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Sylvia Shakedown Pt. 1

by Mark Edward, Jan 02 2010

images2Force One went into action at Sylvia Browne’s appearance at Universal Amphitheatre last night. Tagged as the Together Again tour, I sat through enough of this woman’s unutterable prattle until I just couldn’t stand it another moment. I knew before going in my conscience  would likely force me to act, but I wasn’t sure how things would transpire until after I had had a earful of some of the most trite and at times ugly rap I think I have ever heard in my life. This was nearly two hours of unbelievable arrogance matched with a crudity that was brazenly passed off as comedy relief. It wasn’t funny.

Our Modern Oracle in situ

Our Modern Oracle in situ

Forget that this is a person who employs a rough street talking variety of cheap spirituality. She’s the closest thing we have in our age to compare with the Witch of Endor. This is a brash, classless and very unhappy person. I was more than appalled by her complete lack of courtesy and simple good manners. Her attitude and demeanor came off as a tired old woman with nowhere else to go carrying a huge load of her own personal baggage. She might as well have been doing Howard Stern fart jokes.

Arriving early, I did a sweep of the crowd to get a feel for the demographic. Not surprisingly; these were your garden variety Jerry Springer low-brow thrill seekers with a smattering of up-scale 30-40’s single women with their girlfriends in tow. Trailer trash? Yessirree. You betcha. To see people like this prostrate themselves before the throne of such a base individual defies imagination. But I wasn’t surprised aftre glancing over the popcorn stands and cheap silver jewelry Sylvia’s husband of five months was hawking in the lobby. I’m afraid this all points out the dire situation we face as human beings in need of leadership and real answers. People seem to be approaching serious life issues as if they are going to a side-show. If this is the best we can do for guidence, we are in worse trouble than I thought.

The Venerable Witch of Endor

The Venerable Witch of Endor

Here is the video:


Part 2 of this blog will give the real dirt and what I think anyone with a conscience should be doing to fight back against these criminals. I advise people to TAKE ACTION.

To whet your appetiete for now, here’s some of the gems that I remember: Many people asked who their spirit guides were. Sylvia dashed off names without a moments hesitation; literally off the top of her head with such abandon, you would have thought she was bored with the whole thing. I think she is. Unfortunately, her all-consuming greed that has kept her wealthy won’t allow her to stop. Names like Veronique and Michael stick in my mind. Anyone could do this and if it was me, I would have taken my sweet time. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t use any cold reading methods. Like her peers Van Praagh and John Edward, she doen’t have to. She can get away with simply making bold statements as if they are facts.Welcome to the lazy form of doing psychic readings. Just say whatever comes into your head. No mentalism methods are needed.

. When met with a reply from a questioner such as, “Oh really…?” Sylvia would bark, “I’m the psychic here!”  or “You came to see a psychic didn’t you?” with the same rough intonation. Many times she would give an answer before the question was even half-finished coming out of the mouth of the questioner, such as:

QUESTIONER: “In terms of my new career, will I ….”

SYLVIA: “You are going to be very happy with your job. …Next!”

This went on for nearly a hour. It was like being in a delicatessen line, when your number was called, you trotted by the microphone and were given your sausage-style reading in one short utterance, usually in one or two syllable responses. Some of these were just pathetically rude and had the air of obnoxiousness that I would have previously thought to be inappropriate . Being insulted is hardly worth paying a dime for:

QUESTIONER:  “Will I ever have a child?”



QUESTIONER: Is my boyfriend (who happened to be sitting right next to the young lady) right for me?”

SYLVIA: “No. You can do better…”

When it came to medical questions, Sylvia takes the cake.  She rattled off off-hand pop-wisdom as if it was second nature to the crowd in her rasping croak of what’s left of her emphysema-ravaged voice and punctuated her dialogue with scatological phrases. Not very lady-like:

QUESTIONER: “Will they be able to cut away all the cancer?”

SYLVIA: “Yes,  (this bark delivered in the rapid-fire style that characterized her entire deameanor; dismissive and abrupt)


QUESTIONER: (weeping uncontrollably) “My brother and his best friend both died in a car accident… and I …..”

SYLVIA: “Yeah I know. I’m seeing something about his head. Was his head crushed or something?”

QUESTIONER: (Whose voice had by then become a yelping bray) “No! He was burned alive, …so I don’t know!”

SYLVIA: “Well, I’m seeing a crushed head …or something. Anyway, it was quick, …that’s all.”

        What a cold bitch.

. When people asked, “What kind of signs do my spirit guides give me when he/she is near?”

           “When your lights go on and off, that’s him/her.”

           “Coins.” (I assume she means when you find a penny on the street of something…)

and an old standard:

          ‘When your phone rings and there’s no one there… that’s him/her.”

