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Saturday, July 23, 2022

Psychic Detective Sylvia Browne

     While some people believe in fortune tellers, soothsayers, spoon benders, people who communicate with the dead and so-called psychic detectives, the pairing of the words "psychic" and "detective" is beyond ridiculous. Nevertheless there are criminal investigators who take psychic detectives seriously and confer with them. One of the most famous psychic detectives was a woman named Sylvia Brown who died in 2011 at the age of 77.

      Sylvia Browne grew up in Kansas City Missouri. In 1964 she moved to southern California where she set up shop as a psychic. Ten years later, perhaps in an effort to create the indicia of legitimacy, she founded the Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research.

     During her career Browne wrote 50 "nonfiction" books of which 22 appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list. 

     Sylvia Browne achieved fame and fortune through her regular appearances on the TV shows "Unsolved Mysteries" and "Montel." Her television exposure also helped her promote her books.

     While the psychic detective offered her services in dozens of celebrated crimes her predictions never resulted directly in the solution of a murder or the location of a missing body. (For example, in a missing persons/murder case Sylvia Browne told Montel Williams that the body was on the bottom of a small lake in Connecticut. The woman's remains were later found several hundred miles away.)

     One of Sylvia Browne's high-profile goofs involved the Cleveland kidnapping case featuring Amanda Berry. Browne told the victim's mother that her daughter was dead when in fact she was being held prisoner in Cleveland Ohio by Ariel Castro.

     Psychic detectives wouldn't exist if producers stopped putting them on television. While it is doubtful that any person smart enough to be a TV producer actually believes in psychics, a large segment of the TV-watching public does believe in them. That's why psychic detectives are on TV. Moreover, if you're on the tube you are perceived as legit. Media exposure can be a phony stamp of approval.

     For millions of Americans living in a land of magical thinking, psychic detectives are perceived as visionaries who can see and know things ordinary people can't. In reality, psychic detectives give false hope, create investigative wild-goose-chases and make TV hosts look foolish in the eyes of people who can think straight.

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