Term Paper: Role of Psychics in Criminal Justice

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Role of Psychics in Criminal Justice

An Analysis of the Modern Role of Psychics in Criminal Justice

Summary of Remaining Chapters

Chapter IV: Data Analysis

Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations

Responses to "I believe that psychics have some special ability that other people do not possess"

Responses to "I have experienced episodes in my life where I thought could read other people's minds or could see the future"

Responses to "I believe psychics can help law enforcement authorities solve crimes"

Responses to "I believe that psychics have some special ability that other people do not possess"

Responses to "I have experienced episodes in my life where I thought could read other people's minds or could see the future"

Figure 3. Responses to "I believe psychics can help law enforcement authorities solve crimes"

Abstract

Throughout history, there have been instances of people claiming extraordinary powers that can help them foresee the future, divine the location of lost objects or otherwise ferret out the unknown when others cannot. The use of psychic individuals to assist in criminal justice investigations dates back more than 300 years to France, and the practice continues in some regions of the country today. Indeed, the fact that a belief in such powers endures into the 21st century suggests that there may in fact be something to these claims. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of the use of psychics in modern criminal justice proceedings. To this end, a critical review of the peer-reviewed and scholarly literature was accompanied by a custom survey to determine current beliefs concerning the practice today. A discussion of the results and conclusions are followed by a summary of the research and recommendations in the concluding chapter.

Preface

If there was not so much at stake, it would appear reasonable to accept the assistance of anyone that claimed to be in a position to help criminal justice authorities in their efforts to combat crime. Unfortunately, the research showed that the ends of justice are not served and are actually diminished when criminal justice authorities enlist the assistance of people claiming psychic abilities. Despite being debunked time and again over the years, many people today continue to believe in the ability of others - or themselves - to forecast the future, divine the location of missing objects or to identify a criminal when others cannot. This study examines the relevant issues and discusses them in terms of how they have affected criminal justice proceedings in the past with a view to developing timely recommendations for policymakers today.

An Analysis of the Modern Role of Psychics in Criminal Justice

Chapter I - Introduction

A.

Background of the Study. Today, crime dramas presented on television are frequently conceptualized as using an initial instance of violence to facilitate a discussion about the proper workings of the criminal justice system (Shimanovsky, 2006). Furthermore, in the United States, there exist.".. psychic television hotlines, psychics, gurus, tarot readers, newspaper astrologers, and a host of lesser beings from all races, nationalities, and religious persuasions" (Weyrauch, 2001, p. 37). Although the use of psychics by law enforcement authorities was first used in France over 300 years ago, the increasing popularity of the issue has assumed new relevance today with television programs such as "Psychic Detectives," and "Psychics" being watched by millions of Americans. The premise of the former is that psychics do in fact possess extraordinary "powers" that might be of use in modern criminal justice investigations, while the latter program emphasizes that intuition and careful observation play a more important role.

B.

Problem Statement. Because resources are by definition scarce, it is important for law enforcement agencies across the country to take advantage of any resource that can assist them in accomplishing their missions more efficiently. If psychics can in fact assist the criminal justice process in some legitimate fashion, then, it is important to recognize this and to take advantage of it if possible. Likewise, if the research shows that psychics are not a legitimate resource, law enforcement authorities would be well advised to steer clear of their assistance and to enforce the laws on the books against the practice in many states in the first place.

C.

Purpose and Objectives. The primary purpose of this study was to develop the background required to make an informed decision concerning the efficacy of the use of psychics by law enforcement authorities to help them solves crimes. A secondary objective of the study was to determine, based on the available empirical and peer-reviewed evidence, whether psychics can be regarded as a legitimate adjunct to the criminal justice system and in what capacity.

D.

Rationale. The popularity of television programming such as "Psychic Detectives," and the more tongue-in-cheek version, "Psychics," suggests that many Americans believe that some people do in fact have psychic abilities and that these extrasensory powers can be harnessed to good effect for law enforcement purposes.

E.

Definition of Terms. For the purposes of this study, the term "psychic" will use the following definitions. According to the Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult, a psychic is someone who "possesses paranormal powers or extrasensory perception: precognition, clairvoyance, mental telepathy, ability to see and diagnose the aura [i.e., an invisible cloud of colored light that allegedly surrounds plants, animals, and humans]." Alternatively, the Encyclopedia of the Occult defines a psychic as "a sensitive, one susceptible to psychic influences.... anyone who is in any degree sensitive" (Spence, 1994, p. 330).

F.

Limitations. The study faced three fundamental limitations:

Issues such as psychic ability are much like religious convictions for some people; for those that believe in the ability of these individuals to divine and forecast, no amount of evidence to the contrary will likely be sufficient to convince them otherwise;

convenience sample was used for the survey of American adults with no attempt at randomization being made; and,

There were no members of the criminal justice system included in the survey.

G.

Theoretical Framework. The study is defined as exploratory in nature with the goal of answering the following hypotheses. According to Neuman (2003), exploratory research is a type of research that investigates "an area that has not been studied and in which a researcher wants to develop initial ideas and a more focused research question" (p. 535).

H.

Research Hypotheses. One case of proven cheating on the part of a particular psychic makes the potential for cheating more likely for any other claims involving that subject, in the absence of independent confirmation; furthermore, the large number of cases of psychics already having been caught cheating makes the cheating hypothesis one of the most likely explanations for their paranormal claims (Stenger, 1990). Likewise, as "the Amazing Randi," a professional magician with more than 30 years' of experience and - like Houdini before him - a well-known debunker of numerous alleged psychics, emphasizes that, when it comes to psychics, "It is more rational to suspect trickery than to adopt the preposterous alternative" (p. 3).

H1: Based on the foregoing, the guiding hypothesis for this study was that there would be no legitimate instances of the use of psychics by law enforcement authorities identified in the critical review of the relevant literature;

H2: A second hypothesis for this study was that even if such instances of the successful use of psychics in a criminal justice investigation were identified, they would have an equally rationale explanation and scientific basis for their success.

H3: A final hypothesis of the study was that if Hypotheses 1 and 2 were confirmed, it would seem unreasonable for law enforcement officials to waste their time and resources by consulting psychics, but that enough people - including members of the criminal justice system -- actually believe in psychic abilities that the practice might well continue in the future anyway.

Summary of Remaining Chapters. Chapter two provides a critical review of the peer-reviewed and scholarly literature on the issue of psychics in general and by law enforcement authorities in particular. Chapter three describes the research methodology used for the study, and chapter four provides an analysis of the survey data collected, as well as graphic and narrative interpretations. The concluding chapter discusses the study's finding, develops appropriate conclusions and provides a series of recommendations for law enforcement policymakers at all levels.

Chapter II - Literature Review.

A.

Background and Overview.

1. Historical Perspective. Christians have long maintained that the practice of any supernatural power is contrary to biblical teachings and that people who practice occult forms of divination, e.g., astrology, pyramidology, psychics, witchcraft, etc., are to be condemned (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26, 19:31, 20:6, 27; Deut. 4:19, 18:9-12; 2 Ki. 21:6; Is. 44:25, 47:13-15, Jer. 10:2; Mic. 5:12; Gal. 5:20; Rev. 21:8) (Abanes, 1998). Not surprisingly, then, in the past, many psychics have found themselves at odds with law enforcement authorities, rather than being regarded as a potential ally in their fight against crime. For instance, in the case of Spiritual Psychic Science Church of Truth v. Azusa, 703 P.2d… [END OF PREVIEW]

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