A wonderful post at the Psychology Today blog rehashing some of the major gaps in the child molestation charges against Michael Jackson:
One of the two charges that received the most press coverage surfaced in 1993, when Evan Chandler filed a lawsuit against Jackson for sexually abusing his 13 year old son, Jordan. At the time, the news media reported widely that Jordan Chandler accused Jackson of performing oral sex on him, and that Chandler provided law enforcement authorities with a description of Jackson's genitalia. Eventually, Jackson settled this case out of court for $22 million; some have argued that this settlement is prima facie evidence of his guilt, whereas others have argued that Jackson understandably wanted to avoid a prolonged and emotionally grueling civil trial. I do not know which side is right, so I will withhold judgment on that issue here.
So what crucial fact has most of the press coverage omitted? It's that Jordan Chandler apparently never made any accusations against Jackson until his father, a registered dentist, gave him sodium amytal during a tooth extraction. Only then did Jackson's purported sexual abuse emerge; Jordan Chandler's reports became more elaborated and embellished during a later session with a psychiatrist.
Sodium amytal is a barbiturate and one of the most commonly used variants of what is popularly known as "truth serum," which is a spectacular misnomer. There's no scientific evidence that Sodium amytal or other supposed truth serums increase the accuracy of memories. To the contrary, as psychiatrist August Piper has observed, there's good reason to believe that truth serums merely lower the threshold for reporting virtually all information, both true and false. As a consequence, like other suggestive therapeutic procedures, such as guided imagery, repeated prompting, hypnosis, and journaling, truth serums can actually increase the risk of false memories - memories of events that never occurred, but are held with great conviction.
In fact, because the physiological actions of barbiturates are similar in many ways to that of alcohol, the effects of ingesting Sodium amytal are probably similar to those of imbibing a few stiff drinks. When we're rip-roaring drunk, we're more likely than when sober to say lots of things, only some of them accurate. Moreover, as Piper notes, there's overwhelming evidence that people can distort the truth or lie while under the influence of truth serum.
Whether Jackson molested children or not, it a minimum the case shows how easy it is to feed a media base dying for objectionable news.