Skeptic Magazine: rots from the head


Hoo boy, but the influence of its malignant editor is making itself felt this month with some utterly terrible articles. One is from Carol Tavris, which is incredibly disappointing — her talks were always a highlight at the old Amazing Meeting — but now she has decided that the #metoo movement is a “moralistic crusade” with bad consequences. To make that argument, she has to resort to the false dichotomy fallacy.

Whenever a movement is fueled by rage and revenge, it is more important than ever to tolerate complexity and ask questions that evoke dissonance. We can all imagine the ways in which “Me, too” might benefit women, but how might it backfire? Because it will. Moralistic crusades to censor “sexist” pornography, for example, led to suppression of lesbian books, sex-ed books, and plain old sexypleasure books that someone thought offensive. What might be the consequences of a moralistic crusade to root out any behavior that might be misconstrued—now, next week, in 10 years—including affectionate touches, supportive hugs, jokes? Do professional women really want a Mike Pence world where they cannot have a business dinner or go to a party without a chaperone? When feminists find themselves in bed with right-wing puritans, they are going to get screwed.

Hear that ladies? Quit complaining about the butt pats and the groping and the sexual demands to advance your career, or next thing you know it’s going to be Mike Pence ruling over the Republic of Gilead! Which would you prefer, a few Harvey Weinsteins going berserk in Hollywood, or Cotton Mather convening some new witch trials?

You know, #metoo isn’t about Puritans demanding all sex be suppressed. It’s about ordinary women demanding some professional respect and human dignity. There is a difference, and most of us can see it fairly clearly.

Also, Mike Pence is a poor example of a guy who will end all public displays of prurience. He’s the happy enabler of the Groper in Chief. He represents the status quo, the perpetuation of male sexual privilege in the workplace. I don’t think most of the #metoo women are anticipating jumping into bed with Pence.

If you want a lot more — I mean, a lot more — criticism of the Tavris piece, HJ Hornbeck has a multi-part beat-down. I’m just kind of appalled at the ongoing corruption of everyone associated with Michael Shermer.

But holy hell, the Tavris piece isn’t even the worst thing published! They’ve published a defense of Jerry Sandusky! Look, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. He’s a convicted pedophile. The prosecution brought in a long train of witnesses and evidence of criminal behavior spanning at least 15 years and 10 victims, and this case found him guilty in a community that was full of fanatical Paterno/Sandusky defenders. Anyone remember the riots and protests when the Paterno empire fell? You can’t have a witch hunt when the targets are regarded as holy saints — the evidence was just so overwhelming and undeniable that even angels by repute could be defrocked at last.

The article in question tries to argue that a) it was a conspiracy theory, with all these people conniving to railroad a beloved family man (wait, why?) and b) and then goes through each of the witnesses, disparaging their testimony and wondering why these boys would maintain an outwardly cordial relationship with an abuser. That never happens! There’s no such thing as a nurtured dependency or fear of reprisal. It sounds exactly like the smears made against the women who finally spoke out against Harvey Weinstein: all you have to do is find a photo of the woman smiling in Weinstein’s presence, and obviously she must have been lying about his abusive behavior.

The most shameful part of a shameful article is how it ends: with a picture of Bo, the beloved family dog. Bo died while Sandusky is in prison. Free Jerry so he can mourn for this lovely innocent dog!

I fwowed up. Fucking professional Skeptics™.

But then, lately, that’s all I can do when the stench of Shermer’s magazine wafts my way.

Comments

  1. says

    That’s really bizarre. The evidence against Sandusky was beyond overwhelming. Hell, Bob Costas essentially got him to confess on national TV. There were eyewitnesses in addition to the numerous victims who testified. Sandusky kept a list of boys who participated in his “charity” in which he rated them, and used it as a shopping list. What earthly reason would anyone have for trying to defend him? That’s just insane.

  2. says

    There will never be an end to “boys will be boys” and “eh, it’s a guy thing.” There’s always someone, somewhere, who will attempt to make that case.

  3. says

    There is a reason for defending him: to justify the claim that ALL ACCUSERS are liars. It’s a very useful concept when you’ve been accused.

  4. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    and then goes through each of the witnesses, disparaging their testimony and wondering why these boys would maintain an outwardly cordial relationship with an abuser.

