NZ Skeptics chair Mark Honeychurch says the psychics from Sensing Murder have not been instrumental in any developments with the cases they investigated.
But as the New Zealand Skeptics Society points out the details of all of New Zealand’s unsolved murders are only a mouse click away.
Skeptics Society chairman Mark Honeychurch said with just over 60 murders unsolved in New Zealand since 1902, it would be easy for the psychics to research and memorise these before appearing on the show.
“I’m not convinced that any psychic powers have been shown. My understanding of the show is that there are many hours of filming for each episode. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot of selective editing going on there.”
Honeychurch said a regular psychic on the show had admitted spending “many many hours sitting in a room with a photo basically talking and going over her thoughts”.
“It’s what you call the scatter gun approach, just throwing so much out there that something is going to stick.”
He said another trick often used by psychics in personal readers were “Barnum” statements that felt profound, but applied to most people such as” “You feel a need for people to like you”, “you have unused potential that you have not tapped into yet” and “although you can be outgoing at times, you often feel shy”.
Another technique was to use statements in the form of questions that were true whatever the answer, such as “You don’t like boats, do you?”.
Honeychurch said it would be “kinda nice” if psychics were real but no controlled study had been able to prove the ability exists.
He said without such proof it was unethical for psychics to claim to be able to speak to the dead.
He said of the crimes featured on Sensing Murder, there hadn’t been a “single case” that a psychic had helped with to the point of being useful to police.
In response to an Official Information Act request in 2013, national police headquarters told the Skeptics Society that police did not pay for “mediums, clairvoyants, or other psychics to provide them with information. Police will listen to information offered by any member of the public. Any follow-up action is based on what factual corroborating information can be used to support the information provided”.