conspiracies 16 Moral Panics That Are Keeping Your Parents Up At Night  

Mike Rothschild
640 votes 235 voters 77.4k views 16 items

List Rules Vote up the most ridiculous moral panics that you hope aren't actually a thing.

A moral panic is defined as an intense feeling of fear over an issue affecting the population. The phrase was first used in 1830, and since then, moral panics have cropped up every year, scaring people for no reason, usually over something that's either been overblown by the media or invented out of thin air. From the latest new drugs (that no one is actually using) how to get killed by a gang (except not really), these crazy moral panics are scaring everyone, but is there any truth to them?

These moral panic examples aren't just old fashioned worries - they're all from the last century. Some burned out quickly, others are still with us, cropping up on an annual basis around events that take place every year. Most have little or no evidence supporting their existence - but this doesn't the media from hyping them and people from fearing them.

Which of these panics do you think are most absurd? Vote up the craziest theories below... the ones you hope are just crazy people being crazy.
1 61 VOTES

Satanic Ritual Abuse


Satanic Ritual Abuse is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 16 Moral Panics That Are Keeping Your Parents Up At Night
Photo: via Reddit

WHAT IS IT?
In the 1980s, parents around the country were gripped by an overpowering fear that their local preschool was actually a haven for vicious sexual abuse, driven by a Satanist agenda and brought to light only when children's memories were "recovered."

IS IT REAL?
Not a word of it. The "Satanic Panic" of the '80s was a baseless fear of devil worship and Occult rituals, sparked almost entirely by ratings-hungry media and well-intentioned, but totally misguided parents. The allegations made by children involved in the "sex abuse" were absurd, and usually fueled by leading questions, while based on bogus scientific notions of "recovered memories" and logic-defying claims like teachers flying through the air. There was no compelling evidence to support any of them.

NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
The major focal point of the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic was the McMartin Preschool in California, where a years-long trial spent millions of dollars to obtain no convictions. Thirty years later, the McMartin trial is generally regarded as a farce driven by moral panic and the allegations of one mentally unstable parent.
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2 55 VOTES

Flashing Your Lights Will Get You Killed By a Gang


Flashing Your Lights Will Get ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 16 Moral Panics That Are Keeping Your Parents Up At Night
Photo: via Pinterest

WHAT IS IT? 
As part of a gang initiation, prospective members are instructed to drive with their lights off, then follow the first person who flashes their lights (to indicate their lights are off), stalk them, and murder them.

IS IT REAL?
No. The light flashing rumor began in the early '90s as whispers about the Hell’s Angels in Montana. Then it mutated into a rumor about “ethnic” LA street gangs targeting white people for death, and took hold across the country from there. Every few years would see a new outbreak of supposed terror, spread first by junk fax, then chain emails, and now social media. But in 30 years, no police department has recorded a single gang-related murder due to flashing headlights.


NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
It wasn't in 1993, when this article was written. And it's not now.

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3 34 VOTES

The Knockout Game


The Knockout Game is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 16 Moral Panics That Are Keeping Your Parents Up At Night
Photo: via Pinterest

WHAT IS IT?
Gangs of youths, usually described as African-American men, run up to strangers, usually described as white people, and punch them as hard as possible. The attacks are filmed and uploaded to YouTube.

IS IT REAL?
On a micro level, yes. But not as a national plague. Moral panics about bored youths attacking innocent people have gone by a number of names: wilding, happy slapping, flash mobs, etc. Before that, it was vague moaning about "juvenile delinquency" and biker gangs.

What makes the knockout game is that there have been a few racially-motivated attacks on innocent people, going back to a 2011 murder in St. Louis. But police commissioners and crime researchers agree that there is no nationwide trend of filmed knockout attacks - just bored youths being violent in the same way they always have.

NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
According to far right news outlets and conspiracy-minded racists, the epidemic of "black mob violence" is very real, and a harbinger of the epidemic of black-on-white race war to come. However, statistics bear out that the vast majority of violent acts take place by two people who know each other, and black-on-white crime is actually rare.
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4 63 VOTES

Smoking Weird Stuff


Smoking Weird Stuff is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 16 Moral Panics That Are Keeping Your Parents Up At Night
Photo: via Twitter

WHAT IS IT?
Kids like to get high. And when they can't get their grubby hands on weed or meth, they're rumored to smoke things like fake pot, synthetic drugs like "bath salts," organic human waste, or ground up Smarties. Every year, a new fake drug is pumped up by the media and fretted over by parents.

IS IT REAL?
No, no, no, and no. Once in a while, a lurid tale of a bath salts user biting someone's face off perks up everyone's ears about synthetic drugs. But they're rarely, if ever, true. This leads to bizarre panics over things like "Jenkem," rumored to be a drug made from actual human poop. But it doesn't exist, and nobody is doing it.

NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
The bath salts craze still has its occasional victims, though its use was massively overblown by the media. None of the other panics have been real.
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