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Sensing Murder

Psychic Detectives

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Sensing Murder 'Sensing Murder' is a TV series that investigates unsolved murder cases, both in New Zealand and Australia. These are real-life cases. The angle that makes it different from other shows is that it employs psychics or mediums to conduct the investigation. These people claim to be able to communicate with the dead, in this case, the murder victim.

Can these psychic detectives really communicate with the spirit of the murder victim? Can they accurately provide new leads and solve cases that have baffled the police, or is it all a piece of mindless crap designed solely for profit?

In season two of the NZ series "die-hard skeptic" Nigel Latta was invited to monitor the filming of the 'Sensing Murder - Insight' episode and he failed to detect any trickery. Even worse, he proclaimed the psychic genuine. Have skeptics finally accepted that psychic ability is real, or is it just a scam by Ninox Televison to convince believers that skeptics have changed their minds?

In season three, as if things couldn't get worse, we again meet NZ Police Detective Ross Levy, but rather than just comment on case details, this time he officially invites the psychics to CIB headquarters to provide him with psychic readings. The police have finally asked for their help. Not surprisingly, the psychics and Ninox Televison oblige. Has Det. Levy a found a new police method to replace fingerprinting and DNA profiling or has he been hoodwinked?

Conclusion: It's a scam.

Sensing Murder


Why 'Sensing Murder' can't be taken seriously
What motivates a psychic?

Readers' Comments

Links to Articles related to Psychics and the Police

Episode Transcripts

These partial transcripts look at various segments of the shows that exhibit evidence of cheating and trickery.

'When the Trail goes Cold' — Kaye Stewart [Detective Ross Levy]

'Sensing Murder - Insight' — Margaret Walker [Psychologist Nigel Latta]

'A Bump in the Night' — Alicia O'Reilly

'A Fallen Angel' — Angela Blackmoore


Gibney The narrator for 'Sensing Murder' was actress Rebecca Gibney. Although Gibney played a forensic pathologist in the TV series 'Halifax f.p.', it should be remembered that she has no qualifications in medicine, in police work or in exposing fraud. She is an actress, and her scripted narration was obviously done in front of a studio green screen. There is no indication that she met any of the psychics, knew anything about the cases or even visited NZ. All of her statements should be seen as coming from the production team. Contrary to some of her previous work, such as her movie 'Among The Cinders', she didn't go skinny dipping in 'Sensing Murder', which is a shame as it would have improved it considerably, giving non-believers some small incentive to watch the show. Episodes were filmed both in Australia and New Zealand by separate TV production companies. The conditions placed on the psychics varied slightly between countries and between shows.

Rather than the production team telling the psychics everything the police knew and saying, "Tell us something new", the show spends most of the time recovering vague facts that are already known. This is pure entertainment. If their sole purpose, as claimed, were to solve the crime, they wouldn't waste their time rehashing established facts. They wouldn't even make a TV show, they would just take their new leads to the police. But they're not interested in solving the crime. They know they haven't got a hope. So they decide to make a show about their failed attempts instead. Only they never tell you they failed. They remain positive right to the bitter end. The psychics willingly participate in this scam because they are being paid and because it will be good publicity for their own business — they are all professional psychics.

These shows are like a stage magician's mind reading trick. We know it's not real magic but we still love to be surprised, exclaiming, "How did they know that?"

With 'Sensing Murder' however, many people think it is 'real magic', believing that these people must be psychic, that they must be communicating with the dead, otherwise, "How did they know that?"

Well, it's quite simple really. Mostly they just cheat. It's a trick. The only difference between psychics and magicians is that the magician will tell you it's a trick.

The psychics, and especially the narrator, all choose their words carefully to convince the viewer that something that was never said, was in fact predicted. Combined with carefully selected and heavily edited video footage, 'evidence' of psychic ability emerges. Viewers are left convinced that psychic ability was demonstrated.

By using transcripts of various episodes we will show you how these tricks were performed.

