Comment by Simon, 27 Jan, 2007
Hi, I agree with all that you have pointed out regarding the accuracy or rather the inaccuracies of both the 2 mediums and also the shows failings and deliberate or otherwise clues the production team gave to both mediums.
There are two further points i'd like your opinion on that have not been mentioned on your site. Firstly: In the show, how did Deb come up with IPA and also how did she come up with the supposed name of the killer (John *****) which was partially bleeped out. Where did this come from? The show is so heavily edited it leaves huge gaps in the storyline. Kelvin also pointed out that the killer could have been or was a painter... or did he just remember this from info that may of been printed in the papers at the time in 1980 or later...? There may of been some reference in the media to the fact that potential suspects with links to being a painter or working within the painting industry were being questioned at the time of the murder inquiry? All very vague I must say. The whole show is so seriously flawed and heavily biased in favour of the mediums, in truth I think the pair of them would have trouble predicting what the next season will be.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 30 Jan, 2007
Hi Simon. It's always good to hear that there others out there that have more than two brain cells between their ears. Someone that can see that even if psychic abilities do exist, they certainly aren't demonstrated on Sensing Murder. And for the record, I don't believe they exist, full stop.
As for your query, "how did Deb come up with IPA and also how did she come up with the supposed name of the killer", I've looked at the episode again to see how they fit into the show. The short answer is she just made them up, pulled them out of thin air. The show gives them a prominence that they don't deserve. They're meaningless. But it was an interesting exercise to see how the show's producers and the private investigator gave the viewer the impression that something important was revealed. To this end I've written up this exchange and added it to the end of our article. Search for the section that begins with: "The final part of the episode has a team of private investigators attempting to make sense of the vague information that has been provided by the psychics."
I agree with you that Kelvin's reference to painting could well result from his recall of the actual murder. He does live in Auckland after all, and murders weren't as common in 1980 as they now seem to be. Although Kelvin is shown mentioning the painting industry, did he also mention the fishing industry or the sex industry as well, which was subsequently edited out? Also I know if I was going to take part in one of these shows I would be boning up on all the past unsolved murder cases, hoping that they would pick one I had read about.
There will always be things in these shows that because of their editing you just can't be sure how they arrived at some information. All you can be sure of is that's it not psychic. Somehow they cheated or simply guessed the right answer. As I said in a recent comment to another visitor to our site, psychics and mediums deserve our scorn and contempt. They should be despised for their refusal to use their claimed powers to save lives, reduce crime etc. Psychics and mediums can't make a difference in the real world because their stage acts are just that, an act. They have no strange powers.
Comment by Debbie, 30 Dec, 2008
Hi John, I've been inspired to write to you after reading many hours of your Sensing Murder episode transcripts.
I write to you from the UK where I've viewed a few episodes of a presumably old series recently. My mom watched a series a little while ago and became very intrigued with it and interested so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I admit, I was pretty impressed after what the "psychics" came out with, finding exact locations of where bodies were found, mentioning actual names and seeming to be very disturbed by the events. However, after the case of Luana Williams and the only thing they came out with was telling the viewer how she was murdered (which could have been made up as no one can prove what happened) and supposedly where her missing body was I became intrigued to know the follow up. I felt that a lot of information was missing, such as who killed her and if they found the body so I decided to do some research online. I found that the police retrieved human bones but that they didn't belong to Luana, so that blew their theory out of the water. But how could Sue and Kelvin have been so confident as to where the body was? And surely if they were lying they would know that they would be exposed if no body was found. That part I don't understand.
I also found some video footage from New Zealand programmes about Deb Webber and her being exposed as a fake and I was pretty shocked. She was one psychic that my mom was particularly impressed with and here in the UK we know nothing of these murders because there has been no coverage of them over here. I showed my mom this video of Deb being exposed as well as her pathetic attempt to explain what had happened and my mom was even more shocked. How can these people be allowed to charge $500 per session for absolutely fabricated information?? It's criminal. And her statement about saying she's not harmed anyone and only wants to help people. $500 for a session of lies would harm me a lot! Even if I believed her lies, that is still a lot of money and I don't think that genuine psychics would exploit their gift in this manner.
