Stopping Sylvia Browne

Posted by: Andee / Category:

I use to love the psychic Sylvia Browne. After my Dad passed away and all that stuff happened with the Mormon Church I needed something to believe in. Sadly, she has been proven wrong more than right, and she has disappointed me just as much as my religion. I bought book after book, and learned about life after death as she sees it. I was comforted at the time, believing my Dad and Grandmother could stop by and visit me, drop coins on the floor as small gifts, and mess around with my electronics equipment to let me know they were there.

She has a gruff voice, a sound that can only come from smoking too many cigarettes in a lifetime, and she often answers people's questions without digesting their question completely. She gives readings to parents of missing children, most often on the Montel Williams Show. Shawn Hornbeck and Opal Jo Jennings are just two readings about missing children that were completely wrong and heartbreaking to the parents and investigators.

Every year Sylvia Browne makes a list of predictions for the following year. She leaves these lists up on her personal website Her site also mentions that personal phone readings with her can cost up to $750 for a 20-30 minute conversation.

Robert Landcaster created a site that chronicles Sylvia's hits and misses. is a must see for anyone interested in this particular psychic. Below is evidence taken directly from the site that shows her predictions for 1996. You can plainly see her accuracy rate isn't nearly the 87% she claims. None of the research is mine, it's all credited to Robert Landcaster. I didn't have time to include all the predictions, so stop by his site to get the full research!

Please check out Robert Landcaster's site before spending any more money on this fortune teller.

Sylvia Browne has stated that she has an "accuracy rating" as a psychic of 87%. Is she really this accurate?

We have no way of judging her private readings, and even the majority of readings she gives on the Montel Williams show are impossible for us to judge.

One area where her accuracy can be judged is in her "annual prediction" lists, made towards the end of each year, predicting events for the following year.

This article is the first in a series which will examine her annual predictions, year by year.

I start this series with the oldest list of her annual predictions which I could find: her predictions for 1996. I obtained this list from an archived copy of the page 1996 Predictions by Sylvia Browne, which states that this list was issued in November of 1995.

(An archived copy of the page was used due to the fact that these annual lists were all removed from her site back in 2001.)

In order to judge these predictions for accuracy, it was necessary to make certain assumptions.

Here are the assumptions:

  1. Unless otherwise stated within the prediction, it is assumed that the predictions is for the year in question (1996). For example, if she makes a prediction about a natural disaster, it is assumed that the disaster is to occur in 1996.
  2. Unless otherwise stated within the prediction, the prediction is assumed to apply to the United States. For example, if she predicts "gas prices will go down," it is assumed she is talking about gas prices within the USA.
Some might find these assumptions to be overly limiting. But without assumptions, non-specific predictions - and most of Browne's predictions are far from specific - are totally meaningless.

If I make any other assumptions about a given prediction, I will say so when discussing that prediction.

On to the predictions...

Prediction: "Bill Clinton will be reelected President."

Rating: Right

But this was a pretty safe bet. Historically, U.S. presidents running for a second term have a far better chance of winning the election than the competition does.

Prediction: "Bob Dole will be the Republican Presidential Candidate."

Rating: Right

Again, a pretty safe bet. At the time this "prediction" was made, Dole had been far ahead of the other Republican hopefuls since he had entered the race in April 1995.

Prediction: "Republican Party starts moving towards being moderately liberal."

Rating: Unknown- too vague.

The prediction is so vague that I cannot determine whether it is right or wrong.

Prediction: "Another 'Million Man March' in the South to show solidarity."

Rating: Wrong.

There was no "Million Man March" in 1996. There was a 1997 "Million Woman March" in Philadelphia, 1998 brought a series of "Million Youth Marches" in various locations, a 2000 "Million Family March" in Washington DC, and a ten-year anniversary "Millions More March" in Washington DC in 2005.

Prediction: "More states will accept Gay Marriages. Supreme Court issues a favorable ruling."

Rating: Wrong.

No states even considered same-sex marriage legislation in 1996. Hawaii considered same-sex "domestic partnership" legislation that year, but it failed to pass the lower house, never making it to the governor's desk.

Three years later in 1999, California was the first state to pass "domestic partnership" legislation in 1999, and actual gay marriage was not legal in any state until 2004, when Massachusetts passed such legislation.

I find no 1996 Supreme Court ruling "favorable" to same-sex marriage.

Prediction: "Federal budget will not balance in 7 years, more like 10 years."

Rating: Wrong.

The federal budget was balanced three years later, in 1999. By 2006- which would equate to Browne's claim of "more like ten years later," the federal budget was in far worse shape than it was when she made her prediction, and remains so as of this writing.

Prediction: "Our economy improves: more jobs, more small businesses flourish."

