Fredric Wertham Debunked

CensorshipAlmost 60 years ago (1954), the United States Senate went about public hearings held by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Much like with video games today, back then comic books were being blamed for delinquency, violence and homosexuality. The hearings were inspired in large part by the book Seduction of the Innocent, by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham.

Over the years, there’s been many questions as to Dr. Wertham’s claims. His books were poorly cited leaving the actual evidence he claimed as proof up for debate. With his papers released in 2010 by the Library Congress, a new article today shows the doctor was full of shit. Not only did he fudge data, he outright lied in his report and study. The article is written by Carol Tilley and published in a recent issue of Information and Culture: A Journal of History.

An article hit today covering the news. As an example Tilley found:

Tilley’s article also cites the case of Dorothy, a 13-year-old whose chronic truancy Wertham ascribed to her admiration for the comic book heroine Sheena and “crime comics,” omitting any mention of other factors listed in her case notes, such as her low intelligence, her reading disability, her gang membership, her sexual activity and her status as a runaway. Wertham also didn’t reveal that he never personally met or observed Dorothy; she was the patient of his associate, Dr. Hilde Mosse.

These hearings are often blamed as to part of the eventual decline of the comic book industry, putting it in a tailspin and shedding a light on it for which it never recovered. Even more important, today entertainment, especially video games are going through the same situation. Image 60 years from now when negative claims are also found out to be utter rubbish, just like this has.