Monday, June 7, 2010

Sylvia Browne is Coming to DFW

So Sylvia Browne is coming to the Lakewood Theatre, I believe its the 16th of June. I am planning on heading out there and passing out a flyer with the stuff posted underneath. I got all the info from the website Stop Sylvia Browne .

It may seem like I am getting bent out of shape for nothing, until you remember that Sylvia Browne often spills her verbal diarrhea all over people who have lost a loved one. This is the case of Opal Jennings, which is the subject of my flyer.

Has Sylvia Browne Ever Been Wrong in DFW?
By: Enrique Recuero (synopsis and analysis quoted from Robert Lancaster)

Sylvia Browne is a well known public figure. She is considered by many Americans to be a psychic and to have the power to communicate with people who have died and various spirits in a different realm. Wealthy and respectable people like Montel Williams have Sylvia Browne on their shows, she has also been a guest on the respectable Larry King Show on CNN. In spite of all this celebrity attention, Sylvia has been wrong many times, one particularly sad case was near Fort Worth. This is the case of Opal Jennings.

The following synopsis of the Sylvia Browne story comes from
Sylvia Browne watches the video montage of Opal Jo Jennings.

In March of 1999, six-year-old Opal Jo Jennings was abducted from her grandparents’ front yard in Tarrant County, Texas. A state-wide search for her was soon underway, with no success in finding her.
Opal’s grandmother, Audrey Sanderford, decided to come on the Montel Williams Show and ask for Sylvia Browne’s help.
It should be noted that some of the families of missing persons who appear on the show do so not because they believe in Sylvia’s “psychic powers”, but primarily to get the face of their missing loved one on national television, in hopes that someone in the viewing audience will be able to help.
I do not know whether Mrs. Sanderford believed in Sylvia or not.

The Reading
The episode in which Mrs. Sanderford appeared was first broadcast on April 29th, 1999.
A little more than halfway through the show, Montel Williams sets up a clip which introduces the segment:
(MONTEL) WILLIAMS: Well, my next guest is distraught over the recent disappearance of her granddaughter, Opal. Take a look at this.
(A video montage of Opal Jo Jennings plays, with an inset in the lower right of Sylvia Browne watching it. Video and still pictures of her are interspersed with video of the search for her. Her grandmother’s voice narrates the images.)
(AUDREY) SANDERFORD: (Voiceover) On March 25th, 1999, my six-year-old granddaughter, Opal Jennings, was abducted from my front yard and has yet to be found. The past few weeks have been unbearable for me and my family. Even though there is an overwhelming amount of support from our community, police department, the FBI and different forms of media, my Opal is still missing. To this day, I still like to believe she is not (unintelligible). This is too much for my family and me to handle. We want her back. I need to know where Opal is. I can’t stand this. I have made so many pleas to whoever has her, to return our little girl home safely. I need your help, Sylvia. Where is Opal? Where is she?

(Video montage ends.)
WILLIAMS: Sylvia, I have to take a little break before we go into this one.
BROWNE: All right.
WILLIAMS: I’m going to take a break. We’ll be right back after this.
At this point, a commercial break is shown.
WILLIAMS: Sylvia, we just looked at this tape. Please welcome Audrey to the show. Audrey, come on up here. Come up here.
(Mrs. Sanderford enters from audience, sits by Sylvia Browne. There is a brief pause, after which Sylvia Browne speaks.)
BROWNE: She’s… not… dead. But what bothers me – now I’ve never heard of this before, but for some reason, she was taken and put into some kind of a slavery thing and taken into Japan. The place is Kukouro. Or Kukoura. I don’t know anything about it, but…
WILLIAMS: Kukouro?
BROWNE: Kukouro, Kukoura. There can’t be that many places…
WILLIAMS: There’s also a Kuro.
BROWNE: No, no. This is… This is…
WILLIAMS: No, but two…
BROWNE: This is many syllables. Kukouro.

BROWNE: So she was taken and put on some kind of a boat or a plane and taken into white slavery.
(A photo montage of Opal is shown over the following.)
WILLIAMS: You know what I can do for you, Audrey, we can put Detective Joe Culligan on this…
BROWNE: Yeah, do it.
WILLIAMS: … and see what we can find out anything on this.
SANDERFORD: All right. Thank you.
(End of photo montage.)
WILLIAMS: We… we’ll… you see Sylvia, she was playing… Opal was playing out in front of the house, within earshot of Grandma and Grandpa and gone.
BROWNE: It doesn’t… It can be that quick. I know.
WILLIAMS: What… what, did somebody drive by and pick her up? Who is it?
BROWNE: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-uhh. It… Yeah, it was a man. He wasn’t Asian. He was white. And then he sold her, like, on the Asian market of some kind.
BROWNE: And Montel, you know, I’m so afraid. I’m getting more and more of this now.
WILLIAMS: But you know what? I’m going to tell you something. We… we have heard more and more about this.
BROWNE: I never used to hear about this.
WILLIAMS: Child… children are being… you look at milk cartons and you see missing children. Some of them have been taken other places on the planet.
BROWNE: Mmm-hmm. Exactly.
WILLIAMS: Okay. Maybe we… we’ll have to do a show about it. (To an audience member) Yes ma’am. You had a question.

