• Speaking ill of the dead

    Generally speaking, I don’t see the point in throwing shade at people, even when they are alive, and it is broadly considered socially unacceptable to speak ill of the recently deceased. When it comes to the informal penalty for excessive celebration in the wake of a wake, I’m inclined to agree with the sentiments expressed by Cherry Teresa here:


    Bearing these cautionary thoughts in mind, I believe that our substantive criticisms of psychic chicanery remain just as valid and become even more salient now that people are discussing Slyvia Browne in the news and at the water cooler. Now is a perfectly appropriate time for people to look back on Slyvia Browne’s various “accomplishments” and they are going to do this whether or not we skeptics choose to join in or sit out the discussion. That said, why are skeptics so incensed by this woman?

    She wrote a book purporting to describe famous people in heaven, and wrote another book trashing their past lives, that is, their lives as other people prior to their most recent incarnation, in which they became the sort of celebrities that people just love to gossip about. Apparently, you can just make up fictional pseudo-biographies of celebs nowadays, and make a tidy profit on it, consumers will buy and believe bullshit in bulk. (The profiteering part is new, at least: Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John never got royalties.)

    She provided Amanda Berry’s mother with a false sense of closure, telling her that her daughter was dead on the Montel Williams show, thereby turning a buck for herself, Montel, and the television network, at the expense of truth and decency. She did the same for many many others, telling some that dead people were alive and others that living people were dead. With such a history of reckless indifference to the emotional welfare of grieving families, it is no wonder that Odd Oklahoma characterized her as “the worst kind of cynical opportunistic monster who preys on people who are in pain for her own financial benefit.”

    I’m starting to get a bit wound up here, running the risk of completely forgetting the excellent cautionary advice at the top of the page, so I’d like to be clear about how to strike the balance. Don’t troll Browne’s fans, don’t celebrate her demise, don’t make the usual “She didn’t see it coming” jokes, but please, don’t compromise with unreason by down-playing the many harms that she has caused to real people.

    ETA: Ed’s take on Browne may be found around three minutes into this video:


    Category: Skepticism

    Article by: Damion Reinhardt

    Former fundie finds freethought fairly fab.