After 40 Years Of Being Wrong, Texas Rangers Finally Decide Hypnosis Isn't A Viable Investigative Technique

from the when-modern-policing-meets-your-crazy-aunt's-hobby dept

Never let it be said that cops are not open-minded.

Sure, everyone with a darker-than-white skin tone moving around in any part of the city deemed unsafe by the same people charged with keeping it safe are almost always considered de facto criminals, but cops are still very willing to explore alternate avenues when it comes to arresting and criminally charging people.

Let's take a look at cops and their willingness to suspend their disbelief. Anyone accused of a crime is inherently untrustworthy: guilty until proven innocent. This includes people they've killed for doing nothing more than, say, threatening to kill themselves. The only good criminals are those who are willing to work with cops. These criminals have reputations that are unassailable and cops are willing to fabricate the paperwork needed to keep assailing of their reputations to a minimum.

Cops and prosecutors have, for years, relied on "experts" who were often no better than YouTube conspiracy theorists. For years, law enforcement has said things like bite marks, hair samples… even mass-produced clothing should be admitted as damning evidence of criminal acts. And everyone indulged them.

We've finally reached the critical mass needed to turn criticism of cop means and methods into mobilization. Years after it should have been apparent this was abject bullshit, the Texas Rangers are finally abandoning an investigative "technique" that has done little more than propel the storylines of horror movies since its inception.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has ended the controversial practice of using hypnosis to investigate crimes.

A department spokesman said the hypnosis program ended in January 2021, more than forty years after its inception, because its officers are now relying on better investigative practices.


Second, "better investigative practices" would seem to be anything but this. A Ranger with a divining rod and a backpack full of healing crystals could presumably turn up better leads than this method -- one that, let's not forget, the Texas Rangers relied on for four decades.

And yet, the Rangers persisted. The last documented case didn't happen sometime during the Satanic Panic of the 80's (something else faith in hypnosis managed to make worse). It happened only months ago.

The Rangers used hypnosis to investigate an attempted kidnapping as recently as October 2020, just two months before the program was ended.

While there may be some therapeutic value to hypnosis, there's almost no evidence supporting the assumption that hypnotizing victims and witnesses will result in usable evidence. "This thing their brain said" should be considered so far removed from "hearsay" as to be completely inadmissible.

But while the Texas Rangers have finally decided to abandon hypnosis in favor of literally anything not so ridiculously stupid, doesn't mean other law enforcement agencies are following suit. The Rangers may have made the first move, but others are so sure it works they're not willing to give up this ultra-specious investigative method.

Even without the program, local police departments may still be using hypnosis to investigate crimes. More than 800 law enforcement officers statewide have been approved to use hypnosis as an investigative tool since the 1980s, and Dallas and Houston once boasted the most hypnotists on staff.

Can you even imagine making such a boast? It's like telling people you've got the most Tarot readers on hand for their fortune-adjacent law enforcement needs. Step right up and get your fortune told! Oh, sorry, the cards say you've committed some crimes or whatnot. Sometimes it just works out that way. Let's get you processed.

But the acolytes are having a hard time letting go of this bogus investigative technique, especially those who were getting paid to make the Texas Rangers dumber.

Marx Howell, one of the chief practitioners of police hypnosis in Texas, said he was not aware that the Department of Public Safety ended the program and expressed disappointment in the decision

“It is a viable investigative technique under certain circumstances in certain types of cases where you don’t have any other leads,” Howell told The News. “If DPS has stopped it, that will be a major effort to use hypnosis that has gone away.”

So, when you have no other leads, you just do whatever the fuck? Is that the thought process at Ranger HQ? Toss science out the window and scatter tea leaves on the breakroom table just because an investigation has been dead-ended? Jesus. That's worse than just plain sad. That's self-induced delusion so strong one wonders how many times Howell has stood in front of a mirror telling himself he's getting sleepy.

At least the Rangers have dumped this. Hopefully, other agencies will join them in abandoning a technique that offers almost zero investigative benefits but plenty of ways to deprive people of their rights and freedoms.

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Filed Under: evidence, hypnosis, investigations, texas, texas rangers

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  1. identicon
    Glenn, 17 Mar 2021 @ 5:22pm

    Hypnosis can help with memory retrieval... that's it.

    Want the truth? ...we have meds for that.

    What we also have is plenty of tech that can be installed with every witness stand to help determine if the witness is [almost certainly] lying or not. Hey, let's do that!

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