Are police psychics reliable?

News Summary/July 14, 2009

In his essay "Police Psychics: Do They Really Solve Crime?" Joe Nickell scrutinizes the issue of psychic reliability regarding criminal investigations.

He compares such psychics to a past tradition that includes ancient oracles who provided "divine guidance."

However, should police rely upon such divination when solving crimes?

Nickell explored this issue with law enforcement authorities that had used psychics.

One such psychic Dorothy Addison's pronouncements "were difficult to verify when initially given." And her "accuracy usually could not be verified until the investigation had come to a conclusion."

Such subsequent factual correlation of psychic pronouncements with the later established facts of a case is called "retrofitting." This is perhaps the secret ingredient to validate any alleged psychic successes in the sphere of criminal investigations.

An supposed clairvoyant might say, "I see water and the number seven," which subsequently can be fit within almost any case. Nickell says that this example "would be a safe offering in almost any case. After all the facts are in, it will be unusual if there is not some stream, body of water, or other source that cannot somehow be associated with the case."

Experts say that many psychics offer what can be seen essentially as vague generalities.

For example, in searching for name like Joe, John or Josephine they see a "J" associated with the case.

When the case is solved this can then be fit in too.

Despite the publicity surrounding them, psychics may ultimately offer little if any meaningful help to law enforcement authorities.

Note: This summary is based upon an article titled "Are Police Psychics Really Able to Solve Crimes?" by Carol Forsloff originally published by the Digital Journal May 13, 2009

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