officials or family members stated that Browne had played no useful role.
In 2010, the Skeptical Inquirer published a detailed three-year study by Ryan Shaffer and Agatha Jadwiszczok, examining Browne's predictions about missing persons and murder cases. Despite Browne's repeated claims to be more than 85% correct, the study reported that "Browne has not even been mostly correct in a single case." The study compared Browne's televised statements about 115 cases with newspaper reports, and found that in 25 cases where the actual outcome was known, she was completely wrong in every one. In the rest, where the final outcome was unknown, her predictions could not be substantiated. The study concluded that the media outlets that repeatedly promoted Browne's work had no visible concern about whether she was untrustworthy or harmed people. Among the predictions examined in the study were the following:
In 1999, Browne said that six-year-old Opal Jo Jennings, who had disappeared a month earlier, had been forced into slavery in Japan. Later that year, a local man was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Jennings. In 2003, an autopsy of Jennings' remains found that she had died within hours of her abduction.
In 2002, Browne said that Holly Krewson, who had disappeared in 1995, was working as an exotic dancer in a Hollywood nightclub. In 2006, dental records were used to positively identify a body found in 1996 in San Diego as that of Holly Krewson.
In 2002, Browne said that Lynda McClelland, who had disappeared in 2000, had been taken by a man with the initials "MJ"; was alive in Orlando, Florida; and would be found soon. In 2003, McClelland's son-in-law David Repasky, who had been present at Browne's reading, was convicted of murdering McClelland; her remains were found near her home in Pennsylvania.
In 2004, Browne said that Ryan Katcher, a 19-year-old who had disappeared in 2000, had been murdered, and his body could be found in a metal shaft. In 2006, Katcher's body was found in his truck at the bottom of a pond, where he had drowned to death.
In a 2013 follow-up article, Shaffer reviewed more recent predictions by Browne, as well as predictions whose outcomes had been earlier classified as undetermined but were now largely resolved. According to Shaffer, Browne was mostly or completely wrong in 33 cases and mostly accurate in none.
Sago Mine disaster
On January 3, 2006, Browne was a guest on the US radio program Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. 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 the reported lack of noise from inside the mine might have led her to think the men had died, she replied, "No; I knew they were going to be found." Later in the program, it was discovered that the earlier news reports had been in error and only one miner was believed to be alive. At this point, Browne said, "I don’t think there’s anybody alive, maybe one. How crazy for them to report that they were alive when they weren’t!...I just don’t think they are alive." Later in the show, she said, "I didn't believe that they were alive...I did believe that they were gone." Browne later said that her initial statement that "they were going to be found" had been referring to the bodies of the deceased miners. In the October 3, 2007 episode of Coast to Coast AM, Noory identified this incident as the reason he has not invited Browne back to the show.
James Randi and the $1,000,000 challenge
Scientific skeptic James Randi, a retired stage magician turned investigator of paranormal claims, has been a vocal critic of Browne, and has claimed her accuracy rate has been no better than educated guessing. On September 3, 2001, Browne stated on Larry King Live that she would prove her legitimacy by accepting the James Randi Educational Foundation's $1,000,000 challenge to demonstrate supernatural abilities in a controlled scientific test. However, by April 2003, Browne had not contacted Randi to make testing arrangements.
On May 16, 2003, in another appearance on King's show, Browne said that she had not taken the test because Randi refused to place the prize money in escrow. Randi responded by mailing a notarized copy of the prize account status showing a balance in excess of one million dollars; Browne refused acceptance of Randi's letter. In late 2003, despite challenge rules that stated the money would not be placed in escrow, Randi announced that he was willing to do so for Browne; Browne did not accept or acknowledge this offer. In 2005, Browne posted a message online that she had never received confirmation of the prize money's existence, despite Randi's claim that he had a certified mail receipt showing Browne's refusal of the package.
In 2007, on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360°, Browne's business manager Linda Rossi said that Browne would not be taking Randi's challenge "because she has nothing to prove to James Randi."
In 1992, Browne and estranged husband Kenzil Dalzell Brown were indicted on several charges of investment fraud and grand theft. The Superior Court of Santa Clara County, 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 that 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 to securities fraud and was indicted on grand larceny in Santa Clara County, California on May 26, 1992. The couple each received one year probation. In addition, Browne was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.
Browne has been married five times. Her first marriage, from 1959 to 1972, was to Gary Dufresne. The couple had two sons, Paul and Christopher. She took the surname Brown upon her third marriage, and changed it to Browne following her 1992 indictment on security fraud charges. Her most recent marriage took place on February 14, 2009, to the owner of a jewelry store.
Browne says that her son Christopher Dufresne is also psychic. Her website says, "If Sylvia is the best psychic around - then Chris is the second best."
In May 2003, she told Larry King in an interview that she would die at the age of 88. In March 2011, Society of Novus Spiritus, the church founded by Browne, announced that Browne had suffered a heart attack on March 21 in Hawaii. The church requested donations on Browne's behalf.