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The Facade of Scientific Documentation:
A Case Study of Richard Ofshe's Analysis of the Paul Ingram Case

Karen Olio
William Cornell

This article appeared in the American Psychological Association's journal Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, vol. 4, issue # 4, pages 1182-1197. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law is also the law review journal of the University of Arizona College of Law and the University of Miami School of Law.

ABSTRACT: The case of Paul Ingram, a man who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his daughters, has received widespread media attention. Richard Ofshe (1992, 1994) set forth a narrative of the case which included his account of an experiment to test the veracity of Ingram's confessions and concluded that the inadvertent use of hypnosis during Ingram's interrogation resulted in the creation of pseudomemories that convinced Ingram of his guilt. On the basis of an examination of the original source documents, the authors discuss the errors of fact, methodological flaws, and confounding factors in Ofshe's rendering of this case of alleged child abuse. They also cite examples of the extent to which Ofshe's imperfect narrative of this case and pseudoscientific conclusions have been uncritically accepted and repeated in the literature, thus becoming an academic version of an urban legend.

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