Psychic Was Wrong About Hornbeck

By Anthony | January 24th, 2007 | 11:11 pm

Psychics tend to be extremely accurate – as long as you ignore their misses. Here’s a recent example of a big miss that psychic-believers would probably like to sweep under the rug.

Shawn Hornbeck’s disappearance had a happy ending when police found him alive earlier this month. The news took many people by surprise, most likely including psychic Sylvia Browne, who had earlier told Shawn’s parents that he was dead:

His parents were beyond desperate when they went on Montel Williams’ syndicated television program, where they were brought together with renowned psychic Sylvia Browne … Browne was telling his parents the worst possible news — that Shawn was dead, and that his body was in a rocky, forested area within 20 miles of their home. For the next three weeks, the search reportedly focused on finding Shawn’s body in that prescribed area.

Of course, they failed to find the body because last week — four years after he went missing — Shawn Hornbeck turned up very much alive.

It’s despicable that someone would pretend to have knowledge of a child’s fate and lead his parents – and the police – astray like this.

Browne was totally wrong, not just about Shawn’s fate, but about his abductor as well. According to James Randi:

But there was more specific drivel from Browne, She said that Shawn had been taken by a “dark-skinned man, he wasn’t black – more like Hispanic.” She said the kidnaper had long, black hair worn in dreadlocks and was “really tall.” He was driving an older model blue sedan, she said, a car with fins like in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Chevrolets. All of this drivel was wrong, from the description of the man – he is not Hispanic nor dark-skinned, he’s Caucasian, he’s heavy and not tall – and his car was quite the opposite of Browne’s invented notions: it was a white pickup truck.

Maybe it’s time to have criminal penalties for psychics who provide police with false information?

5 Responses to “Psychic Was Wrong About Hornbeck”

  1. Brenda Bowers Says:

    Having been involved with Parapsychology studies or years I can state emphatically that there are those who have extra sensory powers. Some are even extraordinarily gifted. There is only one very important factor in extra sensory abilities : IT CAN NOT BE CONTROLLED AND CALLED INTO PLAY AT WILL. And yes, those who try to use their inconsistent ability, if they have any, are despicable.

    By the way, the breakthru scientific studies in parapsychology were done during the 1930’s by the Doctors Rhine here at Duke.

  2. PotatoStew Says:

    That’s very cool that you were involved in parapsychology expreiments. I used to be very interested in that area, but I’m pretty much convinced now that it’s bunk. Take a look around James Randi’s site, linked in the original post, when you have time. Scientists and researchers have been fooled by people pretending to have paranormal powers. People using well-known cold reading techniques have convinced others that they are psychic. Randi’s million dollar prize goes unclaimed. I just don’t think the claims out there hold up.

  3. Brenda Bowers Says:

    Under very controlled experiments psychi abilities in some have definitely been proven Anthony. As I said above the Drs. Rhine in the 1930’s did the first controlled experiments at Duke and really little more has been learned since about this phenomena, even tho books and magazines on the subject are always coming up with newer and more far out theories which actually throw doubt on all the scientific studies that have been done. And due to the opportunity for fraud a lot of charlatans are in the field.

    I was involved in the laboratory testing and teaching parapsy of course. Some of the things I have seen in double blind experiments were amazing. A double blind is when neither the subject nor the experimenter knows the correct answer so there can be no possible ‘give away’ from the experimenter. Then after we had the computers to work with the testing became even more rigidly controlled. It is amazing how gifted some psychics are. However, I will repeat: the ability can not be controlled by the psychi and turned on at will. In fact, very talented psychics have actually lost their abilities once they have begun to try to exploit it.

    I just checked Amazon.com to see if they had the text I used in my classes but they didn’t unfortunately. It was an antholgy of essays done by experts in each area of the field. It would have been a great place to start, and perhaps even end, your studies because as I said really the Drs. Rhine in the 1930’s made all the discoveries there was to make and nothing has been added since. BB

  4. PotatoStew Says:

    I read up a little bit on the Rhine experiments, and they didn’t sound all that well controlled in many cases. For several of the experiments, the test subject and the research assistant met privately after the trial before turning in the results – a prime opportunity for fraud. Another of the experiments was allegedly done in a car.

    Scientists doing supposedly controlled experiments have been demonstrably fooled in the past. Ed Cone just posted a video about how James Randi and some accomplices fooled researchers into believing they had paranormal abilities.

    We both sound pretty sure of our position, so we’ll probably have to agree to disagree. It’s an interesting subject, as I said, but I just haven’t seen anything that convincingly demonstrates that it’s true. The double blind experiments you mention are intriguing, but I’d need to see some details about them to even start to draw any conclusions.

  5. Brenda Bowers Says:

    Anthony Honey, I didn’t mean to give the impression that the Drs. Rhine were the ultimate in psi investigations. They were merely the first to attempt a more scientific study, and what they discovered or identified has been reaffirmed again and again. And yes, there were not the controls that we employ today, but remember that was the 1930’s and the scientific methodology was not fully defined even then allowing for much that today would be disalllowed. The problem comes in with the opportunity for fraud. Also much confusion arises from all the new “discoveries” and theories that are just plain hokum. I did my work with it in the 1970’s early 80’s so am so behind in the lastest research. But, keep an open mind and check out what some of the universities are doing and not just some joker who wrote a book.