Friday, December 15, 2006

Psychic Investigators 3

EoR was really looking forward to the most recent episode of this fantasy series. All week the ABC have been running promos in stark black and white asking "ARE YOU A SCEPTIC?" and promising that this show could change your mind completely.

This week's psychic, Nancy Weber, makes much of her police work, even going so far as to proudly claim that "she received a police badge in 1982". Well, EoR's impressed. And, while she has a page of two references from retired police officers testifying to her amazing and ongoing consulting services to the police force, her front page states she refuses to solve a high profile murder as she hasn't actually been asked to. Shouldn't she be arrested for withholding evidence then? Further down the page she points out that psychic assistance to solve crimes is only available to those willing to pay at least $200 an hour for a telephone consultation. This is not the recommended way to solve a crime however, and she prefers to go to the scenes (presumably, cold reading is a lot more impressive when you can make reference to actual objects, roads, buildings, rivers etc) and charges $1500 for the first day and $1000 per day thereafter. EoR can only say he's flabbergasted but it's obvious that desperate people are prepared to pay such outrageous amounts.

Readers will be unsurprised to learn that there was no overwhelming evidence of psychic powers shown in the episode. In fact (and what has become the usual routine) the crime would have been solved in exactly the same way had the psychic never existed. So what was the benefit of the huge fees (which, strangely, were not mentioned at all during the program)?

Ms Weber also gave contradictory evidence at a number of points. She said she couldn't see the killer's face (psychics never can) but, when she asked to see a picture of the missing girl she "recognised" her as the girl in her visions.

Ms Weber contacted the investigating officer by phoning a policeman she knew. Later, when she went to meet the investigating officer she expressed doubts that he might not be a policeman and possibly some kook who had just phoned her up - but she was the one who first contacted him!

When the suspect went missing, Ms Weber drew a "rough" map of where he was hiding in the mountains, and said the police would catch him "soon". At that very moment a call came over the police radio to say the suspect had been captured. At his home. So, at the same time Ms Weber was "seeing" him hiding in the mountains, he was safe at home.

The amazing proof of psychic powers reside solely on a small sample of remembered visions (no false visions were mentioned but, of course, no one will ever know if these were made and ignored or not).

Ms Weber said the girl who had gone missing was dead. This was 72 hours after her disappearance, with no sightings, and her disappearance being totally out of character. That she was dead would be an assumption most people would make at that stage.

She saw the name "Michael". The killer's name was, indeed, Michael. We don't know if she saw other names and why she didn't see a surname.

The killer smelled of oil or gasoline. Indeed, he worked at a garage once. We don't know if he worked anywhere else, or why the psychic couldn't give the details about the garage itself. He wasn't working at the garage at the time of the murder.

Later, after being questioned by the police and released (this was before the body was discovered) the suspect went missing, disappearing into the hills behind his house.

Ms Weber said the police would catch him. Since this is an open ended prediction with no time limit this would be a good guess to make.

She said he was in a "bad state". Since he had been questioned by the police and they had made clear they had doubts about his story, this is basic human psychology.

She also "saw" a pair of 55 gallon drums. When he was arrested at his home there were apparently lots of 55 gallon drums around. It's unclear whether there were two or more, or what other objects were around. If Ms Weber knew he was an ex-mechanic by this stage and lived on a rural property, it would be strange if there weren't such objects around.

Yet again, Psychic Investigators only proves how gullible people are, and how much money can be paid to a person to provide a totally unnecessary service.

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