(Reuters/Kansas City police/Handout)
While an extensive police investigation is underway in Kansas City to find missing 1-year-old Lisa Irwin, members of the public seem to be hosting their own search parties using online search engines.
Type "Baby Lisa" into a Google's search bar and the suggested search terms that pop up are "baby Lisa found" and "baby Lisa found dead." The third most searched phrase surrounding the status of the Missouri case is "baby Lisa found yet."
Dr. David Solly, a human behavior expert, told The Christian Post, "Folks seem to turn [to the] online environment for everything for which they have a question but don't have an answer."
Has baby Lisa been found? No. Baby Lisa Irwin remains missing. Her father, Jeremy Irwin discovered her missing from her crib in her Kansas City home on Oct. 4.
According to Google Insights for Search (see graph), the search term "baby Lisa Irwin" reached its highest point at 100 percent of its popularity, as indicated by the search volume index.
According to Google Insights for Search, the phrase "baby Lisa found" is the second highest rising search term related to the Irwin case, as of Thursday morning.
"As human beings we seek closure, we want to be able to see a whole picture," Solly told CP in a phone interview Wednesday.
While details about baby Lisa's case is being searched online all over the world, the top three states where the case is being searched the most are Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, according to Google Insights for Search.
On the Internet, a person's curiosity, fear and need for closure can often manifest as a morbid guessing game.
Following the highly searched phrase "baby Lisa found" are phrases that suggest people are searching invented conclusions about the little girl's fate, such as "baby Lisa found in a ditch," "baby Lisa found in a well" and "baby Lisa found in backyard."
Solly, a psychology professor at University of the Rockies, a graduate school specializing in social and behavioral sciences, said, "You see a lot of that with eyewitness accounts of accidents or crimes. Their mind fills in all the details because of that crave for closure."
"People will go to extremes for closure," said Solly, who attributes the anonymity and feeling of safety that an online environment like a search engine provides as a possible reason for why people searching for baby Lisa will go to greater lengths, using words or comments that they might not use in other situations.
Solly said that the influx of searches is a phenomenon to reach an end point. "Has she been found? Is there more information? Is there more that I can use?" he sprouted off as questions people may be asking themselves as they try to help gather information to find the missing child, a trend he says is fueled by a sense of powerlessness among the average person.
Solly said moderation is key.
"I would recommend that a person set some limits for themselves. Christians can pray and keep their faith high."
According to Google, "The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don't represent absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100."