    Another part of that, beyond “nurtured dependency or fear of reprisal”, is the gaslighting. This idea that, well, this is the way the world is, I have to live with it. And beyond fear of reprisal there is also fear of others finding out what I have done. I don’t fear reprisals anymore. I do fear being looked at differently if people know I’m a survivor.

    Defending Sandusky. Shit. So, despite all these claims, over many years, that if no one calls the police, if there are no charges, if there is no conviction, it never happened, are just bullshit privilege?

    Maybe there really is a Slymepit wing of atheism? No, I don’t mean that anyone associated with that forum is involved, but just this idea that hyper-skepticism always applies unequally — those with power get the benefits of skepticism (well, how can we be 100% sure that he raped ten kids over 15 years) and those without power get the abuse of skepticism (well, over the past five years, what you claim to remember has changed so none of it is true; you can’t remember if this happened in June or July so none of it is true). Caine and I have both seen that. Just not quite in so wonderful a publication.

    It also (as I write this) strikes me that the attack on the #metoo movement and the defense of Sandusky are continuations of the same theme. Men (and right-thinking women) with power should benefit from skepticism and those without power, or with less power, should be abused by skepticism. And both articles rely on the opposite sides of the same coin — if we do not know every detail, every word that was said, if anyone changed even one word in the description of what happened, if there were times when abuse or assault or harassment was not happening even though the perpetrator and the victim were together, then the truly skeptical thing to do is to assume it never happened.

    (sorry for going on and on and on.)

  5. Hj Hornbeck says

    What enrages me the most is this:

    “If potential readers are convinced that Jerry Sandusky is guilty, they need to read The Most Hated Man in America. This meticulously researched, provocative, and wonderfully written book by Mark Pendergrast, an enormously important contributor to the repressed memory debate, will certainly make them see another side. Maybe they will think twice.”
    —ELIZABETH LOFTUS, Distinguished Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, author, The Myth of Repressed Memory and other books.

    Loftus is a famous academic with a substantial number of awards to her name. I’ve long since written off Shermer, but what’s she doing here?

  6. says

    Ogvorbis:

    Caine and I have both seen that.

    Yep. There’s also this: if you speak up about what happened to you, but you don’t sit down to write a thesis length explanation of every single action, reaction, delayed reaction, and the minutiae of every instance of behaviour on your part, then you’re a lying liar, because why did you do this or not do that, and so on.

    Sexual abuse has complex effects, and it should not be encumbent on those victimised to account for every tiny thing, in order to satisfy an interlocutor who is bent on being hyperskeptical.

  7. says

    Soon they’ll be skeptical whether rape is really such a bad thing and maybe racism is just a legitimate difference of opinion. Skeptics gotta “both sides” ya kno?

  8. liberalpersuasion says

    I read Carol Tavris’ article and agreed with her completely. I certainly didn’t come away with the spin you placed on it PZ. As for the article concerning Sandusky, I haven’t read it, and I believe him to be clearly guilty.

  9. says

    It’s amazing how people cannot imagine a world in which men and women and everybody else treat each other as professionals, as equals, as friends and not as bad reruns of Harry and Sally. Almost as if that is telling you more about them and not about the actual world.

    +++

    wondering why these boys would maintain an outwardly cordial relationship with an abuser. That never happens!

    My mother was abusive (though not sexually) and an alcoholic. When my sister and me finally decided that we would no longer play happy family everybody was surprised and not little scorn was heaped on us for destroying everybody’s comfortable image.

    liberalpersuasion
    So, you agree that women (and others) saying “we don’t want people to grab us without our consent or talk about whether they believe we’Re a good fuck or not is equal to banning lesbian porn and installing Pence-like rules of behaviour?

  10. says

    BTW, I still love my mother, and since she’s dry I also visit her once a week and we’re having a mostly pleasant relationship. None of this means that the abuse that really fucked me up never happened. It means that I have found a way to somewhat heal.

  11. says

    There were no claims of repressed memory by any of Sandusky’s accusers. They didn’t speak up because they didn’t think they would be believed — and some of them did, and they were not believed. The police had more than one complaint that they didn’t act on. I don’t remember the specifics, it’s been a while, but that is definitely part of the story.

  12. Rowan vet-tech says

    @8 liberalpersuasion

    Nope. Just read the whole thing. There was a hearty dose in the middle of ‘why no cookies for people who aren’t awful’ and yes indeed victim blaming (NOT grown up feminism) because maybe the woman who went with someone she didn’t entirely trust felt even less safe trying to get away from him? What was that about nuance again?

