Talk:Satanic ritual abuse

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 Definition The infliction of nonconsensual rituals, based on Satanic symbols or belief [d] [e]
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Suggested changes to the article - 2

Thank you both for the edits so far. Here are ones we agreed to that have not been done yet.


I still disagree with the inclusion of this link Church of Satan It is not scholarly or peer reviewed.

Agree we should find a better source reference - apart from anything else I doubt that the website will be stable. I'm looking.Gareth Leng 14:50, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

for now how about changing it

Another view of the deviant interpretation of religious text, as well as some Satanist symbolism as a conscious counterculture, is present in the overt "Church of Satan"[22] formed in 1966 by Anton LaVey. Lewis traces LaVey's work as based on both countering Abrahamic religion as well as adapting non-Satanic occultists such as Aleister Crowley. [23] Lewis' analysis, however, does not suggest a long intergenerational tradition.

to this

Lewis traces the Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey's work as based on both countering Abrahamic religion as well as adapting non-Satanic occultists such as Aleister Crowley. [23] Lewis' analysis, however, does not suggest a long intergenerational tradition.


In regard to the sentence "Such fantasy events can be elicited under hypnotic procedures and structured interviews which provide strong, repeated demands for the requisite experiences, and which then legitimate the experiences as "real memories."

Some researchers would question the fact that hypnosis can produce false memories of abuse.

I believe this should either be counterbalanced or removed.

A possible counterbalance could be "Though some believe that false memories of traumatic events cannot be easily created."

The sentence doesn't specify "of abuse" and it would be unethical to try to show that you can induce these. In the text, the phrase "such fantasy events" follows the preceding specific mention of "past-life experiences, or UFO alien contact and abduction". I doubbt if there can be dissent that these are false memories. But the reservation you mention should be stated somewhere if it's not already, I thought it was but I'll check Gareth Leng 14:50, 9 April 2009 (UTC)


How about placing it here -

after "But throughout the 1990s, academic psychologists began to demonstrate that false memories can be induced quite readily, especially with hypnotic-like techniques, and questioned the reliability of memories of disturbed patients." add "However, some believe that false memories of traumatic events cannot be created."


This statement has been backed up by certain studies "Many therapists believed that recovered memories were likely to be accurate, that early trauma was a common cause of later psychological or behavioural disorders, that memories of traumatic events were often suppressed..."

Recovered memories have been shown in some studies to be accurate.

This should be re-written to add the sentence above after "beneficial therapeutically"

Can't put it in in exactly those terms; it's true that some apparently recovered memories are memories of events that actually happened. That's different in several respects from what you say here, but it can be well supported and should be in.Gareth Leng 14:50, 9 April 2009 (UTC)


how about adding after ""beneficial therapeutically" add

"In fact, some recovered memories have been corroborated by objective evidence and some studies have shown fairly high corroboration rates."


In regard to a point we disagree on

There are convictions and trials for Satanic ritual abuse type cases. See [1] [2] Neil Brick 04:04, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Actually the first link is quite a good catalogue showing the collapse of many cases, and the sparsity of cases that provide any evidence of Satanic conspiracies.


In the first link, I am not sure if a case being overturned later is necessarily a "collapse." And several of the cases were not overturned.

I don't think it would be a stretch to add "though some believe that there were convictions in cases that contained Satanic ritual abuse information." after this phrase "A succession of high-profile court cases dissolved under judicial examination for lack of adequate objective evidence," This would actually be accurate.Neil Brick 03:20, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Please use less whitespace; there are formatting options that would set off the text in question without taking up so much of the screen.
I'd note that the link [3] is prominently headed, Please note that this list was compiled and copyrighted by "Believe the Children" in 1997. It has not been updated since then. This is 2009.
Further, I object to changing the point about LaVey and leaving out the "counterculture" aspect, which is important to setting context. Indeed, there is a fair bit of context setting that could be included, such as the 1970s attention to MPD brought with the fictional Sybil, the rise in Christian fundamentalism with strong devil imagery being imprinted on children, the popular culture aspects of increased possession visibility with Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, etc. These are all things that can enter into imagery. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:40, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
The list may be from 1997, yet it does show some cases with convictions with ritual elements. My suggestion was to remove the reference for now, and Gareth stated "agree we should find a better source reference." Sybil was based on a real person's story.Neil Brick 04:05, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. "was based" is not non-fiction. The imagery introduced by such works, as well as religious instruction, is a possible contributor to recall of Satanic symbols. Frankly, it's tiring to keep finding references with problems and then negotiate "a better one". As many others have said, it is not the collaborative approach here for an author to bring in materials supporting one side and then expect others to balance it. The model is that articles should be as balanced as possible starting with the first draft. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:18, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
I don't recall any Satanic symbolism, motifs or imagery in Sybil. And it was nonfiction. I should have been clearer about this. The refinement of an article entails finding better references as the article develops. I agree it is a good idea for articles to be balanced with a first draft. When I started writing articles here I thought that others would counterbalance, but now I realize that this isn't the approach here. Additionally, different editors may have different ideas about balance.Neil Brick 04:47, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Predisposition to Satanic discoveries

I agree that the 1973 Sybil was not specifically about Satanism, but about MPD and "sadistic ritual abuse". Several reports, such as [4] reprinting a review in the New York Review of Books, found that much of the material had been falsified. The significance here is that it started the search for MPD in the 1970s, and the use of memory work. At this time, there was an increase in the number of self-described Christian therapists, who either themselves believed in the reality of Satan, or had patients with strong Catholic or Pentecostal backgrounds in which they were exposed to Satanic beliefs and symbols, as concepts of horror.

While many of the techniques of psychoanalysis have been discredited, there is still some utility to dream analysis, as long as the therapist and client understand that the dream memories are symbolic rather than real memories. Nathan and Snedeker (pp. 49-50, 82) draw an analogy between the techniques used to elicit memories from Sybil, and those used by Sean Conerly in McMartin. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:18, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Others that worked with and knew Sybil disagreed with the idea the material had been falsified. Dr. Leah Dickstein (Dr. Wilbur's mentor) believed Sybil was a multiple. And the staff at Dr. Wilbur's clinic confirmed that she was multiple. She remembered that Sybil told her that the entire book was true and she thought there was no reason to falsify details. Her mother was known for her bizarre behavior. Neil Brick 15:35, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
There are quite a few things that suggest that Wilbur was not credible. As one example, "In 1998, I presented my analysis of the tapes at the American Psychological Association in San Francisco...It was Wilbur, I contended, that labeled Sybil a multiple. The therapist wasn't finding the memories inside Sybil, but was planting them by hypnosis. With her patient hypnotized, Wilbur was manufacturing memories and concocting the primal scene — a grand exposition of an explanatory principle...The primal scene had another advantage. It would make the book sensational and sexy — and very salable." in The bifurcation of the self: the history and theory of dissociation and its disorders, Robert W. Rieber, Flora Rheta Schreiber; Birkhäuser, 2006, page 120 [5] Howard C. Berkowitz 23:59, 12 April 2009 (UTC)


Neil, if you're going to make dozens of comments and suggestions here, PLEASE learn how to format your comments so that it is possible for us to read what you are writing. Please READ the blue box at the top of the screen before your make you next edits. Do NOT USE THE TAB key to indent your comments. Use the COLONS, as surely, I would have thought by now, you know. If you care going to have a meaningful interaction with other members here, it would be wise not to unnecessarily aggravagate them by your formatting. Hayford Peirce 03:52, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Hayford, sorry about this. What happened was that I copied Gareth's comments from the previous section where they were already tabbed and I did not know I was supposed to remove the spaces created by these tabs. I will do so in the future. Neil Brick 03:57, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Further, please do not intersperse your suggested changes between the paragraphs of another author, as it becomes difficult to tell who is saying what. The convention is to put all of your suggested changes below the previous block, with another level of colon indentation or an (undent). To identify what you want to change, you can copy the original text, or enough text to recognize it, and italicize it with double apostrophes. Where there are words you propose to be stricken, you can indicate by putting them between <s> and </s>. Please look at how more people more experienced at CZ format their entries, such as the use of bullets for lists. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:01, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
What I attempted to do was show Gareth's suggestions on my ideas, with my follow up ideas as to how they could work in the article. I guess this didn't work. Next time I will italicize text followed by my own comments and then indent all of this.Neil Brick


I've removed the McCully refs from the bibliography after finding the abstract below. Don't think there's any relevance here.

McCully RS (1978) ("A teenage murderer who killed his mother, his tiny half-brother, and his step-father was studied through the imagery he associated to three different editions of inkblots. These sets included the Rorschach, Behn-Rorschach, and Ka-Ro plates. The data were used to theorize about clues, dynamics, and diagnosis in this extreme case of adolescent violence. Family background and developmental history are included. The author takes the position that a conventional analysis of these data alone is not sufficient to fully understand familial murderers. Several of C.G. Jung's concepts, notably his view about the power of shadow-projections to influence conscious percepts and his philosophy about evil as a collective phenomenon, were used to speculate about ways we might extend our understanding of this subject's extreme form of violence. Defining the archetype as an energy-complex, the discussion theorized about possible ways different forms of paranoid ideation may arise.") Gareth Leng 15:53, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

On edits

Thanks Neil for your comments. You're obviously right that there have been a number of convictions over the years of people who have committed horrific crimes and who have used Satanic imagery, decorations etc. That doesn't need any qualification - it's true and can be stated clearly. The issues are a) whether these crimes are inspired by Satanic beliefs, or whether the perpetrators are no different from any other psychotic sadists; if there is a difference, b) is an organised (cult) belief system involved, and c) is there a conspiracy or conspiracies to conceal the existence of a cult that is responsible for systematic comission of cult-related crimes against children. I think it is right to note that when someone who wears Satanic symbols commits a crime, its not necessarily because of the influence of a Satanic cult (when someone who wears a crucifix commits a crime its not necessarily the Catholic church's fault).

It's not for us to decide whether a) b) and c) are true, but we should state that most academic analysts now think that a) is rarely true, and that most have concluded that b) and c) are not supported by any clear evidence.

