Despite being the only author of this blog resident in the UK I’ve managed to keep tabs on the NZ version of ‘Sensing Murder’, a particularly abhorrent TV programme which under the guise of helping people, exploits the families of murder victims in order to promote their own group of ‘psychic investigators’. Not only does the show gleefully promote the frankly ludicrous notion that certain ‘specially gifted’ people can communicate with the dead, it also does it on TVNZ which receives 10% of its income from ‘government sources’ ie your taxes
Despite various woolly claims over the years that the psychics have come up with ‘new and exciting evidence’ – the show has in fact come up with exactly what every right thinking person would have predicted (non-psychically) from the word go.
Not one success in four seasons (32 odd cases). Despite alleging being able to talk to the actual murder victims!! Despite allegedly being able to pick the sex of the victim from a hidden picture 100% of the time and being able to identify murder scenes without ever having been there or knowing anything about the case!! What is more amazing – the assertion that they can talk to the dead or that once they manage to do so the victims are so unwilling to help catch their killer? On top of this the programme goes out of its way to shift blame onto the NZ police, accusing them of failing to follow up new leads brought to light by the psychics. Now the police are by no means infallible – but the murder clear-up rate in NZ is pretty good and I do not believe for one second that the teams investigating these crimes initially didn’t do everything they could and now just can’t be bothered to follow up leads. The fact that some twit on a TV show goes ‘oh I sense you should investigate Mr. X’ does not constitute a ‘new lead’, and to their credit the NZ police have publicly stated they do not use psychics.
The psychics have also refused to undergo any 3rd party testing despite claiming they want to, and despite being offered large sums of money to prove their so-called special powers. NZ businessman Tony Andrews has offered them $NZ 20,000 each for just being tested – an offer yet to be accepted, which tells it’s own tale.
However there is some light at the end of the tunnel… the programme makers Ninox Television went into receivership last year and there may be no more Sensing Murder. They did however keep a web forum running…until last Sunday (21 March 2010) when the plug was abruptly pulled after one member posted less than complimentary first hand information about one of the SM psychics Kelvin Cruikshank. Interestingly a number of supporters of the programme who participated in the forum had also recently started to question SM given its complete lack of success. Engaged in discussion by a number of skeptical members it seemed that the previously committed were perhaps starting to have second thoughts. However before any real questioning took place the forum was shut down and it now seems that the members have joined a thread on the JREF forums instead – ironically a forum devoted to skeptics.
Radio interview with Cruikshank cold reading here
More Sensing Murder criticism here, including some stuff on Cruikshank in the comments
Sensing bullshit site – Alan is not known for pulling his punches.
Silly Beliefs – another great site debunking Sensing Murder again including a lot of interesting exchanges in the comments section.