Mediums, Ouija Boards, Seances & Tarot Cards

Psychics believe, and/or want others to believe, they are privy to proprietary information pivotal to criminal investigations. The primary aim of criminal investigators is to solve cases, necessitating collection of information, identification, diligent research and analysis.  So we might imagine that a harried investigator may be unwittingly swayed by provocative offers from psychics, bypassing the hard work, patience and inevitable setbacks associated with investigative work.  Psychics touting special clairvoyant powers may offer solace to vulnerable family/friends of the victim who are desperate to find answers. 

What motivates psychics? | Psychics may be motivated by money and/or notoriety, knowingly duping suggestible people.  Such psychics may convincingly present themselves as personable nurturers (e.g., Sylvia Browne, Allison DuBois), even ingratiating themselves to investigators.  Or titillate the media with a glamorous image (e.g., TV programs Charmed or Twilight).  Alternatively, those who truly believe they possess supernatural abilities may suffer from dissociative identify disorder or related personality disorders with psychotic features.  Psychics may be callously indifferent to the harm caused by derailing investigations, wasting precious resources and time.  Criminal histories may include scams involving deception and impersonation such as fraud or embezzlement.  Sylvia Browne, for notable example, still lucratively maintained a popular following after being convicted on fraud and theft charges (1992). 

Victorian era and pop psychology | The Victorian Era (1837-1901) introduced psychological study (e.g., Freud, Jung, etc.) to the general populace.  Concurrently, séances, divination and Ouija boards surged in popularity, hoaxes propagated by psychics.  Modern psychics bank on the fact that a portion of the populace believes in supernatural phenomena, or are at least intrigued by the notion, despite logical evidence to the contrary. 

Pattern recognition and pseudoscience | Humans are primed to recognize patterns.  Through experience, we all should be able to make feasibly good guesses about the future events, selectively, based on cause/effect inferences and probability  If I listen to the radio station long enough, my favorite song will be played.  But psychics exploit this natural tendency to recognize patterns, distorting or inventing facts to fit desired narratives.  Investigators still employ psychics to help solve cases, despite the fact that their leadings are no better than chance (e.g., Grant, 2015; Gerberth, 1996).  In sum, parapsychology used by psychics is nonsense and plays no part in investigative profiling.  AD

For me now as a forensic scientist and criminal behavioral profiler, I similarly shift my mental perspective, albeit at a psychological level rather than physical level of organization.   Experimental shift. 



Dr Amy Du Beau
Anchorage, Alaska
ph. 907-644-2929
c. 907-312-8687


Du Beau A., Matanuska Forensic Science, LLC.