Sylvia Browne, whose most notable media appearances include “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Montel” has died at the age of 77 according to her personal website. Tracing back to the pay by the minute call services, psychics for profit have been in and out of the limelight for decades. Their credibility shot downwards again and again when someone finally has the courage to teach the gullible how these so called clairvoyants had manipulated them.
The purpose of this editorial is certainly not to scoff at the loss of life incurred to Sylvia Browne, but with intelligent respect to illustrate how her inability to predict her own demise undermines with one last failure and fell swoop the career of all media psychics. They use advantages in psychology and quick thinking to manipulate people into providing them with enough information to make what seems to be a valuable and often magical claim, but there is nothing magical about what they do. Truly, when all is said and done what the majority of media-centric psychics do is lie and fill individuals with false hope.
Possibly the most definitive illustration of this was the rapid downfall of the host of the one-time popular television program “Crossing Over” with John Edward. He employed every possible trick someone could imagine in conscious attempts of manipulating the emotionally vulnerable. He had moles in the audience, and even the line outside preparing to enter the show, whose sole purpose was to gather information that John Edward could use to exploit the pain and desperate hopes of his audience members. It is obviously not difficult to guess the name of a deceased loved one when someone that is an employee of the television show has already gotten information about not limited to merely a name but description of demise and so forth. He also used tactics referred to as “cold reading” which allow someone to guide a person to reveal the necessary information required to make believable statements about an otherworldly connection. This is basically just tricking someone to give you the answer to a question that someone could not have guessed out of thin air. This tends to work on more than just people below average intelligence because the pain and desperation sometimes stunts common logic.
Magicians and illusionists use the same desire for people to believe in something truly amazing to perform their tricks. Sylvia Browne used tactics such as “cold reading” and many other forms of guiding questions to extract information from those that many believed she was helping. She may have enriched several lives from the information she fabricated, but that does not mean what she was doing was morally right. This became extremely apparent when she informed the distressed mother of kidnap victim Amanda Berry that her daughter was no longer alive and it was time for her let go and move on. Amanda Berry was not only alive and in need of rescue, but since Sylvia Browne lied to her mother in an attempt to provide false closure, and continued to profit from her imaginary gifts, it stands to reason that she damaged the efficiency of the investigation without her mother putting nearly as much pressure on investigators to find her daughter. There certainly are individuals in this world that are connected to more than an average person, and can see beyond this dimension to learn things almost in excess of normal comprehension. But these true “mediums” are not on television, and Sylvia Browne was not one of them.
Editorial by Michael Blain