These sort of shenanigans went on all night after Montell’s 30 minute diatribe about himself and all his accomplishments. One of the most amazing things about this monologue was his proud insistence (after giving the crowd some warm-up feel good induction techniques familiar to hypnotists and motivational speakers) that everyone should follow his example of eschewing anyone’s attempts to “define your personality or tell you what or what not you can be.”  Brilliant. Within five minutes of making this statement,  Montell proudly introduced, “…The only psychic I will go to… Sylvia Browne!” Who then proceeded to spend the next hour and a half telling people what their personalities are and precisely what they need to do (and not do) in their future to become happy and successful!  What hypocrisy.

Do you think there was a critical thinking mind in all those hundreds of seekers who managed to put two and two together and see this incredible contradiction? I hope so, but probably not. These were overwhelmingly Sylvia worshippers and there was nary a skeptic in the crowd.  Simple logic completely escapes these yokels.  They are totally focused on Sylvia’s folksy attitude. She is so blunt and crude, people figure she must be real. Nobody could be that callous unless they were for real, right?

Her predictions bordered on lunacy and were either boringly faciule or totally uninteresting, here’s few I remember hearing:

. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt will break up. And Jennifer Anniston won’t take him back, to which Sylvia added sagely,  “Why should she?” This is certainly the sort of earth shattering news anyone would be happy to plunk down $35.00 to hear huh? She’s also seriously worried about Elizabeth  Taylor and says she’s lonely. Boo Hoo.

In one of the more revealing Hollywood star tales told, she spoke about a very famous personality who, “We would know from the stage and screen” who calls her all the time. She went on to say that when she gets a call from this person, she takes the phone off her ear and sets it down on the table, then comes back fifteen minutes later and says, “…Is that so?” She then sets the receiver back down on the table, vacuums her carpet and comes back in like fashion over and over until the call is finished. Now here’s the kicker: After a week or two passes, Sylvia gets a phone call back from this person telling her how absolutely accurate she was! Does that tell us a little more about how she works and what she thinks about her clients who are paying upwards of $700.00 for a reading?

She croaks out these stories about people close to her (including family members) with an air of detached condescension or as if they are a bother to her. It reminded me of early Phillis Diller routines, only without Fang and good punch lines. If Sylvia ever wanted to, she could make the leap from psychic to stand-up comedienne with only a little re-tooling and a decent writer.

I won’t go so far as to predict that just yet…

. Cures will be found for cancer and diabetes. Really? When?

. There will be no terrorist attcaks against the United States in 2010. I’m sure the CIA, Interpol and the Mossad would love to hear about how and where she gets her info on that from. Where’s Bin Laden anyway Sylvia? You did so well with all those murdered dead bodies, right? He should be an easy find. Why not help the WHOLE WORLD Sylvia?

Nope. She’s just like Rosemary Altea when I interviewed her. Like Dear Rosemary, Sylvia prefers to work ; “one on one” where she can really be of service. I’m sure most of these “one-on’one” clients were given preferred seating in the first three rows of the performance.

So all in all we are looking at a woman who has reached the top of the dung-heap that is psychic-stardom by merely telling people who are abused, neglected, bereaved and desperate just how stupid they are – and from her easy-chair on the stage, rubbed everybody’s nose in it. And they ate it up. There was no compassion or great cosmic empathy on display as with many of the other bright lights of the psychic world. Just a brusque bitchy old woman talking down to the masses. I would rather listen to Roseanne Barr. At least she’s funny. I couldn’t help but wonder what the Oracle of Delphi must have been like. 

There is much, much more to this story and I will be picking it up next week with the nitty-gritty and details about how I stuck it to Sylvia. I can tell you now that my attack was two-pronged: One was to set the crowd wondering and the second and most important aspect was to let Sylvia herself know (without messing with the belief systems of the crowd and setting them against skepticism – which would have been pointless and self-defeating) in no uncertain terms; that if she plans to continue her career (which she shows every intention of doing) there will be people like myself lying in wait to embarrass her. Big Time.

You have to fight fire with fire. Anything less is just talk.

Please forward the video with your own comments to anyone in the media.

BOTTOM LINE:  How could Sylvia Browne give such profound advice to me about my hearing the spirit voices of the dead children she herself was wrong about? Opal Jo Jennings, Terence Farrell , Holly Kershon and Linda Macallum are DEAD. How come she didn’t know right off that I was a fraud? Seems simple to me . She’s a liar – and now we have the proof.

More Soon.


67 Responses to “Sylvia Shakedown Pt. 1”

  1. Jim says:

    About time someone went scorched earth on that old bag, can’t wait for part two.