I started thinking that perhaps it was just her, a thorn among the roses. I thought that the show itself had possibly been tricked by Deb and that their intention was as they have advertised -- to help shed light on unsolved murders. And I 100% believe that the entire show and its psychics are complete con artists. And not very good ones at that! I have no interest in this show whatsoever now, except from picking apart the errors and slick editing as you put it. I'd read a couple of the transcripts but had not seen any of the episodes and so I couldn't put my own judgement on them as well, however the errors you picked up that Nigel Latta didn't is incredible. Fancy a skeptic going on a show to observe "foul play" and then when there has been plenty of it, pretending that there was none! One show I have seen this evening was the case of Alicia O'Reilly and after watching it and picking out some errors myself I decided to read your transcript and see if there was anything I didn't pick up and I was very surprised by what I read.
I completely agree on when they showed Kelvin asking if he'd be correct in saying Alicia was strangled at the beginning of the show, but then neglecting to show this footage later on and only showing him confirming that she must have been strangled. I don't understand why they would do this at all, but it is very suspect. And I was under the impression she had died from suffocation with a pillow as this is what the police at the beginning said. Surely if she'd been strangled there would be strangulation marks around her neck? And if there was, why did they neglect to tell us this on the show?
I also agree with your view on their rule about positive statements being confirmed. Initially I had thought they were saying that AFTER the reading the psychics were told which statements were correct and am shocked to find out that they are actually confirmed at the time. The show definitely leads the viewers to believe that statements are confirmed after the reading, when the detective is going through the information given by them and the fact that in none of the shows I've seen has there been any confirmation from a crew member. These have ALL been edited out, even the ones you mention you saw in this show which is what concerns me even more. In fact there is much of what you have mentioned in your transcript that was not shown in the episode I saw in the UK, which to me is clearly their attempt at making the abilities of the "psychics" more credible but the show had already lost credibility in my eyes for using a psychic who has been publicly exposed as a fraud. I think you will find what I have to say about this episode interesting. I actually feel like the producers of the show have read your transcript and decided to edit the show more thoroughly and deceptively before selling it on to channels in other countries.
First off, the part you mention where Deb says, "She's got the brown hair, she likes fair hair but I think she's got bit, umm, the dark, the darker hair. [Pause]. Oh she likes the dark in my hair but she's got the light hair" was completely cut out, and I can see why! That is a blatant failure on Deb's part and once we know the crew are confirming positive statements, it becomes obvious that it is the crew's actions that makes her change her mind and not a miscommunication with a spirit. Why on earth would a spirit comment on her hair or even just a partial colour of someone's hair? Ridiculous. The part about Kelvin saying he thinks she's seven or eight has also been edited out completely as well as the entire section of them telling the viewers that he has been given her drawings and any comments he made about the picture such as the house being hers and a reference to a dog. There is none of this, but they have left the bit of Kelvin saying that she is indicating her good colouring in skills.
They have also completely cut out the section of Kelvin talking about what Alicia says about her father, however, they did some slick editing with it and towards the end of the episode they show Kelvin talking about working shifts and never hardly home. This is added in when they are talking about the evidence pointing to the murderer and therefore we are lead to believe that Kelvin said this about the killer with the investigator confirming that there were many shift workers living in this area at the time of the murder when your transcript paints a very different picture. This is proof of slick editing!
There has been a lot taken out with the supposed descriptions of the killer such as; the comment made by Deb of the man having a size 8 shoe, Kelvin saying Alicia says he is a bit older than her dad (in this version he simply says "an older male"), Kelvin saying the bit about people being questioned and how Alicia says the community will never be the same again, Kelvin saying she was buried in a white coffin and Kelvin commenting on how much she talked!
