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

Mike Rothschild
782 votes 288 voters 85.4k 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 92 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 73 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 46 VOTES

Gay Recruitment

Gay Recruitment is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 16 Moral Panics That Are Keeping Your Parents Up At Night
Photo: via Imgur

WHAT IS IT?
The organized effort by the LGBT community to bring in new members through coercion and indoctrination. It became a moral panic in the late '70s, after popular singer Anita Bryant campaigned against a Florida anti-discrimination law by declaring that "homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children."

IS IT REAL?
No credible evidence has backed up any kind of "gay recruitment" drive, and most gay people think of the panic about it as anywhere between laughable and insulting.

NO, REALLY, IS IT REAL?
Billy Graham's son Franklin thinks so - with adoption replacing indoctrination as the method of recruitment.
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4 45 VOTES

Backmasking

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

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.
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