  2. FSM_Ed says:

    I’m not sure what that accomplished. I watched the video and don’t think your act was even a blip on her radar. Why do you think she gives a crap about your antics because she is still packing ‘em in?

    • Sgerbic says:

      Because Sylvia is notorious for throwing a fit when confronted by a skeptic. Reading the JREF forum and also the pattern is very clear. She takes out her anger on her handlers and her fans, I can only imagine what this did.

      She has also canceled shows when it was announced that skeptics were planning something on the JREF forum. Her handlers frequently scan the Internet for hits on her name, and they read everything on the JREF forum as well.

      By the way, “Hello Sylvia’s People” welcome to the Skeptic Blog. But I’m sure you have visited us before. Feel free to post. I would love to hear how you condone telling a desperate parent that their little girl has been sold into white slavery in a foreign country….Opal Jo Jennings. Please explain how Sylvia “helps people”.

      Yes, FSM_Ed Sylvia is bothered by this.

    • Gary says:

      Hey, gotta start somewhere, somebody has to start throwing rocks.

  3. Patrick says:

    I hate to take issue with it, but the style of this writing isn’t very clear. You mention somebody named Montell, is that Montel Williams? Although I hold the same opinions about Sylvia Browne, some of the things in this blog aren’t very clear.

    • Max says:

      Yes, of course that’s Montel Williams.
      What else is unclear?

      • Trimegistus says:

        I think I know what Patrick’s referring to: Mr. Edwards wrote the article as if all his readers are as familiar with Sylvia Browne’s act as he is. It’s understandable, since he’s probably immersed himself in all things Sylvia lately in order to plan his campaign.

        Phil Klass, the great UFO debunker, had much the same problem in his books — at times he sounded just like the flying saucer nuts he was attacking because of his casual references to obscure sightings most of his readers had never heard of.

      • Sgerbic says:

        By the way, it’s Mark Edward, not Mark Edwards. Just saying…

  4. Jake K. says:

    @FSM_Ed, she’s been known to fly off the handle because of one person standing up to her in the past. It may be a blip in the long run, but it DOES get to her and, hopefully, it makes other people in the audience think.

    Robert Lancaster of details his encounter with her on his website. He was nothing but polite and non-confrontational – I’ve met him in person and he’s such a complete teddy bear that I’m inclined to believe him – and in return she lied to hotel security to get him removed from the building. I’ve read another account (can’t remember where, unfortunately) of a reporter who interviewed her during a break at some sort of multi-session (multi-day?) event, was asked to leave, and learned later that her next session with the other attendees was entirely just her bitching and moaning about a horrible evil little man who’d insulted her earlier that day.

    In both of these accounts, people who believed in her were a bit shaken up by what happened, and hopefully some of them went on to re-consider their faith in her. The particular stunt in the YouTube video was clearly meant to shake her up more than to communicate to the other audience members, but I suppose there’s at least a chance that some believers or those on the fence will see it and google the names he mentions to see what it’s all about and end up learning a thing or two about her horrible failures. If these kinds of things help to free any victims from her clutches, then as a former believer (in other kinds of nonsense – not in Sylvia specifically) I say it’s worth it.

    • Jake K. says:

      Claus Larsen’s post below fills in a couple of the blanks in mine, including the name of the reporter (Jon Ronson) and a link to the article he wrote about his experience. Thanks, Claus!

  5. Sarah says:

    davidmabb – LOL. Go to bed little one, you have church in the morning!

    PZ Myers is awesome – and he actually exists.

    have you for but a moment considered that you have adopted a position against 98% of the human race, both past and present?

    If 98% of the population believed in pink unicorns, it doesn’t make it any more of a fact.

  6. Skepacabra says:

    I agree that this particular stunt didn’t really register, but as I was watching the latest adventure of the great fictional skeptical investigator Sherlock Holmes today, it got me thinking. We’ve really got to up our game. The skeptical community hosts some of the greatest minds of our time. We’ve got scientists, illusionists, journalists, entertainers who know how to move audiences, and many other professionals. It’s about time we started to put our heads together.

    The Force One idea is a good one and I highly support it. But we also should be trying to organize larger group activism. For too long we’ve been playing their game. Project Alpha, Carlos, and Randi’s exposing of Peter Popoff on The Tonight Show were steps in the right direction because they caused public embarrassment on a grand scale. That’s what we need to be doing much, much more. Making some scene at one of Sylvia’s shows is one thing but just imagine if we infiltrated her whole operation by getting moles hired as part of her staff. It all sounds pretty pie-in-the-sky right now but with a little funding and serious commitment from participants to bring these con artists down (by means within the law of course), imagine the possibilities.