Rating: Right.

This was no small part due to the "dot-com bubble" which had started in 1995, and which was already well-known. Many small internet companies started and thrived for a few years before the bottom fell out, and the dot-com economic bubble burst in 2000-2001.

Prediction: "Stock market keeps rising until February, then levels out and begins to go down. Not a plunge, just a downward trend.

Rating: Wrong.

Another vague one. I will assume Browne is referring to the American stock market. But which indicator? The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)? The NASDAQ? The S&P 500?

As it turns out, the prediction is wrong regardless of which of these indicators we use. The market did not "begin to go down" in February, but climbed fairly steadily and steeply from then until the end of the year.

Prediction: "Interest Rates go Down."

Rating: Unknown. Too Vague.

This one is way too vague to call. Which interest rates- Prime? Fed funds? Others?

By "go down" does she mean over all through the year? Down for how long?

Depending on how we answer these questions, the prediction could be right or wrong. For instance, if we decide she meant ANY interest rate, down for ANY amount of time, the prediction would be true- but it would be true for ANY year.

Prediction: "The war in Bosnia is not really squelched until late July; troops are sent in."

Rating: Wrong.

It taken individually, the first phrase of the prediction ("The war in Bosnia is not really squelched until late July") would be rated as wrong, as there was no "squelching" being done in July of 1996. The US-led NATO peacekeeping forces had been in place since December of 1995, and remained for several years, long after July of 1996. In no meaningful way was anything "squelched" in July of 1996.

The second phrase of Browne's prediction ("troops are sent in") would be rated as already known. The war in Bosnia ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in mid-November of 1995. President Clinton went on national television on November 27, 1995 to ask the country's support of his plan to send in American troops to lead the peacekeeping mission. Browne's predictions were issued three days later, on November 30, 1995.

Prediction: "A nuclear test moratorium is imposed on France."

Rating: Wrong.

On June 13, 1995, France's president Jacques Chirac announced that France would conduct 8 nuclear tests between September 1995 and May 1996. On August 10, 1995, Chirac stated that once its testing was complete, it would halt all nuclear tests. France also announced that it favored a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that would prohibit any nuclear test or nuclear explosion.

On January 27, 1996, after France had conducted six of eight planned tests in the South Pacific, Chirac announced the end to French testing, as he had previously announced.

While there was some political pressure on France to stop the testing, there was, in no sense, a moratorium on the testing "imposed" on France.

On April 6, 1996, France and Great Britain voluntarily ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

This is a close prediction for me. Did France end their announced testing earlier than they had planned? Yes, but was a moratorium "imposed" on them? No. Had Browne phrased her prediction differently, say "France ends nuclear testing early due to international opinion," I would probably give this a rating of right. As she phrased it though, I cannot.

Prediction: "California is in for a 2 year dry spell. Some rains in February, but not much."

Rating: Wrong.

Below is a graph from the California State Department of Water Resources.

I have drawn a red rectangle around 1996 and 1997, which would be the two years of the "dry spell" that Browne predicted.

While 1996 has considerably less precipitation (the light blue bar) than 1995, 1997 has more than 1995.

Prediction: "Colorado gets close to flood conditions due to excessive snow and moisture."

Rating: Wrong.

I can find nothing to support this prediction, and the following seems to contradict it.

An academic paper from Colorado State University, the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute and the Colorado Water Conservation Board states that there was a localized drought over the southwestern Colorado from late 1995 into 1996. It also states that it was "very wet state-wide in 1995, 1997 and 1999," and does not include 1996 in that description.

Prediction: "Sandra Bullock gets married, it only lasts 4 months. She then goes away to a retreat to regroup."

Rating: Wrong.

Bullock did not marry in 1996. Her first marriage was in July 2005, to Jesse James. They are still married as of this writing (October 2007).

Prediction: "John Travolta has another baby."

Rating: Wrong.

John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston did not have a child in 1996. Their first child was born in 1992. Their second was not born until 2000. I find no rumors or reports of Travolta fathering a child outside of his marriage.

Prediction: "Sylvester Stallone marries a woman not in modeling whom he meets at a horse ranch."

Rating: Wrong.

Stallone did not marry anyone in 1996.

He did marry in 1997 to Jennifer Flavin (a model), after a ten-year on-again, off-again relationship. They are still married as of this writing.

I don't know if they met at a horse ranch, but Browne says "meets" as though they would meet in the future, whereas Stallone and Flavin had met each other back in 1987.

Prediction: "Liz Taylor finds a new man, from the world of cosmetics."

Rating: Unknown.

Taylor's marriage to Larry Fortensky ended in late 1996. Did she "find a new man, from the world of cosmetics" that year? I find no evidence of it.