Controversial TV psychic Sylvia Browne made a major mistake about the West Virginia miners tragedy on a Tuesday night radio show.
I always like it when psychics are asked, ‘If you know so much, how come you haven’t won the lottery or cashed in big in Vegas or in stocks?’
Maybe Browne was thinking the same thing when she was a guest on George Noory’s live syndicated radio show, "Coast to Coast" at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday. She had the bad luck to be commenting on a developing news story — the mining disaster in West Virginia —- which took a surprise turn.
That tragic twist — that the wrong announcement had been made about the miners’ fates — turned out to be even worse for Browne. Just following the transcript of what occurred, it’s clear the psychic had no idea what had happened to the miners, though she claimed to have been right on top of it.
Maybe you’ve seen the gravel-voiced Browne on "The Montel Williams Show." She appears there almost weekly, dispensing advice and connecting viewers with their loved ones on the “other side.” She commands a multimillion-dollar empire from her home base in California, deriving her fortune from in-person readings said to cost $700 and $200 for work over the phone. Her many businesses are advertised on a Web site that touts her fabulous abilities.
Unfortunately, they failed her on Tuesday night. She was in the middle of making predictions when Noory brought up the mining disaster.
Browne, who had just announced that John McCain would run against John Kerry in the next presidential campaign, was relieved to hear from Noory that all but one of the miners was alive.
Noory: "Had you been on the program today, would [you] have felt if — because they heard no sound — that this was a very gloomy moment — and that they might have all died?"
Browne: "No. I knew they were going to be found. I hate people that say something after the fact. It’s just like I knew when the pope was dead. Thank God I was on Montel’s show. I said, according to the time, it was 9-something and whatever Rome time was. And I said he was gone, and he was."
But the situation was fluid, something Browne — ahem! — obviously didn’t sense despite her claims of being able to speak to the dead, among other things. She couldn’t have imagined that within a short time, the entire story of the miners would change completely — and make her look very foolish indeed.
Noory soon announced that there were new reports that all but one of the miners was dead.
Browne — who was still in the studio taking questions from listeners — had to say something. Now she was just riffing: "I don’t think there’s anybody alive, maybe one. How crazy for them to report that they were alive when they weren’t!" Then she added: "I just don’t think they are alive." She cleared her throat, and there was a deafening pause.
Noory went to a commercial.
But that wasn’t all. Hanging over the show was a feeling of dread that Browne had shown herself to be without psychic ability, just the good sense to be quick and respond to news reports.
Returning from news and commercials for their last segment together, Noory tried to dig Browne out of her hole with a softball question. He asked: "With your accuracy rate so high ...."
Browne answered by injecting a non sequitur. Her earlier proclamation that she’d always known the miners were alive had obviously been worrying her.
She blurted: "I didn’t believe that they were alive."
Noory: "What’s that, the miners?"
Browne: "Yeah, I didn’t think — and see, I’ve been on the show with you, but I don’t think there’s any that are going to make it."
Noory: "They say there are 12 gone. I think we threw you a curveball, we were telling you after the fact."
Browne: "Yeah, no, I did believe that they were gone."
Browne has been criticized before, but she’s never actually outed herself . In March 2004, James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi, called Browne a liar on Paul Harris' popular St. Louis radio show. Randi continues to run a Million Dollar Challenge to Browne and others who speak to the dead, like John Edwards and James van Praagh, to put up or shut up — and give proof of their miraculous work. So far, no one has accepted.
But Randi has turned the challenge into a million-dollar gambit for anyone who can prove they have paranormal abilities. After listening to Tuesday night’s radio show, I suppose Sylvia Browne is intuitive enough not to put herself to that challenge.
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