    No matter how much we intellectually challenge people like Sylvia and John Edward, they have an answer for everything. Their real power comes from people’s trust in them. Take Sylvia. People trust her so much that she can get away with being outright nasty to their faces. But you expose her dishonesty and disregard for people, and make no mistake. People will turn on her like they did Tiger Woods or any other celebrity after a major scandal.

    • Vie says:

      That sounds like…dare I say it?… A conspiracy! (o.0)

    • Sgerbic says:

      I totally agree with you Skepacabra! More needs to be done, and a LOT MORE! Mark is just showing us one way to do this with very little investment, and a lot of nerve. Browne and her friends need to watch their step as there are a lot of skeptic groups and individuals out there waiting to strike. Yes we are a clever lot, but the majority seem to like to just “talk” about what they would do. Action is what is needed. Force One has a lot of things in place I bet, and with the advent of the Internet I think they can also be global.

  7. Claus Larsen says:

    I accompanied Robert Lancaster and his wife to the Excalibur on June 25, 2008.

    There was not an inkling of aggressive behavior from any of us, at any time. Yet, after the show, when she had realized that she had just met one of her most formidable foes, Sylvia did indeed lie to security, and had Robert thrown out.

    Confronting her does get to her. Her sneering disdain for other people really shines through whenever she encounters any form of opposition. Her behavior towards her fans may be described by them as blunt or crude, but when she lashes out against skeptics, she is revealing her true self.

    This is why Mark is correct: We should confront not just Sylvia, but all psychics, astrologers, healers etc., whenever we can. They should expect that there will be skeptics in every audience. They have been living the easy life for far too long, with only sycophants among them. They should not expect a never-ending crowd of uncritical believers, but constantly live in fear that the next person could be a skeptic with a searing question. We need to drive these heartless crooks to be ever on the defense.

    It could be that the other reporter mentioned is Jon Ronson, whose account can be read here:

    Claus Larsen

    /Shameless plug/
    More articles about Sylvia here:

  8. Max says:

    Sylvia Browne might not have a conscience, but some of her backers might. She’s received publicity through Montel Williams and also Larry King, but after she screwed up the outcome of the Sago Mine disaster on Coast to Coast AM, the host George Noory became disillusioned and hasn’t invited her back, as far as I know. He told a caller, “So she’s had some pretty big blunders and it’s just given us just a different kind of taste in our mouth and I don’t know what I’m going to do about it. If she comes back, ummm, we may hold her to the fire considerably harder than we’ve done in the past…”

  9. Max says:

    BOTTOM LINE: How could Sylvia Browne give such profound advice to me about my hearing the spirit voices of the dead children she herself was wrong about? Opal Jo Jennings, Terence Farrell , Holly Kershon and Linda Macallum are DEAD. How come she didn’t know right off that I was a fraud? Seems simple to me. She’s a liar – and now we have the proof.

    I think the correct names are Holly Krewson and Lynda McClelland.
    I suspect that Sylvia tried to cut you off as soon as you uttered Opal Jo Jennings because she knew you were trying to punk her.
    Montel Williams should’ve gotten the message too, since Sylvia gave those false readings on his show.

  10. Snaars says:

    I don’t know that it serves any purpose to denigrate the audience by calling them trailer trash – but otherwise I approve. Sylvia and other parasites like her should be taken down.

    • Sgerbic says:

      Maybe trailer trash is too harsh of a word for these idiots. Comparing them really makes trailer trash look good. The people in the audience shouting “we love you Sylvia!” and “god bless you Sylvia!” are morons.

  11. oldebabe says:

    Good goals, Mark, but you’ve taken on a `task and a half’.

    Maybe you will/can do something about Sylvia (a particularly ugly and explicit example)… I hope so. It is frightening to see this kind of nonsense and nastiness delivered and accepted, but the people who come to see psychics, no matter what caliber, seem to derive some kind of satifaction with it, perhaps need it, otherwise they would certainly reject such a ridiculous performance and leave, or not be there in the first place. I don’t envy you your task.

    Mind-boggling, tho’, that this ugliness seems to be what some people will accept, and to be, essentially, fooled, no matter how, in what they believe or would like to believe. Hopefully, getting rid of a particularly obnoxious psychic will at least dampen their feelings…

  12. Max says:

    Jon Ronson went on a cruise with Sylvia Browne and recounted how she turned off some of her fans.

    “I used to idolise Sylvia but now I’m kind of off her. And those one- and two-word answers she gives …” Evelyn screws up her face. “She’s so cold. And why didn’t she turn up to the cocktail party?”

    “People didn’t know where the hell this was coming from,” Cassie says. “A few of them said to me afterwards, ‘I didn’t pay 4,000 euros to listen to someone go on like that.'”