I found some interesting historically -related references to other Satanic cult scares, on the biblio page - haven't had a chance to look at them closely

I'm away a few days now so can't contribute more just now, thanks to you all. Gareth Leng 10:10, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Gareth, thank you for your hard work on the page. Though we may disagree at times about certain points of view, I have appreciated your hard work, research and fairness to all points of view. When you return, I hope we can continue to work on the changes we have agreed to above to make the article accurate and neutral when needed. As far as points B and C go, I would agree that more research is needed. Point A may entail bit of both, sadists that have Satanic beliefs or Satanists that are sadistic. In either case, they both probably belong in the article, since the crimes committed are those involving Satanic rituals and/or symbolism.Neil Brick 02:39, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Software problems

Text here was removed by the Constabulary on grounds that it is needlessly inflammatory. (The author may replace this template with an edited version of the original remarks.) I am removing this entire discussion, as being useless and needlessly provocative. Please find other topics to discuss. Constable Hayford Peirce 19:55, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Sybil and related matters

It's not likely to be productive to argue back and forth about the truth of Sybil. Presumably, various parties can produce statements indicating variously that the matter was proven beyond their individual suspicion, while others can produce investigations that throw substantial doubt on the accuracy of the work. It may well be that it would be useful for someone to start, balanced from the beginning, a separate article on MPD, to which this would be one input.

My point, in bringing this up, is that memories are not developed independently of context. Fully recognizing that anecdote is not the singular of data, when I was perhaps eight years old, I saw a police poster with photographs and drawings of a child who had been beaten to death. The police wanted help in identifying him. That image filled my nightmares for years; I had nightmares at the time in which I was that boy, and, decades later, I can still clearly remember those images. The images came up when I underwent psychoanalysis, but it was clear, in that context, that they were symbolic.

From several people, between roughly the ages of eight and fifteen, I had sexual and physical abuse (different sources). The physical damage was easy enough to recognize, and eventually get me out of the situation. No one would believe my stories of the sexual abuse, about which I needed no probing. Eventually, as a growing teenager with judo training, I overpowered the sexual abuser and frog-marched him, half-naked, into the presence of witnesses.

Nothing was ritualized in any of this, save that the uncle that beat me would claim he was doing it in the traditions of the United States Marine Corps, which I'll only say is a perversion of the value of the Corps. Still, when I idly think of that abuse, I still have strong mental image of that unidentified dead boy. It would have been awfully easy for memory work to suggest that the circumstances of that death were things that happened to me.

My point in bringing up Sybil, of the rise of Christian fundamentalism in which children were routinely taught about an active Devil, of the possession bestsellers that preceded Michelle Remembers, and in some of the feminist theory of the time, that there were rich sources for imagery. Perhaps there was real physical and sexual abuse, but, in therapy, it was recounted, or guided, by symbols of the patient, therapist, or both.

Given that we are talking of a peak of reports in the 1980s, it does not seem irrelevant to be giving background from the seventies and late sixties. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:34, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

I agree that it is probably counterproductive to argue about Sybil. I am not sure if it is true that "memories are not developed independently of context" at least in the case of abuse memories. There is evidence that abuse memories are encoded differently in the mind than nontraumatic ones, but this is not the place to debate this. Just as some are skeptical (or have trouble believing in the existence of Satanic ritual abuse crimes), it is important to be equally skeptical or analytical about attributing the motives of ritual abuse survivors (such as simply wanting empathy for discussing abuse memories, which to me personally doesn't make sense, since survivors of abuse in general usually are very hesitant to go public with their memories) or theories about possible social panics, regardless of publisher or credentials of the author.
In reply to your comments about your history, it is unfortunate that child abuse crimes have existed and that you and others were and at times continue not to be believed. Throughout history, such as after Freud wrote his famous Aetiology in 1898, society has seriously looked at child abuse crimes only to turn its back and then allow them to continue again. Though it is not necessarily the job of this page to discuss this, we are all a part of history and through our research can influence it.Neil Brick 02:39, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by "counterproductive", as I specifically mean that the Sybil and related predisposition to Satanic symbolism should be in the article. Memory encoding has no place in this article, but possible societal sources of the sudden burst of Satanic reports is entirely appropriate.
I said nothing whatsoever about motives. I spoke of sources of symbolism in reports. Further, I really wasn't looking for sympathy, but to make the point that substantial amounts of abuse do not involve ritual; I am concerned that the overemphasis on the bizarre causes the straightforward to be ignored. There has always been a child abuse article here as well as a child sexual abuse article, but they have not been updated; the emphasis has been on ritual, Satanic, recovered memory, and other things that are statistically rare at best. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:31, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
I disagree that Sybil has a place in the article. We have discussed excluding abuse from the article that has no connection to Satanism. I agree that other articles should be updated if needed. Neil Brick 19:01, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
There is, I believe, a reasonable case that can be drawn from the 1960s-1970s increase in emphasis on possession, MPD, and Satanic imagery presented in religious contexts, to the reports of Satanism in the 1980s. Do not include me in "we" agreeing that this is unrelated. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:22, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
Reliable sources would need to be found to firmly back this idea. I still believe that it is conjecture (and unproven) to state that reading a book about DID/MPD can cause Satanic ritual abuse memories.Neil Brick 20:14, 12 April 2009 (UTC)
I disagree that DID and satanic abuse are nearly as rare as was once believed. As a therapist who worked with survivors of satanic and other ritual abuse trauma I can say that survivors memories are much more than imagery that can be influenced from media or religion. There are strong emotions of terror and anger and sadness. One does not get such depth of emotions without actual experiences to cause them. Nitsa Kedem-Oz 19:59, 12 April 2009 (UTC)
Is it possible to say this with any degree of certainty? As an extreme example, what about schizophrenia? Chris Day 20:04, 12 April 2009 (UTC)
I understand you do not believe it. Simply restating your disbelief does not add information, any more than my asserting that Satanic ritual abuse is conjecture does not add information. I did not say reading a book alone, but I spoke of an overall climate involving not just Sybil, but also Christian fundamentalists with strong ideas about possession and an active Satanic/demonic principle, other books such as The Three Faces of Eve, Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist. These implant images that may manifest symbolically in memory recovery. As far as sources: Howard C. Berkowitz 20:11, 12 April 2009 (UTC)
  • Dewey RA, Psychology, an Introduction, Chapter 11: Personality, Georgia Southern University, [6]: "The syndrome was brought to public attention by several best-selling books that became hit movies: The Three Faces of Eve and Sybil. Starting in the 1980s, cases of multiple personality were diagnosed with increasing frequency, perhaps due to widespread knowledge of the condition."
  • Nathan & Snedeker, Satan's Silence, pp. 49-50
  • Davis D,O'Donohue W,"Chapter 36: The Road to Perdition: Extreme Influence Techniques in the Interrogation Room", Handbook of Forensic Psychology: Resource for Mental Health and Legal Professionals (Elsevier, 2003): "The impairment of normal information processing associated with these [dissociative]] disorders can result in false confessions.
  • Robert Rieber of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, presentation at the 1998 American Psychological Association, reported in the New York Times as "Tapes Raise New Doubts About 'Sybil' Personalities" [7]
  • McNally RJ, Remembering Trauma, Harvard University Press, 2005, p. "The belief that severe childhood trauma causes MPD became popular only the best-selling book and movie Sybil, quoting Schreiber 1973...Eve recounted no abuse, quoting Thigpen & Cleckey 1954 [8]

[outdent]In reply to Mr. Day, Putnam in Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder Frank W. Putnam (1989) has a good history section on the misdiagnosis of MPD (now called DID) Where Bleuler included multiple personality in his category of schizophrenia....The finding that MPD patients are often misdiagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia has been replicated several times (several 1980’s studies) Clear evidence showing that DID/MPD is a distinctly separate diagnosis is shown in its inclusion in the DSM-IV-TR. Those suffering from schizophrenia have clearly distinct symptoms from DID/MPD, including the possible characteristic symptoms of disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior and negative symptoms, such as affective flattening, alogia and avolition.

The DSM states under differential diagnoses that a dissociated personality state may be mistaken for a delusion or the communication between entities may be mistaken for auditory hallucinations, leading to confusion with psychotic disorders (such as Schizophrenia). In short, there are clear symptomatic distinctions between schizophrenia and DID/MPD and any well trained professional should be able to tell the difference.

In reply to Mr. Berkowitz, I still have not seen any strong evidence showing that "these implant images...may manifest symbolically in memory recovery." In particular, I would strongly question the possibility of their manifestation to abuse memories, with the evidence leaning toward abuse memories having a different neurobiological mechanism than regular memory.

  • Your first source (Dewey RA, Psychology, an Introduction, Chapter 11) states However, evidence indicates that multiple personality is neither a fraud nor a modern invention.and The common element in nearly every authentic case of multiple personality is severe trauma in childhood. A good critique of Spanos is found in Brown, D; Frischholz E, Scheflin A. (1999). Iatrogenic dissociative identity disorder - an evaluation of the scientific evidence The Journal of Psychiatry and Law XXVII No. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 1999): 549–637. At present the scientific evidence is insufficient and inadequate to support plaintiffs’ complaints that suggestive influences allegedly operative in psychotherapy can create a major psychiatric disorder like MPD per se…there is virtually no support for the unique contribution of hypnosis to the alleged iatrogenic creation of MPD in appropriately controlled research....Spanos has seriously overgeneralized from the data of his 1985, 1986 and 1991 laboratory experiments that multiple personalities can be created in the laboratory....Overall, these data offer little evidence that the disorder MPD per se can be created through suggestive influences. Dewey does question Sybil's story, but he does not provide a source for this.
  • Your last source (McNally RJ, Remembering Trauma, Harvard University Press) states that "histories of severe sexual and physical abuse during childhood were uncovered in more than 95 percent of patients diagnosed with MPD." McNally goes on to explain that Putnam stated that "most doctors were unfamiliar with the bewildering symptoms of MPD, often confusing it with schizophrenia" and that "self-diagnosis" was rare.
  • Kluft defends Wilbur's work here. Kluft is well published in the field, here's an example of an APA book here. Another positive presentation of Wilbur's work is here quoting Greaves, G.(1993) "A History of Multiple Personality Disorder", p.364 "the most important clinical case of multiple personality in the twentieth century."
  • The article Doubt Cast on Story of `Sybil' by Malcom Ritter - The Associated Press discusses Rieber's and Spiegel’s doubts with replies from two others. "An expert on multiple personalities said although he doesn't know whether Sybil's personalities were created in therapy, Rieber's written report sheds no light on the question. Dr. Richard Gottlieb...said the report fails to show the book was a conscious misrepresentation." and "But Dr. Leah Dickstein...who said she was in touch with Sybil for several years after Wilbur's death, recalls Sybil telling her, "`tell people every word in the book is true."' Dickstein, who knew Wilbur, said Wilbur "had no need to make this up."