We're not going to debate whether psychic ability is real, whether the 'spirit world' is real or even if it's likely that souls exist. We're simply going to show that everything you see on "Sensing Murder" was achieved by cheating, trickery and video editing. Even if psychic ability exists, it most definitely wasn't used on "Sensing Murder".

We've found it's no good just saying to a believer that it's all a trick, 'cold reading', self-delusion, blah, blah, blah. Believers just reply, "I know there are some cheats out there, but the things I saw on 'Sensing Murder' were real. They knew things that they couldn't have known without psychic ability."

Therefore we have completed a point by point examination of some episodes of the show which demonstrates exactly how the psychics obtained their information. No 'spirit world' was involved.

You must read the quotes from the psychics, then our explanation, and then honestly ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which is more likely, psychic powers or cheating (deliberate or otherwise)?
  • Have they really provided intimate details or just vague statements?
  • Why aren't we shown their words before this statement?
  • Have the production team manipulated the video footage?
  • Is it more likely the psychic got an answer or a clue from the production team and/or their surroundings?
  • Why can their psychic powers never provide a person's last name?
  • Why can their psychic powers never provide a person's first name without playing charades first?
  • Why is the victim's spirit never interested in providing hard facts?
  • Why have they never solved a crime if these abilities are real?

Again, which is more likely, psychic powers or cheating?

By the end of the show, the only new information provided are vague predictions about the killer, such as, "He may have a moustache, a size eight shoe, a blue car, a violent nature, he knew the victim etc". They are not facts because they can't be verified. There is almost never any clue provided that could identify the killer, or on the rare occasion that there is, never any evidence that would prove he was the killer.

All the murders that the show has examined continue to remain unsolved. The psychics provided no useful leads. None whatsoever.

Let's be clear about what 'Sensing Murder' has really achieved. Or hasn't achieved. Out of at least 20 murder cases in NZ and Australia, not one case has been solved. Not one! If their psychic abilities are real, why didn't they find at least one murderer? This is a 100% failure rate. Would you be happy if our police force had a 100% failure rate? Would you be content if our police force investigated 20 murders and solved none of them? Would you still support them or would you call for an investigation into their competency? What about doctors? Would you be happy if your doctor had a 100% failure rate, examining 20 patients and failing to correctly diagnose any illness? What about pilots? Would you fly with a pilot who had crashed on all his 20 attempts at landing? One would hope that you wouldn't support any of these professions that consistently fail to deliver on their promises. So why would you support psychics who also consistently fail to deliver on their promises, that is, to solve crimes?

We also need to remember that 'Sensing Murder' isn't just failing in New Zealand and Australia. It also fails to solve murders in the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Romania, Sweden and Norway. All these countries have their own show and their psychics are just as pathetic as ours.

There is not one well-documented case worldwide of a psychic solving any crime. Not just the crimes in 'Sensing Murder', but any crime. Ever. Worldwide. We know some psychics say they have helped the police solve crimes, but they are never able to prove this. Saying something doesn't make it true. If psychics really could solve crimes, there would be no unsolved crimes on police files.

We repeat. It's all a simple trick. There is no record of any crime being solved by information provided by psychics.

Why 'Sensing Murder' can't be taken seriously

As a factual investigative program, there are major flaws with the program's format:

  • The production team confirmed positive statements made during the psychic readings. This means that if a statement isn't confirmed then the psychic can safely assume it to be false, thus they are providing the psychics with additional information.
  • The production team knows all the relevant information about the crime. This means they can, deliberately or otherwise, pass it on to the psychic. There is clear evidence of the production team deliberately passing crucial information to the psychics and numerous examples of unintentional transfer of information.
  • Video footage from the readings and on-location is often shown out of sequence. This means they can appear to show some conclusion that was never intended or accidental.
  • Video footage was heavily edited to remove before and after comments that would have given context to the statement. This means a psychic can appear to be talking about one thing when in fact he was talking about something completely different.
  • False statements by the psychics were never revealed as false. This means the viewer may be left with the impression that the psychic was correct.
  • Snippets of statements from various psychics were shown together in such a way as to make it appear that they all reached a certain conclusion. By themselves these comments meant nothing or were referring to different things.
  • While we were repeatedly told of the vague information that the psychics provided, no mention was made of the basic and ultimately vital information that they couldn't produce, eg names, dates, location etc.
  • Re-enactments portrayed what the psychics described, not necessarily what actually happened. Some were definitely false, but portrayed as factual.
  • There is no way you can prevent psychics researching unsolved cases before the show, hoping that one will be the featured case.
  • There is no way of asking the psychic if they are personally aware of the case without giving away information.
  • The psychics claim to have produced valuable leads yet the murders investigated still remain unsolved. This indicates that there is fundamentally something wrong with the program's claims and conclusions.

