In 2007, Janet Moses died during a prolonged and horrifying exorcism held by her family to remove “evil spirits” from her. It was this case that prompted me to write my first piece of science communication about the dangers of pseudoscience.
Around the world we see, again and again, deaths occurring as the result of exorcisms and similar superstitions. In Japan last year a 13 year old was suffocated , while in the UK a 13 year old boy endured sadistic torture which eventually ended in his death, because his sister and her boyfriend believed his was a witch.
So when last week I saw on 60 Minutes was running a story about teenage exorcisms I was horrified. However, these exorcisms are a little different. I can’t embed the 60 minute clip here but here is another clip about the same group of teen exorcists.
The first thing that popped into my mind was “Buffy wannabes!” however, I think what these girls are doing is too potentially dangerous to dismiss out of hand. While they may not be drowning or suffocating their victims, this type of pseudoscientific performance puts the susceptible and the mentally ill at risk. Not that the preacher guiding them gives this even a fleeting thought. And he now wants to turn this into a reality show – unbelievable.
I did find a second clip which more accurately describes what these girls are doing.