    When Jon Ronson interviewed Sylvia, she remembered the Shawn Hornbeck blunder, but said she didn’t remember Opal Jo Jennings.

    “Then there was Opal Jo Jennings,” I say.
    Sylvia looks blankly at me.
    “Back in 1999,” I say.
    Sylvia still looks blank.
    “You said she was sold into white slavery in Japan but actually she was dead,” I prompt.
    “I don’t remember that case at all,” Sylvia says.

  13. danekart says:

    “What’s my name?”

    That simple question should expose all psychics. If they can see instantly how “your brother died in a car crash, his head crushed … err, burned” and “you’ll get a boyfriend in 2.5 years” surely she can answer a simple name question.

    If she doesn’t answer or tries to weasel her way out of it, just laugh at her – laugh a lot.

    • Max says:

      Something similar but less obvious was tried.

      When Larsen, the skeptic who had come with us – got to the microphone, it went like this:
      Larsen: What was my paternal grandfather’s first name?
      Browne: [after a pause] Howard.
      Larsen: No. Thank you.
      And he headed back to his seat as Browne went on to the next person, never even acknowledging that she had been wrong.

    • Sgerbic says:

      True, but it has no effect on her or the audience. If the audience acknowledges you they just boo you off stage. The psychic will just make fun of you by saying, “you don’t know your name?” Then they will say, “in your past life your name was Ickabod Pigsnore” Yes, you will know you “scored” one on the psychic, but in the end they will just be laughing at you.

      But, don’t let me stop you from doing this if you think it will help. Maybe if enough people do it the rest of the audience will finally get it.

      What Mark is showing us is to just go out and “do something”.

  14. Mark Edward says:

    Most of you got what I was trying to do. I wasn’t trying to convert the audience who are hopelessly lost. As I mention in the blog there was a seperate prong of this two pronged attack aimed at the audience that hasn’t been revealed yet.

    You can listen to Warning: radio podcast on Monday night Jan 4th at 6pm pacific time. Or you can wait till next Saturday for part two. Much more went on that isn’t on this video.

    Mark Edward

  15. Would you expect anything less from Browne? The woman is a walking, talking three ring circus.

  16. Vie says:

    I understand getting angry when you see innocent people, some of whom are critically ill, being taken advantage of by a con artist. I think it’s commendable to get angry, and I’m guessing this blog entry was written while angry.
    But the funny thing about being angry is that angry people have no control. When you go off on an angry tangent, you’ve given the upper hand to your opponent, who now has the benefit of appearing collected by comparison.
    While individuals may agree with terms like ‘cold bitch’, they ultimately hurt your case and seem a little hypocritical.
    You’re advocating reason over emotion, and yet you’re responding to something fundamentally unreasonable- anger. It can’t help but seem a little hypocritical to outsiders because you’re chastising Sylvia’s supporters for uncritically following her for their own emotional reasons, and you’re attacking her from an equally emotional standpoint.
    It would be more persuasive if the ad hominem attacks were omitted and replaced with a simple chronicle of each and every mistake she made. That way, you could make your point, and still hold the high ground.

    • stargazer9915 says:

      Attacks are not “ad hominem” if they are completely true.

      • Max says:

        Wrong. It would be right to say that personal attacks are not defamatory if they are true. But they’re still “ad hominem” if used unscrupulously to dismiss a person’s claims.

      • tmac57 says:

        You can also have an ad hominem attack that is not a fallacy, if it is a personal attack that is merely an insult, but not used to refute an argument,or claim. Such as: “Sylvia Browne is a coarse, unfeeling, opportunist” is not a fallacy unless you state that she has no psychic powers because she is a “coarse, unfeeling, opportunist”. See the difference?

      • Vie says:

        Ad hominem attacks would be valid if the case mark wanted to prove was that Sylvia Browne was a ‘cold bitch’. Then it would be completely relevant to present evidence to that effect.
        However, Mark’s contention is that Sylvia is not psychic. Being a cold bitch, regardless of the truth of the statement, is not relevant to his point. One theoretically could be a cold bitch and still be psychic. Hence, the only important evidence that matters is the fact that she can’t manifest any real psychic ability (there’s a shocker).
        The thesis of the post is that Sylvia is essentially a fraud, and hence any character information would be directed towards that goal.
        It’s an indirect fallacy, but a fallacy nonetheless.

      • tmac57 says:

        I re-read the article, and I have concluded that the main thrust of it was Mark being an eyes on reporter , and giving his impression of Sylvia’s performance(as well as an attempt to disrupt her charade).Conclusion: Cold, heartless,greedy,arrogant,brash,classless,brusque,discourteous, artless,bitch,who, oh by the way, has no demonstrable psychic powers.
        I think that since he knows what audience he is writing for, he was assuming that we already for the most part realize that Browne has been repeatedly discredited, so he did not really need to make that point. So there really wasn’t an argument to be made, just more of a characterization of his subject.
        That is my impression,but Mark can speak for himself.