    But the goals of “me, too” seem eerily non-political, other than “bring down the patriarchy and by the way let me tell you about me.”

    Yeah, this section here, fucking misses the entire point of me, too. Because it’s not to tell you about me with an emphasis on *me*. It’s to add yet another voice to this enormous pile, to show just how much of a problem there still exists with sexism and sexual assault in this country.

    And the reason for her bringing this up is shown clearly in the last quote in the article.

    It does mean that we should be wary of believing every case of ‘me too’.

    That is straight up “B*****s be lyin, yo.”

  13. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    cervantes:

    Sorry. I was not trying to imply that repressed memories had anything to do with the Sandusky case. I do know that one of the things that showed up, during the trial, in the Op/Ed letters where I am was the idea that if the stories of the survivors changed one iota, that showed they could not be trusted on the stand. Which also happens frequently in rape trials and investigations.

  14. Hj Hornbeck says

    liberalpersuasion @8:

    I read Carol Tavris’ article and agreed with her completely. I certainly didn’t come away with the spin you placed on it PZ.

    Have a go with my blog post then, where I attempt a fisk of Tavris’ article and cite my sources. PZ linked to the last of the trilogy (here’s the start), but skimming that last one is a quick way to get my gist.

  15. says

    What I’d like to know from people like Carol Travis or liberalpersuasionis which ones of the #metoo stories represent innocent and benign interactions that we are at risk of losing and whether the loss of these things is really worse than protection from sexual harassment.
    To give you an example: I like hugs. I’m generally fine with them and in my personal experience they have really been used by someone to feel me up. I also hug some colleagues.
    But not everybody does like hugs, especially in the workplace, especially not when creeps use them to grope people. So I am completely fine with banning hugs from a work environment despite me generally liking them for the benefit of a workplace that is safe. Is that so terrible?

  16. says

    I used to subscribe to Skeptic back in the day. They still send me ads in a mail–a periodic reminder of how poorly I think of them now.

    My understanding of Skeptic magazine is that it was like the slicker counterpart to the more stodgy skeptical publications such as Skeptical Inquirer. If you’ve ever seen these older publications, they tend to be very dry and boring. Skeptic, by contrast was far more accessible, and willing to discuss serious points of contention among skeptics, including social and political issues, rather than quibbling over something like UFOs.

    I used to want skeptics to address issues of social significance, but it turns out they didn’t have anything productive to say.

  17. Scott Simmons says

    Nueces County (TX) sherriff Jim Nueces announced last month that he would no longer be hugging his employees and co-workers due to the possibility of misconstrual, saying it was sad but necessary.

    One DFW radio personality responded something like, “I guarantee you, for every person in his office who’s disappointed by this, there are at least ten who read that and said, ‘Oh, thank God’. “

  18. anbheal says

    Oh sweet holy suffering saints and martyrs, didja catch Shermer’s latest in this month’s SciAm? He seemingly is incapable of not inserting three or four grafs into every piece about how liberals are just as anti-science as conservatives, because, um, GMOs and some California soccer moms (almost certainly not liberals, just because they’ve gone to one gay wedding and drive a Prius) being anti-vax. And then evo-psych. And then 500 words of his actual point, which is only rarely about skepticism. I can’t believe they still employ the twit. He’s almost indistinguishable from Ben Stein these days.

  19. says

    Read John Horgan’s column instead. He seems to be getting targeted by the best enemies.

    In principle, evolutionary psychology, which seeks to understand our behavior in light of the fact that we are products of natural selection, can give us deep insights into ourselves. In practice, the field often reinforces insidious prejudices. That was the theme of my recent column “Darwin Was Sexist, and So Are Many Modern Scientists.”

    The column provoked such intense pushback that I decided to write this follow-up post. Alt-right pundit Steve Sailer described my column as “science denialism.” Psychologist Jordan Peterson deplored “the descent of Scientific American.” Scientific American columnist Michael Shermer called me the “PC police of the [Scientific American] web site.”

    Political scientist Charles Murray complained that Scientific American “has been adamantly PC since before PC was a thing,” which as someone who began writing for the magazine in 1986 I take as a compliment.

