Anthony has characterized brainwashing as "a pseudo-scientific myth", and spearheaded efforts which from 1990 onward led to the general rejection of brainwashing testimony as unscientific in United States courts. Anthony asserted in The Washington Post that "no reasonable person would question that there are situations where people can be influenced against their best interests, but those arguments are evaluated on the basis of fact, not bogus expert testimony." Dismissing the idea of mind control, he has defended new religious movements, and argued that involvement in such movements may often have beneficial, rather than harmful effects.
Anthony was a key consultant for the government in the Fishman case and acted as a consultant in many subsequent cases of a similar nature, "frequently getting pseudoscientific mind control testimony excluded from evidentiary hearings". According to sociologist James T. Richardson, he was the "intellectual driving force" behind an amicus curiae brief on brainwashing endorsed by the American Psychological Association. In the Fishman case, the court accepted Anthony's argument that Margaret Singer's brainwashing theory lacked scientific support, a decision that set a legal precedent and led to the exclusion of Margaret Singer and her colleague Richard Ofshe as expert witnesses in this and subsequent trials. Afterwards, Singer and Ofshe twice sued Anthony, as well as the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association and several other scholars, for defamation and conspiracy to deprive them of their livelihoods. Both suits were dismissed; in the second the judge granted the defendants a SLAPP motion, requiring Singer and Ofshe to pay Anthony's and the other defendants' legal costs.
Anthony contributed a 100-page chapter on the brainwashing hypothesis to the book Misunderstanding Cults, edited by sociologists Benjamin Zablocki and Thomas Robbins, in which he criticized the "tactical ambiguity" of brainwashing theorists like Zablocki. In Anthony's view, brainwashing proponents have, in their efforts to resurrect a discredited hypothesis, continually modified key assumptions underlying the concept in order to avoid any possibility of its empirical verification. The chapter argues that "the term brainwashing has such sensationalist connotations that its use prejudices any scientific discussion of patterns of commitment in religious movements."
"Brainwashing and Totalitarian Influence", in Encyclopedia of Mental Health, ed. Howard S. Friedman, Academic Press, 1998, ISBN978-0-12-226676-8, pp. 331-346 (with Thomas Robbins)
"Cults, Brainwashing and Counter-Subversion," Annals 446(1979):78-90 (with Thomas Robbins)
"Cults in the Late Twentieth Century", in Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience. Studies of Traditions and Movements, eds. Charles H. Lippy and Peter W. Williams, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York (1988) Vol II, ISBN978-0-684-18861-4
"Religious Movements and 'Brainwashing' Litigation" in In Gods We Trust: New Patterns of Religious Pluralism in America, eds. Dick Anthony and Thomas Robbins, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ, ISBN0-88738-800-0 (with Thomas Robbins)
"Religious Totalism, Violence, and Exemplary Dualism," in Terrorism and Political Violence 7(1995):10-50 (with Thomas Robbins)
"Sects and Violence," in Armageddon at Waco, ed. S. A. Wright (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995): 236-259 (with Thomas Robbins)
^Lucas, Phillip Charles; Tobbins, Thomas (eds.). New religious movements in the twenty-first century: legal, political, and social challenges in global perspective, Routledge 2004, p. 13, ISBN978-0-415-96577-4
^ abRichardson, James T. Regulating Religion: Case Studies from Around the Globe, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2004, p. 145, ISBN978-0-306-47887-1; the APA later withdrew its endorsement for "procedural and not substantial reasons".