3. Misleading And Faulty Statistics

In times of mass hysteria, people try to justify gutting due process by claiming the alleged problem — sexual abuse — is widespread and using statistics to back it up. But these statistics are not evidence and often the result of shoddy research or cherry-picked and misrepresented for effect.

Multiple surveys were created during the Satanic Panic. One limited survey conducted by psychologist Richard Peterson, who worked with police during Paul Ingram’s investigation, found about 25% of therapists in Tacoma and Seattle had treated alleged victims of satanic abuse. A survey from the American Psychological Association conducted in 1991 found that 30% of respondents had treated someone alleging ritual abuse, and 93% of those said in a follow-up survey that they believed the claims.

Another social panic, this one about child abductions and occurred around the same time as the Satanic Panic, used a grossly exaggerated figure to suggest children across the country were in danger of being kidnapped. The media and others claimed 50,000 children were abducted a year, when the actual number was around 600 (still frightening, but far from 50,000).