I’ve spent the last three weeks brooding over how to assess Sylvia Browne’s latest stop inside the Seneca Niagara Events Center and, even as I write this, I’m still unsure as to how I should express my thoughts on what took place.
Did I emerge from the experience with a conclusive conviction that Browne is exactly what she claims to be? Was I so beguiled by her mastery of all things otherworldly that I snatched up her entire book collection immediately after she was done imparting wisdom? Will I continue to follow her career as the world’s leading source of unequivocal psychic connection?
Definitely not, but I walked into the venue in a skeptical frame of mind, so I wasn’t expecting to join the converted unless something outside of empirical explanation was witnessed.
The degree of doubt I expressed throughout didn’t appear to be shared by my fellow audience members, however, because the majority of them bought Browne’s spiel from the moment she sat down.
They listened intently, hoping for the chance to ask a question of their own regarding health, careers, and the astral whereabouts of fallen loved ones. The fact that so many of them threw nothing but softballs directly into Browne’s wheelhouse meant that her veracity was never up for debate to the extent that it should have been.
When you’re standing in front of a psychic who conducts herself with the self-congratulatory assurance that Browne does and the best thing you come up with is whether or not your deceased parents know how much you love them, why even bother in the first place?
Does anyone really believe that Browne would get up in front of a crowded room just to tell a young woman about the terrible time her father is having in the afterlife?
The fundamental issue I have with the 90 minutes I spent in Browne’s presence is that no one challenged her. No one took it upon themselves to hold her feet to the fire and see if she could offer anything deeper than broad generalizations.
Toss in the fact that her failed prediction regarding Cleveland kidnapping survivor Amanda Berry was never brought up, and you have a golden opportunity that quickly spiraled down into an unmitigated love fest.
Assigning blame for how things unfolded isn’t nearly as important as analyzing why so many people feel the need to reach out to psychics to begin with.
As someone who subscribes to the Fox Mulder mantra of, “I Want to Believe,” when it comes to phenomena such as psychics, UFOs, and other staples of paranormal activity, I understand humanity’s innate desire to make sense of a realm beyond its grasp.
As a species acutely aware of its own mortality, humans are haunted by the unknown as much as they are by the need to be connected to something greater than they are. They often seek spiritual guidance from a variety of sources without fully comprehending what it is they’re looking for, which, for psychics and religious zealots alike, is an open invitation to corral anyone willing to listen into their sphere of influence.
When Stevie Wonder sang the phrase, “If you believe in things that you don’t understand, you suffer,” he wasn’t just crafting a timeless ‘70s pop confection. He was articulating exactly the type of poor judgment some people show when trying to assimilate into a particular way of thinking.
Because emotions tend to supersede logic on countless occasions, I’d like to think that high-profile figures such as Sylvia Browne would appreciate the fragile state in which many of their followers come to them, but the reality isn’t that rosy.
No matter how forlorn some people are, there will always be a sector of society offering their own version of the truth in exchange for a few measly C-notes.
For example, Browne has meddled in numerous murder investigations through the years courtesy of The Montel Williams Show, and, while her track record of providing tangible leads is spotty at best, none of the naysayers have ever stopped her from taking thousands on a cruise to the Caribbean.
That said, I have no problem with psychics and those who choose to believe in them, I just think that people should know themselves before putting their faith into anything that supplies more questions than answers.
Maybe when Browne’s next Western New York appearance comes around, we’ll discover whether or not any of her predictions from July came to fruition, but, for now, the jury is still out to lunch.