User:Qarnos/Article:Sylvia Browne

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This page is being used to create a complete re-write of Sylvia Browne. Please do not edit this page, with the exception of minor spelling and grammatical corrections. -- Qarnos 06:31, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Sylvia Browne (b. October 19, 1936)[1] is an American spiritualist and best-selling author on the subject of spirituality.[2] She claims to possess psychic abilities,[2] but this claim is challenged by skeptics, such as James Randi,[3] Phil Plait[4] and Bryan Farha[5] , who contend that she is a fraud; a cold reader who uses mentalist techniques to create the illusion of mind reading and clairvoyance.

Early Life[edit]

Born Sylvia Celeste Shoemaker in Kansas City, Missouri, she is the daughter of Bill and Celeste Shoemaker.[1]

Her father, Bill, was Jewish and Celeste was an Episcopalian.[6] Bill had many jobs including mail delivery and jewelry salesman, and served as vice president for a major freight line. Browne’s maternal grandmother, Ada Coil, who also claimed to be a psychic medium, was a devout Lutheran.[6] To establish stability, the family decided to convert to Catholicism and they were all baptised together when Browne was a young girl. She said that visions started appearing when she was three years old and that her grandmother Ada Coil, helped her understand why she had them. Browne also asserts that her great-uncle also claimed to be a psychic medium and was “rabid about UFOs”.[7]

Legal issues and criminal conviction[edit]

In April, 1988, Browne declared bankruptcy[8] and in 1992, she was indicted, along with her estranged husband, Kenzil Dalzell Brown, on several charges of investment fraud and grand theft.[9] The Superior Court of Santa Clara County, California, found that Browne and her husband sold securities in a gold-mining venture under false pretences.[9] In at least one instance, they told a couple their US $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.[10] Browne pled no contest to securities fraud and was indicted on grand larceny in Santa Clara County, California on May 26th 1992.[8]

On June 6, 1992, the San Francisco Chronicle noted that "Sylvia Brown claimed to have strong psychic 'feelings' that the mine would pay off."[9] Browne excused her inability to foresee her own conviction by claiming that her psychic abilities do not work on herself and calling her critics 'ignorant'.[9]

Court documents show that Browne pleaded no contest to a felony charge of "sale of security without permit," made restitution, and received one year probation each.[9] Dalzell's disposition included "County Jail 4 months with credit for time served of 21 days," while Sylvia's included 200 hours of community service.[9]

Rise to prominence[edit]

Accusations of fraud[edit]

Many prominent skeptics and some journalists[citation needed] have accused Browne of being a fraud. They state that Browne uses well-documented techniques, such as cold reading,[citation needed] and that she preys on the vulnerability of people who are experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one.[citation needed]

In support of this claim, they highlight a series of incidents where Browne, operating in a psychic capacity, has supplied information which was later shown to be incorrect.

Psychic Detective[edit]

Whilst Browne has often spoken of working with the police and FBI as a psychic detective,[citation needed] the Skeptics Dictionary questions her effectiveness, [11] quoting an article which appeared in the media watchdog magazine, Brill's Content, which examined Browne's work as a psychic detective over a span of 35 cases.

In 21, the details were too vague to be verified. Of the remaining 14, law-enforcement officials or family members involved in the investigations say that Browne had played no useful role.

— Brill's Content

Opal Jo Jennings[edit]

Shawn Hornbeck[edit]

Sago Mine[edit]

On January 3, 2006, Browne was a guest on George Noory's late-night radio show Coast to Coast AM.[citation needed] Her appearance took place during the controversial period of the 2006 Sago Mine disaster, when it was originally believed, due to incorrect media reports, that 12 of the 13 trapped miners had survived.[citation needed]

It was at this point that Noory asked Browne what her psychic senses had been telling her before the "discovery" of the 12 miners. She responded, "I knew they would be found".[citation needed]

Later in the show, whilst Browne was still a guest, the incorrect reports were retracted and new reports, that only 1 miner had survived, were presented. Noory did not immediately raise the issue with Browne, but she volunteered, "I really don't feel that there's anybody alive... maybe just one".

Books authored by Sylvia Browne[edit]

  • Browne, Sylvia; & Antoinette May (1990). Adventures of a Psychic Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 0-7394-0178-5
  • Browne, Sylvia; & Harrison Lindsay (1999). The Other Side and Back: A Psychic's Guide to Our World and Beyond New York, NY: Signet. ISBN 0-451-19863-8
  • Browne, Sylvia; & Harrison Lindsay (2000). Life on the Other Side: A Psychic's Tour of the Afterlife Dutton Adult. ISBN 0-525-94539-3
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2000). God, Creation, and Tools for Life Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-56170-722-8
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2000). Astrology Through A Psychic's Eyes Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-56170-720-1
  • Browne, Sylvia; & Harrison Lindsay (2000). Blessings From the Other Side New York, NY: New American Library. ISBN 0-525-94574-1
  • Browne, Sylvia; & Harrison Lindsay (2003). Visits form the Afterlife New York, NY: New American Library. ISBN 0-525-94756-6
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2003). Book of Angels Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-4019-0193-X
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2004). Mother God: The Feminine Principle to Our Creator Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-4019-0309-6
  • Browne, Sylvia; & Harrison Lindsay (2004). Prophecy: What the Future Holds for You New York, NY: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94822-8
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2005). Contacting Your Spirit Guide Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-4019-0532-3
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2005). Secrets & Mysteries of the World Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-4019-0458-0
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2005). Phenomenon: Everything You Need to Know About the Paranormal New York, NY: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94911-9
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2006). If You Could see What I See: The Tenets of Novus Spiritus Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-4019-0648-6
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2006). Exploring the Levels of Creation Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-4019-0891-8
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2006). Insight: Case Files from the Psychic World New York, NY: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94955-0
  • Browne, Sylvia; (2006). The Mystical Life of Jesus New York, NY: Dutton. ISBN 0-5259-5001-X


  1. ^ a b "Psychic Sylvia Browne". Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  2. ^ a b "Sylvia Browne : About Sylvia". Official Website of Sylvia Browne. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  3. ^ Randi, James. "The Art of Cold Reading". James Randi Educational Foundation. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  4. ^ Plait, Phil. "Sylvia Browne is a big giant evil fraud". Bad Astronomy. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  5. ^ Farha, Bryan. "Sylvia Browne: Psychic Guru or Quack?". Quack Watch. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  6. ^ a b Browne, Sylvia; & Antoinette May (1990). Adventures of a Psychic. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. ISBN 0-7394-0178-5
  7. ^ Browne (2005). Secrets & Mysteries of the World. Hay House. pp. 94–96. ISBN 1401900852.  Text " first Sylvia " ignored (help)
  8. ^ a b "NNDB:Sylvia Browne". NNDB. 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-18. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Nickell, Joe (2004). "Psychic Sylvia Browne once failed to foresee her own criminal conviction". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2006-08-18. 
  10. ^ Nickell, Joe (2004). "Psychic Sylvia Browne once failed to foresee her own criminal conviction". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2006-08-18. 
  11. ^ Skeptics Dictionary. "psychic detective, blue sense". Retrieved 2007-02-01.