Seduction of the Innocent: Officially Bullshit

wertham seductionWho’d a thunk? The notorious work from Dr Frederic Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, which made the case for comics being moral-destroying works, has been found to be crap:

A University of Illinois academic, Carol Tilley, has accessed Wertham’s papers, which were made public in 2010 (Wertham died in the early 1980’s). The summary:

Behavioral problems among teenagers and preteens can be blamed on the violence, sex and gore portrayed in the media marketed to them – that was the topic of televised public hearings held by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 to address the scourge of comic books. The hearings, which resulted in the decimation of what was an enormous comic book industry, had been inspired in large part by the book “Seduction of the Innocent,” by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, based on his own case studies.

Wertham’s personal archives, however, show that the doctor revised children’s ages, distorted their quotes, omitted other causal factors and in general “played fast and loose with the data he gathered on comics,” according to an article by Carol Tilley, published in a recent issue of Information and Culture: A Journal of History.

For those who like/love comics, it always reeked of being a witch hunt and Tilley’s work has pretty much confirmed that lock, stock and barrel. Read all the details here.