What motivates a psychic?

Why do they do what they do? Is it about helping people or about making money? Think about how mediums and psychics spend their time. If these people really had a 'gift' then surely there is far more valuable things they could be doing for society and humanity than charging people to tell them vague things they already know? If they really have these amazing abilities that could make a life and death difference in the world, why do they waste their time giving readings on 0900 phone lines or performing tricks on a stage? Why aren't they locating missing children and identifying murderers? Why aren't they using their 'gift' in real situations? Why aren't they being heroes?

Let's imagine for a moment that you are a superhero, Superman for example. You travel the world demonstrating your powers on stage and TV. You show how you can fly, bend steel, see through walls and melt things with your heat vision. You charge people a fee to witness these amazing feats. You appear to have the real ability to save lives on a massive scale, yet you never actually do save any lives, you just talk about it on TV. You won't demonstrate your powers except for payment, and then you only do the equivalent of party tricks. The public would probably start to suspect that your powers were all a trick since you won't use them in real situations. Even if your powers were real, the public wouldn't call you a hero because you never use your powers to save lives. Worse still, they would probably call your behaviour despicable because you refuse to help even though you could at no risk to your own life. And if money was a concern, I'm sure the public and governments would happily reward you handsomely for your efforts. How much would you pay to save the life of a loved one?

These psychics and mediums are no different than a superhero who claims to have life saving powers but refuses to use them other than on stage for entertainment. They deserve our scorn and contempt. They should be despised for their refusal to use their claimed powers to save lives, reduce crime etc. And don't listen to the crap that they simply do the stage shows to make a living. While some make a considerable amount doing this, it would be a mere pittance compared to what they could ask for finding a lost child or preventing a murder of a loved one. Police detectives worldwide could be fired and their salaries diverted to psychics. Look at the loss of life and billions of dollars the US and Britain have spent on the Iraq war, all of which could have been saved if a psychic was consulted! Even if the psychic only received a fraction of this amount as a fee, this would still amount to billions.

But 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. Taking their silly claims out into the real world is like taking a fish out of water. They die. The only thing they have going on in their heads that you and I don't is self-delusion. They're just stage magicians who believe their magic is real.

So if you know anyone who is sincerely convinced of their paranormal abilities, perhaps you could ask them the following questions:

  • Why won't they use their powers to help their fellow man? (eg. locating missing children and identifying murderers etc)
  • Why won't they take one or all of the psychic challenges available worldwide and earn prize money of between $100,000 and over one million dollars?
  • Why don't they want to validate their powers and prove to a skeptical and doubting world that they're not deluded or greedy scam artists?
  • Why are they happy to give us our lucky lotto numbers (which are anything but lucky), but never win themselves? Why do they toil away on 0900 phone lines when they could win themselves a fortune and retire young?
  • Why can't they foresee problems in their own lives?
  • Why are psychics often from the poorly paid, poorly educated sector of society? With the advantages gained from their psychic abilities, shouldn't they be running the world?

Episode Transcripts

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

Readers' Comments:    Add a Comment       View Comments

Links to Articles related to Psychics and the Police:

Police "Psychics": Do they Really Help Solve Crimes?

Psychics: Do Police Departments Really Use Them?

Psychic detectives fail in the real world but succeed on TV

Do the Police Really Use Psychics?

Psychics and Missing Children in Belgium

How Psychic Sleuths Waste Police Resources (located two-thirds down the page)

Psychic detectives and missing children

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Last Updated Jan 2009