  17. Mark Edward says:

    I’m not searching for any higher moral ground with this type of monster, any more than I would with a serial killer or child rapist.

    Throughtout her show that night, Sylvia used “bitch” “asshole” and the like to describe the people around her (including her own family members), this is not an excuse for me to use the same language. But I AM angry, and I’m tired of skeptics who want to make nice with blatant crimInals of the worse kind. There is no moral equivilency here.

    If you want detailed calm reasoned data go to This is about confrontation not appeasement.


    • Beelzebud says:

      I don’t think you need to explain yourself. If people can’t see how insipid this woman is, from just seeing five minutes of her, then I really don’t know what can be said.

      She’s had a good 30 year run. No need for kid gloves.

    • Vie says:

      “But I AM angry, and I’m tired of skeptics who want to make nice with blatant crimInals of the worse kind.”

      Well that’s pretty obvious! I required zero clarification on that… but I’m not recommending making nice. I am only recommending a reasoned argument (or at least a reserved one), for the sake of proving your point- not for Sylvia’s sake.

      “If you want detailed calm reasoned data go to”

      Been there indeed.

      “This is about confrontation not appeasement.”

      There are effective methods of confrontation, and there are…less effective methods. I’m not entirely sure calling Sylvia (who obviously has a lot of supporters) a cold bitch is the best method of confrontation.

      I guess that would depend on what you want to accomplish. If you want to accomplish making yourself feel better, then that’s a perfectly good strategy.

      However, if your goal is to save people from Sylvia by convincing them she’s a fraud… well maybe you should reconsider your approach.

      Calling her a bitch, her audience trailer trash, and comparing her to a child murderer only creates public sympathy for the person you despise (as gratifying as confrontation may be).

      BTW- there’s no need to angry with me. I am only trying to help. You don’t have to agree with me, but there’s no need to get grumpy.

  18. Vince says:

    Another predictable “the skeptic” versus “the psychic” article. Do you need each other?

    • stargazer9915 says:

      Skeptics do need the “psychics”. If no one believed in psychic powers and people then the job of skeptical people would be made that much easier. Psychics keep us in business much the same way criminals keep the cops in business. Without crooks we wouldn’t need the police. Question answered?

    • Max says:

      Skeptics need woo like cops need criminals, firefighters need fires, and doctors need disease.

      • Sgerbic says:

        If psychics went away, then skeptics could turn their skills to consumer advocacy, kinda like Consumer Reports, or how investigate journalism is supposed to work.

        Skeptics are extremely valuable to society. Just as long as they don’t turn into conspiracy nutcases.

  19. hce says:

    Vie, with regard to your comment: “But the funny thing about being angry is that angry people have no control.” I agree that this is often true, especially when people lose their tempers, but by no means is it universally so. I have seen on multiple occasions people who exhibit a restrained, focused anger that they use as a powerful limbic motivator in developing a reasoned and cerebral strategy to combat the event/situation/individual(s) evoking the anger in them. Anger can be “good” as long as it is properly harnessed and focused. Losing ones temper is where control often goes out the window.

  20. AUJT says:

    Right on Mark! I hear that there’s going to be at least ten ForceOne plants at every one of her shows! Right on!


    Peter Popoff is back and he’s selling magic spring water on The Travel Channel. I saw him this morning at 5:30 am. Central Florida Brighthouse channel 56.

  21. AUJT says:

    LOL! The ethics of psychics? Perhaps Sylvia should attend the following and it’s only 65 bucks:
    Anne Gehman
    returns to
    Psychic-Medium B. Anne Gehman
    will visit Cassadaga
    January 23 from 10-4
    Ethics and Mediumship
    $65 Donation”

    • Sgerbic says:

      Is the $65 donation to the psychic or the attendee? I might just wander on over to this thing if they are donating to me….

      • AUJT says:

        LOL! I’d go too if they paid me $65! I think the money goes to the bullshit artist. Attendees and “clients” never get anything accept a lesson in people and events to avoid that most often goes unheeded.

  22. Radio says:

    Several years ago,a friend of my daughter was kidnapped. Her parents made an appointment to meet with Sylvia Browne when she had her office in Novato, CA. Not familiar with the area, they called Sylvia’s office to say that, although they would be late, they would get there ASAP. When they arrived, 30 minutes late, Sylvia refused to meet with them and said they would have to reschedule. We are talking about a 9 year old who had been kidnapped! 18+ years later, the child has yet to be found and probably never will. Sylvia says she helps Police Agencies all the time and when it comes to missing children, that’s a priority to her, for which she doesn’t charge; at the time, she charged the parents $400.00!