So there are different opinions on the veracity of the Sybil story. It appears that some of those who knew her believed she was a multiple and others questioned it. Neil Brick 02:47, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

I was not implying that DID/MPD are the same. I was rebutting the point that "strong emotions of terror and anger and sadness" are evidence of "actual experiences". Such a blanket statement/assumption is not valid. Chris Day 03:05, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, there are multiple versions, and they hardly constitute a compelling story, especially when the matter was commercialized. As with Satanic ritual abuse proper, there is a great deal of supposition, hardly meeting encyclopedic standards of strong evidence. Sorry, this keeps coming across as a plea for recognition of an ill-supported, highly emotional subject, as opposed to the level of detail in the main child abuse article.
Chris makes a good point in distinguishing between emotions and experiences. Further, all of these arguments and counterarguments are opinions of clinicians, as opposed to anything that has independent validation. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:07, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, Chris, this is true. But IMO an experienced clinician should be able to tell the difference between a delusional and non-delusional client. And there is a very strong connection between severe, repeated abuse and DID/MPD. Add to this fairly high veracity rates (with a somewhat low percentage of mistakes of course) of recovered memories, this adds up to a fairly strong possibility that many of these memories may be accurate. Howard, simply because there is a variance of opinion on a topic does not mean that a topic should not be written about or that it is ill-supported. Certain legal cases have shown independent validation in this area. And clincians and clients are a form of validation as eye witness testimony is allowed in court.Neil Brick 04:30, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
This is going to take an Editor ruling, because we clearly do not agree that your argument is either well-supported, or appropriate for an article. I must observe...eyewitness of what? Eyewitness of therapy sessions are hardly evidence of anything other than what happened in the office. There's certainly nothing like the level of evidence of "conventional" abuse, or the reprehensible criminal acts of child prostitution and child pornography that are "just business" and have no Satanic overlay. At best, this is an isolated blip in the cluttered radar screen of large-scale problems. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:32, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
I didn't state that the actual argument would necessarily be appropriate for the article. But in terms of reporting peer reviewed journal reports of Satanic ritual abuse, I do believe it should be considered, just as the peer reviewed theories of social influence are. Neil Brick 19:32, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

Discussion styles and laser tag

For many years, the U.S. Army had great difficulty in conducting realistic training, as things tended to go back to the childhood "I shot you! No, I shot you first!". Training took a quantum leap in effectiveness with the introduction of the MILES system, a "super laser tag" system, attached to every weapon, soldier, vehicle, and seemingly every rock, on the test range. Sensors recorded when one was hit with the laser, and would lock the weapon of a presumably killed trainee. Without the back and forth arguments, the tactical analysis could reach high quality.

Has anyone else noticed the pattern of inconclusive argument here? How many times have some of the same studies (e.g., Bottom & Shavers, EAS, the convictions list) been brought up and rejected? Is there a time to cry "halt?" Is it necessary to fight over every word and phrase when there does seem to be a consensus on mainstream opinion? I absolutely agree that the apparent minority view needs to be presented, with criticism, in the article. I absolutely disagree that it is productive to continue to micro-edit. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:40, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

I agree that arguing probably doesn't work, however I do believe that a back and forth discussion up to a point on certain topics can. To produce a quality article that is neutral and fair to the majority and minority opinions, I believe contributors should discuss and make sure the article is a good one.Neil Brick 02:39, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
And that point, I believe, has long passed. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:32, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
I respect your opinion, yet I think the points that Gareth and I are discussing are ones we can still look at, to ensure a quality article.Neil Brick 03:37, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
The point should be made that the discussion is not between you and Gareth, but indeed is under Editor direction. There is, perhaps, some suggestion, here and there, by one person or another, that others believe this is at a point of diminishing returns. Just a thought, of course. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:44, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
OK, let's see what Gareth thinks when he returns. He did agree that some points were good ones. Neil Brick 19:01, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

All the previous discussions have been moved to Archive 2 -- and a farewell to this discussion

This page had grown distressingly long -- I therefore moved everything previous to the discussion section called "Suggestions 2" into Archive 2.

I am now recusing myself, both as a sometime Constable, and as sometime contributor to this page and to any of the other pages involving SRA and all the other fringe topics that have succeeded in becoming the single biggest time-dump and time-waste that I can recall seeing since joining Citizendium in May of 2007. Please do not write to me on either my User page or my private email address about any of these subjects, as I will no longer reply to any of them. If you feel that you need Constabulary action at any time, you can click on and send them a message, or you might try appealing directly to User talk:D. Matt Innis. Good luck to all of you in your on-going endeavors! Hayford Peirce 16:55, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Workgroup assignments

Should Anthropology be changed to Psychology? When I created the article, I was thinking of Anthropology as covering rituals that were not strictly religions. Many of the issues brought up here relate to memory and symbolism; Daniel Mietchen, a Psychology Editor, has already given opinions that this and related articles belong more to Psychology than Anthropology. I agree. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:55, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

I agree, too. Neil Brick 19:01, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Sounds right to me too.Nitsa Kedem-Oz 13:11, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Overview section

If it is an overview rather than conclusions, then it belongs at the beginning. There is a similar section at the end of homeopathy, but at least some critical readers have not gotten that far. We can't assume people are going to read entire articles to get to analysis at the end. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:25, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Recent Edit

Gareth, I see you just added a few things, among them this: " 'Modern Satanism' is generally ignored by academics, who regard it as a trivial phenomenon." I don't think I would agree with this phrasing. You could have said it 20 or 30 years ago when a few people studied "cults" and the whole field was consider fringe. But now the subfield of new religious movements exists and Satanism is studied by people in that field, just like other new religious phenomena. I just corresponded with a Norwegian researcher who has edited a book on Satanism and contributed to another book. The field of "Satanism Studies," if you want to give it a name, is small, but there is nothing wrong with the field, and I suspect good professional research is being done in it.

Like any subject, sociology of religion tends to focus in some areas, exhaust them, and move on to others. There is still some research to do on, say, the sociology of Catholicism. But most of that research will focus on Catholicism, not on what it tells us about the overall field of sociology of religion. Many of the possible insights into sociology of religion that Catholicism can offer have been found. Not so, Satanism. Most people studying it are not interested in Satanism per se, but what it tells us about the sociology and psychology of religious communities. Robert Stockman 16:46, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

There would be nothing wrong with an article on Satanism, both the new religious movement and a historical perspective. Alternatively, a historical perspective could deal with broader aspects of religious concepts of an adversary, which, in turn, might contain some current Christian beliefs that relate to this topic. As your research correspondent pointed out, a good deal of the U.S. discussion of Satanic abuse is Christian-related.
If there were such an article, I wonder if some or part of the present article might merge into ritual abuse, and even moral panic. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:17, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I agree on all your points. Robert Stockman 17:22, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Many thanks Robert, I've reworded, and will look for references.Gareth Leng 08:22, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Where to go?

Moving the overview section certainly helps, although, from a lower-case-e editing standpoint, if it's truly overview, it should be part of the non-titled lede. Still, it may well be that this article properly should merge into others.

I have removed one aspect of "neutralizing" that seemed to be just the awkward sort that has been criticized. Indeed, on the talk page, when a question was raised about Lanning's publicatons and reputation within the U.S. government, I cited positive Congressional testimony on his reputation by one of his FBI managers. The critical book mentioned here has been moved to userspace.

Lanning has been criticized, in the book Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America, for not investigating the majority of the cases he has consulted on, some of which had convictions.<ref>{{cite book |title=[[Cult and Ritual Abuse (book)|Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America]] |last= Randall |first=J|coauthors=Perskin PS|year=2000 |publisher=Greenwood Publishing Group|pages=p229 |isbn=027596664X |url=}}</ref>

Several of us were reminded of what the Neutrality Policy actually says:

  • "We should (in most if not all cases) present various competing views in proportion to their representation among experts on the subject, or among the concerned parties."
  • "Expert knowledge and opinion receives top billing and the most extensive exposition."
  • "The task is to represent the majority (scientific) view as the majority view and the minority (sometimes pseudoscientific) view as the minority view."

I created this article to try to bound what was being used as a very emotional, and constantly changing, definition. Personally, I have seen nothing convincing that suggests to me that Satanic ritual abuse exists to any significant effect, and is other than a moral panic. I would ask Citizens to think about the amount of data available on child prostitution and commercial child pornography, and consider whether this topic has anything like the evidence base of those crimes. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:23, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

I think you're right Howard, that there is not the objective evidence that SRA is a significant problem. But, this is an exceptional example of how fear of a problem can induse a disproportionate response that becomes itself a very serious problem. Certainly the climate of unreasoning and disproportionate suspicion and fear that arose after widespread allegations of child abuse changed the way that children were brought up in Britain, so that my children's generation did not enjoy the freedom that I did as a child. The consequences of this panic, that was largely the result of Satanic abuse allegations, make this an extremely important topic for an encyclopedia irrespective of the truth of the allegations. It's important to try to ducument this coolly and objectively.Gareth Leng 18:52, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
"Fear of a problem that can induce a disproportionate response" is rather the definition, originally from a British sociologist, of moral panic. One approach is to consider this a subarticle of moral panic, and indeed to develop some of the other cases. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:59, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
I believe that the critique of Lanning's work should stay. It has been mentioned in mainstream publications that Lanning had limited contact with ritual abuse survivors and the support of Lanning's view is clearly stated in most of the article. If we delete the critique of Lanning and change the few other mentions of support for the existence of Satanic ritual abuse occurrences, then the article does not fairly nor respectfully represent the minority position, which is only a very small part of the article at this point. Also keep in mind that Lanning stated in Out of Darkness
I do not deny the possibility that some of these allegations of an organized conspiracy involving the take-over of day care centers, abduction, cannibalism, and human sacrifice might be true. But if they are true, then it is one of the greatest crime conspiracies in history."(pp. 131-132)
Neil Brick 04:05, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I understand you believe it shouldn't be removed, or you would not have inserted it. Nevertheless, a increasing number of Editors in psychology and religion, as well as outside consutants, find the minority position to be so out of step with standards of evidence that many are getting tired of acknowledging it. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:44, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Some may believe that the minority opinion is not correct, however it still needs to be acknowledged at least occasionally in the article, since there are a number of sources that do believe in the idea of the existence of ritual abuse with occasional satanic influences. This is why it is important that an occasional comment, like the one critiquing Lanning, be allowed to stand. Being tired of acknowledging an opinion is not reason to delete it from the article. Neil Brick 13:14, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

New lede

I disagree that removing the the text "This article addresses abuse that has a specific association with Satanic belief or symbols, and refers readers to articles on other forms of abuse that do not involve Satanic belief or symbols."

