So Sylvia Brown was wrong, NO psychic is ever 100% correct, that is impossible. As quick is Randi is to jump on Sylvia for this "mistake", I am quite sure he is never going to admit to the readings that were right on. He just doesn't do things like that. It doesn't help a skeptic to draw attention to the existence of rightness. And that there have been right ones, I am sure. That's why she can charge as much as she does. Although I'm with Moon about the propriety of charging so much, well, that's between her and god.
When Browne or any other so-called psychic I've seen is "right", it never fails to be because the clues were so vague. The only exceptions to this I've seen are when the psychic in question is really unscrupulous and acquires information surreptitiously. Randi and other skeptics glady admit that psychics are "right" some of the time. Just not with any better degree of accuracy than chance would allow. You make enough guesses, eventually you'll score some hits.
Browne can charge as much money as she does because 1. People want to believe, 2. She uses the same techniques of "cold reading" and pop psychology that have been working for other "psychics" for years, and 3. No doubt she has a good "stage presence" and charisma. Uri Geller used to be able to charge the big bucks, too. Unfortunately for him, he was eventually shown to be a fraud so definitively that he's pretty much a non-entity these days.
I've yet to see a psychic make any flat, definite statement. It's always, "I'm getting the sense of the letter H and I feel darkness all around him. There's water nearby. The number 4 seems significant." These sort of "clues" aren't much help in determining anything beforehand, but can easily be retrofitted after the fact to look like a "hit".
That was kind of my point, although perhaps I didn't phrase it well. Aside from rivers and lakes being good dumping places, the chances that there will be a puddle, stream, water tower, or some other source of water nearby a murder victim's body when it is found is pretty high. You don't have to be a psychic to pull that one out. You might as well say, "I get the sense the body is near dirt". It would be only slightly less useful.
As for water being part of many places where dead bodies are found, aren't rivers and lakes good dumping places for them? Where are you going to put them? On a highway or next to a shopping mall? It makes sense to me.
As as for being disgusted with Sylvia regarding the Cleveland case, we were only shown a portion of what went on in Cleveland I'm sure. We have no way of knowing what the mother was told. The police never release all the details to the general public. This helps them differentiate between the crackpots and somone who might really know something. I'm sure you know this. And I know the Montel show was not going to overstep a police investigation. As for telling the mother that her daughter was dead, well, it's not the psychic's purpose to sugarcoat the truth. And if this is also j ust a scam, how come the great Randi isn't jumping all over this one?
It's not that anyone thinks the psychic should "sugarcoat the truth". It's that we have good reason to believe that the psychic is simply guessing. It's a sad fact, but most of the time a young girl goes missing, if she isn't found right away chances are she's dead. And near water. Why isn't Randi all over this one? Because Randi, Joe Nickell, Gary Posner and other skeptics have already investigated numerous "psychic deterctive" cases. There's a lot of baloney out there for these guys to check into, so do you honestly expect them to spend the time analyzing each and every case Brown deals with? Once you've checked the facts on a good portion of them and you keep seeing the same pattern time and again, it's time to move on to something else.
Plindbo and Bob, here's the rub: you're not going to hear about the good psychics who are not interested in the fame or the money. That's not their MO.
I've got no problem with the "good psychics" you're talking about, if they do indeed exist. The only thing I have to go by are the psychics who choose to be in the public eye, and what I've seen of them has not made a good impression.