#9. Satanic Cults
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, a rash of child abuse cases horrified America. Children accused adults of ritual rapes, torture, and abuse, and the news media reported the sensational stories. Often the accusations included charges of Satanism. The pinnacle was Geraldo Rivera’s infamous NBC special “Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground,” which aired on Oct. 28, 1988. Rivera relied on self-proclaimed “Satanism experts,” misleading and inaccurate statistics, crimes with only tenuous links to Satanism, and sensationalized media reports. Rivera presented no proof; the lack of evidence was seen as proof of how well organized and shrewd the Satanic conspiracy really was. Yet little evidence supports claims about Satanic cults or conspiracies. In a 1992 report on ritual crime, FBI agent Kenneth Lanning concluded that the rampant rumors of ritual murders, cannibalism, and kidnapping were unfounded.