By Alex Constantine
I haven't written about the committee of "skeptics" for years, but I stumbled upon a trashing of "conspiracy" researchers by one Evan Harrington of Temple University posted on January 4th at the CSICOP site, "Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia: Notes from a Mind-Control Conference," that concerns a researcher I know, Walter Bowart, author of Operation Mind Control. Herrington hangs Bowart by his own petard (whatever a petard may be) for speaking candidly about another CIA front, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF):
"Bowart opened the conference with a direct appeal to the therapists. Bowart claimed that 'the False Memory Spindrome [sic] Foundation . . . is a Central Intelligence Agency action. It is an action aimed at the psychological and psychiatric mental health community to discredit you, to keep you in fear and terror.' Bowart stated that everyone connected with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) will be shown to be 'spooks or dupes.' According to Bowart, the CIA is currently conducting a campaign of mind control against the American public and wants to discredit victims of these experiments so that their stories will be seen as false memories."
This is all true - I've written about the FMSF-CIA connections since its founding by accused pedophiles in Washington state and Ralph Underwager, formerly an official of the Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) - but we are to infer from this report that Bowart is merely "paranoid."
"Skeptic" Evan Harrington (today a PhD at Temple U.) himself may be above "paranoia," but he isn't above manipulating facts, Fox-News style, to manage popular beliefs.
On the well-known cycle of child abuse, he writes:
" ... regarding your question about the association of childhood victimization and adult offending there is evidence to consider. Cathy Widom is well known for her prospective study examining various forms of childhood victimization and later adult offenses. I don't have the citations at the moment but I'm sure you all have them or can find them. Widom found a small effect of physical abuse and neglect on later violent offending, but as for sexual abuse...there was no relation to adult sexual offending. At a conference I asked Widom about this issue, to which she responded that there appears to be no sexual cycle of violence. A couple of years ago there was a GAO report examining the sexual cycle of violence, which examined Widom's data, data from Linda Williams, and some other data, and their conclusion as well was that there is no support for the idea of a sexual cycle of violence."
"No support" is "spindrome" for "unproven" or "inconclusive" - but it sounds as if academics dispute the existence of the cycle, when in fact an overwhelming majority of studies support the model, but fail to nail down precise statistics due to numerous X factors that may contribute to criminal pathology, eg. abuse outside the family and other considerations.
The CIA/FMSF-CSICOP would debunk ALL claims of child abuse if they could get away with it, so they have set their sights on the cycle of abuse to undercut accusations in the courtroom (the justice system throws FMSF board members handsome "expert" legal fees). Harrington promotes the Company line, and his "small effect of physical abuse and neglect on later violent offending" turns out to be a rather large effect, after all. Google it.
In fact, Dr. Widom found it difficult to isolate violent childhood abuse as a cause of violence in adult life - a methodological problem strictly, not a reason to dismiss the cycle as an urban legend, and that will be shown here.
Dr. Widom has, in fact, confirmed the intergerational model, and that's why she titled her book THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE.
In general, the literature finds:
"Recent studies about the link between abuse and delinquency present a very strong case for a strong connection between childhood abuse and neglect and later delinquent and criminal behavior. For example, three research projects from different geographical areas demonstrate a strong statistical correlation between such maltreatment and subsequent misbehavior."
This is Harrington's "small" effect, and it is contradicted by all legitimate studies. (See, for instance, "The link between a history of maltreatment and subsequent offending behaviour," Falshaw Probation Journal.2005; 52: 423-434, and many others).
"An early study conducted in a metropolitan county area in the Midwest by a pioneer in research on the 'cycle of violence,' Dr. Cathy S. Widom of the Department of Psychiatry at the New Jersey Medical School, showed that youth 'who had been abused or neglected as children were more likely to be arrested as juveniles (27 percent versus 17 percent), adults (42 percent versus 33 percent) and for a violent crime (18 percent versus 14 percent)” than a comparable control group of young people with no comparable history of abuse or neglect. (Cathy S. Widom & Michael G. Maxfield, An Update on the “Cycle of Violence,” RESEARCH IN BRIEF, Nat’l Inst. of Just., February 2001, at 3, citing C.S. Widom, The Cycle of Violence, RESEARCH IN BRIEF, Nat’l Inst. of Just., October 1992.)"
And this is the substance of the study's findings - juvenile stats can be studied, but Dr. Widom found that determining childhood abuse to be a causative factor in adult behavior cannot be determined without error because other factors in psychological development intercede over the years. This uncertainty is reflected in the GAO report:
United States General Accounting Office
CYCLE OF SEXUAL ABUSE - Research Inconclusive About Whether Child Victims Become Adult Abusers
The report verbatim:
... Researchers have noted that there is widespread belief that there is a “cycle of sexual abuse,” such that sexual victimization as a child may contribute to perpetration of sexual abuse as an adult. Such a pattern
is consistent with social learning theories—which posit that children learn
those behaviors that are modeled for them—and also with psychodynamic
theories—which suggest that abusing others may help victimized
individuals to overcome childhood trauma."
But this is the entire problem: "Studying the relationship between early sexual victimization and later perpetration of sexual abuse is methodologically difficult. If researchers take a retrospective approach, and ask adult sex offenders whether they experienced childhood sexual abuse, there are problems of selecting a representative sample of offenders, finding an appropriate comparison group of adults who have not committed sex offenses but are similar to the study group in other respects, minimizing errors that arise when recalling traumatic events from the distant past, and dealing with the possibility that offenders will purposely overreport childhood abuse to gain sympathy or underreport abuse to avoid imputations of guilt. A prospective approach—selecting a sample of children who have been sexually abused and following them into adulthood to see whether they become sexual abusers—overcomes some of the problems of the retrospective approach, but it is a costly and time-consuming solution. In addition, researchers choosing the prospective approach still face the challenge of disentangling the effects of sexual abuse from the effects of other possible problems and stress-related factors in the backgrounds of these children (e.g., poverty, unemployment, parental alcohol abuse, or other inadequate social and family functioning)."
Harrington's "no support for the idea of a sexual cycle of violence" should read "inconclusive support." Playing with words in this way is how CIA propagandists do their job. Widom found that it is difficult to prove the cycle of violence - she didn't deny that it exists. The researcher was unable to design a study to measure it. That research support exists, but defies clear, indisputable interpretation. Harrington and his allies at PSICOP and the FMSF exploit this uncertainty to subvert claims of child abuse, and this is why they are highly paid by pedophiles and violent parents to defend them the courtroom with fudged "expert" testimony.
This much can be said:
"Violence is often learned within the family." - Cathy Widom, Ph.D.
But this is difficult to quantify, and the CIA's pro-pedophile fronts like it that way.