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'Sensing Murder — Insight'

A Skeptic Defects to the Dark Side

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Nigel Latta has read our review and emailed us the following response.

Strangely we don't agree with all his comments so we have added our own in purple.

Response by Nigel Latta to this Website

Nigel Latta From: "Nigel Latta"
To: 'Silly Beliefs' Website
Subject: Re: Sensing Murder - Debunked
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 20:17:57 +1200

Hi John et al

Even though I've said I won't reply to any individual emails I'll make this exception, and it really will be the last exception. If I had more time I'd love to get into this but I don't. I'd be grateful if, in the spirit (so to speak) of fair play you posted this on your webpage:

I don't have time for a detailed reply but wanted to set at least a couple of things straight.

Having a brief read I come off sounding a bit like a gullible ninny. I'm not. I've spent 17 years engaged in forensic interviewing with criminals and shysters from throughout the country where the stakes are high and the players some of the most experienced and skilled liars you might find. I'd like to think that I'm more experienced than your average joe in spotting when people are employing deceipt and generally shilly-shallying.

Then again maybe you're not. There are plenty of examples of intelligent, highly educated people getting conned by high school dropouts. Let's remember that you were there to detect cheating yet you missed all the examples we identified.
You note that I'm not a member of any skeptics groups. I'm not a member of the Green Party either but I still have an opinion about climate change (and Sue Bradford's S59 nonsense but that's a whole other debate).
Thanks for verifying that you're not a member of any skeptics group. We mentioned this to indicate that you most likely weren't the 'expert' or 'authority' that 'Sensing Murder' painted you as.
You say your cat has detected a number of examples of slick editing... is this true? Was the cat prompted in some way? How did the cat communicate his/her views? Did the cat solve the murder?
No, like the psychics my cat's record for solving murders is zero. And like 'Sensing Murder' itself, you weren't supposed to take this seriously.
There are a number of things you've got wrong that are simple matters of fact and let me clear those up. I hadn't noticed the shot of the red bins outside the pub, and can only conclude this was edited in for visual purposes. On the day the entire interview and the walkabout was filmed on the same day. I was there and saw it from the get go. You can believe that or not, but it all happened in one take from beginning to end.
We disagree. While we did state that Deb was probably only there the once, since you weren't there the week before you can't know that she wasn't either. They used footage that wasn't shot the day you were there. Remember that 'Sensing Murder' claims that all the footage we see featuring the psychic was filmed in one day. 'Sensing Murder Insight' was trying to prove to skeptics that they don't create fake footage that enhances the psychic's performance. Clearly this is false and you missed it.
There was nothing sinsister about the picture on the stool. It was face down when she came in. She didn't peek (I was watching for that), and you couldn't see thru the paper. No doubt the second stool shot was an after-the-fact inset for purely visual purposes because there was no cheating with the picture on the day and of that fact I am certain.
We never said that she did cheat. We said that leaving the photo in front of her while everyone was setting up merely gave her the opportunity to cheat. An opportunity that 'Sensing Murder' tried to hide by creating that fake footage. This implied that the photo was never there until the reading started. You call it an 'after-the-fact inset for purely visual purposes' whereas we call it cheating to change what the viewer thought really happened. And you missed it.
The door of the house also wasn't an issue. It was closed when we got there and it remained closed until the psychic said that this was the house. Then and only then was a key produced and the door opened. I can't recall how that ended up looking on the telly, but that's how it happened. Believe it or not.
Thanks for confirming that this shot was set up. Opening the door may have been quite innocent and above board, but then they shouldn't have used that shot to suggest that there was no break between finding the house and walking inside. They're not filming an episode of 'Shortland Street', this is supposed to be real, warts and all. And again you missed this slick editing.
You've included a number of quotes from my website and the show. My habit is to be a little loose in my language when I talk and write unless it's a report or an affidavit. Then I'm very precise. Contradictions in what I might say is par for the course unfortunately so I wouldn't hang too much weight on that. You'd be better served by taking a fair reading of the totality of what I said.
Sorry but what you say is all we have to go by as to what happened. Remember we can't trust the 'Sensing Murder' team and you were supposedly there as our representative. Also you'll be well aware that what people say in casual conversations can be quite revealing.
I do undertsand the ins and outs of 'cold reading', a technique employed by psychics to make people feel like they have some insight when actually it's just clever language tricks, very skillful observations of subtle nonverbal cues, indirect suggestions etc etc. Indeed I employ cold reading techniques myself when working with criminals to make them think I know more than I do. I know what this is and I know how to do it.

I didn't see cold reading going on that day. I could be wrong, because I've never claimed infalibility but I didn't see it.

We suspect you are wrong, but since we never got to see most of the reading we'll never know for sure. Could you convince your contacts at 'Sensing Murder' to give us access to the entire footage that was shot that day? We'll give it back.
You say at one point:

"Nigel believes that they must have been obtained psychically from the paranormal realm, whereas a rational explanation suggests ways they could have been obtained without resorting to spooky stuff."

I didn't say, and have never said that I believed the psychic was was genuinely talking to dead people but I did say that I thought she was genuine in the sense that this was her belief. At no time have I said anywhere before, during, or since, that I believed the information had been obtained from the paranormal realm. If your intention is to debunk these people as being tricksters playing fast and loose with the facts then doesn't that mean you need to be extra careful yourselves?

Quite true, it could be seen as being misleading so we've changed that sentence to read: "Nigel's claim that there are no rational explanations will be taken as meaning one thing and one thing only by most viewers, that Deb's information was therefore obtained psychically from the paranormal realm. However a rational explanation suggests ways this information could have been obtained without resorting to spooky stuff."

While you never state categorically that Deb has genuine psychic powers or that she really is talking to dead people, at the end of the day does this really matter? You're on record as saying, 'The [episode] was a fair representation of my thoughts and impressions', and the impression the narrator left us with was, 'Nigel Latta ends the day... in no doubt that Deb is genuine'. Let's remember that Deb is a psychic and you were there solely to determine whether this psychic business was real or fake. How else are we expected to take the narrator's assertion that you now believe Deb is genuine? That she was merely a genuinely nice person, that she was genuinely deluded or that she had genuine psychic abilities? Regardless of your real thoughts on the matter, 'Sensing Murder' has convinced most people, believer and skeptic alike, that you now believe in psychics. You can't have it both ways. Did the program misrepresent you or didn't it?

I acknowledged that it was possible the production crew had told her all about the case but I aslo said that, based on my experience interviewing them and observing that day it was my belief that they were telling the truth when they said she had not been told. On that basis I said I could not rationally explain what I had seen.
And as we said, it only takes one person to inform her of the case, a person you never met, and the rest of the crew are kept in the dark.
If I had more time I'd go into all this in more detail but I sadly don't. The only thing I would suggest, going back to your cat briefly, is that you perhaps start a show called Sensing Mice. I'd be happy to do an Insight episode on that one as well and would be well qualified because i have a BSc in Zoology.
Thanks, but my cat doesn't believe in that sort of thing. Catchy title though.
Best wishes in your quest.

Nigel Latta

ps does this mean you guys don't believe in Darth Vadar as well?

In case it isn't obvious, no.

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Author:   John L. Ateo
Copyright 2007, by the 'SILLY BELIEFS' website. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated Sep 2007