Thursday, January 1, 2009

Predictions for 2009: Sylvia Browne Can't Lose

Hold me, I spent hours today listening to Sylvia Browne's webcast of her 2009 psychic predictions followed by her answers to dozens of videos and letter from her duped followers. And I took notes. I won't link to the video but you can find it if you want to hear the entire thing.

Sylvia Browne is a famous television psychic who has appeared frequently on Montel Williams and Larry King. In addition to answering many people's questions about their love lives, missing children or what career path they should choose, Sylvia also delves into supernatural questions. For example, she frequently answers queries about if a dead relative has passed to the other side, details about their spirit guides, and other unverifiable information about angels, heaven and the spiritual realm.

In the skeptic world, Sylvia Browne is well known for having stood up James Randi after promising to allow him to test her abilities. It's been over 5 years and Randi is still waiting.

I predict her predictions can only help her business. Not only are there lots of them, increasing the odds that at least some of them are correct, what are the chances that on December 31, 2009 she will review both her accurate and inaccurate predictions with her fans? How many of her fans will really remember any of the misses along with the hits if she does not? She only needs a few hits to appear convincing. Upon reviewing my long list of notes, I noticed that her predictions fell into several different categories:

Wishful thinking, or predictions that are crowd pleasers: The economy will improve, we will not be taken in by bad loans as much and more ma and pa businesses will sprout up. Majority of banks are safe.

The fairly obvious: Lots of brown outs and black outs in the midwest after January (this could easily be caused by ice storms and if it is a hot summer of course there will be brown outs at the very least.) Multiple small earthquakes in the coastal region of California, and the coastal regions will be hit by multiple hurricanes. Earthquakes in the far East.

The likely: Obama will start bringing troops home. Now she does mention December of 2009, the following Spring and then the following Fall specifically, but if it is a continuous withdraw then it's still a hit. Terrible weather all over the Midwest. More regulations on Wall Street and the loan industry.

So vague you can't lose: Lots of train accidents. She says the last time she made this prediction there were over 200. How many are there normally? Is this counting every person car or other local mishap that happened? There will be two plane crashes on the East Coast. Well it could be any kind of plane, couldn't it? And the East Coast is huge.

Specific but likely to be forgotten about by 2010: Bank robbers will get away with a large robbery in Las Vegas involving a Brinks truck. There will be a terrorist attack near Paris in late January.

The just plain weird: A large ocean liner will go aground sending many people into the water, but it won't be one she is on because she wouldn't get on to one of the ones that will go aground. Well if she knows which one, then why not tell us which it is? Winter will be mild in most of the East except for Boston and Philadelphia due to "polar tilt." New loan companies will spring up that are government regulated. Aren't they already?

As you can see, just from the obvious and likely categories, Sylvia is bound to generate several hits that will be remembered by her fans. And does she have fans. After listening to the predictions, I willed myself to listen to the many desperate women looking for a man and lonely people asking for the names of their spirit guides. People also asked if they should go into specific careers, what happened to the spirit of their deceased loved ones, why their leg was so swollen, and one sad woman asked for help with a severe case of agoraphobia and panic attacks. Despite all these different questions, the one I would have really have liked to see is, "Why am I asking you?"

For more information on Sylvia Browne, I recommend the site (This site used to go by another name, but while the author was in the hospital, the domain expired, bought by someone else, and due to issues with Google rankings, I will not repeat the old name here.) This site offers recaps of the accuracy of many of Browne's predictions, questionable advice and readings that are just plain cruel. Of particular note are videos of some disturbing readings she gave to desperate families of missing persons. (In researching "polar tilt" (??!!) I found another nice critique of Browne here.)


MarkT said...

It's funny... my mother was an Atheist & didn't believe in any supernatural schtuff- yet, she had all the Edgar Cayce books & listened to Sandra Lee Serio & had books by (who was the lady who "predicted" the "death of a blue-eyed Democrat"?), along with many Astrology books. I don't think she was into all that for the purpose of skeptical inquiry, per se- I think that she just thought it was all FUN.

So maybe some of Sylvia Browne's fans are like that... but I shudder to think of how many people actually fall for her schtick hook, line, & sinker.

Smug Baldy said...

Hi Manya -

I tracked Sylvia's predictions for a couple years, and have had a difficult time finding her predictions for 2009. Where did you see the webcast? Is it still available?

The last time I checked her, it was for her 2007 predictions, and I had created some criteria to get rid of vague non-predictions. Of those that were left, she ended up with over a 90% false alarm rate - which basically means she says things that wind up not occurring.

Anyway, thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

A cruise liner did go aground off taly.... so she got that right