Wednesday, February 1 2017 at 7:30PM
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The Star and Garter
60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY
Prof Chris French
What's the talk about?
NB: This replaces the original talk by Karen Douglas who due to unforeseen circumstances has had to postpone.
In the context of the current huge increase in historical sexual abuse allegations, it is instructive to consider the Satanic panic that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of the beliefs that fuelled that wave of hysteria are not supported by any convincing empirical evidence. This includes the widely accepted notion of repression as well as the alleged link between Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD; now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, DID) and Satanic abuse. The evidence put forward to support the claim that Satanic abuse was real and widespread came from two equally dubious sources: children interrogated using inappropriate highly suggestive questioning and memories ostensibly “recovered” from adults during therapy. There is no physical forensic evidence to support the existence of Satanic ritual abuse. The truth is that victims of sexual abuse are far more likely to remember being abused than to repress such memories.
Professor Chris French is Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as being a Patron of the British Humanist Association. He is a member of the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society. He has published over 150 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims, as well as writing for the Guardian and The Skeptic magazine which, for more than a decade, he also edited. His most recent books are Why Statues Weep: The Best of The Skeptic, co-edited with Wendy Grossman (2010, Philosophy Press), Anomalistic Psychology, co-authored with Nicola Holt, Christine Simmonds-Moore, and David Luke (2012, Palgrave Macmillan), and Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience, co-authored with Anna Stone (2014, Palgrave Macmillan). Follow him on Twitter: @chriscfrench