In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Britain experienced a widely-publicised panic about what was called satanic abuse. This term referred to the belief that groups of satan-worshippers were sexually abusing children in rituals that included human sacrifice, cannibalism, incest and other extreme and orgiastic behaviour. The lecture will consider the origins of the scare, the implications of the way it was promoted and then try to draw some generalised lessons from it. In particular it will argue that such scares are encouraged by an intellectual climate where belief and experience count for more than evidence and reasoning.
Jean La Fontaine was born and went to school in Kenya, but received a B.A. and Ph D. from Cambridge. Her first research was in Uganda, followed later by research in Kinshasa, capital of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and then in Britain.
After ten years being a diplomat's wife, she taught anthropology in London University, retiring early to work free-lance. Subsequent research included a study of incest and a Government funded investigation of allegations concerning allegations of devil worship in England.
Official Website: http://skeptic.org.uk/pub/
Added by tommorris on March 8, 2007