The search for a missing 11-year-old California boy came to a tragic end recently when the body of Terry Smith Jr. was found. The boy’s mother reported him missing July 7, and his body was found three days later not far from his home in the rural town of Menifee, according to news reports.
A woman named Pam Ragland, who claims to have psychic or intuitive powers, is being credited by police and others as having located the boy through her visions, according to news reports.
Driven by recurring visions of the boy, a distinctive home and a tree, Ragland searched the area where the boy was last seen, and to her surprise, found a home and tree matched those in her visions, even though she lived 60 miles away and had never been there. Ragland and her children searched the area and discovered Smith buried in a shallow grave near the tree.
The case is strange and intriguing, but not unexplainable. Clues to solving the mystery may lie in psychology and statistics.
Because Ragland had never met the Smith family nor been to their property, how could she possibly have recognized their home from her psychic visions? The answer is simple: She very likely saw it on television. Ragland stated that she had been following the extensive news coverage about the missing boy, and that she had her first visions while she was watching a news report about the search for Smith.
Television reports included photographs and video footage of the Smith home and property, and whether or not Ragland remembered paying attention to those images, she had indeed seen the Smith property before she arrived there.
Therefore the fact that a house and tree in her vision “matched” the house and tree where Smith was finally found is not surprising, and merely evidence of her not remembering where she saw an image, not psychic powers.
Psychics or statistics?
Why would Ragland suddenly get a (correct) vision of Smith’s location? She has stated believes that she and her children are “intuitive” and that the senses, ideas and intuitions that come to her are meaningful and important.
In high-profile missing persons cases, it is common for police to be inundated with hundreds or thousands of visions, hunches, and feelings from psychics, most of which are contradictory and all of which turn out to be wrong. Despite popular belief and claims to the contrary, there is not a single documented case of a missing person being found or recovered due to psychic information.
Like Ragland, many psychics state they genuinely believe in their powers and abilities, and are sincerely trying to help. Over the course of many missing persons cases and tens of thousands of visions and predictions, eventually a few of them will turn out to be correct simply by chance.
In this case, however, Ragland’s chance of correctly guessing where Smith’s body would be found was much better than pure chance.
It is a statistical fact that . . .
- Pam Ragland, Terry Smith: No, psychics can’t help murder victims. (illuminutti.com)
- Did Woman’s ‘Visions’ Locate Missing Boy? (livescience.com)
- ‘Psychic’ found body of murdered 11-year-old boy (myfox8.com)