The worst kind of fraud

I have a great dislike for those who prey on vulnerable people. Among the worst are those psychics who either give people false hope or dash those hopes.

Amanda Berry, one of the women Cleveland kidnap victims who has recently been rescued, went missing  April 21, 2003, a day before her 17th birthday. Nineteen months later, Sylvia Browne, one of America’s most famous psychics, declared her to be dead.

Desperate for any clue as to Amanda Berry’s whereabouts, and tired of unanswered questions from authorities, Miller turned to a psychic on Montel Williams’ nationally syndicated television show.

The psychic said what the FBI, police and Miller hadn’t.

“She’s not alive, honey,” Sylvia Browne told her matter-of-factly. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”…

Browne said she envisioned Amanda’s jacket in a Dumpster with “DNA on it.”

There is outrage and criticism from some of Browne’s followers since Ms. Berry’s rescue. Browne’s lack of concern for those she hurts is obvious. In 2003, she told the parents of Shawn Hornbeck that their son’s body was buried beneath two jagged boulders, Four years later, Shawn was found alive and living with his kidnapper. Browne’s response?

“I think what I did was I got my wires crossed. There was a blonde and two boys who are dead. I think I picked up the wrong kid,”

Not her fault. Blame it on too many signals from the other side.

Certainly I share that outrage with Browne’s critics, but I also have considerable disgust for people such as Montel Williams and his producers who supplied Browne with a huge audience.  James Van Praagh became famous at the knee of Oprah Winfrey, and went on to his own show. Oprah has also supported other psychics such as John Edward and Miss Cleo. We need talk show hosts who will expose, rather than support these, frauds.

There are countless people who have at least some belief in the supernatural, and even those who are on the fence can be convinced when they are in pain.  When criticizing the psychics, don’t forget their supporters and enablers.

There is a difference between entertainment and abuse, and it’s difficult for me to see the entertainment value in taking advantage of people.

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