Next, they have edited out Deb telling the crew that they have either gone past the house or are getting close. They only show her saying, "I feel sick" and then informing us she has just passed Alicia's house. They've also edited out Rebecca informing the viewer that Kelvin has been told he is outside of Alicia's house and leading us to believe he found it on his own. He doesn't mention being shown everything backwards and he doesn't reference the sliding windows. They have then edited out Rebecca saying that Deb is certain she has found the house.
They've cut out the entire section where Deb tries to locate Alicia's bedroom and bed and so we don't see the crew member pointing her in the right direction or confirming the location of her bed. The only part we see is Deb showing us the side of the house that the room is on and Rebecca confirming this. We are not shown Deb or Kelvin being given a map of the house. They've also completely cut out Deb giving dates of when the supposed killer had committed other crimes as well as any reference to a licence plate number.
They then cut out the part where the police you mention say that both pottery and painting industries had stopped using antimony in their products prior to the murder and thereby leading the viewer to believe that the information provided by Deb and the private investigator are of any use. All we are given on this subject is Rebecca telling us that the police thought the killer may have obtained the substance by scraping paint off of buildings. Also cut out is where Kelvin mentions a Tauranga man and the PI's comments about a man from this area being arrested for raping a teenage girl. They have also cut out the part where he says that NZ police say they use factual evidence only and don't employ the services of psychics.
They have certainly edited a lot out from this episode since they aired the one you saw. Clearly they are getting more experienced in slick editing and God knows what they replaced the missing footage with as the episode I watched is also an hour long, but it's no wonder people are being fooled. They seem to be using the errors pointed out by people like yourselves to change them and sell the more convincing episodes on to other countries and channels. I am very glad for informative websites like yours out there, but at the same time this kind of thing just helps them improve their deception and con more people.
The evidence against them is pretty incriminating and like you, my opinion of them is not going to change unless they actually solve a case based on the evidence given by the so called "psychics" and unless any of the information or names given materialises into anything significant I will continue believing that they are pulling it all out of their arses.
Thank you for your taking the time to read this.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Jan, 2009
Your comments make fascinating reading Debbie. While we guessed our revelations would influence future shows, it never occurred to me that the show's producers would re-edit old episodes before they sold them overseas. They have always insisted that the "flaws" we have pointed out are not signs of cheating and that they stand by the video footage they broadcast. Obviously this is not true and behind closed doors they have decided to "improve" their show by reediting them for the overseas market. This is not to say that I don't think the producers are quite dishonest and devious in the way they put the show together, just that I thought they were arrogant enough to believe that their original footage would fool most people that believe in psychics.
You're right in that exposÚs like ours do allow the show's producers to better hide their flawed editing. This means the more obvious mistakes will be removed or avoided. But why do they even bother? Believers don't think about the show or the psychics' abilities the way I do. The most blatant mistakes and examples of cheating are never noticed. They trust the psychics implicitly and are awestruck by their apparent success. They're editing the show in an attempt to fool someone like me, a non-believer, a skeptic who will analyse every word and action. Since the original version of Sensing Murder impressed everyone but skeptics, there's no need to edit it to wow the believer since they're already convinced. This is why I'm surprised they allocated time and money to edit the version that went to the UK.
However on the positive side our website provides details and rational explanations of why these psychics can appear to provide unknown information, and of how the show's producers cheat to overcome the failure of the psychics. It's easy to say "I don't believe in psychics", but this in itself is not a convincing argument. Our website provides reasons why you shouldn't believe in psychics. Keeping our observations secret would stop the producers — and the psychics — from fine-tuning their performance, but it would also mean that skeptical people, those curious about whether psychics really are real, are also kept in the dark. The argument from believers would then be, "If skeptics can explain how psychics are fooling us, why don't they?" You're dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. Personally though, I believe that revealing how the psychics and TV producers fool us does them far more harm than the minor benefits they obtain. Debates about psychics at dinner parties and the pub often go nowhere since those skeptical of psychics can't explain how psychics and TV shows perform their tricks and don't realise that most of the claims made by believers are actually bogus, eg psychics have helped police solve murders. Knowledge is power, and many people will happily become skeptical of psychics if they're only given good reason to. Think of your own example. You were initially impressed by the performance of the psychics, but skeptical enough to do some further research. This research caused you to reject the claims made on the show. Imagine though if you had found no evidence of skulduggery on behalf of the psychics or the TV show, simply because sites like ours had decided to suppress it. Might you now be a lukewarm believer? Or even if you were still skeptical, your confidence level would be low.