    • Sgerbic says:

      And people say that Sylvia is a wonderful person that helps people. She has also said that she does not charge for helping parents with missing children. This kind of story makes me so sick and proud of people like Mark that has the balls to stand up to monsters like Sylvia.

      We can bicker and moan about how the “correct” way skeptics should approach a person like Sylvia. The only correct answer is to “do something”!

  23. Gary says:

    so….Montel was paid to do this, right?

  24. MadScientist says:

    Great work Mark, and everyone else involved.

    How about a travelling show to educate the public about spiritualism in the era of Houdini, some (modified) demonstrations of Houdini, modern spiritualism and a brief description and demonstration of tricks used and the sort of people targeted? Big job – but I think people would be interested. Personally I find the tricks behind the scams of far more interest than the scams and scamsters themselves. Sylvia Browne for example is a most uninteresting scamster; she doesn’t even waste time developing the tricks of the trade.

  25. Sgerbic says:

    Just up on SWIFT an excellent article from Brandon discussing Mark’s video.

  26. Francine Raheim says:


    I enjoyed your work at Sylvia’s show the other night. I registered for an account on the JREF forum but they have suspended me. I cannot reveal my true name, as it would cause problems and prevent me from sharing further information with the community.

    If you can let other members know for me that I am not a spammer, and that I am presenting information (in a humorous way) that happens to be true about Sylvia’s business practices, I would appreciate it.

    My intention was not to create a problem. Please also tell Kilgore Trout that he can kiss my white spirit guide ass. He certainly has no right to talk about professionalism in posting. My choice in how I expose information may not be up to his high standards, but it is certainly unique and certainly true.

    Thank you,


  27. Francine Raheim says:

    P.S.- Please also let ExMinister know that I am sorry I called him/her Nancy. It was my understanding that ExM was Nancy. But it’s true, it’s hard to keep all of the stories straight that come from that side of the tracks.

    I find it also disheartening that a community that claims that people can think however they choose suspends me by saying that I have libeled Mr. Randi’s name. I only mentioned his name once and it was by no means meant to insult him. I encourage you to read the thread and let me know what you think.

    In response to Kilgore Trout’s post about me only claiming that Sylvia’s son has exotic cars- it is a big deal. It was not about the cars. It was about the millions of dollars that was spent using money made by Sylvia’s pursuits.

    If my information isn’t appreciated, I will keep it to myself.


  28. Francine Raheim says:


    It was a misunderstanding regarding the “libel” claims against Mr. Randi. That was not what was meant in my message from JREF administration.

    I was suspended because I cannot, for safety purposes, reveal my true name. I just wanted to let everyone know that.

    It was fun while it lasted.


  29. Susan Gerbic says:

    Francine please don’t stop posting. I’m a bit (ok a bit more than a bit) skeptical that you are an insider working with SB. But I find your posts humourous and knowledgeable. I have no interest in reading her books but I don’t mind getting the skinny from you.

    I am very glad to read your last post about the real reason you have been suspended from the JREF. I was surprised that it could have been for libel. The skeptic community just does not work that way, which is a tiny indicator that you are not coming from the skeptic side but are used to dealing with shut-eyes snd the like. As far as I know the only reason people have been suspended or posts removed is because of extreme offence or full on attacks, not because they have critized someone like Randi.

    Usually skeptics follow the scientific method, one tennent is to allow criticsm, in fact invite it. If the conversation stays civil then all opinions are welcome. Now skeptics are not on the same level of civility, so you may want to keep that in mind in advance.

    Exminister has chosen to remain unnamed, generally we do not use real names even though many of us know each other in the real world also. Some of us use our names (mine is Susan) and if so then feel free to use it. You might want to reconsider giving your real name to the JREF. I’m sure they can be silent. Ask exminister for her/his opinion on that matter.

    Please include the threads that you are speaking of.


  30. Francine Raheim says:

    Dear Susan,

    How nice it is that you found me here on the skeptic blog website. I didn’t know where else to go. I do have a better understanding now of how things are done, and JREF and I have worked out all issues pertaining to my posts. I will be back on the forum shortly. I’m also glad to hear that you enjoyed my posts. Thank you for explaining things about the skeptic community. You are correct that I have not been exposed to this way of thinking.

    I don’t expect everyone to welcome me with open arms and believe everything I say. But I think with time, you will see that I can share information to open people’s eyes a bit more. From there, they can draw their own conclusions and do whatever they want with the new perspective I can provide.

