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Sensing Murder?

A psychic who made a prediction on a missing child case here in New Zealand superficially seems to have achieved a certain amount of accuracy. A young girl who was missing for a week was found dead today in a drain and the psychic had said she would be found in the same general area in a “ditch or hole”.

Plenty of other people have commented on the tragic aspects of this case so I’m just going to concentrate in the psychic’s apparently correct prediction. As I said above there does superficially appear to be some merit in the prediction but how remarkable is it really?

When I think of a missing child being found dead the first thing I think of is a body lying in a ditch or something similar (the police must have thought along the same lines because they searched this drain more than once). Significantly there was no actual ditch involved although a drain could be thought of as a hole (but that’s a very general term open to a lot of interpretation). So really the psychic just played the odds and happened to get it partly right this time.

The psychic is involved with a TV program called “Sensing Murder” and, according to the police, that program has never lead to a case being solved in its entire history. In fact, not a single piece of new information has been revealed although plenty of stuff the police already knew has been used, not one person has been arrested because of the program, and not a single missing body or weapon has been found. And on many occasions the psychics have been shown to be incorrect, but those failures seem to have been conveniently forgotten by most people.

So the program is a complete and total failure, at least from the perspective of solving crimes, because its a huge success for the producers and psychics involved who charge $500 for one psychic session.

So I think its fair to conclude that the psychic didn’t really achieve anything very remarkable here and the next question involves the responsibility of the TV network promoting that program and the TV interview predicting the location of the body in this particular case.

It seems to be an example of exploiting a high profile and tragic case for the advancement of the psychic’s reputation and the TV program’s profile. This is surely in extremely bad taste as well as encouraging belief in paranormal pseudoscience amongst the general population. Psychic trickery is fine for entertainment purposes but I have real problems with taking it this far.

The next question is whether the psychic is a fraud or deluded. After the failure to produce any real results in the Sensing Murder program most people would conclude that their psychic talents are very questionable at best. So either she knows her psychic abilities don’t work but chooses to continue the pretence that they do, or she has genuinely deceived herself into thinking they are real. I’m not sure which is worse.

The family of the missing girl said they did not want help from psychics but they did so really for the wrong reason. Apparently they are strongly Christian and would not consider help from psychics under any circumstances. Presumably this is because psychic abilities are seen as the work of the devil or something similar.

The Christian background of the family does inevitably present the question about why they think their god allowed such a tragic event to happen, despite all the prayers of the family and church. No doubt there is some way to explain this away because the problem of bad things happening to good people has been an issue to Christians for many years.

So the whole thing is rather sad and made a lot worse because of the self-serving behaviour of TVNZ and this so-called psychic. As one blog said: how stupid do they think the people of New Zealand really are? Actually, based on how seriously a lot of them take nonsense like Sensing Murder, pretty stupid, and they’re probably right!

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