IPT Book Reviews

Title: Blasphemous Rumors: Is Satanic Ritual Abuse Fact or Fantasy? An Investigation
Author: Andrew Boyd
Publisher: Fount Paperbacks, 1991

Harper San Francisco
Division of Harper Collins
1160 Battery St, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 477-4444
$6.98 (p)

The stated purpose of this book is to raise questions about ritual abuse and help readers make up their own minds as to ritual abuse allegations brought by children in the United Kingdom.  In the first section, the author provides a history of how a myth is made, citing five highly publicized cases: Nottingham, UK; Rochdale, UK; Oude Pekela in the Netherlands; the Hamilton case in Canada; and McMartin in the United States.  Boyd then discusses characteristics of cults and their methods of control, the origin of occult connections and their alleged connection to the Masonic Church and its beliefs, contemporary satanism, and some issues from contemporary magazines about satanism from the UK. He next addresses the problem of legal proof and evidence in different nations. The last chapter includes interviews with both alleged witches and victims.  There is a set of footnotes and an index.

A major limitation in this book is its dependence on newspaper articles and a few selected interviews with so-called "carers"; no parents were interviewed.  Although Boyd claims the book represents an investigation, there is no investigation in any scientific sense.  The book answers no questions and the reader is left hanging. This may be Boyd's main point. We will never know the truth about satanic abuse allegations because there have been no bodies found, no corroborating physical evidence, and no evidence that can stand up in a criminal court. Boyd eventually lets his own values and conclusions emerge. Instead of a balanced account, we are told to believe the children.

This book is not recommended.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, West Virginia University.

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