Religious Tolerance logo

Therapeutic and other hoaxes

10 current hoaxes -- At least, we think
they are hoaxes. Only time will really tell.

Sponsored link.

Some of the belief and therapy systems that we suspect to be hoaxes (or partial hoaxes) are listed below. Please read our disclaimer before going further:

  1. Satanic Ritual Abuse: (SRA) A book, Michelle Remembers triggered a full-fledged Satanic panic in 1980. It and subsequent books of its genre have been shown to be hoaxes. But that did not slow down the growth of a public belief that tens of thousands of infants were being kidnapped yearly, ritually killed and sometimes eaten by evil, Satanic cults every year. Over 90% of the adult population of at least one state believed that SRA is real and widespread. SRA appears to be an unfounded panic which started to wind down in the 1990s. The hoax is still being promoted by some radical feminist and some conservative Christian groups in spite of a complete absence of hard evidence.
  2. Ritual Abuse in Day Care Centers: This panic started in Bakersfield CA, spread to the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, CA, and then expanded across North America, Europe and Australia. Improper child interview techniques used by therapists and investigators resulted in memories of horrific ritual abuse being implanted in the minds of young children. According to an episode of the  Turning Point program: "Since 1980, in over 40 [US] communities, some 200 people have been accused of these crimes... Today, 141 people, -- nearly three quarters of the accused in these cases -- have been acquitted, had their convictions overturned or charges against them dropped." 1 Unfortunately, there are thousands of children, many now teenagers or young adults who remain disabled by memories of horrendous abuse that never happened. Also, the falsely accused adults are never found to be innocent. At best, it is determined that a conclusive case cannot be made against them.
  3. Mind Control Cults: The Counter-Cult Movement (CCM) started in the early 1970's. The   "mind-control" faction within the CCM spread the belief that new religious movements were entrapping young people, and using mind control methods to reduce them to virtual slaves without free-will. A few mass murders by a small number of destructive cults were described as mass-suicides, and further convinced the public that new religious groups were a major social threat. Some conservative Christian groups have started a "doctrinal purity" faction within the CCM. They have monopolized on the public's fear and hatred of cults, and directed it against small benign faith groups. The latter's sole "crime" is that  they have deviated in some way from traditional Christian doctrine. The mind-control faction within the CCM seems to be in rapid decline, hastened by some criminal convictions. However, the "doctrinal purity" component of the CCM seems to be growing, particularly in Russia.
  4. Recovered Memory Therapy: (RMT) A split has appeared between therapists and mind researchers. Some therapists believe that memories of sexual abuse during childhood can be repressed, and later recovered through special therapeutic techniques, like hypnotism, guided imagery, dream analysis etc. Professional organizations have realized that recovered memories can often be false - memories of events that never happened. They  urged caution. However tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of clients became convinced that they had been sexually abused as children. Many destroyed their families of origin with accusations. This hoax appears to have peaked and is now in rapid decline. Many ex-patients are suing their former therapists for damages and winning massive settlements. This hoax has left a major trail of devastated individuals and families.
  5. Abuse in Former Lifetimes: Some therapists age-regress their patients using hypnosis, guided imagery and other recovered memory techniques to take them back in to childhood, into the womb, and thence into a previous lifetime. Abuse during a previous reincarnation is believed to be the cause of emotional problems among adults in their present lives. Therapists who believe in past life regression appear to be quite successful in finding abuse memories in their patients. This is a form of recovered memory therapy. It is usually not as devastating to the patient as recovered memories of childhood abuse, because the alleged perpetrators from a former lifetime are probably not alive and thus cannot be accused.
  6. End of the World Scenarios: The Trends Research Institute of Rhinebeck, NY predicted that 1998 would be a year in which Millennium Fever would catch on across the world and the prophecy business will boom. They were correct. Many people  predicting that the end of the world would come at or around the end of the millennium, which they incorrectly dated as 1999-DEC-31. The correct date for the end of the millennium was 2000-DEC-31. They expected that Jesus would return and engage in the war of Armageddon, 2 or ETs will attack us from outer space, 3 or great natural disasters will occur that will cause massive devastation. 4 The same fever materialized as the year 1000 CE approached. However, because of the low educational level at that time, the panic was quite muted. Still, it generated a subsequent backlash against heretics and other religious non-conformists. We did not detect any increase in the number of attacks on small religious groups at the start of the new millennium. By the time that 3000 CE rolls around, perhaps people will finally catch on that years that end in three zeros are not otherwise special.
  7. Sponsored link:

