Crime, Moral Panic, and the Occult

Authored by: Jeffrey S. Victor

The Occult World

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415695961
eBook ISBN: 9781315745916
Adobe ISBN: 9781317596769


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This chapter offers readers a way of understanding how false accusations of crime may be attributed to people who hold socially unpopular religious beliefs, such as those associated with ‘the occult.’ (In the United States, examples include Spiritualists, Pagans, Satanists, and Santerians.) The chapter first presents an explanation of the unusual social phenomenon of a moral panic. Then, it offers research findings about the satanic cult moral panic, as an example of a recent worldwide moral panic. The chapter presents a summary of false clues, ‘red herrings,’ which can mislead criminal investigators during a moral panic, resulting in convictions of innocent people. It explains how innocent people can easily be convicted of horrendous crimes, such as incest, child abuse, and murder. Finally, the chapter offers an application to the famous case of the West Memphis Three.

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