    Sailer, Peterson, Shermer, and Murray? Good work raising the ire of the worst.

  20. Pablo Campos says

    Micheal Shermer destroys everything he touches so I know he’s off the list. But Carol Tavris? I’ve read a few of her books like ‘The Mismeasure Of Woman’ which was a great read. I guess it’s the magazine that’s rotting brains. As for the magazines defending a child abuser, I’m speechless. @18. Yeah, Shermer refuses to let of that myth. Rebecca Watson and Chris Mooney have conclusively proven that conservatives and libertarians (the irony is rich as Shermer himself is a libertarian) are more anti- science than liberals, generally speaking.

  21. unclefrogy says

    let me get this straight, we should not try to correct a real problem for fear of a backlash that would also be a major problem?
    I can understand the fear of a backlash, it does imply a profound distrust of people, but could we not wait until what ever backlash or extreme surfaces before we try and correct it by not correcting the original problem? You know I’m still waiting for the emergence real reverse discrimination or wide spread anti-white discrimination.
    uncle frogy

  22. jrkrideau says

    @ 4 Ogvorbis

    Loftus is a famous academic…what’s she doing here?

    Well we probably need to read the book or at least read what Loftus and Richard Leo, whom I’ve never heard of, have to say. Assuming the accuracy of Pendergast’s account, the case has red flags waving all over it. Pendergast’s statements about McQueary’s shifting statements and Aaron Fisher story scream false memory syndrome.

    And so they sent him upstairs to the psychotherapist Mike Gillum, who was, in all respects except the name, a recovered memory psychologist.

    and this even more damning statement:

    under the watchful eye of Mike Gillum. The latter, noting Aaron’s nervousness in his company, classified him at once as a survivor of molestation. Gillum began spending many hours each day with the boy and making himself available by phone around the clock. He told Aaron that he would help and protect him until the memory of abuse could be safely expressed.

    Christ on a crutch, classic false memory technique!

    I don’t know enough about the case to have any idea how the charges break down but the Gillum involvement puts Aaron Fisher’s account in very serious doubt. This does not mean than there was no other evidence against Sandusky but I’d not put any faith in Fisher’s “final” story. [1]

    Damn Freud and his bogus repressed memeory syndrome. “The evil that men do lives after them.”

    @ 13 Orvorbis

    if the stories of the survivors changed one iota, that showed they could not be trusted on the stand.

    Yes, this is a standard feature of sexual assault trials. It indicates that the legal system and most police forces are only about 100 years or so behind the science. This ignorance seems to let a lot of scum get off.

    If we had the same thing happening in medical malpractice trials we would have doctors convicted of negligence because they had not bled the patient nor applied Canadian leaches in a timely fashion.

    1. For people who do not follow some of the false memory literature, this does not mean that I think that Aaron Fisher is lying or acting in bad faith.

  23. markpendergrast says

    I am Mark Pendergrast, the author of the book, THE MOST HATED MAN IN AMERICA: JERRY SANDUSKY AND THE RUSH TO JUDGMENT (Sunbury Press, 2017). I suggest that all of you, starting with Mr. Myers, actually read the book, from cover to cover, to see what it says. It is well-researched. No one disputes the facts presented. I concluded that Jerry Sandusky is probably innocent, but of course readers should form their own conclusions. What no one should do is to draw conclusions without actually reading the book. But perhaps that is too much to expect from people who seem to have already made up their minds — why bother reading the book that you’re so unhappy with?

  24. Hj Hornbeck says

    jrkrideau @22:

    Let’s see if I have the timeline correct.

    1983: Accusations are made of rampant Satanic sexual abuse at the McMartin preschool in California.
    1987: Trials begin. After originally arresting seven people, five are released. Recovered memories play a critical part of the trial.
    1990: After nine weeks of jury deliberations, one of the remaining defendants was cleared of all charges, while the other was convicted of 13 out of 65 counts but released on time served (they’d been arrested five years prior). The McMartin preschool trial had become the most expensive and most publicised in US history, so its collapse led to a lot of soul-searching within the media. Said media coverage was important both for popularizing recovered memories and for exposing how easily recovered memories could be fabricated.