You asked, "how could Sue and Kelvin have been so confident as to where the body was? And surely if they were lying they would know that they would be exposed if no body was found. That part I don't understand." Psychics almost never say exactly where the body is, and on the rare occasion that they do, and on the even rarer occasion that they have searched that location, the body has never been found. It's all very easy to say that a body can be found in a national park or forest, since unless you can say EXACTLY where, police will probably never find it. It's the old needle in a haystack problem. If you claim a needle is in one, no one is going to bother to look unless you can say EXACTLY where it is. In a forest you can dig a hundred exploratory holes, but if the body is just a few centimetres to the left or right you'll never find it. Saying the body is buried in a poorly defined area is one of the safest predictions a psychic can make, knowing that the police almost never act on these vague psychic predictions. Psychic Kelvin Cruickshank was actually shown making a very exact prediction as to where a murder weapon was buried. They used a metal detector and dug holes. There was nothing there. It shows the stupidity of the show's producers that they broadcast this failure and the gullibility of the audience that they failed to be swayed by this blunder on Cruickshank's part.
You say that your opinion of the psychics on Sensing Murder won't change unless they solve a case or the information they have given becomes significant. However I believe even this wouldn't be a good reason to change your mind. Most of what the psychics claim is based on common sense and real world knowledge. They are making the same educated guesses that police make when they investigate cases. If a murderer lived in this area where would he dispose of the body? Put it in the backyard compost bin or bury it in the nearby park? What might the motive have been for the murder? What does local gossip, police and media reports say about potential suspects? Even if a case was solved by information provided by a psychic, it's probable that that info was obtained from real world sources or was simply an educated guess. To prove their abilities the psychic would need to solve multiple cases, providing information that no one, including the police, knew about. Also this information would need to be of a type that a modern Sherlock Holmes couldn't have thought of. That is, information could only have come from a supernatural source not rational thought. If psychics could really talk to the dead, they could provide a wealth of information that only they could know. Just as scientists have to perform repeatable experiments before their claims are believed, we should accept nothing less from psychics. By mere chance alone there will of course be cases of where a psychic has predicted something that turns out to be true. But these will be lucky guesses, and we know this because even when they make a correct guess, they combine this with a dozen guesses that are wrong. So even if you see a news report that claims a psychic has helped solve a case, until they do it several times, you would be sensible to ignore it.
Although some people come to believe that the psychics on the likes of Sensing Murder are bogus, they often still believe that the psychic that their friend visited is the real deal. Rational people dismiss the Sensing Murder psychics because they get the chance to analyse what they say, and none of it stacks up. But as for the psychics that a friend visited, it's all second hand, just vague recollections of what their friend thought the psychic said. My experience is that whenever you get to watch a psychic first hand, they fail. They only appear credible if you don't look too closely at what they're saying. We also know that the most successful psychics — like magicians and singers — are the ones that become famous and go on TV shows. These TV psychics are the best in the country at what they do. But if the best psychics are shown to be frauds, then what chance is there that some little old lady in some small village has real ability?
Thanks again for your revelations. It's nice to know that the Sensing Murder production company has indirectly acknowledged that our accusations of cheating are valid, in that they felt it necessary to edit their episodes. Only people with things to hide try and cover their tracks.
Comment by Lynda, 01 Sep, 2011
I just wanted to say, I used to walk to school with Alicia and her sister Juliet. I am in my forties now and have never forgotten the loss. As a child I remembered the day after when walking past her house they had police there and as a child I couldn't comprehend then what was actually going on. The night Alicia was taken was a night I have never forgotten and probably never will. As a mother I keep a close eye on my children and am sometimes afraid of them walking down the street on their own. But that is the life that we live, and I do not take anything for granted...
