Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Alleged Psychic Sylvia Browne's 2007 Predictions: Success Rate

My recent writing of a summary of the predictions of alleged psychic Sylvia Browne for the year 2008 lead to a discussion among some friends and I about Browne’s success rate for the predictions she made on Montel for the year 2007. With a little research I was able to find both a succinct list of her predictions, given on a December 27, 2006 airing of Montel, and enough information to determine if they were either a “hit,” correct, or a “miss,” incorrect. Before I get to the success rate of Browne’s 2007 predictions, I feel I must mention the website http://www.mondoskepto.com/, where I found the succinct list of Browne’s 2007 predictions. (Specifically, this page: http://www.mondoskepto.com/node/192)

As with my previous note, the predictions, 13 in all, will be presented in a simple list format along with some of my own commentary and a link to a news story or other source, should such a source be applicable. The quotes of both Browne and Montel Williams were obtained from http://www.mondoskepto.com/

1. Browne predicted that Jennifer Lopez will not have a baby in 2007, saying that Lopez wants to but that “there’s something wrong there.” Technically, this prediction came true. However, according to an article in People Magazine, Lopez confirmed in 2007 that she is pregnant with twins. There doesn’t seem to be anything “wrong” with Lopez at all.
Prediction #1: Miss
Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20159086,00.html

2. Browne predicted that reality TV star Nicole Richie will end up in the hospital. “I mean, this is serious,” Browne said, “We’re not talking about some little, ‘Let’s go and check you out.’” According to an article in US Magazine, Richie was briefly hospitalized in March of 2007. Quoted from the article, “At the hospital, Richie was given fluids and promptly released.” It seems that Richie’s hospital stay was exactly what most people would describe as “some little, “Let’s go and check you out.’”
Prediction #2: Miss
Source: http://www.usmagazine.com/nicole_richie_hospitalized

3. Browne predicted that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will “be instrumental in helping the campaign,” here I’m presuming that Browne means the presidential campaign. In the whole of 2007, Speaker Pelosi did not announce her candidacy for president or do anything else that would be deemed news-worthy having to do with any Democratic candidates for president.
Prediction #3: Miss

4. Browne predicted that there will be a “breakthrough in Hepatitis C.” The only breakthrough I could find was reported in 2006.
Prediction #4: Miss
Source: http://www.wqad.com/Global/story.asp?S=3340337

5. Browne predicted that polio and whooping cough will be “coming back.” This is simply untrue. As of December 25, 2007, there were 895 reported cases of polio globally; that’s compared to 1848 reported cases globally in 2006. Source: http://www.polioeradication.org/casecount.asp I was unable to find any figures for cases of whopping cough globally, but chances are such a disease “coming back” would have made the news.
Prediction #5: Miss

6. Browne predicted that depression would be linked to the one’s diet. The Guardian reported on a paper making this exact same statement in January of 2006.
Prediction #6: Miss

7. Browne predicted that a new drug will be released—having something to do with amino acids, she was not specific—to combat AIDS. Montel asked if it would put AIDS into remission, and Browne answered in the affirmative. A new drug was released, but does not put AIDS into remission and has nothing to do with amino acids. Plus, it was reported in 2006.
Prediction #7: Miss
Source: http://www.aidsmeds.com/news/am20060623.html

8. Browne predicted that the East Coast will have “one of the mildest winters ever.” Now, presuming she means the winter in the leading months of 2007, January, February, etc, Browne was correct. However, the National Weather Service made the same prediction in October of 2006, a full two months before Browne’s prediction. Source: http://www.weather.gov/climate/l3mto.php The winter in the trailing months of 2007, November, December, etc, was anything but mild. Quoted from the USA Today, “The Northeast region's latest winter storm has left several more inches of snow, causing major problems with holiday travel Friday at Boston's Logan International Airport.” Source: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/delays/2007-12-21-holidaytravel_N.htm
Prediction #8: Miss

9. Browne offered a vague warning about tsunamis, about which Montel asked if they were going to cause flooding in the southern United States, to which Browne answered in the affirmative. There was no tsunami which caused any sort of flooding in the southern United States.
Prediction #9: Miss

10. Browne predicted “volcanoes erupting everywhere,” offering her usual level of specificity. Montel asked about Mexico, Hawaii and “the pacific,” to which Browne answered in the affirmative. No volcano erupted in Mexico in 2007, and Kilauea in Hawaii has been erupting effusively, read: non-explosively, since the mid-1990s.
Prediction #10: Miss

11. Browne said that she has “always been worried about a tsunami hitting New York” and made it seem that this was going to happen in 2007. No tsunami hit New York in 2007.
Prediction #11: Miss

12. Browne predicted that terrorist attacks would occur in England, Spain and France. No such events happened in 2007.
Prediction #12: Miss

13. With regards to terrorism, Browne said that she was “worried about trucks and trains in the Unites States.” No such terrorist attacks happened in the United States in 2007.
Prediction #13: Miss