Indeed, I propose a lede rewrite from:

Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) is a phrase coined in the 1980s to refer to well-publicized accounts of extreme child abuse allegedly organized by satanic cults in the USA. Many of these claims assert that there are secret, criminal organizations motivated by worship of Satan that practice ritual torture and sexual abuse of children in order to "program" them into the ideology of Satan worship. Some claims assert the existence of an international conspiratorial network. Less extreme versions assert that the secret networks consist of intergenerational family clans. [1] Most mainstream authorities doubt the credibility of these claims.


Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) is a phrase coined in the 1980s to refer to large-scale child abuse allegedly organized by groups motivated by worship of Satan. These received much publicity, including some spectacular trials with no conclusive convictions. Mainstream legal and sociological authorities, however, found little evidence for such well-organized and extensive networks with specific associations with Satanic belief or symbols; abuse with such associations is the topic of this article.
Many of these claims assert that there are secret, criminal organizations motivated by worship of Satan that practice ritual torture and sexual abuse of children in order to "program" them into the ideology of Satan worship. Some claims assert the existence of an international conspiratorial network. Less extreme versions assert that the secret networks consist of intergenerational family clans.

For the "no conclusive convictions", see [9].

It wasn't a U.S. only phenomenon, although the publicity started there; the U.K. and Dutch governments were sufficiently concerned to do studies. "Extreme child abuse" is still an emotional term; "satanic cult" is not defined. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:19, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Hi Howard. I think we need to stand back and look at the article as it is, and as a whole. If the topic is really related to Satanism, there's no article, as I think you've said rightly - there is little enough evidence of organised ritual abuse, and virtually no evidence that Satanic belief systems are involved even in the few cases of organised abuse. In the 1980s, the phrase Satanic ritual abuse was attached rather indiscriminately to general allegations about organised abuse; my wording of the lede was a close paraphrase of Victor's definition which loosens the association with Satanism. My problem with your suggested lede is that the wording presupposes the existence of widespread organised ritual abuse and only raises into question the link with Satanism. This I think is just wrong. The existence of any widespread organised ritual abuse is what is brought into question. The allegations spread from the US, but the term was coined there.

In other words, my view is that the topic of this article is the panic generally subsumed by the term Satanic ritual abuse, and not an enquiry into the role of Satanist belief systems in what I take to be virtually non-existent ritual abuse.

It has been suggested that it is better retitled Ritual abuse; I'm not sure about that at all. The phrase "Satanic ritual abuse" gets 323,000 hits on Google, and these seem to be hits to the allegations covered generally in this article and to analysis concluding that this is a moral panic - i.e. to the scope of the present article. "Ritual abuse", although apparently broader, gets scarcely any more hits, but covers some things (circumcision, initiation rites) that are clearly off scope. Thus I don't think that this article should be subsumed into an article on ritual abuse, but am happy for Robert to decide that issue.

We need to be clear about the scope of this article. My view is now that this is a very important, very significant topic for an encyclopedia, covering a major international news story which had very substantial societal implications. It is an article about historical events concerning a disproportionate response (public hysteria) to apparently wildly exaggerated allegations. It is not about Satanism or an analysis of whether Satanist belief systems were involved, these things are mere incidental facets. If the title is to be changed to reflect the true scope, perhaps it should be to Satanic ritual abuse: 'moral panic' in the 1980's.Gareth Leng 09:58, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

I would disagree with the name change suggested above. The present title gets more google hits and presents the topic more fairly and respectfully to the minority opinion. The article clearly describes the idea of a panic throughout. I believe there is no need for an additional emphasis on this. Neil Brick 13:14, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Of two minds about Sinason quote

At one level, it gives a sense of the position on one side. At a different level, is it clear enough that her "believing her clients" has no actual evidence? Is the language appropriate? Howard C. Berkowitz 22:14, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

I believe the quote fairly states her position accurately. The way it is written is respectful of her position and her position is well rebutted throughout most of the article.Neil Brick 04:05, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
My view was that this is a case where readers can make up their own mind from reading her own words. Like Neil, I think that the quote expresses her views clearly and accurately, and in terms that she has chosen. I think that skeptics will see in the words she uses that she is driven by emotion not by objective facts, believers will see the strength of her convictions. That's fine by me.Gareth Leng 10:03, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Sentence lede change

I think that the change from "Most mainstream authorities doubt the credibility of these claims." to "Nearly all mainstream authorities doubt the credibility of any of these claims" is too strong and probably can't be proven, so that the original one is more accurate. I recommend that it be changed back to the original phrase or be softened considerably.Neil Brick 04:05, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

I agree, I think "nearly all" is a subjective emphasis the truth of which depends on what you understand by 'nearly all' - is 90% nearly all or must it be 99%?. any is too strong for me to be sure of it, I suspect that there may be a significant number who believe that there have been some cases in which organised ritual abuse occurred and few who would say definitively that it had never ever happened. I think it's true that most authorities treat all claims skeptically - meaning with extreme doubt about their truth rather than certainty of their falsity. I think the rewording is verging on emphasis for rhetorical value; we should be cooller.Gareth Leng 14:00, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I would also agree with the "most" to "nearly all" being rhetorical, but I would also observe that the "extreme" referring to child abuse is rhetorical. Still, I find that the lede is far too strong. The lede paragraph needs to refer, at least, to the theory of moral panic, and that trials like McMartin, after appeals and retrials, never actually produced a conviction. My time is short at the moment; I'll come back with additional wording, but this is a start. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:47, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I think that the specifics of doubt around credibility issues (like panic) or the veracity of claims should be left for the main article itself, as the lede should only be a very basic overview for readers. Some trials actually did produce convictions and though some were later overturned on technicalities, some decisions still stand. Neil Brick 17:59, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. I believe the mainstream opinion is that Satanic ritual abuse is considered a moral panic and that the lede should reflect this. Mr. Brick, you and I will never agree on this; an Editor ruling is needed. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:19, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
My point is that the lede should be a basic overview for readers, and not go into details on either side of the issue. The lede as it stands already clearly states the mainstream opinion. There are several subsections in the article that go into detail about this. Neil Brick 19:45, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Since an editor agrees that the lede sentence phrasing "nearly all mainstream authorities doubt the credibility of any of these claims," is too strong, I suggest we change it back to "most mainstream authorities doubt the credibility of these claims" or something similar.
In regard to this diff here adding "which are often termed an exemplar of moral panic," I had assumed we were waiting for an editor ruling, yet it appears the change was made without one. Neil Brick 04:20, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
What Editor of one of these workgroups has agreed to such? Gareth and I are both Editors; neither of us are Editors of the workgroups for this article. I see no such ruling from a Religion, Psychology, or Law Editor. When I said that an Editor ruling was needed, it was to support your argument, Mr. Brick. You have been asked, by Robert Stockman, to comment only on the Talk Page. Others have not been restricted from editing the article. As I have said, I (and others) disagree with your position and am going to go ahead with edits we believe appropriate, unless an appropriate Editor determines otherwise. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:28, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I disagreed with this restriction. My edits were minor ones and could have easily been reverted by an editor if needed. By removing a Citizen that added a few minor changes to the article to try and more respectfully represent the minority view, I believe made it harder for editors to respectfully represent this view. Neil Brick 19:12, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

External link section

The first link "Famous Trials The McMartin Preschool Abuse Trials 1987-90 Douglas O. Linder" here has information from "Eberle, Paul and Shirley. The Abuse of Innocence: The McMartin Preschool Trial ( 1993)" The Eberle's were known for producing child pornography in a variety of sources, see here.

I am unsure how the second link here is related to this article.

The third link is " website of Ontario-based multi-faith group. EXtensively researched, notably balanced site." With all due respect, I don't see it as balanced. It is primarily a very skeptical site on the ritual abuse issue and perhaps the description could be changed to this. The web links on the site are very old and the site itself does not back up much of what it states.

