Thursday, March 25, 2010

Psychic Crime Detectives

The topic of psychic crime detectives definitely caught my attention as we discussed the contents of chapter five in class. Being a criminal justice major, I thought how great would it be if we could rely on the powers of psychics to solve crimes rather than the traditional methods of tedious police work? I'm kidding. After doing some research, I came to the conclusion that though it would be awesome to say that a psychic was able to quickly and efficiently solve a crime that would, for instance, put a dangerous and deadly murderer off of the street, or even know about said crime before it happened, it just simply does not work that way. There are no such things as psychic detectives.
To put it simply, so-called “psychic detectives” are just great guessers. By paying close attention to detail in both police reports and forms of mass media, as well as using their powers of persuasion that they are the ones who in fact were able to solve the crime, they are able to make educated guesses about what happened during the course of a offense and pass it off as if they have revealed some new and important information about the case.
Crime reconstruction is not a simple, straightforward process. A lot of hard work and investigation goes into finding out who, what, where, why, when, and how a crime was committed. As shown with the case of the disappearance of Charles Capel, psychics are only able to give vague information about the minor details of the case which the police have to somehow make fit into the particulars of the crime once it is solved. The self-proclaimed psychic detective of the case, Noreen Reiner, was only called in to assist in the investigation once the police department had no one else to turn to; even then, the police still did not use her “clues” to find Capel’s body.
Essentially, the use of psychic detectives provides use with more questions than answers. According to Katherine Ramsland, “Psychics never predict the future in a way that might stop a crime or tragic event from happening.” Meaning if a psychic is able to tell us what happened as a result of a crime that was committed, why couldn’t they tell us how to stop it before it occurred? Other questions that could be asked include why the psychics are presently not rich as a result of their great abilities, in addition to if they can predict what happened during the course of a crime, why can’t they also predict other things, such as lottery numbers?
As discussed in class, Reiser and Klyver were asked to compare the psychic performances between psychic detectives and a control group of college students. The conclusion reached at the end of the experiment was that “this study provided no evidence to support the claims of psychic detection and, as such; the results are in accordance with other controlled studies” (Lawson, 145). As with this experiment, another test conducted by Joe Nickell was able to conclude several reasons as to why people are skeptics of psychic crime detectives, including “some famous cases never happened or could not be verified and checked, vague generalities can be made to fit almost anything, and people desperately want to believe that psychic information is true, so they easily accept the tales as told,” just to name a few (Ramsland).
In close, although I would like to believe in the prevalence of psychic detectives in society, I simply cannot. Based on all of the evidence provided against the claim of being a psychic detective with what little, if any, evidence that is shown proving their existence, I would not be able to rationally conclude that psychic detectives do, in fact, exist. However, I do think it will be interesting to see what else these self-proclaimed detectives can come up with and what other future cases they can claim to solve or at least be involved in. (Ramsland)

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