Stop Sylvia Browne have been doing some pretty neat detective work regarding the identity of the author. The author is Heather Brown, the girlfriend of Paul Dufresne. Paul is the son of Syvlia Browne.
[Originally I stated that Paul performed psychic readings. Heather was kind enough to point out that this is incorrect and so I have made a correction.]
Robert has already done a good job of exposing this site so I’d suggest you read his Write-up. What I want to tackle is the blog post that explains the reason for Heather to start her site.
She begins by railing against the media, bloggers and “free thinkings” (her emphasis). She goes on to say that they are being selective and presenting information in the way that they want you to perceive it.
Two wrongs make a right?
A quick browse of Heather’s site shows that hers is remarkably biased. Robert has actually provided a link to her site, she has not returned the favour. Also, it’s strange that all posts on her blog and forum appear to be drastically in favour of Sylvia. Heather has stated that she is removing ‘troll’ posts but I am wondering if she is simply removing all posts that criticise Sylvia. If this is the case, it’s hardly a good way to combat a perceived bias in other outlets.
Heather says that the news tends to focus on the nasty events in life. This is true, “dirt sells” as she says. The problem here is that this does nothing to disprove the claims that Sylvia is a fraud. Besides, does Heather seriously believe that the media would ignore Sylvia if she actually proved her abilities? This is like saying that scientists would ignore God if he were to appear in Times Square and started handing out miracles. The media publishes nasty stories about Sylvia because she has done some nasty things, the Hornbeck incident being one of many false predictions that put a family through unnecessary pain.
Grrr, them pesk freethinkers
Heather does not like the so-called “free thinkers”. Here is what she has to say about them.
Lying in wait for this negative media attention are the so-called “free thinkers”, skeptics, atheists, and opportunists. The people who badmouth Sylvia and identify themselves as any of those labels make me laugh. Ok, so you’re a free thinker. Good for you. I’m a free thinker as well. For instance, I am free to think that you are ignorant. And by your own account, Godless.
Godless, good lord what a strange accusation. Syvlia’s claims about God are loosely based on Christianity but are considered blasphemous by mainstream Christianity. Heather claims to be a free-thinker but this seems unrelated to free-speech and open debate. Her web site has one purpose – glorify Sylvia. There is not one trace of question on the site. On my site I encourage all to post and the only comments I will ever delete are spam and illegal posts. I will never delete a comment that criticises me or what I write.
Criticism is ignorance
In Heather’s rather bizarre and skewed view of the world, anyone who badmouths, by which I assume she means those who criticise Sylvia appear to be ignorant. Kettle calling the pot black? Not really since the strongest criticism has come from reputable sites such as the JREF and Stop Sylvia Browne. Both sites provide ample evidence for their claims and the JREF has invited Sylvia to prove her abilities.
Heather goes on to provide the following facts.
Fact: Billions of people in this world over the course of thousands of years have believed in a higher power.
Fact: Sylvia Browne, through her research, teachings, knowledge, and love for others has literally saved lives and given lost souls a new beginning while spreading hope and faith in God.
Fact: You can’t disprove God.
A large number of people believe that women should be killed for adultery. They also believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago. This claim made on the site is hardly evidence for the existence of Sylvia’s supernatural powers.
The second ‘fact’ is a rather vague one. Fundamentalist religion can make the same claim. If the Bible is anything to go by, Sylvia is actually helping to damn Christians. God doesn’t appreciate people who have other gods before him and Sylvia’s god is certainly not Yahweh. I wonder if the Hornbeck family appreciate the help they received from Sylvia.
The final ‘fact’ really shows Heather up for what she is. A rather simplistic and logically naive person. The fact that we can’t disprove God means nothing. We can’t prove that God doesn’t want us to kill babies but that isn’t an endorsement for infanticide.
Arguing that God can’t be disproved is the same hollow argument that intellectually barren religious people have used for some time now. We can’t disprove the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn either.
Aren’t you freethinkers supposed to reject or accept ideas based on proof?
Heather finishes up her facts with this statement.
So according to the definition, by judging Sylvia, ignoring her success stories, and discounting all of the other people in the world who believe in God, these “free thinkers” are hypocrites! They are supposed to neither reject nor accept ideas without proof. They don’t have proof that God doesn’t exist. Why do they always want people who believe in God to prove his existence? When they can prove that he doesn’t, then maybe I’ll listen. Until then, I just won’t take them seriously.
Despite her providing a Wikipedia definition of the term freethinker, she seems to have neglected to read it herself.
I would be totally willing to believe in the powers of Sylvia Browne if she provided proof. Anecdotes and lucky guesses are insufficient. Proper scientific testing is the only proof that any reasonable freethinker (or rational adult) should accept. Curiously, when offered the chance to provide this evidence, Sylvia agreed but then changed her mind. See JREF for details.
God will never be disproven since by definition this is impossible. Belief in God is based on faith, not fact or reason. Faith in Sylvia is just the same since she’s refusing to be tested scientifically.
Heather, I’m afraid I can’t take you seriously either. Enjoy your new site and the act of surrounding yourself with yes-men. Together you can reinforce your shared delusion in a way that would make L. Ron Hubbard. I provided the Scientology example because Sylvia has gone beyond being a simple psychic, she is at the heart of a worrying cult.