• Regarding Sylvia Browne & Co.


    After the happy news that three women missing for about a decade were found alive in Ohio, many noted that ‘psychic’ Sylvia Browne had told Amanda Berry’s mother that her daughter was dead. Tragically, Amanda’s mother died falsely believing this to be so.

    There isn’t a lot to say about this. We know how effective psychics are – they simply can’t do it. We haven’t only just discovered that Sylvia Browne was wrong – she was wrong to say that Amanda was dead, regardless of whether Amanda was in fact dead, because she didn’t know. She had no way of knowing.

    Browne’s attempt to describe Amanda’s condition is no more disgraceful given what we know now than it was at the time. If Amanda had turned up dead, then Browne would still be guilty of talking about incredibly sensitive issues she had no knowledge about – she would simply have got lucky with the facts. She might have imparted true beliefs, but not justified true beliefs.

    The fact that she didn’t accidentally strike truth is, in my view, of no consequence to how we view her callous treatment of anguished families.


    Category: Skepticism


    Article by: Notung

    I started as a music student, studying at university and music college, and playing trombone for various orchestras. While at music college, I became interested in philosophy, and eventually went on to complete an MA in Philosophy in 2012. An atheist for as long as I could think for myself, a skeptic, and a political lefty, my main philosophical interests include epistemology, ethics, logic and the philosophy of religion. The purpose of Notung (named after the name of the sword in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen) is to concentrate on these issues, examining them as critically as possible.