To be fair to the minority view, perhaps two external links could be added. Here are a few possible ones to choose from. Conviction list Brief Synopsis Awareness center Neil Brick 04:05, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Don't see the Eberle involvement as an issue. It's a very comprehensive academic site, Eberle's book has many distinguished academic endorsements and is not a major source anyway for this site. In the 1970s, the Eberles edited a "hippie" publications with illustrations of young people (drawings not photos) that some regard as pornographic; at the time this was common - I remember the Oz Schoolkids issue very well, and the trial that descended into farce in the UK. So what? In the 70's there was a common groundswell supporting liberal approaches to sexuality, and extending this to young people was part of a general "pushing the boundaries" testing of how far this could go. Gareth Leng 11:56, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
The Salem link is marginal - it's documentation of a historical parallel. I'm happy to removeGareth Leng 11:56, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
On reflection, I agree about the Ontario link and have found a better site (I see that it's one of your suggestions also).Gareth Leng 09:11, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Regarding the accusation of kiddie porn on the Eberles by SRA believers, you don't want to miss this article. (By the way, aren't any signatures missing in this thread way above?) -Cesar Tort 12:24, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Gareth, thank you for your adjustments to the external links section.
I believe that sources from IPT, like the one on the external links page and above should be used sparingly if at all. IPT was founded and run by Ralph Underwager until his death, see here. He is known for making statements, like "Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can say that what they want is to find the best way to love." here.He has been accused in court documents of being "a hired gun who makes a living by deceiving judges about the state of medical knowledge and thus assisting child molesters to evade punishment" and using quotations "out of context from an article" and making "unsupported statements, some of which are palpably untrue and others simply unprovable.” David L. Chadwick, Book Review, in 261 JAMA 3035 (May 26, 1989) here He has been accused of harassing and intimidating opponents here.
Finger, the Eberle's publication, in my opinion went well beyond being a hippie publication, as is shown here. I am unable to copy quotes due to CZ's family friendly policy to prove this, but the diff clearly shows this, and calls it "hard-core pornography." Neil Brick 04:20, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I wholly disagree; Underwager was certainly vilified and he defends himself eloquently and convincingly here. He was a sincere and serious professional. I wholly dissent from the notion that a source should be rejected on any grounds other than the academic reliability of the source; we must never seek to judge the truth of what is said by the judging the character of who says it. That door leads to character attacks, slander, and a denial of rationality; the message is what counts here not the character of the messenger. (See here for an analysis of the Finger issues)Gareth Leng 08:28, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
It's interesting to look at the provenance of the accusations and counter-accusations. I have no particular position on Underwager, but I note that while he is accused of being a hired gun, some of the strongest accusations against him come from police that also are frequent prosecutorial witnesses with statements such as (from link 3) "Donald Smith, a sergeant with the obscenity section of the Los Angeles Police Department's vice division who followed the couple for years. LAPD was never able to prosecute for child pornography: 'There were a lot of photos of people who looked like they were under age but we could never prove it.' " When a KV Lanning of the FBI, however, testifies that he found no evidence of Satanic abuse, he was attacked because he could not prove a negative. Lanning's actual reports, at least, are available; the links in the two previous posts all point to secondary and tertiary source. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:19, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
The important question is whether Underwager and his journal (which was not peer reviewed) should be cited in CZ. I would state that his work and its academic reliability is definitely questionable based on the sources above, not even looking at some of the other statements he made in Paidika or the accusations of harassment made by Salter, in a peer reviewed journal. And since there are many sources out there, in my opinion CZ's articles should strive to have the most reliable information, citations and external links.Neil Brick 00:08, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm persuaded by the point that the journal is not peer reviewed; I don't like double standards and we shouldn't use it.Gareth Leng 13:55, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
I first mentioned IPT above not to use it in mainspace; only to show here, in talk page that the "kiddie porn" accusations are baseless and ad hominem. Cesar Tort 15:05, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Gareth, thank you for adding the DMOZ links to the section. Though not all of their selections are peer reviewed, the DMOZ does try to carry a variety of articles on the topic. In reply to Mr.Tort, I have shown that the "porn" accusations are not baseless. I agree that there are two sides to this issue, but mainstream published articles have agreed with this critique of the Eberle's. The reality is that a person's research may represent their point of view on a topic, and unless the information is peer reviewed, it can be subject to bias. Neil Brick 19:12, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

Content Issues, for Editor perhaps?

Title? On balance I'd prefer to stick with "Satanic Ritual Abuse"; this is not in my view a subtopic of "Ritual abuse" any more than "Sexual appetite" would be a subtopic of "Appetite", sometimes the words are misleading.

The article is not about Satanism, and perhaps the section on Satanism needs rethinking, it seems misleading to even mention modern Satanism when it seems clear to me that moderm Satanism actually has nothing whatsoever to do with this. Again the words are misleading - this is not a subtopic of Satanism any more than it's a subtopic of Ritual Abuse. Robert- should we just delete or move that section?

3) I think the term Satanic Ritual Abuse is very widely used and is used for exactly the content of this article, so seems appropriate as a title - we should use names for what the world uses them for and not invent names of articles to substitute for names that we might think are inappropriate but are those by which the world knows them. So while this article is not about Satanism, and not about a subtopic of Ritual Abuse, it is about what the world seems to know as "Satanic Ritual Abuse". I guess if the title could be 'Satanic Ritual Abuse' rather than Satanic Ritual Abuse, it might be better.Gareth Leng 16:33, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

The world knows? Isn't that a bit strong? A large part of the controversy here is that there is no accepted definition, but one that twists and turns.
Nevertheless, the premise in the lede is that the purpose of the claimed abuse is to convert to someone's idea of Satanism. How can that conversion not be a ritual?
If you agree that it isn't a subset of ritual abuse, and it's ill-defined, let's be more explicit it the lede.
If it isn't a subset of ritual abuse, of what is it a subset, other than moral panic? Indeed, it's probably more often cited in sociological literature as an archetype of moral panic than of ritual. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:42, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Gareth Leng on this one. That's why I stated way above that an iconic case such as the McMartin pre-school trial should be known, at least in entertainment film format, to ponder what we are dealing with: something akin to UFO abduction claims. Obviously, to state that UFO abduction is a subset of criminal abduction would be gross miscategorization. Cesar Tort 18:15, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm not disagreeing with the idea that it isn't a proper subset of ritual. It does need, however, to be a subset of something. UFO abduction, I think we'd agree, variously falls under conspiracy theory or moral panic, if not both. Shall we not be straightforward and call it such? Yes, there are people that believe in UFO abduction, and there can be people that believe in SRA. I would argue, however, that the preponderance of opinion, under the Neutrality Policy, is that neither position should be noted as more than a minority view. We seem to be avoiding that statement in the lede, and I would argue it needs to be there. Remember the first-time reader that hasn't been through all the discussions — the qualified "but some believe it might be true" isn't really helping. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:32, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Gareth above. Not every topic can fit into a subset. The article throughout clearly states the majority position. I don't see the point in pushing this even further. There were peer reviewed journal articles that discussed the possibility of the existence of Satanic ritual abuse as well as documented legal evidence of it. There were legal cases that were not overturned with ritual abuse crimes with Satanic connections. As the article stands, the majority position is strongly stated, but the minority opinion is treated respectfully. Neil Brick 00:08, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Documented evidence of "it". And what, precisely, is "it", other than whatever fits the convenience of anyone who wants to say ooh icky Satan? Certainly if it can't be defined, it's as much a moral panic as Joe McCarthy going off on how things are Unumurrican and sapping our precious bodily fluids. The point that there are no objective definitions can't be emphasized enough. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:49, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Thank you Neil for those gracious words; you have expressed exactly what I think we should strive for, to state the majority opinion strongle and clearly, while treating sincerely held minority views respectfully. Howard, objective definitions don't work here, because phenomena first thought to be Satanic ritual abuse by a logical definition turned out to be (probably)something else, and entailed other issues - but as so often, the name clings. Not everything fits into clean hierarchies - even within scientific topics; hierarchies are not arbitrary, but the decision rules involve a subjective choice that expresses some notion of utility - how do we group peptides - by their structure, by their intracellular coupling mechanisms, by their distribution, by their gene families, or by their physiological role? Each hierarchy serves a different purpose. I think we get the key articles first, assemble them later, and fill in the gaps.Gareth Leng 13:08, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Gareth, if objective definitions of something do not exist, the "something" belongs in an encyclopedia only in a discussion of social factors that explain why it cannot be discussed objectively. There are certainly discussions of religious issues where something is clearly identified as a matter of faith or axiom, and treated accordingly.
Discussions of matters of faith, however, are clearly such. The minority opinion here insists that there is a serious issue requiring actions of law and social policy. One can speak of Islamist theory that Sharia must apply because God wills it, but this issue is being addressed in the context of pluralistic democracies, with judicial systems based on a presumption of innocence. Hence, moral panic.
The positions have been stated clearly enough. How do we bring this to a close? Howard C. Berkowitz 16:03, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
I certainly don't agree that we can only have articles for things that have an objective definition - I doubt if you could find one for Science or Philosophy for instance without circularity (the lack of an operational definition for science is at the heart of the demarcation problem). Many things are definable only by the scope of their usage, and in this case, SRA is precisely those things that have been commonly called SRA. However, I think the title issue needs Robert to decide; I vote for Satanic Ritual Abuse, but think it should be decided editorially.Gareth Leng 16:42, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree that an editor(s) should decide. But an important point: should the article be called Satanic Ritual Abuse or Satanic ritual abuse -- there is, I think you will all agree, a difference. Hayford Peirce 16:51, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

(undent) Apples and oranges, Gareth. Science and philosophy are broad organizing concepts. Now, terrorism doesn't have an absolutely objective definition, but it is a clear case of something that exists. One of the problems in dealing with terrorism, however, is the media and political broadening of the topic to include the emotion du jour. There is, however, much unquestioned evidence it exists. There are useful operational definitions based on that evidence.

In this case, there is a strong lack of evidence. You speak of "scope of usage". Precisely who is using Satanic ritual abuse in a major public policy context? Frankly, I am confused where you are trying to go with this. "Commonly" called? It was a moral panic of the 1980s-1990s, and it isn't being used "commonly" except by a hard core that insists that it must be dealt with as a threat -- right along with Masonic abuse and government mind control, and I am not being dramatic; the partisan sites frequently link these very concepts. Those same sites deal with certainty about Manchurian Candidate style mind control, which you, as a neuroscientist, would reject.

Please set me clear, because your recent comments seem to suggest that the article should be going beyond treating this issue as a broader, "common" position than a fringe issue not taken seriously. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:58, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

Gareth, thank you for stating "we should strive for, to state the majority opinion strongly and clearly, while treating sincerely held minority views respectfully." The article clearly does this now. In reply to Mr. Berkowitz, simply because a topic is not clearly definable, or as in this case it may have different definitions from different researchers, this does not equate with the idea that the topic is a moral panic nor an existing reality. In other words, the lack of a set or agreed upon definition does not determine the reality or lack of reality of a topic. To state that the topic is "a fringe issue not taken seriously" disregards the fact that there have been criminal cases with convictions that still stand, and that there were peer reviewed journal articles written on the topic. This statement also shows a disrespect for the minority view. I do not see Gareth's recent comments suggesting anything other than clearly holding up the editing principles of CZ. Lumping together other topics such as mind control into this debate above obfuscates the fact that there was legal and journal evidence of these ritual abuse crimes and unfairly combines different topics to discredit one. Neil Brick 19:12, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

Significance of this issues

Yes Howard, I think this topic raises very significant issues that go well beyond the question of whether something SRA exists, which is why it has been so extensively covered, under the name "Satanic Ritual Abuse", in the academic literature. I searched on Google Scholar - SRA gets about 105,ooo hits, and they cover the sociology, history, psychology and criminology as well as treatment. As a topic, I think it's important - it raises serious and interesting issues - false memories, recovered memories, the reliability of witnesses, the role of the media, the role of social workers, when do we believe allegations, how do we respond to them, how much truth is there in the allegations, how should we respond to these as a society. This is not a subject like cold fusion, which if it's rubbish we can happily forget it. If the allegations were all false then this is an important story that everyone should know about as a warning about the willingness of people to believe bizarre things. If any significant part of the allegations were true, then similarly it's something important we should know about.

