Were you one of the 13 million people who tuned in to watch the TV show Medium while it aired? The show followed a psychic detective that helped solve dozens of crimes across the nation.
The show was clearly fictional, but do psychics really help solve crimes in real life? What makes a psychic individual reach out to law enforcement agencies? What’s more, what makes the police follow tips provided by self-proclaimed psychics? Learn all the facts surrounding this controversial subject below.
The Facts: Psychic Investigators
Back in 2013, the nation was gripped by the story of a psychic investigator who reportedly led police to the body of a California boy who had been missing for weeks. The psychic, Pam Ragland, said she had reoccurring visions of the boy’s home, so she alerted the authorities about her suspicions. She later joined them in the search and is ultimately credited with cracking the case. A detective with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Detective John Powers, expressed his disbelief by saying, “Not in 23 years have I ever seen anything like this.” He also called the whole situation the “best case” for proving the validity of psychic detectives.
Skeptics may argue that the above situation was a one-off, but that isn’t exactly the case. Troy Griffin, another self-proclaimed psychic, reportedly helped the FBI solve multiple missing persons cases. Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, a criminal profiler with the FBI and CIA, attributes her skills to psychic abilities.
The list goes on. Yet, the topic of psychic powers rarely comes up in any serious manner when discussing criminal cases.
Do the Police Listen to Psychics?
To find out the truth, 50 of the biggest law enforcement agencies in the U.S. were asked if they’d ever consulted with a psychic on an unsolved case. About 35% of the agencies confirmed that they had. Here’s what they had to say about it:
- Some psychics were consulted at the request of the victim’s family members
- Some claimed that the psychics interfered with their work
- Others valued the psychic’s inputs
Overall, authorities are more inclined to use psychics when family members request it or when they find hard evidence that appears to collaborate a psychic’s claims. Houston Police, for example, took a psychic’s tip about mass graves seriously back in 2011 because the person seemed to know specific details about the case that were not public knowledge. They also initially found evidence that lined up with the psychic’s theories.
In the end, the Houston Police Department concluded that the psychic’s reports had no validity to them. The department lamented over the wasted resources and time, but they also explained how they must take all tips seriously. Tips given by self-proclaimed psychics are often credible, so they can’t be dismissed despite the source.
The Psychology Behind Believing Psychics
When police follow tips or leads from psychics, it has less to do with the source and more to do with protocol. It isn’t that they necessarily believe in psychic abilities. Or, do they? A recent Gallup survey suggests that about one in four Americans believe some humans can manifest supernatural psychic powers. Why are people so drawn to believing in psychic abilities? Here are a few of the leading theories:
- The Barnum Effect
- A psychic’s claims are impossible to validate
- Evidence, proof, and studies have mixed results
- Personal experience
The Barnum effect happens when a person accepts vague descriptions of themselves but believe the descriptions uniquely describe them. In other words, the generalization could fit and apply to several groups of people, but the person believes the generalization only applies to them. Some argue that psychics take advantage of the Barnum effect when making predictions, while others say premonitions are believed because of this psychological phenomenon.
On top of that, rarely can a psychic’s visions be validated. What they predict may come to pass, but it’s impossible to deduce whether the prediction was a coincidence or not. That’s why so many studies on the subject return inconclusive results.
Of course, there are those who tend to believe in the supernatural due to their own personal experiences. It’s possible they’ve witnessed successful predictions by psychics in the past, or they could be predisposed to such beliefs because of their religion.
Whatever the reason behind the belief, there’s an overwhelming amount of people who believe in psychics in the U.S. When a psychic gives the police a credible tip, they’re likely to listen.
Psychic Abilities, Intuition, and Profiling
Psychic abilities are often called an extension of our intuition. As criminal profiler Deborah Schurman-Kauflin explains, “the best police officers are the most intuitive.” It’s true that the most idealized detectives, whether in real life or film, often do solve cases by going off of a hunch or gut feeling.
This fascinating connection also comes into play when we consider how detectives create criminal profiles. The criminal profiling field was developed by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, but it’s still a fairly new type of science. The American Psychological Association confirms that early profilers mostly relied on their own intuition when coming to conclusions. So, is intuition more connected to law enforcement than we thought before?
Crime Solving Psychics: Fact or Myth?
There’s a lot to be said about psychics who insert themselves into criminal investigations. Good intentions and heightened intuitive abilities can contribute to crime-solving, but it also has the potential to cause law enforcement agencies to follow bogus leads. That’s why authorities put so much time into vetting the tips they receive irrespective of the source. Whether the credible tip is coming from a psychic or not, police will respond.
If your loved one was missing, would you seek out the help of a psychic investigator?
- Dagnall, N., and Drinkwater. K. (2019, Feb 05) Why Do A Quarter of Americans Believe In Psychic Powers? Newsweek. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/psychic-powers-america-poll-belief-clairvoyant-telepathy-fraud-1318332?
- Radford, B. (2013, Jul 14) The New ‘Best Case’ For Psychics: Did ‘Intuitive Visions’ Locate Missing Boy? Center for Inquiry. Retrieved from https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/the_new_best_case_for_psychics_did_intuitive_visions_locate_missing_boy/
- Nardi, P.M. (2017, Jun 14) Psychic Detectives Have A Perfect Record. Pacific Standard. Retrieved from https://psmag.com/.amp/social-justice/psychic-detectives-have-a-perfect-record-35601
- Winerman, L. (2004) Criminal Profiling: The Reality Behind The Myth. American Psychological Association. July/August, Vol 35, No.7. pp66. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/criminal
Martin. J (2019, Oct 12) The Psychology of Psychics Who Claim to be Crime Solvers. Retrieved from https://www.crimetraveller.org/2019/10/psychology-of-psychics-claim-to-be-crime-solvers/
About the author: Jennifer Martin is the founder and owner of Polymatheia’s Scroll, (www.polymatheiasscroll.com), a legal content creation service for law firm marketing. Her focus is on generating captivating blog posts and articles for internet users with legal questions. Her attention-grabbing and SEO-driven content results in more leads for law firms.