  8. Crop Circles: People have been observing patterns of trampled wheat and other crops in farmers' fields in 70 countries around the world since they first appeared in England during the late 1970's. Some have been shown to be hoaxes generated by individuals sneaking into a field, drawing some geometric shape, and systematically trampling down the stalks. Some believers have concluded that the "circles" are caused by natural phenomenon - some special wind activity. But the precision of the shapes would seem to eliminate this as a possibility. A whole industry has sprung up to publicize the un-human origin of these strange shapes. 5

    The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal in Amherst, NY has been studying crop circles since about 1985. Spokesperson Joe Nickell has concluded that they are made by humans, and that they appeal to our sense of mystery, hope, and fear. "In those three words, you explain the human interest in most of the paranormal phenomenon. Crop circles are mysterious to people. If they are made by aliens, that's a hopeful message. And there's fear because we're not sure what the aliens are up to." Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things, has said that the fascination with circles "really is a religious belief. It's the promise of something transcendent, bigger than us, beyond us." M. Night Shyamalan is the writer and director of the movie "Signs," which opened at North American movie screens in mid 2002-AUG. He is skeptical about the circles, but is "hopeful they'll be proven true. I like believing in things and possibilities of things--so tantalizing."

  9. Abuse by LGM (Little Green Men) on board UFOs: Some therapists believe that abuse on board UFOs is a widespread phenomenon. They frequently use recovered memory techniques to uncover repressed abuse "memories" in their clients. They remember rising from bed, passing through walls, and elevated to a UFO where they are poked and prodded in some form of medical experiment. Some believe that implants are inserted into their bodies. One California therapist found such memories in about 75 of his patients. 6
  10. UFO visitations: True believers in UFO visitations have convinced a large percentage of the population that extra-terrestrial visitors have been visiting Earth for decades. Hard evidence has not really surfaced yet. A lot of creative, fake photographs have.
  11. Mind Control Experiments by Federal Governments: Decades ago, the CIA performed a series of mind control experiments using various drugs, electrical shock treatments, etc. One goal was to produce an assassin who would kill on command. The studies were unsuccessful and were abandoned. But individuals and groups spread the belief that these experiments continue. They believe that people are being remotely controlled by microwave energy beams. Others are being mentally programmed to perform specific functions when triggered by a sound, image, color, etc. Still others are being tortured by rays transmitted from overhead spy planes. "...using the science of "bio-medical telemetry," [their] brainwaves are instantly analyzed by computer, revealing the person's thoughts and feelings...the brainwaves are then messed up and sent back to overpower the original ones, totally consternating the victim as he tries to be himself through the overlaid intrusion." 7 Their beliefs sound most improbable for three reasons: the cost of this type of program would be prohibitive; the technology to influence people in these ways did not exist at the time and still does not exist; electronic monitoring instrumentation, to our knowledge, has never detected any energy beams.

More hoaxes

The following information sources were used to prepare the above essay in 1997 and update it more recently. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Turning Point program of 1996-NOV-15, ABC-TV
  2. Rapture Ready anticipates the imminent arrival of Christ and the end of the world as we know it. See:
  3. "Alien Warns of Invasion From Space!,"
  4. Potential Signs of Nostradamus' Millennium,
  5. S. Virato, "CROP CIRCLES…they are real! An Interview With Collette M. Dowell" at:
  6. "Alien Abduction: Experience and Research," at:
  7. Edmund J. Light, "MCF Victims:" at the Mind Control Forum. See

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Hoaxes menu > here

Copyright 1997 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Written on: 1997-SEP-05
Latest update: 2009-DEC-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

Go to the previous page, or the Therapeutic and other hoaxes menu, or choose:

To search this website:

Click on one of the links ^^ above at the < < left, or use this search bar:

search engine by freefind

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

GooglePage Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.