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 02 Sep, 2011
Thanks for your comments Lynda. Terrible events like the death of Alicia are certainly traumatic and not easily forgotten. I think it is natural for parents to fear for the safety of their children, and while there are definitely real dangers in the world, and always have been, I also think the media and exploitive shows like 'Sensing Murder' make us more fearful than we need be. The fact is that children in NZ are far safer now than they have ever been in history, and have a far greater chance of reaching adulthood than ever before. Thankfully children being attacked by strangers is extremely rare.
Comment by Anonymous-1, 07 Feb, 2017
You are wrong spirit is real the murderer is still alive
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 08 Feb, 2017
We're sorry to burst your gullibility bubble and expose you to the real world of grow-ups, but claiming that 'spirit is real' is as childish as claiming that garden fairies are real. Seriously, it doesn't seem that you're paying attention to what's happening around you. Presumably you've watched the old 'Sensing Murder' episode where the imaginary spirit of murdered Alicia O'Reilly failed/refused to divulge any information that would lead to the arrest of her killer? And presumably you know that not one of the imaginary spirits of any of the many, many murder victims that 'Sensing Murder' psychics have investigated have revealed their secrets? So what evidence is there that this so-called 'spirit' is real? None whatsoever!
You also claim to know that the murderer of Alicia O'Reilly is still alive, but the only person that could know that is the actual murderer, or someone that knows the murderer and is protecting them. So are you the murderer or just someone helping them escape justice?
Or on both your claims, are you just making your whimsical, childish, fanciful thoughts known, thoughts that aren't backed up by even a smidgen of evidence? Why is it that you believers in such nonsense are so convinced that your unseen world is real, and yet you never, ever reveal the reasons and evidence that convinced you to believe in such things? Why don't you tell us what makes you believe and maybe you'll convince us too? Surely you must grasp that you'll never sway our view if you insist on keeping all your evidence secret, preferring to simply say, 'You are wrong', and leaving it at that? Why do you want us to know we're wrong, but at the same time you all continually refuse to help us understand why we're wrong?
Comment by Anonymous-2, 08 Apr, 2017
Hi. I remember Alicia. I use to be her friend in Avondale. I was never told of her death because my mother thought I was too young, because I was her age, but I never forgotten her, even now I remember little bits and pieces.
Comment by Anonymous-3, 07 Dec, 2018
I have strong suspect I have been to police. I was a child a time before round the corner and had very similar experience but he never went that far. I forgot about it but recent memory triggered . too much of a coincidence too close by for comfort it adds up .when I was little I never thought about it at all. I'm fifty now. I have made full statement to police I hope they catch him for closure for Alicia s family. Specially mother . its been so long I can't believe it I feel like I've been knocked out I'm so sorry.
Comment by Anonymous-4, 22 Jan, 2019
I watched this episode immediately after reading your article, and while some of the things you point out are correct and I agree with you on many points (including crafty editing), I also noted some misrepresentation and omission of facts on your part as well. I'm not, by any means, saying that the "psychics" are legitimate, but just pointing out that you, yourself, may have stretched your logical argument a little too far, and in doing so, have possibly become guilty of the same type of skewed representation you are attempting to point out. There are enough flaws in the program's format and execution to debunk much of it without having to stoop to the same misdirection they use. I won't waste my time (or anyone else's) explaining each point on which I cannot concur with you, but I simply want to state that, in all fairness, one should watch the whole program immediately after reading your article. IF given the benefit of doubt whether any of it is purely bogus or not, some of it can be said to be puzzling. Then again, it could ALL be entirely scripted BS, in which case they are vultures and jackels feeding on the misery of grieving families.