Who uses this term; ? - are you asking who uses this other than Government reports and the academic sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists cited in the article? If you want to find out about it, that's the search term you'd use.

So it's an important topic to my eyes and it has a monniker - a name by which it is known to academics and indeed to the world that uses the web; the topic - allegations which created a storm of publicity, led to many prosections and mainy subsequent appeals, and very bitter controversy - is known as "Satanic Ritual Abuse". Perhaps it should be called "The Satanic Ritual Abuse Controversy", I don't mind, but I don't really see the point. The article on Memory of Water is that not The Memory of Water Controversy; an article on Cold Fusion wouldn't have much to say unless it was actually about the controversy.Gareth Leng 15:04, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

The very fact that this can become an issue is, I agree, significant. The sociology, the role of accusations, political posturing, news media frenzy, etc., can and will happen with other issues. Indeed, with the 24-7 pressure for news and the media demand for instant sound bite answers, they will get worse.
But all of those truths suggest, to me, that it is one additional case study article to fall under moral panic. Moral panic, Satanic ritual abuse, perhaps, along with, Moral panic, McCarthyism, Moral panic, football hooligans? Indeed, when does a moral panic become something that can be used for imposing injustice, such as Moral panic, Nazi racial ideology or Moral panic, witch trials? The fact that a population can go into frenzy over it is a key truth.
There are still-relevant political cases, where some truth was exaggerated into a casus belli, or at least major social disruption. McCarthyism is one of which I just barely have personal memories; just of my immigrant grandparents seeing it as a return of the Czarist secret police. Of course there is a real concern with terrorism, but the phenomena of moral panics, short attention spans and media pressure inflame it to extremes. In the case of Satanic ritual abuse, society came to its senses after some spectacular trials. Contrast the U.S. response to the Battle of Pearl Harbor and the Tonkin Gulf incident. Both led to major wars. In one case, the evidence was overwhelming. In the other, playing emotions led to a situation where no one asked hard questions. I won't even start asking such questions about current wars.
Perhaps " a name by which it is known to academics and indeed to the world that uses the web; the topic - allegations which created a storm of publicity, led to many prosections and mainy subsequent appeals, and very bitter controversy " may be much closer to a proper lede. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:53, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Gareth above. The term is a well known one and is the best title for the article. There are those on both sides of the debate. To balance the debate, I will present links showing empirical evidence that there were ritual abuse occurrences. Empirical Evidence of Ritual Abuse Sexual Abuse in Day Care: A National Study An Empirical Look at the Ritual Abuse Controversy (for the talk page only) Brief Synopsis of the Literature on the Existence of Ritualistic Abuse Corsini article
A good counter article on the idea of hysteria in child abuse issues is at ROSS E. CHEIT, What hysteria? A systematic study of newspaper coverage of accused child molesters, 27 Child Abuse & Neglect, 607-623 (2003) The question for some is whether there was harassment and media manipulation and bias during and after some of the trials creating an imbalanced treatment of the topic in the media and literature, which some would state continues until today. And some of the convictions still stand until this day. Neil Brick 03:32, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
I've added the Cheit article to the bibliography, and propose that we use that page for papers covering related issues not covered in the main article, which this article does. I've added the recent Noblitt book also; it's an academic book, haven't found any reviews of it but it's recent. I've ammended the lede in the way indicated by Howard. On Neil's suggested links, I wouldn't support links to abstracts/articles - they can be considered for the bibliography page. The endritualabuse page I've looked at but am not impressed; it's a bibliography linking to literature almost exclusively pre 2000 despite beginning by declaring there is a growing literature; the links are broken. I'm not happy about sites that cherry pick the literature and ignore the other side; for example, do they repeat the (unpublished) McMartin tunnel account but not the published debunking of it? If so, I'd regard the list as dishonest. Gareth Leng 10:18, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Are you talking of Noblitt & Perskin (2000)? I believe Noblitt self-publishing it; it's not academic. On the other hand, although not peer-reviewed, John Earl's McMartin tunnel article is very informative of what really happened in McMartin. Highly recommended. --Cesar Tort 10:33, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Noblitt's 2000 book was published by Praeger. IPT's founder was Ralph Underwager. His reliability as an accurate source of information has been questioned on this page. Neil Brick 18:03, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Seems you are right about Praeger. Where did I read that Noblitt had a self-published book? Anyway, his Praeger book has also been criticized. --Cesar Tort 20:19, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Also, the fact that Noblitt & Perskin apparently support the Illuminati theory as fact, would tend to discredit the book, even if from a respected publisher. (Didn't Noblitt's thesis was on astrology by the way?) --Cesar Tort 20:45, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
I have never heard of their book supporting this theory. And your critique is from a self published, nonacademic and biased source. Neil Brick 21:36, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
The only thing I have ever heard about SRA is from a website in Ontario which (1) denies that SRA exists, (2) is very positive about homosexuality, and (3) oddly enough is more neutral about the Unification Church than any other online source. That's a strange mix, but the Ontario Consultants are what they are. --Ed Poor 23:54, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
The Ontario Consultants link has already been discussed above and was deleted by an editor for not being appropriate as a link. Here are additional reviews from the APA and AJP on the book "Cult and Ritual Abuse." Cult and Ritual Abuse: Sadism Not Sophism A review of Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America (Rev. ed.) Reviewed by John Schmuttermaier "The reviewer argues that this provocative book should be read by all who work in the area.....This book provides the reader with a rigorous and interesting account of a contentious issue."
APA abstract
Fletcher review of Cult and Ritual Abuse Fletcher, K. (July 2001). "Cult and ritual abuse: Its history, anthropology, and recent discovery in contemporary America, revised edition". Psychiatric services 52: 978-979. "Although the writing is uneven at times, anyone who is interested in the topic of cult and ritual abuse will find this book worth the time to read."
Coomaraswamy,, R. (Summer 1996). "Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America". American Journal of Psychotherapy 50 (3): 383. “Whether or not one believes in MPD and/or Ritual Abuse, this book provides one with what is probably the most comprehensive and reasonable review of the subject that has appeared up to now.” Neil Brick 04:25, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

(undent) As far as I know, Robert Stockman has not commented on the Ontario link. He, and Daniel Mietchen, are the only subject matter Editors (i.e., Editors in one of the workgroups to which it is assigned) that have been involved with this article. Gareth and I are both Editors in other workgroups, but that gives us no special authority on this article. Please be careful on stating what an Editor ruled here, unless it is an Editor in one of the workgroups. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:31, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Indeed, I'm just an author here. the Noblitt book I've added is to his recent edited compilation of invited papers by a selection of professionals.Gareth Leng 08:27, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
As to the above confusion, Noblitt's new book, Ritual Abuse in the Twenty-first Century is published by Robert Reed Publishers, which is, indeed, a vanity press. This makes me think that he couldn't convince Praeger anymore to publish his SRA stuff. --Cesar Tort 10:00, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Of course, this is conjecture only. There are many reasons to publish this way, including wanting greater control over one's work and distribution. Neil Brick 13:45, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Full rewrite

A better title would be "The ritual abuse scare of the 1980s" or perhaps simply "Ritual abuse". Apparently it started with a book called Michelle Remembers. [10]

Possibly the most important issue raised by this scare is the role of so-called "child protective" agencies in uncovering child abuse. Specifically, how reliable are their interrogation techniques?

It is well known to military and political interrogators than when threatened with torture many people will tell the interrogator "whatever he wants to hear".

  • "... investigators (led by Velda Murillo, a social worker with the county's Child Protective Services) badgered them into fabricating stories of molestation, telling them that they could go home when they admitted that they were abused. " [11]

I'd like to edit this article rather than write it, because I'm more interested in the general question - a methodological one - about how researchers of all types judge the reliability of information. It's especially important when their are high stakes involved, such as whether a person's will have his career destroyed or be put in prison. --Ed Poor 00:09, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

You may want to look at reliability under interrogation and torture. There are existing ritual abuse and moral panic articles; see how they fit. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:13, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
I just now looked up a footnote at Wikipedia's SRA article and found a well-written book which has a section on the topic in a book called The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements. I recognize many of the authors as good scholars, such as J. Gordon Melton, David G. Bromley, Anson Shupe, and Massimo Introvigne; these four have also written objectively on the Unification Church.
(sigh) The usual COI disclaimer: I've been a member of the Unification Church for over 30 years; so I might be biased - I'll let you and Larry decide that. --Ed Poor 00:20, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Gareth in keeping the title the way it is. It is best known in the literature by this title. The article as it stands has the majority view throughout, while respecting the minority one. Neil Brick 04:25, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Objective evidence

Recently a sentence including the phrase "in the absence of objective evidence" was added to the lede. At times there was objective evidence in these cases, including physical evidence of abuse and confessions to SRA crimes. Also, the term "objective" can be defined in different ways. Is first hand testimony objective? This would depend on whom one asked. Perhaps this could be deleted or softened as "at times in the absence of physical evidence." Neil Brick 04:53, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

I'd understood witness accounts as subjective evidence, but I'm happy to alter.Gareth Leng 08:25, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

McMartin links

In the bibliography and external links there are two links that refer to the case and tunnel report without the actual report. Perhaps an editor could add the tunnel report Archaeological Investigations of the McMartin Preschool Site before the link that critiques it and add this link The Dark Tunnels of McMartin to the external links section. Neil Brick

I've added a link to the archeologist's report; I think it would be wrong to add a link to unpublished and throughly debunked allegations.Gareth Leng 08:23, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the word change in the lede. I think that the second link gives readers a different perspective from a person involved in the case. With this link, readers can get both sides of the story and if the debunking article is more persuasive, then they will clearly see this. Neil Brick 03:16, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
OK, I've added this as a link within the bibliographic reference; I've no problem with this link as evidence that much was made of this, so long as we don't appear to be endorsing it as reliable.Gareth Leng 08:15, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Second sentence of lede para

I just plugged it into WordPerfect -- it's 65 words long. And, although comprehensible at a certain level, it is, in my opinion, far too long, with too many phrases. It could easily be redone as two or three sentences. Hayford Peirce 05:19, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, (65 words - Henry James would call that a telegram :-))- fixed.Gareth Leng 08:17, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Hayford's Title

I agree that Satanic Ritual Abuse would be better and 'Satanic Ritual Abuse' better still perhaps.Gareth Leng 08:20, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Well, since it's being written in 'Merkin English, then it should be "Satanic Ritual Abuse".... Hayford Peirce 15:13, 7 May 2009 (UTC)


Was Ritual does not necessarily mean satanic. in italics in the report itself? In either case, there should be a footnote saying whether it was or not. Hayford Peirce 15:18, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

The words were in the LA report, but not the italics. I thought I made that clear with the footnote (emphasis added). If that's not clear, I'm open to alternate ways to show emphsasis within a direct quote. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:36, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
The footnote doesn't say emphasis added or give any indication about it. I think you should try to put it directly into the quote, one way or another -- who wants to look at footnotes?" Hayford Peirce 16:11, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Noblitt’s book

Just for the sake of professional editing, I contacted an expert in Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) literature and asked his opinion about Noblitt’s book. He advised me to read the commentary Joel Best made regarding the book in his 1995 review: incoherent, full of special pleading, and ignores the skeptical literature. This is the DOI link.

