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Customer Review

36 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Reviews of Skeptical Books, March 24, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse And The Making Of A Modern American Witch Hunt (Paperback)
Skeptical books? I mean books like this one that question our culture's holiest beliefs - in the continuing and ever-worsening oppression of victimized classes, the coming environmental doom etc. Most of the reviews tend to be positive; after all, interested persons have purchased the book or are shopping for the book. Their point of view is already formed. Then there are the other reviews - usually giving no stars, usually short and scabrous: "This book is part of a conspiracy to trivialize a very real problem. This book has been discredited. It has shoddy research etc." "Discredited" is a great word - applied not to shoddy research but to research that challenges our sacred beliefs.

To get more specific, negative reviewers of this book and its many cousins miss the point. Nathan and her co-authors are not excusing abuse or dismissing it as a possible occurrence. Nor are they denying that memories can be repressed. They are simply arguing two points:
1. People are innocent until proven guilty. (Right?)
and
2. Memories recovered through hypnosis or by other means are not strong enough evidence to convict an accused "perp." As evidence, they are simply unreliable.

Lots of libertarians are on the internet and obviously are disposed to like books of this kind. Then there are others... the true believers, steeped in ideology and unconcerned about the facts in any specific case. Their only concern is with broader principles - "victims must be protected!"; "abuse is a terrible, growing problem!" These principles are fine, but they should not be brought to bear upon the process of determining guilt or innocence. This process should retain its clear focus on evidence and facts. That is the essence of Nathan's argument, as well as those of Ofshe, Terence Campbell, Willard Gaylin and Dorothy Rabinowitz.
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