I've seen articles about these psychics fleecing heartbroken survivers by pretending to communicate with loved ones who have passed on, and I know it happens all the time; those who do this are despicable, black-hearted liars who deserve whatever punishment Hell can dish out when they, themselves, pass on, but there's no need to fight their misrepresentations with your own. Truthfulness is its own reward.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 22 Jan, 2019
You accuse us of dishonesty, saying that we're guilty of 'misrepresentation and omission of facts'. Maybe we have, unintentionally and unknowingly, made comments that are misleading, or maybe not, but we, and our readers, will never know since you can't be bothered telling us where we may have gone wrong, not even a hint.
It never fails to amaze me the number of people that are willing to write and inform us that we've made mistakes, omitted vital evidence and ignored alternative arguments, and that we're pushing a false conclusion. But at the same time they can't be bothered to explain where we've gone wrong. They're like you when you say, 'I won't waste my time (or anyone else's) explaining each point'. Or in your case, even a single point.
We are seekers of the truth, honestly wanting to find how the world works. Do the planets move due to gravity or gods, did my cousin see an alien spaceship or a weather balloon, did a ghost cause that door to slam shut or was it the wind? We go with the answers supported by reason and evidence, not with age-old silly beliefs that fail on both counts. And yes, many people disagree with us, but you do nothing to help your case by refusing to explain why we are mistaken. We're more than willing to explain why we believe as we do, and happy to consider alternative arguments, but simply telling us we're wrong, and refusing to say why, is not a very persuasive argument. You're going to have to do better. Seriously we strive to be completely honest and forthright in what we write, so if we've made mistakes, please tell us what they are so we can correct them. Unlike the people in that silly episode, we are not psychic and don't pretend to be. You're going to have to spell it out, not just think it.
Regarding what the psychics do in the episode, you say that, 'IF given the benefit of doubt whether any of it is purely bogus or not, some of it can be said to be puzzling'. But that's like watching a stage magician or listening to a priest's sermon about God and saying, 'IF given the benefit of doubt whether any of it is purely bogus or not, some of it can be said to be puzzling'. It's only puzzling if you let it be, since by pretending it's real you then have to wonder how it might work. My understanding is that giving someone the benefit of the doubt means, 'A favourable judgment granted in the absence of full evidence'. And the reality today is that informed people have sufficient evidence to make a judgment on such people as psychic mediums claiming to be talking to dead people, magicians sawing a scantily clad woman in half, and priests proclaiming that sinners are all going to Hell to be tortured for all eternity (as you yourself mention). And that judgment is that it's all bogus, utter bullshit designed to make people money. The only difference is that magicians tell you it's bogus, unlike the psychics and priests. There is plenty of evidence that psychics are just making it all up, they've been exposed cheating over and over again around the world, and not one psychic has ever been able to produce evidence that stands up to scrutiny. And when you think about it, that evidence should be child's play to produce. It's truly suspicious that of the thousands and thousands of people that are working as psychics, and have been in the past, not one has ever produced an iota of evidence. Worse still, psychics consistently refuse to verify what they do is real, and flee like frightened children into the shadows when questioned too closely.
Considering that you find some things revealed on the show puzzling, let's look at that another way. If someone like a psychic or a magician does 10 puzzling things, and on investigating you discover that 9 of those things were the result of deliberate cheating and deception, isn't it highly probable that the remaining puzzling thing is also the result of cheating, even though you can't immediately detect it? Think about it. If a psychic could really talk to dead people and a magician had real magic powers, neither would need to cheat at any time. Why do one act for real, then fake the next 9, running the very real risk that your fakery will be exposed? Why would a psychic make up what a dead girl is supposedly telling him when the ghost of the dead girl is screaming in his ear telling him exactly what happened? If you catch someone like a psychic or a magician cheating over and over again, it's quite obvious that they don't have the powers to do it for real. Even though you may not be able to see how they do every single trick, it's clear that they are all tricks, and what they do isn't real. You may be truly puzzled as to how they did what they did, but rest assured that it's not real spooky magic.
It surprises me that people worldwide keep watching these shows about psychics solving murders and never click that actually, not a single murder has ever been solved by them. Ever! How many abject failures do there have to be before people start to cotton on, that maybe these psychics aren't really talking to dead people?
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