Conspiracies
442 voters

16 Moral Panics That Are Keeping Your Parents Up At Night

Updated September 22, 2020 1.2k votes 442 voters 100.3k views16 items

List RulesVote 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.
  • 5

    Teen Sex Parties

    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    WHAT IS IT?
    Teenagers getting together to... get together. Whether it's rainbow parties, where girls each wear a different shade of lipstick and perform oral sex on boys in succession, to bracelet parties, panicked parents keep thinking of new ways for their children to sexually act out.

    IS IT REAL?
    No evidence of either rainbow parties or bracelet parties has ever surfaced. What has surfaced is lurid stories passed on to media outlets, then repeated until a panic emerges. But there's never been a credible account of any such party happening.

    NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
    Teens will continue to explore their sexuality away from the lurid panics their parents are terrified of. Which is, of course, terrifying for parents.

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  • 6

    The War on Christmas

    WHAT IS IT?
    The secular, liberal attempt to destroy Christmas through the banning of religious symbols, prosecution of outwardly practicing Christians, and the removal of anything that makes Christmas anything other than a non-denominational winter holiday.

    IS IT REAL?
    While debates about the proper way to celebrate Christmas have raged among Christians for centuries, there is no organized "War on Christmas." It's simply not real. Efforts to "take Christ out of Christmas" are much more about inclusion and the acknowledgement that not everyone celebrates the same holidays.

    Alternatively, you can go to any store in October and look at the already-displayed Christmas items on sale. Then you be the judge of whether Christmas is in danger.

    NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
    Glenn Beck thinks so. Bill O'Reilly has practically made it one of the planks of his Fox News show. And lots of blogs agree.
    50
    26
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  • 7

    Backmasking

    Photo: flickr / CC0

    WHAT IS IT?
    The adding of subliminal messages in rock music, but recorded backwards, so as to not draw attention to themselves. It was a major moral panic in the late '70s, as parents and pastors worried about Satanic orders in the heavy metal millions of teens were rocking out to. The "controversy" over "Stairway to Heaven" being an ode to Satan is one of the best known of these panics.

    IS IT REAL?
    No. While many rock bands used backwards playing instruments in their songs, none of them could be proven to have included Satanic messages or secret commands to commit suicide. Reverse speech, the use of backward played words to implant secret messages, is completely bogus as science. And almost every pointed out instance of backmasking was just gibberish that sounded like words.

    NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
    The backmasking panic faded out in the early '90s, with the advent of CDs that can't be played backwards. Nonetheless, some artists include backward effects in their songs, as either jokes or just audio landscape.
    41
    21
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  • 8

    Toxins

    WHAT IS IT?
    Alternative medicine proponents believe that the very environment we live in, from our air to the chemicals in our food, are making us sick and stupid, filling our body with toxins. While science continues to dispute the very existence of these toxins, they're all in bed with Big Pharma, so they have nothing to say.

    IS IT REAL?
    The myth of "toxins" conflates the very real concept of poisoning with new age drivel like energy fields. This has created a huge market for products that will "detoxify" the body. The panic over toxins is a billion dollar industry of colon cleanses, juice fasts, quack therapies, and energy medicine. These toxins have never been identified, nobody can name them, and it's even what they are or what they do isn't agreed upon.

    NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
    Googling "detoxification" brings up over a million search results, with numerous lists like this, this and this. All of them are nonsense, and should be avoided by people who want to keep their money.
    33
    17
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