    2011: Jerry Sandusky was indicted on 52 counts of child molestation.
    2012: Sandusky’s trial begins on 48 of the initial 52 counts. Apparently, his lawyers never bring up recovered memory fabrication, despite the McMartin preschool trial establishing that it could be applicable.
    2012: Eleven days after the trial begins, and after one day of deliberations, the jury convicts Sandusky of 42 counts.
    2016: Mark Pendergrast goes public with his allegations that repressed memories played an important role in convicting Sandusky.
    2017: Pendergrast publishes his book on Sandusky.
    2018: So far, Sandusky’s lawyers have made no attempt to call for another trial.

    It’s highly likely Pendergrast is a crank. There are only two reasons I haven’t laughed off this story, and they’re “Elizabeth” and “Loftus.” Has she gone the way of Carol Tavris, and mistaken the denials and shifting details common with abuse victims as signs of repressed memories? Or are Sandusky’s lawyers so wildly incompetent that they continue to refuse bringing up the “recovered memories” line?

  25. Hj Hornbeck says

    markpendergrast @23:

    Oh hey, fancy meeting you here! I’ve got two questions for you:

    1. Was the research on repressed memories brought up during Sandusky’s 2012 trial?
    2. What did Jerry Sandusky’s lawyers tell you when you presented them with this evidence?

  26. chigau (違う) says

    markpendergrast #23
    I’d rather read the source material.
    That way I could draw my own conclusions.

  27. Hj Hornbeck says

    Dang, looks like I’m a bit behind the times. I had no idea Sandusky’s been through the appeals process late last year, for instance.

    Sandusky’s appeal attorneys are arguing that he received ineffective counsel before, during and after his 2012 trial, where the former Penn State football assistant coach and founder of the Second Mile charity for at-risk youth was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. […] Among the issues they are arguing is that Sandusky’s trial attorneys did not call an expert on the potential use of repressed memory therapy, a disputed and controversial concept in the field of psychology, by some of Sandusky’s victims to recall instances of abuse. […]

    Elizabeth Loftus, a professor of psychology and law at the University of California-Irvine and an expert who has written extensively about human memory and its malleability, testified by phone from California. Loftus said her research has found individuals exposed to misinformation after an event can have memories contaminated, and that entirely false memories of events that never happened can be planted.

    “There is no credible scientific support for this theory of massive repression,” she said. Loftus said people can be reminded of a memory they have not thought of in a long time but there is no scientific evidence that memories are walled off and blocked from a person’s consciousness. She authored a report at the request of Sandusky’s attorneys after reviewing excerpts of witness interviews and testimony.

    “It seems pretty evident there were dramatic changes in the testimony of some of the accusers,” she said, adding that in the time between when their stories had changed some had begun psychotherapy and another had been subject to possibly suggestive questioning by police. Loftus noted Victim 7’s report that his therapist suggested he had repressed memories, and that in an interview with Victim 4, police seemed to tell him what other witnesses had reported.

    “One of the major reasons someone’s testimony changes is because they have been exposed to suggestive information that caused a change in their memory,” Loftus said.

    Dang, suddenly that sounds a lot more plausible. Certainly, had Victim 7 undergone repressed memory therapy, we’d have good reason to doubt the event happened in the first place.

    The man identified as Victim 7 at Sandusky’s trial testified on Thursday that he did not undergo repressed memory therapy, but that counseling and psychotherapy helped him to confront memories of abuse. “I would say I already had that door opened,” he said. “[Therapy] helped me open it a little bit further, peer a little bit deeper inside.”

    Oh. Well, so much for that. Ultimately, the judge rejected the appeal.

    The judge said the bulk of Sandusky’s claims lacked merit.

    “Those that remain, whether they fail for want of prejudice or because (trial defense attorney Joe) Amendola’s actions or failure to act were informed by a reasonable strategy, do not combine to call into question the overall effectiveness of the defense counsel provided or the legitimacy of the verdict,” Foradora concluded.

    Again, it’s worth pointing out that repressed memories had a long trial history before this, first as valued evidence, then later as discredited evidence once scientists like Loftus and Tavris weighed in. The judge has a lot to work with, and ultimately thought all the arguments that the new lawyers brought forth, including those related to repressed memories, failed to be enough for another trial.

  28. says

    Holy shit, can you imagine liking footballs enough to pen an entire book defending a convicted child rapist? I wish I liked anything in the universe that much. I could, like, join a fandom.

  29. John Morales says

    markpendergrast:

    I suggest that all of you, starting with Mr. Myers, actually read the book, from cover to cover, to see what it says.