The SRA expert also called my attention to a significant number of reviews, and believes that critical commentary can be culled from a variety of them (though there's probably praise as well). While Neil is right at pointing out that the Masonic info review I linked to is not a reliable source by any means, it does shows handily that Noblitt cites Michael Warnke as "proof", which is preposterous since investigations showed Warnke to be an inveterate liar, as well as the Masonic Taxil hoax. And this is Noblitt’s SECOND edition, which should have corrected blatant falsehoods - for Ripley’s “Believe it or not”! (in fact, Warnke's claims were debunked in 1991, so they shouldn't even have appeared in the first edition).

The SRA expert also called my attention to Richardson, Best & Bromely's The Satanism Scare, and said that the chapter on Satanism and psychotherapy by Sherrill Mullhern is fantastic and describes quite clearly how highly hypnotizeable people can easily be made to develop false memories and make unfounded claims, even without truth serum and visualization.

We respectfully disagree with Neil's statement that "There are many reasons to publish this way, including wanting greater control over one's work and distribution". In fact, self-publishing means zero oversight, which means zero checking of the work to ensure it is at all accurate. The SRA expert wrote to me: “Vanity press should never be cited, ever”.

We would like to see Mary De Young's "The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic". It also has a google books preview, and I have been told that the "search inside" feature is fantastic. Yeap, it is! Want a citation about the different names used by the cult nuts? Try page 194 where it is briefly summarized. Noblitt makes an appearance as well, in page 5, and a few pages later, mis-interpreting cell block hand signs as cult triggers (see page 109). Search for nearly any of the key words that SRA believers throw up as "proof". --Cesar Tort 17:18, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Just so that there is absolutely no confusion here among readers who are non-writers, there are three kinds of publishers (outside of academia, of which I know nothing):
  • Mainstream publishers, such as Tor Books and Random House, who *pay* their authors, generally with an advance upon signing a contract, and with royalities derived from the sale of the book after it is published. Or a combination of advances and royalties. Sometimes just a single lump sum, but in any case, the author is paid. He contributes *nothing* towards the cost of publishing the book. Never, ever. He is paid by the company, he does not pay them. These publishers also, depending on the sort of book being published, *always* provide editorial guidance, copyediting, proof-reading, and other services, just as outside expert advice for certain books. It depends on the book, and on the publisher -- some are more careful about what they print, and how closely they edit it, than others.
  • Print-on-demand publishing, a recent development. Wildside Press is one of the more prominent and successful ones. These companies have means of publishing (printing) and selling books *one at a time*, as orders come in, either from bookstores or individual buyers. Companies such as Wildside generally do not pay their authors in advance, but *do* pay royalties based on sales. Their books may be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble online, for example. How much editorial guidance and oversight is provided by these companies depends on the company -- it can vary from a little to a lot. Most of them do *not* ask the author to help defray the cost of the publication. In this way they are different from ---
  • Vanity press publishers, who have the author pay the entire cost, in advance, of publishing his book. They then publish an agree-upon number of copies, most of which are then given to the author to distribute the best he can. No reputable bookstore ever carries vanity press books and they are never reviewed by mainstream sources such as newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. Authors who publish by the two other means shown above universally consider anything published in the vanity presses as worthless trash. Vanity press publishes make their books *look* like real books, but they provide no editorial guidance and little to no editing or copyediting. They are, in essence, simply printing companies that charge large fees, generally several thousand dollars, to print any manuscript that they are handed, without regard for its quality or contents. Vanity presses never use this term to describe themselves, preferring "subsidy press" or "subsidy publisher" or "self-publishing". Some of them have been in business of several decades....
(Disclosure: I myself have had three books published in the United States by Tor, another one in Germany by Heyne, and various translations in Europe of these four books. I have had 18 books published by Wildside in print-on-demand format, many of them collections of short stories that I had previously published in mainstream magazines, [they are all available at Amazon, for instance] and I still receive occasional royalties on them. I have *never* used a vanity press and know of no reputable writer who has.) Hayford Peirce 18:52, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
In regard to Mr. Tort's comment, who is "the SRA expert?" Has he published anything in the literature? What are their credentials? He cites two very skeptical books and one article about the SRA phenomenon and that's it. The view in these sources are already contained in the article throughout. Both books mentioned by the "expert" are already listed in the CZ Satanic ritual abuse bibliography. The review Mr. Tort mentioned is only specific to the book itself and would probably be inappropriate to add, without adding positive reviews as well. deYoung's work is already cited in the SRA article itself (see citation 4).
The book "The Satanism scare" was published by Aldine Transaction. Their list of books is not terribly impressive and they are not an academic publisher.
Mr. Tort states "highly hypnotizeable people can easily be made to develop false memories and make unfounded claims." But can they make claims of being abused and tortured? A critique of the plausibility of this is at Planting False Childhood Memories in Children: The Role of Event Plausibility - Kathy Pezdek; Danelle Hodge - Child Development, Vol. 70, No. 4. (Jul. - Aug., 1999), pp. 887-895. Also, “The hypothesis that false memories can easily be implanted in psychotherapy (Lindsay & Read, 1994; Loftus 1993; Loftus & Ketcham, 1994; Ofshe and Watters, 1993, 1994; Yapko, 1994a) seriously overstates the available data. Since no studies have been conducted on suggested effects in psychotherapy per se, the idea of iatrogenic suggestion of false memories remains an untested hypothesis. (Memory, Trauma Treatment, And the Law Brown, Scheflin and Hammond (D. Corydon), 1998, W. W. Norton 0-393-70254-5).
In regard to Mr. Tort's critique of Noblitt mentioning Warnke, note that Noblitt does state on page 50
"Naturally, Warnke and his published opinions have attracted criticism and controversy (eg, Alexander, 1990; Trott & Hertenstein, 1992)." and page 262 cites the article "Selling Satan: The tragic history of Mike Warnke. Cornerstone. 21 (98). (Reprint available from publisher of Cornerstone magazine)."
The only mention of "Taxil" I could find in the Noblitt book was on page 165 "The expression, Palladian, also refers to an allegedly Luciferian- Masonic sect in Charleston, South Carolina which was described by Leo Taxil and later denied by him." The page cited by the self published page of, where Noblitt clearly states that "no original copy exists" and that "the following is from Pike's alleged statement." (Noblitt, p. 136) "Cult and Ritual Abuse" was published by Praeger, a major publishing house. It's reference section is 20 pages long, in small font.
In regard to deYoung's page 5 statement about Noblitt, she in essence misrepresents and belittles Noblitt's work and opinion. In regard to deYoung's comments of Noblitt's discussing "hand signs as cult triggers" in the Keller case, here is what Noblitt really said "He (a TV news reporter) called because he has observed one of the defendants, Mr. Keller, to engage in a brief series of hand movements (not just one as mentioned in de Young) that included what looked like American sign language. Some of these hand signals had been captured on videotape....On camera, I explained how cult triggers are alleged to work and hypothesized that Dan Keller may have been signaling to someone in the court....I retained a copy of the videotape from Austin showing Dan Keller's signaling. The consensus among patients and other therapists who have seen this film is that it is most probably a case of utilizing signaling techniques."(p. 152) In regard to deYoung's mention on p. 194 about nomenclature, Lanning and Lafontaine are also mentioned in the discussion around terminology. deYoung's book was published by McFarland. I could not find one book on psychology in their listings.
Mr. Tort also states "Want a citation about the different names used by the cult nuts?" This shows no respect for the minority opinion and is simply name calling.
The SRA article already fully promotes the majority opinion, while respectfully and briefly mentioning the minority one. Neil Brick 01:20, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Just for clarification, two of the three books mentioned above are already listed in the bibliography. I've added the Noblitt book with a link to the review mentioned and another review I found of it. I don't see any reason not to link to published reviews of any of the books (and every reason to do so; the fact that they've been reviewed academically is evidence that they're taken seriously, even if the reviews are hostile, and linking to the reviews is one way of alerting the reader to the status and reception of the book, in fact the second review is generally positive, if there are others please add them). Personally I'd prefer leaving books on the bibliography page rather than in the article because it is hard to verify their content for citation purposes. "Vanity press should never be cited ever?" - well if the book is reviewed in the academic literature then I think there's a case that we should show it in the bibliography. I agree they shouldn't be cited, and indeed as I've said, think books in general should be cited rarely Gareth Leng 16:52, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I agree -- if a vanity-press book is reviewed in the academic literature, then it certainly can be cited, but perhaps with a caveat. I mean, suppose the whole point of the academic review was to trash and ridicule the book? In any case, I doubt if many vanity-press books turn up in those reviews. Hayford Peirce 17:57, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

(undent) The SRA expert I referred to above has now followed these exchanges and he doesn't mind that I post here his e-mail:

