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The Dishonesty of Frederick Crews

February 5th, 2018

Jerry Sandusky might be “the most hated man in America,” but he has found a dedicated friend in retired English professor Frederick Crews. Crews just reviewed Mark Pendergrast’s book of that title, which purports to cast doubt on the Sandusky case because some of the victims — gasp! — went to therapists. But Pendergrast never actually claims that Sandusky is innocent. He just impugns the therapists. But that did not deter Crews, however, from jumping to a conclusion that even Pendergrast was unwilling to make. “Who will apologize to Sandusky?” Crews wonders.

Crews’ desire to acquit Sandusky knows no bounds. Publishing his review in the house organ of The Skeptics Society, where there is apparently no meaningful editorial oversight, Crews tells his readers that Pendergrast is “an independent scholar and science writer who has long been concerned” with this issue. But Crews knows full well that Pendergrast’s “concern” began when both of his adult daughters cut him off. As Anne Rochelle put it, in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution: “His [1995] book seeks to prove his daughters and other ‘incest survivors’ have fallen prey to what skeptics call ‘false memory syndrome.’” Even her sympathetic piece allows that the book could well been seen “as a guilty man’s obsessive attempt to clear his name.”

But Crews doesn’t want his readers to know enough to consider that possibility. True skeptics should direct their skeptical powers at Crews, who misled his readers about the motivations of the author whose book he endorsed — ironically — without any apparent skepticism.

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