    I presume I have to spend money in order to read the book so as to form an opinion about how the book compares with other information. Or is this book available for free?

    (You have at least some cred with me; most people would have written “I would suggest…”. Kudos for that)

    No one disputes the facts presented [in the book].

    Not without spending money to read the facts presented, anyway. Anything else would be mere hearsay, no?

    (You could vastly embarrass me by pointing to a free version of the book, of course — I might even check it out!)

  30. pita says

    “What might be the consequences of a moralistic crusade to root out any behavior that might be misconstrued—now, next week, in 10 years—including affectionate touches, supportive hugs, jokes?”

    Uh…. wouldn’t the consequences of that be that people stop making unsolicited touches and hugs and stop making sexist jokes? Where’s the problem with that exactly?

  31. colinday says

    Slightly off topic, but the Claire Berlinski cited by Tavris is the daughter of David Berlinski. I didn’t know how to post that to Reprobate Spreadsheet.

  32. JP says

    Who hugs in the workplace anyway? I mean, my advisor gave me a hug when he visited me at the psych ward once, and we side-hugged once after a long night of drinking in Warsaw.

    And sure, is grad students were chummy and affectionate with each other, but not with our students, and generally not actually in the Modern Language Building.

  33. says

    Mark Pendergrast: You wrote, “I suggest that all of you, starting with Mr. Myers, actually read the book, from cover to cover, to see what it says.” I would like to call your attention to a Skeptic article that defends the (factually flawed) gender studies “hoax” published last year. (Not sure if you’re familiar with this “hoax”; it got a lot of attention.) The article explicitly states that one does not need to know about genders studies (in this case) to make strong claims about whether the entire field is an intellectual scam. So, using Skeptic magazine’s logic, neither Dr. Myers nor any other person on this blog needs to actually read your book to form a strong opinion about it. According to Skeptic, you do not need to actually know about X to dismiss X as nonsense rubbish. https://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/reply-to-10-popular-criticisms-of-conceptual-penis-hoax-in-cogent-social-sciences/

  34. Hj Hornbeck says

    colinday @31:

    Slightly off topic, but the Claire Berlinski cited by Tavris is the daughter of David Berlinski. I didn’t know how to post that to Reprobate Spreadsheet.

    I have a comment section, it’s just well hidden. The family connection is interesting trivia, but I don’t think it’s terribly relevant to my post.

  35. jrkrideau says

    @ 27 Hj Hornbeck

    The man identified as Victim 7 at Sandusky’s trial testified on Thursday that he did not undergo repressed memory therapy, but that counseling and psychotherapy helped him to confront memories of abuse.

    “[Therapy] helped me open it a little bit further, peer a little bit deeper inside.”

    Duh, that is not repressed memory therapy? Sounds classic to me. Assuming Victim 7 is not a trained psychotherapist, he is unlikely to even recognize what repressed memory therapy is.

    I don’t really know anything about the case; the judge may well have made the correct decision based on the evidence before him but the Aaron Fisher testimony and that of Victim 7, if they are not the same person, do not reassure me.

    As I mentioned to Orvrobis, the legal system and most police forces are only about 100 years or so behind the science.

    Mark Pendergrast ( I apologize for misspelling your name earlier Mr Pendergrast) has published at least three books on Repressed Memories so there is a good chance he knows something about the issue.

    And from your time-line post at 24

    Said media coverage was important both for popularizing recovered memories and for exposing how easily recovered memories could be fabricated.

    I am not sure that it really has exposed how easily recovered memories can be fabricated. It helped but I don’t think it really showed how wide spread the problem of recovered memories and false memory is.

    I love the study Loftus and associates did where they convinced university students that they had met Bugs Bunny at Disneyland (Disneyworld?). Lovers of classical cartoons will understand the problem.

  36. jrkrideau says

    @ 29 John Morales

    I presume I have to spend money in order to read the book
    I am not sure where you live but in most places in the world there are things called “public libraries”. Some are better than others.

    Admittedly my local public library and the local university library do not have copies of the book though they do have copies of other books he has written. In a case like this I usually resort to an inter-library loan request and usually the book shows up. I have a lovely copy of Rachel Laudan’s Cuisine & Empire sitting on the desk at the moment, on loan from the Burlington (Canada) Public Library.

