Amanda Berry Alive and Well, Despite Psychic Sylvia Browne

Amanda Berry, alive and reunited with her family, to paraphrase

Mark Twain "The psychic predictions of my death were exaggerated."

On an episode of the Montel Williams Show in 2004, self-proclaimed psychic medium Sylvia Browne looked into the face of Louwana Miller and told the mother of a missing daughter, "she's not alive, honey." A year later Louwana, having given up hope of ever seeing her daughter again, died of heart failure. Friends said she died of a broken heart over the loss. And then her daughter, Amanda Berry, one of three missing girls, escaped her captors after ten years held hostage.

It's happened before, though tragically rare as a lightening strike on a clear day, that a missing child returns to their family alive. Rare enough that Sylvia Browne has felt confident when facing a terrified parent to take a statistically safe shot at affirming the worst. But it's not so rare that she hasn't been absolutely 100% wrong more than once.

Sylvia Browne has built a career out of convincing people who already believe in the paranormal that she is a "vessel from God," but like most hucksters, con-artists, and mountebanks, she likely has come to believe her own deception. However not enough to submit herself to any objective test of her ability.

For years magician and professional skeptic James Randi has offered a $1 million cash prize for anyone able to demonstrate a paranormal or supernatural ability. It's up to claimants to design their own test and decide how best to go about it so long as it's carried out under proper observing conditions. Sylvia herself once agreed to take the test during an appearance opposite Randi on Larry King Live. Needless to say, there has been no further discussion on her end.

It comes down to this, if we discovered a human being with a genuine psychic ability they would be the single most important person in history. This would be an individual who at the very least would be an adviser to the United Nations, one who would need to be protected from every religious leader who would bid for his or her services.

This person would focus instead on helping us answer the most difficult moral and scientific questions in everything from alleviating human suffering to understanding quantum mechanics. They would be far bigger than Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen and that's just if they used their ability only for good.

Louwana Miller died a year after Sylvia Browne told her more or less to

give up all hope of ever seeing her daughter alive again.

A genuine psychic human being would not be sequestered in dark parlors reading palms or holding seances, nor dishing about celebrity break-ups on daytime talk-shows. And to the parents of a missing child, so gripped by terror and desperation that they'll try anything, they would not so dismissively, to quote Penn Jillette, "piss all over them for a buck and fifteen minutes of unearned fame."

It's not just cruel or immoral -- it's pure evil.

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