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Sylvia Browne and 9/11
Examining some of Browne's statements about a national tragedy.
Published: Apr 21, 2008
Browne claims to have prophetic visions. Did she foresee 9/11?
Note: In writing the articles for this site, I try to maintain an even-handed tone. Although I express my opinion, I try to do so in a calm and matter-of-fact way. I don't always succeed, but I try.
But, for me, as perhaps with most people, the topic of the attacks of September 11, 2001, is a very emotional one. When someone tries to use such a tragedy to their own ends - as I believe is the case with Browne - it is very difficult for me to remain calm and objective.
Please keep that in mind as you read this article.
One question which often comes up when discussing Sylvia Browne is: did she predict the events of September 11, 2001?
It's a fair question. She claims to have a gift of prophecy, and every year she publishes a list of predictions for the coming year. The list almost always includes predictions of disasters, both natural and man-made, as well as predictions of wars and other world events.
So, did she predict the 9/11 attacks - arguably the greatest man-made tragedy ever to befall the United States of America, and the largest world event of 2001? If so, what did she say? If not - why not? And, either way, what did she have to say about it afterward?
This article addresses those questions. top of page
Did Sylvia Browne Predict 9/11?
The short answer is: no, she did not. Let's look at some of the chances she had to do so in the years, months and days leading up to the attacks:
Her Annual Prediction Lists
Her predictions for 2001 are not available online, but neither her predictions for the year 2000 (the most recent of her "annual prediction" lists she published on her site), nor her predictions for the next 100 years (made in 1998) mention any 9/11-related topics (terrorists or terrorism, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, airplanes crashing into buildings, etc.).
The September/October edition of The Sylvia Browne Newsletter, published just weeks before the attacks, has a "Sylvia's Prediction Corner" column in which, again, nothing related to 9/11 was mentioned. The one prediction in the "Politics" section of the column reads:
Larry King Live
On September 3rd, 2001 - just eight days before the attacks - Browne appeared on an episode of Larry King Live with James Randi (a transcript of that episode can be read here on CNN.com), and again, no 9/11-related topics were mentioned during the entire hour.
So, I find no predictions Browne made relating to what happened that day. Let's take a look at what she said afterward.
Pop-up Window on www.sylvia.org - September 12, 2001
The day after the attacks, a pop-up window was added to the home page of Browne's web site, containing the following:
Let's examine the statements on this window one at a time:
Statement: "Osama bin Laden and another group is behind the attack"
Both Osama bin Laden and "other groups" (the Taliban and Al Qaeda) were widely suspected to be behind the attacks within hours of their occurring.
Statement: "Be aware of 'Triad of Jordan' and 'Palestinian Republic of Bundi'"
"Be aware" is a rather vague thing to say. But it is difficult to be aware of the "Triad of Jordon" and the "Palestinian Republic of Bundi," as neither of these things appear to exist. As of this writing (April 2008), neither of these two phrases can be found anywhere on the Internet, other than in articles quoting these predictions.
The only "Bundi" I can find is a city/municipality in northern India. It is not a republic, nor is it Palestinian.
There is a Republic of Burundi in Africa, but it is not Palestinian, consisting primarily of people of the Hutu and Tutsi tribes of Africa.
Neither of these places have been connected in any way with the September 11th attacks.
Statement: "A weapon or bomb known as the 'Z' was involved with the aircraft"
There is no evidence of any bomb being aboard any of the planes used in the terrorist attacks of that day, and the only weapons used that we know of were box-cutters, and the planes themselves.
Statement: "Two names to watch for (phonetic spelling) - Mohammed Karema and Zehar Mentusi"
As of this writing, no mention of either name can be found on the Internet, other than articles quoting these predictions.
And note that again, she uses a vague phrase, telling us that these are names "to watch for." She does not say that these are two of the terrorists involved. This would assure her that if anyone with names even vaguely resembling these were connected in any way with the attacks, she could claim it as a "hit."
Did any such names ever come up? Not that I can find. And I would think that if any had, Browne would have announced it on her site, in her books, and on the Montel Williams Show, none of which has happened.
Statement: "Sylvia did not get advance warning because she is not omniscient."
Agreed. I would only add that, based on her track record, I believe that Sylvia got no advance warning because she is not psychic.
Statement: "Her list of predictions in 1999 warned of terrorism, but clearly the timing was wrong."
There are two misleading parts to this statement.
First, by saying "list of predictions in 1999," they are implying this prediction is from her annual list made in 1999, for the year 2000. However, there is no prediction regarding terrorism in that list. There is a prediction regarding terrorism in the list made in 1998, for the year 1999. Perhaps was merely a typo on their part, but it is misleading.
