Friday, October 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Sylvia Browne!

The world-famous Sylvia Browne turns 71 today, according to publicly available sources.  She's been pretending to be psychic since about 1974 according to this Wikipedia entry but her track record appears to be no better than random chance.  Anyone who keeps up on current events could do at least as well.  Nevertheless, she continues to receive incredibly high fees for psychic consultations and is apparently booked up solid for months.
James Randi has offered her his famous million-dollar prize if she can prove under scientifically acceptable conditions that she's really psychic.  But really, she's got no reason to take him up on it.  She'd never win the million, and her failure of the test might risk cutting into the megabucks she's raking in now.
She joins a long list of make-believe psychics, each with their own gimmick.
Uri Geller claims to use psychic powers to bend spoons, a feat accomplished regularly in school cafeterias by students using only their fingers.  I should think that straightening spoons back out again would be a more useful talent.
Jeane Dixon used to flood the mystery fan media with predictions of everything imaginable, then no matter what happened she'll have gotten something right.  Soon after President Kennedy's assassination, she announced that she had predicted it.  Nobody has ever found the publication in which the prediction supposedly appeared, but that didn't stop her from becoming the Official Psychic Advisor to Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Edgar Cayce is alleged to have used his psychic powers to cure people by telepathy.  None of his supposed cures has ever been verified.
Psychic power has been a generously funded area of scientific research since about the middle of the nineteenth century.  No evidence of psychic power has ever been verified.  I don't think it's ever going to be, either.
I can already hear the shrill voices of True Believers whining, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!"  Sorry, True Believers, nice sound bite but total hogwash.


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