I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed when Montel failed to review Browne’s predictions for 2007 at the beginning of the episode in which Browne offered her predictions for 2008. But now, the reason why Montel did not has become all too clear: Browne utterly failed on every single one of them.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Alleged Psychic Sylvia Browne's 2008 Predictions

If anyone reading this is a frequent reader of my blog, or indeed knows me at all, they will undoubtedly be aware of my extreme dislike and, some might even say, hatred of alleged psychic Sylvia Browne. On December 31, 2007, while making one of her many appearances on the day-time talk show Montel on NBC, Browne made several predictions about what will happen in 2008 with regards to various topics such as celebrity news, medical breakthroughs and politics. With this post, I will present all the predictions Browne made on this particular episode of Montel so that anyone at all can refer back to them once 2008 comes to an end in order to see how accurate Browne was. It is my opinion that recording Browne’s predictions about verifiable facts is one of the few ways that her status as a “world-renowned psychic” can be brought into serious question; something that I feel needs to be done immediately. In addition to Browne’s predictions, summaries of two questions that were asked of her by two separate audience members are also included; questions on which Browne utterly failed but was able to twist both her words and the words of the audience members to make it appear as though she answered the questions correctly.

The predictions will be presented in a simple list format, and any text which appears in quotes is the exact phrasing used by Browne.

1. Jamie Lynn Spears, 16-year-old sister of Britney Spears, will have her baby.

2. Browne described Britney Spears as having a “bi-polar condition,” and that she will get help for it in 2008.

3. Actor Owen Wilson will have “another dip” in his depression.

4. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will adopt another child, but the couple will not stay together.

5. Pitt will never return to his ex-wife, actress Jennifer Aniston. Aniston will marry a producer “in a year or two.”

6. United State troops stationed in Iraq will start coming home “in increments” due to the withdrawal of other collation forces.

7. President Bush’s approval rating will continue to drop.

8. Senator Barack Obama will become the Democratic “front-runner” in the race to be the next president of the United States. Senator Hillary Clinton will be in the lead in polls until the summer and suddenly “flatten out.”

9. The next president of the United States will be from the Democratic Party.

10. Browne predicts that the Ford Motor Company will continue to produce electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles; despite the fact Ford has been doing this for the last year.

11. The stock market will be “like a rollercoaster.”

12. Browne predicts “diabetic breakthroughs” and the use of “sound waves with cancer.”

13. Browne predicts “whooping cough, mumps and measles will be on the rise” in 2008.

14. Browne predicts more tsunamis, “a big earthquake in Japan,” and “volcanoes erupting from all parts of the country that have been dead for years.”

Browne was asked by a young man in the studio audience whether or not he would be successful in his music career, to which Browne answered in the affirmative. Browne goes on to tell the young man that she sees four people around him. When the man makes it clear that he does not know about whom Browne could be talking, Browne says that in his music career, he will “absorb four other people.” Montel then asks the man what instrument he plays, to which the man replies the tenor saxophone. Montel reiterates Browne’s statement about meeting four people, and says that such an instrument generally is not played by itself. Montel says the man will most likely become part of a band with four other people; all in a fairly condescending tone. By retrofitting Browne’s original statement, that she sees four people around this man, Montel made it appear as if Browne predicted this man’s possible formation of a band when in fact she did not. Also, Montel made it seem as if the man who asked the question was somehow mistaken, and that it couldn’t have possibly been Browne who was wrong.

Browne was asked by a middle-aged woman in the studio audience where a family heirloom that belonged to her late grandmother could be found. The woman mentions that it was last seen in the possession of her son. With this information, Browne appears to assume that the aforementioned son is still a child, and that the missing heirloom will be found in the son’s belongings, explaining that he likes to hide things. Montel even chimes in and tells the woman to look through her son’s toys, to which Browne offers no correction. The woman then goes on to explain that her son is in his twenties, an age at which most people no longer have toys, or the desire to mischievously hide objects. Browne sticks to her guns and continues to tell the woman to look through her son’s things until another audience member with a question is called on. Browne was clearly incorrect about the age of the son, showing that she was most likely acting on an unwarranted assumption.

Tactics such as these lead me to believe that Browne possesses absolutely no ability to foresee the future or communicate with people who have died. Yet, Montel Williams, a former United States Marine with 22 years of service, continues to have Browne as a guest on his show and to shamelessly plug her myriad books and personal appearances. Browne seems to show no remorse for the often grieving and desperate people from whom she takes money; a 20-minute over-the-phone reading with Browne costs $700. It is not the people who continue to buy Browne’s books and services who are to blame, although consistently spending any amount of money on Browne is certainly ill-advised. Put very simply: Browne herself is to blame. She knows exactly what she is doing and yet continues to do it. I have been asked many times if I think evil exists. I maintain that I do. But instead of citing the obvious choices such as Adolf Hitler or Charles Manson, I cite “world-renowned psychic” Sylvia Browne and her ilk. In my mind, there is no greater evil than preying on the desperate and the credulous.

For more information on Sylvia Browne and her alleged “powers,” I suggest a visit to this website: http://www.stopsylviabrowne.com/home/

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