    The thread that I was speaking of, regarding Kilgore Trout’s post about me, was in the Forum Management section under “I Protest the Passing of Francine” thread. Like I said, I realize now his/her perspective on me and respect that everyone has the right to their own opinion. But to say “Oh wow, Sylvia’s son has an expensive car”-well, I think KT missed the point. I was letting people know that this is one small detail in a much greater picture. How they (Sylvia and Christopher) spend their money becomes other people’s business when that money is earned by presenting yourself as something you’re not.

    See you in the forum.


  31. Jeshua says:

    Too bad Johnny Carson never got the chance to take SB down a peg or two the way he did Uri! It was both brilliant and classy. [It's on YouTube for those of you who live where it's still allowed.] On the other hand, each person has their own style so i don’t have anything bad to say about JE’s approach.

  32. Steven Doyle says:

    Mark, I’m totally on your side — but for the love of God, stop using dangling modifiers. Makes you look like a rube (or a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

  33. Jon says:


    This slimy con artist told my cousin their little girl was sold into sex slavery. She was VERY specific. She said a woman approached her in the pet store and took her into the parking lot. She said the woman held a cloth with ether over her face and she was still alive and taken to Sri Lanka for “white sex slavery.”

    My cousins were completely undone by this. They questioned her “what?… are you sure?…” Sylvia was adamant. She described the woman as a redhead in her 30s, wearing a plaid skirt and a sweater. Being specific helps her pull off her lies.

    I tried to warn my cousins – and frankly, I find it embarrassing that someone I’m so closely related to would ask this con artist.

    Eventually, a witness came forward. They saw a MAN who looked about 20 lead her off by the hand. He was blonde and wore jeans and a leather jacket.

    They found the body of this 9 year old a month later; forensic scientists placed the time of death as the same day she disappeared while the family was shopping at the mall. This story has two morals: don’t let your 9 year old wait for you in the pet supply shop, and don’t ever, ever, EVER believe a “psychic.”

    Oh yeah – forgot this part. They PAID HER $750 for a very short period of time. She says she never charges for helping find missing people? THAT’S A LIE! As for the police, they tried to get our cousins to not spend the money on this evil charlatan. They said psychics often claim to help police, but their department has never had any help from such a person… nor has any other police department the detective the family spoke with had ever heard of. He did report that sometimes people claim to be psychic and offer help… always in the context of media. He says this is a “bother” to law enforcement and they do not accept.

    • Sgerbic says:

      Wow, guess I should re-read blogs. This story was just sitting here all this time.

      Jon I am soooo sorry to hear your story. You are right, don’t trust a psychic. This story sounds a lot like what Sylvia told Opal Jo Jennings family, it isn’t the same child is it?

      If not then is Sylvia repeating these bizarre stories?

      Sylvia’s manager and people say that Sylvia NEVER charges parents for info on their missing children.

      Jon have you seen

  34. Anita Ikonen says:

    Mark Edward writes:

    “BOTTOM LINE: How could Sylvia Browne give such profound advice to me about my hearing the…”

    VFF writes:

    “BOTTOM LINE: How come Sylvia Browne didn’t recognize that it was Mark Edward! Top Skeptic! And know that he must be up to something!”

    Thank you for being up to something, Mark. And thank you for another great article. Well, I had a paranormal demonstration and I didn’t know who Mark was either, until after the test. Keep investigating!


  35. carl 93 says:

    I do not belong in the category of a total skeptic. I am open to the idea that there is something else out there. However I don’t believe that Sylvia Brown is that bridge to the unknown. You can argue endlessly that you don’t believe in paranormal phenomena but you will not get anywhere because it is hard to prove or disprove. More telling is someone’s behavior. That will give you a clue when someone lies. Sylvia Brown does that all the time in front of everybody. After pretending to be a medium on the Montell William’s show for years, she is asked in an interview by a skeptic if she would be willing to take a test by a believing crowd and skeptical judges and her answer was that she was not a medium and that for mediuministic advice that would be James Van Praagh. That’s all the proof I need she is a total clown. It is on You Tube. I believe it was on a Larry King interview. She would often look down when answering. Behavior tells all. Judge for yourself if you find the clip.

  36. anne says:

    I hope you will post this. I had opportunity to get a question answered by Sylvia and she flat out Lied! She told me my mother was dead and she is not! I’ve tried to tell anne frasier and ross mc gowan, they used to host the fat liar like montel does. yes I tried to contact him too! She is a bald faced Liar! How Dare her tell me my mother was dead! I found her using a private investigator, spoke to her and my Grandfather, both Alive and Well! No thanks you sylvia (lying sac of poop) browne!
    Just once say, “I don’t know” instead of lying your fat ass off