And what exactly was this prediction which "warned of terrorism"? Here it is, from her list of Predictions For 1999:
Not only was her "timing wrong" (by two years), but the two cities mentioned had no involvement in the September 11 attacks. This was not a matter of timing being wrong. This is a totally unrelated - and incorrect - prediction.
Only one day after the attacks, with the entire country (and much of the world) stunned by the immensity of what had happened, Sylvia Browne Corporation's reaction was to:
This was Sylvia Browne Corporation's response to September 11th, 2001.
That is how it reads to me. You are of course welcome to your own interpretation.
MSN Live Chat - October 30, 2001, 6PM PST
The month after the attacks, MSN hosted a live online "chat" in which participants could ask Sylvia Browne questions. The event was billed as "Sylvia Browne helps audience members understand the psychic world."
After welcoming Browne, host "DishDiva" asks the opening question (all emphasis mine):
For those who do not know, Browne claims that before we are born, we create a "chart" of our "life to come" which includes all important events in that life, such as who our parents will be, where we will be born, who we will marry, and how we will die.
She is claiming here that every single person who died in the attacks that day chose to do so before they were born. I find this point of view (which she also applies to the holocaust and other tragedies) to be an insult to those who died that day. Not only does it smack of "blaming the victim," it also trivializes the tragedy by casting both the terrorists and their victims as mere performers in a play which was put on to teach us all a lesson.
A few minutes later in the chat, she is asked another 9/11-related question:
She says that none of the people who died that day suffered.
I have to wonder: has Browne listened to the 911 phone calls made by people trapped in the burning towers, describing the intense smoke and heat? Has she read the accounts of some of those who made it out of the towers alive, who describe the horrific pain and suffering they witnessed while escaping? Has she seen the heart-wrenching video of some of the estimated 200+ people who were forced by flames and smoke to leap to their deaths from windows as high as the 107th floor?
To say that those who died in the World Trade Center that day "did not suffer" shows tremendous ignorance of the facts. Worse, I believe that it shows great disrespect to the victims by attempting to diminish the horror of what actually happened to them.
She states that she cannot see things that are "supposed to happen," yet she charges people $750 for twenty-minute phone conversations in which she claims to tell them who they will marry, how many children they will have, what diseases they will develop, what their profession will be, and much more.
I will be exploring this in more detail in a later article.
Here, after stating that she did not know anything about the attacks, and giving her excuse for not having known anything about the attacks, she is still claiming that she had a vague inkling that something bad was going to happen. Also, note that there is no record of her "seeing fire" the whole week before the attack. For example, she made no mention of it during her appearance on Larry King Live on September 3, 2001.
Sylvia Browne's Book of Dreams
Sylvia Browne's Book of Dreams - 2002
One of the first of Browne's books to be published after 9/11 was Sylvia Browne's Book of Dreams (July 2002), in which she mentions the attacks many times.
On page 22 of the hardcover edition, she says the following (emphasis mine):
So now she has dropped the attempt to shoehorn her 1998 prediction about "Florida and London" into 9/11, and flat-out admits to utter failure to predict the tragedy.
But in the very next sentence, she again tries to claim some psychic connection to it (emphasis mine):
If she believes that these people all "charted" their deaths, and that it was for a greater good, and that it was all "supposed to happen," then why does Browne wish she could have kept these people from being there?
Later, on page 27, she again talks about the "charting":
Contacting Your Spirit Guide - 2003
On page 40 of her 2003 book Contacting Your Spirit Guide, she states that many people were prevented from being at work that day because their "spirit guides" knew it wasn't their time to die, then she says the following (emphasis mine):
For the sake of continuity, I provided most of my analysis within the sections above rather than holding it for this section. This differs from my approach in most of the articles on this site, but I found it difficult to use that approach in this particular article.
It seems to me that the reaction of Browne and her staff to the events of September 11th, 2001 was cynical and exploitative. Within hours of the deaths of thousands, they were trying to "get some mileage out of it," marketing-wise.
After an attempt to connect an unrelated, failed prediction to the tragedy, Browne decided to backtrack and acknowledge that she had made absolutely no prediction about that day, but still claimed to have had vague visions of fire - which she conveniently never mentioned until after the fact - and made the excuse for her failure that she cannot see things which are "supposed to happen."
If by this she is saying that she can only see things which may or may not happen (as opposed to things which are "supposed to" happen), then it sounds less like "psychic powers," and more like what could charitably be called "guessing," or, less charitably, "making things up."
Again, as I said at the top of this article, I find it very difficult to remain calm and detached when discussing the events of September 11, 2001, Especially when I believe that someone has used the events of that day for their own selfish means.
Perhaps, as a result of that, I have become less objective in this article than I should have been. If so, I hope that the above quotes of Browne's references to the attacks are sufficient for readers to judge for themselves.