In 2004, psychic Sylvia Browne went on national television and told Amanda Berry’s mother that her daughter was dead. Now that Berry has turned up alive after 10 years in captivity, Browne is facing calls to stop offering her services to victims’ families and detectives.
Are psychics ever actually useful in missing persons investigations?
No. Academics have repeatedly tested the abilities of psychics to provide any useful information in a crime investigation, and the results are damning. A British study published in 1996, for example, pitted self-proclaimed psychics against undergraduate psychology students. Each participant was handed an item that was involved in a solved crime, such as a scarf or a shoe, and the subjects simply uttered whatever notions popped into their minds. They were also given a list of statements about the crimes, only some of which were true. The psychics were no better than the students at making predictions, and neither group performed better than chance. Those results have been replicated in dozens of studies.