From this point on, Montel and Sylvia take unrelated questions from the rest of the crowd. Mrs. Sanderford is still seated, on camera, and continues looking understandably distraught throughout.
According to friends of the family, despite Montel Willams’ promise of help, the family never again heard from Williams or Browne.

How Accurate Was the Reading?

Typically, when Sylvia Browne does a reading on the Montel Williams show, we have no way of knowing whether she was right or wrong.
Not so this time.
In August of 1999, convicted child molester Richard Lee Franks was arrested and charged with Opal’s abduction. He admitted to having picked her up and given her a ride (the children who witnessed Opal’s abduction say that a man grabbed her, struck her when she screamed, threw her into his truck, and drove off with her).
Franks was convicted of Opal’s abduction in September of 2000, and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.
In late December of 2003, the skeletal remains of a small girl were found in a remote area near Fort Worth, Texas. The pink Barbie tennis shoes found with the remains matched those Opal Jo was wearing when she was abducted. A few days later, Tarrant County medical examiners announce that DNA extracted from a tooth confirmed that the remains were those of Opal Jo Jennings. The cause of death: blunt force trauma to the head.
Was Opal still alive when Sylvia talked with Mrs. Sanderford? Not according to a friend of Opal’s family, who says “It was determined that Opal was killed by trauma to the head with(in) several hours of her abduction.”
Was Opal in Japan? No. She was found 13 miles from where she was taken, in Texas.
It would seem that the only thing that Sylvia Browne got right in the case was the fact that Opal had been abducted by a white man. Not only is this not a very impressive “hit,” but it was already known thanks to eyewitnesses, and had been reported nationally. It would have been easy for Sylvia to find this information on the news or on the web, and to drop it into this reading to help convince the family she knew what she was talking about.
But no matter how wrong her reading was, Sylvia didn’t have to worry, since the Montel Show would not be doing any follow-up segment.

Sylvia Browne’s supporters like to talk about how much “comfort” she brings to people.
I wonder how comforted Mrs. Sanderford and the rest of her family felt.
It is bad enough that Sylvia Browne gave them the false hope that Opal was still alive. But she planted in their heads the image of their little girl in “white slavery” - which generally refers to forced prostitution - on the other side of the planet, where they would have had almost no chance of ever finding her. They had to live with that thought for the next four years, until Opal’s remains were finally found.
When confronted with failures of her predictions and readings, Sylvia Browne likes to say that she can’t be right all of the time. If that is the case, why on Earth would she ever say something as horrific as this to a family unless she was 100% certain it was correct?
But if Sylvia Browne is simply a cold reader – as I believe she is – then this is about the cruelest, most disturbing example of cold reading I have ever seen.

The above is a very accurate analysis of the show, with direct quotes. I am not giving you anything against Sylvia Browne except for her own words in the case of a local child abduction where her error, for whatever reason, surely caused the family of this child great grief and confusion.
My main motive for distributing this flyer is to try to inform those of you who have just paid hard earned money to see Sylvia Browne, and may be expecting her to solve a tragic and terrible crime that has occurred in your life, Sylvia has been wrong before.


  1. I don't know about calling Larry King reputable. Maybe leave that adjective out.

    It is going to be very long on a flyer, I think you need to cut it way back. I also think you should make sure to show websites where people can go for more info. besides

    People won't read it if it is too long. Put your main message in bullet points and then maybe something with more detail somewhere else in the flyer that they can read if still interested.

    You also have to alude to more wrong cases, maybe even mention that she still has never gotten any right. Excellent article in Skeptical Inquirer about this fact. Maybe reference that. Otherwise people will say, that she just got Opal wrong but most right.

    I think a bunch of people really think that there is no harm in psychics, that it is a lot of fun. I would push that angle, whats so fun about all this? Do you think Opal's mother was having fun? Was there any follow up by the detective that Montel mentioned?

    Try and get the flyers into the building before the show starts if you can. Try the bathroom stalls (tape them to the back of the stall wall). Can you find someone that works at the place that might be able to "help"?

    Remember what Mark Edward did was to just put a few names on yellow card stock and left them in the bathroom. People would wonder what they were, maybe they thought it was a game or something. I think his idea would be better if it just said, google...and then the names. People might not look at something if they knew it was totally negative, but might if they were just curious.

    Whatever you decide Don, will be 100% wonderful in my book! Just doing anything is a help. If you can get someone to video your performance art from across the street or where ever. That should be interesting. Even better if you wore a mic and we could hear the exchanges.

  2. I think you are probably right about scaling it back, except that it is a word for word reading from the Montel Williams show.

    I am also deliberately just trying to plant a seed of doubt. This is the use of the sales and psychological technique known as the "foot in the door technique."

    No hook ups inside the venue, and the tickets are over $100.

    Maybe I can make it smaller.

    Opal Jennings was a local case, which I believe will make a pathological appeal.

    My thinking as a promoter is that if these people are soundly logical and scientific they would not have spent over $100 to see Sylvia Browne. But an emotional appeal to be logical might set off the logical process.

    I am also primarily targeting the mourning, those who have lost someone, so that they won't have their suffering made worse by Sylvia 's gibberish.

  3. We really should have something short and sweet directing people to the website. Check out my facebook status to see the posters I've made for some ideas. Just a good "How often is Sylvia right?" would be nice. Can't wait!