Aldine was purchased by Transaction, which is itself reliable, so that seems like a red herring and a personal opinion with no real merit or substantiation. I can't see a scientific publisher purchasing a non-scientific publisher unless it's some sort of conglomerate that publishes both (Transaction doesn't seem to). Even the Aldine-specific imprints appear to be heavily scientific subjects, not popular. Also, reviewing the contents of the book, all chapters are heavily referenced, and the pages are a veritable who's-who of the satanic ritual abuse allegations - Debbie Nathan, Philip Jenkins, Jeffrey Victor, Joel Best. All excellent authors, and bar Nathan, reputable scholars. Nathan herself co-wrote Satan's Silence and is widely published.
His citation of Pezdek and Hodge is also a red herring - it's about children, not adults, there's no hypnotizability assessment, so it's totally unrelated to the claims made by Mullhern, which is about highly hypnotizable adults in psychotherapy. Children have nothing to do with this. Ceci and Bruck (Jeopardy in the Courtroom, published by the APA, isbn 1557982821) also discuss this, and indicate that yes indeed, there was pretty convincing evidence in 1996 that children could make allegations of torture and abuse using just the kind of interviewing techniques that were used during the SRA panic. They actually review the transcripts of a couple iconic SRA trials (including McMartin I think, but also Kern County, Fern Michaels, and two others, and compared them to an actual murder trial and the Salem witch trials).
Warnke's claims did not attract criticism and controversey, he was shown to be a complete and utter liar, and a liar since a very young age. And the Taxil Hoax, from what I know, was actually deliberate set out to be a hoax by Leo Taxil - he set out to create a fraud for a credulous public, then revealed it for a fraud. Check out this section of the wikipedia page, and page 136 of CARA. It is literally a word-for-word reproduction. I wonder what any of the contributors to Freemasonry on Citizendium would say about this?
As for the footnotes, Joel Best criticizes it for having the "trappings" of a scholarly book (Best, Joel (1996). "Book Review: Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America". Criminal Justice Review 21. doi:10.1177/073401689602100119) and LeRoy Schultz describes it as a very selective review of the literature, ignoring any contradictory citations (Schultz, L (1995). "Book Review: Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America". Issues In Child Abuse Accusations 7 (4) (here). Having a lot of references doesn't make it a book worth citing, particularly when it's hugely biased and ignores all skepticism.
What book is being cited on page 152?
As far as McFarland goes, according to their About Us page, they're a publisher of scholarly and reference books, and a respected one. I can't claim I know this is true, but it could probably be confirmed relatively easily. de Young isn't a psychologist, she's a sociologist. The SRA moral panic is over, so psychology would be inappropriate anyway (though it might fit with popular culture, which they specialize in), and they have an extensive listing of social sciences and education materials, which is how de Young's books are classified. McFarland very well may not publish books on psychology, but that is also a red herring since de Young's book is not about psychology or the psychological aspects of satanic ritual abuse. So that's roughly 0/4. I would still give de Young's book far more weight than Noblitt and Perskin's because a) she's a researcher and professor at a university, rather than a practitioner who has no university posting b) it's four years newer and tailors to the mainstream opinion c) she has an extensive history resarching and publishing in respected journals.

--Cesar Tort 11:55, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

In regard to Mr. Tort's post above, who is this anonymous expert? Do they have any credentials in the field? Have they published anything in the field? What makes them an expert? Noblitt's book does not "ignore" skepticism. If one reads the book, one will clearly see how he analyzes it, at times in detail. The "expert" has obviously not researched Noblitt's credentials. He is a professor and director at a doctoral program in Los Angeles. The IPT website Mr. Tort cites above is not peer reviewed. I have already above critiqued its founders possible motives and accuracy. deYoung's work is incredibly biased. She is already cited in the article and as Mr. Leng states above that books in general should be cited rarely. Noblitt's book has had reviews in both the APA and AJP, with positive statements about the book made in both (which I have cited above). As I have shown, the "expert" makes several large errors above. These errors make me wonder if the "experts" other statements are accurate as well. The SRA page as written clearly emphasizes the majority opinion while briefly and respectfully mentioning the minority one. Neil Brick 16:03, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
The "expert" states "(a)ll excellent authors, and bar Nathan, reputable scholars." This is of course a subjective judgment at best. The correct spelling of "Mullhern" (misspelled by the "expert") is "Mulhern." She is an anthropologist that studies dissociative states. The experts states that Mulhern discusses "highly hypnotizable adults in psychotherapy." The most comprehensive book written to date on the science of memory states - "The hypothesis that false memories can easily be implanted in psychotherapy (Lindsay & Read, 1994; Loftus 1993; Loftus & Ketcham, 1994; Ofshe and Watters, 1993, 1994; Yapko, 1994a) seriously overstates the available data. Since no studies have been conducted on suggested effects in psychotherapy per se, the idea of iatrogenic suggestion of false memories remains an untested hypothesis. (Memory, Trauma Treatment, And the Law Brown, Scheflin and Hammond (D. Corydon), 1998, W. W. Norton 0-393-70254-5)
Other critiques of studies that claim to show that traumatic memories can be produced in therapy come from "Lost in a Shopping Mall"—A Breach of Professional Ethics ETHICS & BEHAVIOR, vol. 9, #1, pp. 39-50 The "lost in a shopping mall" study has been cited to support claims that psychotherapists can implant memories of false autobiographical information of childhood trauma in their patients....An analysis of the mall study shows that beyond the external misrepresentations, internal scientific methodological errors cast doubt on the validity of the claims that have been attributed to the mall study within scholarly and legal arenas. The minimal involvement—or, in some cases, negative impact—of collegial consultation, academic supervision, and peer review throughout the evolution of the mall study are
And here - Pope, K. (1996). "Memory, Abuse, and Science: Questioning Claims About the False Memory Syndrome Epidemic". American Psychologist 51: 957. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.51.9.957. Retrieved on 2008-01-31. “Does the trauma specified in the lost-in-the-mall experiment seem comparable to the trauma forming the basis of false memory syndrome? Loftus (1993) described the implanted traumatic event in the shopping-mall experiment as follows: "Chris was convinced by his older brother Jim, that he had been lost in a shopping mall when he was five years old" (p. 532). Does this seem, for example, a reasonable analogy for a five-year-old girl being repeatedly raped by her father?....Is it possible that the findings are an artifact of this particular design, for example, that the older family member claims to have been present when the event occurred and to have witnessed it, a claim the therapist can never make? here
In regard to the Masons, Noblitt states - "The question of Masonic involvement in dark elements of occultism has been a long standing controversy. Masons have argued that they are unfairly attacked by narrow-minded, ill informed individuals. On the other hand, critiques continue to accuse them of acts of impropriety and abuse."
In regard to Taxil, the "expert" cites a page from wikipedia. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. Fact checking varies and it is definitely not a reliable source of information, see here and here
In regard to a discussion on wikipedia on 4/5/09, Mr. Tort stated "I've never said that the wiki was a reliable source." I would agree, but am wondering why he is using one of their pages to back his argument.
The "expert" states that Warnke "was shown to be a complete and utter liar." The Cornerstone article does admit that "Interestingly, most of Mike’s college friends did dabble in occult activities." Yet Cornerstone is certainly not an academic publisher, nor a peer reviewed journal. One of the authors, has a blog which states "Blue Christian on a Red Background - Jon Trott lives in the Chicago-based community, Jesus People USA. This is his personal "scratch that itch" place objecting to the Evangelical Christian Right and nationalism." I was unable to find any academic qualifications for Trott whatsoever. The co-author of the article attacking Warnke was Mike Hertenstein. He has two web pages linked to Cornerstone about "festivals." I was unable to find any academic or scholarly works attributed to him either.
In regard to the actual story, Warnke replies here "Although Cornerstone Magazine claims to have conducted a full-blown, two-year investigation of me and my ministry, the writer did not contact me until a few days before the publication deadline....We asked for the chance to correct factual errors or unintentional mistakes in the article, while providing assurance that we would no attempt to exercise editorial supervision over the content. Apparently this was not acceptable to Cornerstone, since the magazine went to press with its "expose" without further attempts to interview me or verify any portion of its story with the ministry."
The "expert" conveniently seems to ignore the two reviews about Noblitt's book that make positive statements. He also cites apparently unreliable and nonacademic sources at will as long as they back up his point. The "expert" states Noblitt is not affiliated with a university, yet he is a professor and director at a doctoral program in Los Angeles. The "expert" states that Noblitt's book "ignores all skepticism." Yet Noblitt's book has an entire chapter on skepticism (p. 221- 238). These errors make me wonder if the "expert's" other statements are accurate as well. The SRA page as written clearly emphasizes the majority opinion while briefly and respectfully mentioning the minority one. Neil Brick 03:06, 26 May 2009 (UTC)


Thanks, but I think this is largely an argument we don't need to resolve. We have a bibliography page, it already has a reasonable selection of books, but can accommodate more. I suggest that books can be added to that page without reservation if they have been reviewed in academic journals (or by academics for Newsweek etc.), as long as the review is linked to. Let's not get into content review, give the links, link to reported opinions of the books, and let it be.

It's very clear to me that, on both sides of the dispute in the 1990s, normal standards of civility collapsed: both sides got extremely angry, both degenerated at times into rhetoric, both overused anecdotal claims, both degenerated into personal attacks. Fortunately we now have some distance in time that allows us to see past those factors; we can recognise which views prevailed, whether rightly or wrongly, and that is what matters in determining the "majority opinion" as expressed in the article. We don't need to denigrate either side in an honest argument.Gareth Leng 14:39, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Now that the sound and the fury have calmed...

Is this, perhaps, something that is in the same league as Ormus, although with more refutation -- something where social science and religion editors have reviewed, acknowledged a minority view, and now might move to locking/approval? Is it a good response to a fringe topic? Howard C. Berkowitz 14:29, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Ormus was a piece of nonsense. This article covers an interesting and I think important topic, with a very powerful lesson about media bandwagons. Like Ormus, it is an article about a nonsense theory, but the interest and importance lies in how it came to be believed in the first place, and the very profound consequences of the spread of the myth. Ormus never was taken seriously, and deserves no more space than any iconoclastic notion of no impact. I don't see a need to lock this article, but it might be good to think of approval.Gareth Leng 15:33, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
I think we are in agreement that this is useful, although I'd like to reread it. What would be your thoughts about approving workgroups, which have Editors available? Howard C. Berkowitz 16:17, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism.

A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism.

Past lives

"When people claim to recall past-life experiences, ... as many people have done, it is generally believed that these people have fantasized the entire complex scenarios and later defined them as memories of actual events rather than as imaginings."

Generally believed by whom? Bear in mind that recalling past lives is a long-standing Hindu and Buddhist tradition. Peter Jackson 15:59, 31 October 2011 (UTC)