  37. says

    Mark Pendergrast ( I apologize for misspelling your name earlier Mr Pendergrast) has published at least three books on Repressed Memories so there is a good chance he knows something about the issue.

    Deepak Chopra has published at least three books about quantum phenomena.

  38. billyjoe says

    The kindle version of the book costs just over $8 (aus).
    I haven’t read the book so I won’t comment on its contents. I also won’t comment on the review of the book because I haven’t read the book. The review is clearly one-sided, so obviously the reviewer was convinced by the book’s contents. I would have to read the book first to see if I think the one-sided review is justified.
    I mean, if there WAS a gross miscarriage of justice, I’d be embarrassed to have written a hasty negative response to something I hadn’t bothered to look into first. That doesn’t sound like a sceptical approach.

  39. gijoel says

    Hey Mark Pendergrast, do you think MKULTRA planted false memories of Jerry sodomizing a 10 year old boy in the locker room in Mike McQueary’s brain, in order to facilitate the Rand corporation’s take-over of college football? Or is that claim like your book, complete and utter bullshit.

  40. billyjoe says

    Hey, gijoel, just to prove you’ve read the book you’re criticising, would you please quote me the first sentence in chapter 10. Thanks ;)

  41. KG says

    Hey billyjoe, how dare you be sceptical of Scientology* without having read the complete works of L. Ron Hubbard?

    *Admittedly, I’m making an assumption here. If in fact you are not sceptical of Scientology, nothing you say is worth taking any notice of anyway.

  42. says

    Ah, the New Skepticism: you can’t express skepticism about the extraordinary claims presented by someone with no expertise in a non-peer-reviewed publication until you’ve paid them. I’m sure Answers in Genesis is thrilled about this new standard and audience.

  43. porlob says

    This defense of Sandusky should be a death knell of the “skeptical community,” at least in this form. It won’t be, becuase this is just the latest shit sandwich.

    I feel like the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandals were among the factors that really allowed the atheist/skeptical community to coalesce. “An organization that protects child rapists should wither away and die,” they (we!) said. “If you cover for another motherfucker who’s a kiddie fucker / Fuck you, you’re no better than the motherfucking rapist,” went the lyrics of Tim Minchin’s wildly popular “Pope Song.”

    And now, here we are. Just like the Catholic Church they used to criticize, this community has become far more interested in protecting its power structure than making a positive impact on the world.

  44. Vivec says

    I’ve conclusively disproven gravity, but you so called “skeptics” can’t argue with me until you buy the 300$ pamphlet I’ve written on the matter on Amazon.

  45. Vivec says

    Also, what SC said. One the like, primary goals of therapy is to give you encouragement and the means to address things that happened to you.

    Someone who is raped as a kid isn’t going to have the experience or even necessarily the vocabulary to address the rape, and having a therapist can seriously help sort things out and put a name to it.

  46. KG says

    Hey, KG, nice false analogy you got going there – billyjoe@42

    I’m sceptical of your claim that the analogy is a false one – because you have provided no justification for saying it is. Since you appear a little… limited in your ability to grasp analogies, I’ll explain. Your original comment assumes that one cannot justifiably dismiss a book’s thesis without reading it. This is not in general the case, as my example shows. If you want to be taken seriously in your evident belief that in this case it is not justifiable so to dismiss a book arguing for Sandusky’s innocence, you need to argue the point. But a closer analogy, if you want one, would be David Irving’s Hitler’s War, in which he claims that Hitler did not know about the Holocaust.

  47. Hj Hornbeck says

    jrkrideau @35:

    Duh, that is not repressed memory therapy? Sounds classic to me.

    It didn’t sound that way to the judge at Sandusky’s latest hearing, despite having an expert on repressed memory therapy give testimony.

    I am not sure that it really has exposed how easily recovered memories can be fabricated.

    They made TV movies about it, staring James Woods. Ten years after the events, newspapers were publishing legthy obituaries of the obituaries. People Magazine ran a front-page story called The McMartin Nightmare.

    I think it’s been pretty heavily exposed. Not that it matters; legal precedent is more important, and that was established as of 1990.

  48. jrkrideau says

    @ 49 Hj Hornbeck

    It didn’t sound that way to the judge at Sandusky’s latest hearing, despite having an expert on repressed memory therapy give testimony.

