Friday, August 27, 2004

Freedom of thought infringement of the day

This is ominous.

A woman whose claims of recovered memories of abuse (read: as reliable as "rebirthing") were critically examined by a U. Washington researcher in an academic journal has sued the researcher. So much for academic freedom.

The researcher is Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., a psychologist who defends people wrongly accused of sexual abuse. The recovered memories concept fits hand in glove with the notion that children bury their memories of sexual abuse, have trouble later on and then find out through memory recovery techniques that the problems trace back to being abused.

But as LA Weekly notes: What drives Loftus is not, as her detractors believe, a perverted desire to keep sexual predators free to wreak havoc on young innocents, but rather a passionate belief that, during social hysterias, the presumption of innocence becomes subsumed under a tidal wave of lock-’em-all-up-and-throw-away-the-key rhetoric.

Indeed, that lynch-mob mentality has led to no less than three notably awful miscarriages of justice: Gerald Amirault and family, the LA prosecutions in the mid-1980s and the prosecution of the day care center owner in New Jersey in the late 1980s. Now, the Jane Doe lawsuit referenced in the title link essentially would allow (alleged) victims to sue contrary experts for having OPINIONS that dispute the victim's claims.

It would be a pernicious outcome if Loftus loses.

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