    Well, I am perfectly willing to accept that the judge made a correct decision based on the evidence before him but judges are not usually distinguished by their knowledge of the behavioural sciences.

    Intuitively, most people find it hard to credit that it is possible to implant false memories in a person (It could never happen to me!). The same thinking applies to the idea that no one would ever confess to a crime that they did not commit.

    I just don’t anything about the case. It was in another country and seemed concerned with some sport I have no interest in. However, given Mark Pendergrast’s description, I cannot put any trust in Aaron Fisher’s testimony.

  49. gijoel says

    Hey billyjoe I ain’t reading shit and I’m sure as hell not spending money to enrich a wingnut. Mark Pendergast’s reaction to criticism has consistently been, ‘read my book’. If he’s got a point to make, he can damn well summarise it like every other author.

    From what I’ve seen Pendergast’s claim is that the children that testified against Sandusky had false memories of the incident. The point I was sarcastically making was there were other eye witnesses who were not children.

  50. Hj Hornbeck says

    jrkrideau @51:

    I just don’t [know] anything about the case.

    You might want to educate yourself, then: Judge John Henry Foradora’s opinion from October 2017 is available online. I’ll give you a head start, here’s part of the section on repressed memories:

    Although he was denied access to the victims’ psychological records, Sandusky was permitted to call witnesses to explore whether the victims had undergone repressed memory therapy prior to trial, and he did explore that subject with Dustin Struble (“Struble”), Michael Gillum, Aaron Fisher, Brett Houtz, and Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, none of whom affirmed the defendant’s hypothesis.

    During his direct testimony, Gillum, Fisher’s treating therapist, plainly and credibly stated, “I don’t deal with repressed memory [and] I don’t work with anyone who claims to have repressed memories or anything along those lines.” (PCRA, 03/24/2017, p. 159). He further articulated his negative assessment of repressed memory therapy and why he did not engage in it. (Id. at 164-165). While Struble acknowledged that he and his therapist had discussed methods of unearthing repressed memories, moreover, he stated definitively that he had not undergone that type of therapy prior to the defendant’s trial. (Id., 05/11/2017, p. 20).

    Dr. Loftus had a different opinion based on “impressions” from Gillum’s book, statements Struble made two years after the trial, and the fact that the victims whose excerpted trial testimony she reviewed did not give consistent stories to the police, the grand jury, and the trial jury. (Id. at 71-90). Having been rendered after an uncritical review of an absurdly incomplete record carefully dissected to include only pieces of information tending to support Sandusky’s repressed memory theory, however, that opinion was entirely ineffective to rebut Gillum’s and Struble’s definitive denials.

  51. colinday says

    Hj Hornbeck
    #34

    I’ve commented before (see the emacs post approx 91). I just couldn’t find my way back. As for the Claire Berlinski comment, the name “Berlinski” jumped out at me.

  52. billyjoe says

    KG and gijoel,

    Perhaps it’s just our differences in familiarity of the case.

    I do not live in the USA, and had never heard of the case till I read the review of Pendergrast’s book by Crews. Also, in Australia where I reside, there was the famous case of “Azaria Chamberlain”. The mother of Azaria was found guilty of murdering her and almost everyone in Australia agreed including pretty well every media outlet. After some years in prison, evidence emerged that completely exonerated her. Her child was taken by a dingo.

    I am reading the book for my own interest, whilst also reading other opinions online. My early opinion is that, at the very least, Pendergrast is far too emotionally involved. This is likely to have affected what he put into the book and what he left out. And it is far too easy to slant facts in a particular direction once you are emotionally involved. In other words, I may end up agreeing with you. It may be just that our starting points are different as I described above.

    Cheers.
    (PS For ne the analogy was false, because I do know a lot about Scientology, but I knew zero about Sandusky until I came across that review)

  53. KG says

    However, given Mark Pendergrast’s description, I cannot put any trust in Aaron Fisher’s testimony. – jrkrideau@51

    Yet oddly enough, knowing almost nothing about the case, you do put trust in Pendergrast’s description.

    For ne the analogy was false, because I do know a lot about Scientology, but I knew zero about Sandusky until I came across that review – billyjoe@55

    It’s simply bizarre that you think that could invalidate the analogy – and you didn’t mention this in claiming it was false @42. IOW, I think you’re now realising Pendergrast’s book is crap, and are trying to resile from your stance without admitting you were wrong.

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