Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-14-2005, 09:51 AM
J. Michael Reiter J. Michael Reiter is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Saskatchewan
Posts: 1
Salem witch trials NOT because of Ergot...

Hi ya'll. J. Michael Reiter here. Listen, folks, I just read the article on The Salem Witch Trials and the root cause of them not being from Ergot or Ergotic Alkaloid ingestion. I think you are all wet, for it not to be... At least with the first cases. The later cases, however were more than likely what you discoursed about in your article.

J. Michael Reiter.
jmr


*******************
MODERATOR NOTE: This thread from 2005 is revived Oct 2013 in post #31. We're OK with that, I just don't want anyone responding to a 2005 post thinking it was yesterday. Some of those posters may no longer be posting, some may have forgot what they said, etc. -- Dex

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 10-25-2013 at 03:47 PM.
  #2  
Old 01-14-2005, 10:12 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 19,982
Welcome to the SDMB, J. Michael Reiter. A link to the article we are discussing is usually a darn good idea so we are all on the same page, and here it is.

What specific evidence do you have to counter the conclusions of the report?
  #3  
Old 01-14-2005, 10:41 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
Posts: 30,698
Why do you hold your views?

Please discuss your evidence.

BTW--Welcome.
__________________
'Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.
~~The Buddha
  #4  
Old 01-14-2005, 02:29 PM
Menocchio Menocchio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: 15th Century Italy
Posts: 4,366
It probably wasn't ergot poisoning.

The people of Salem (or, at least those that passed as doctors in those days) had seen ergot poisoning. The condition was called "St. Anthony's Fire". If the Salem girls had St Anthony's Fire, it would have been recognized as such, and not called witchcraft (unless there were other reasons to be suspicious, such as a paticularly ironic case, or a malediction from an unpleasant woman).

While the initial sickness of the girls remains mysterious, I'd put money that it was pyschosomatic, perhaps from the stress of being a young girl in a Puritan town, with major divisions over Church politics, and the very real threat of Indian attacks.
  #5  
Old 01-14-2005, 02:56 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 41,961
The column referenced is thuis:

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/050114.html


We've discussed the Salem Witch Trials on this Board before. There have been a lot of books, especially in the past twenty years or so, speculating on this. The two I'd recommend are Boyer and Nissenbaum's Salem Witchcraft and Chadwick W. Hansen's Witchcraft at Salem. The former does a sociological study of the situatioon -- the maps at the back of the book plot out where the accused witches and their accusers lived, where the rich and the poor lived, where supporters of Rev. Parris and detractors lived, etc. It's amazing how the people are so completely polarized into two camps. There was a lot of tension from various sources -- not just Indians, but the turmoil over the Colony's Charter, where authority lay, who was responsible for supporting the clergy, etc. There were an awful lot of petty court cases. As Chadwick Hansen said in his book (which dates from the 1970s) "The Histotry of petty malice in Essex county has not yet been written." (For the record, I think it has by now, but I can't recall by who. They were a litigious and catty bunch.)

Hansen's book is a revisionist hisdtory, but I think it's a good one. He challenges the claim that Salem Witchcraft was "got up" by a theocratic elite trying to hold onto its fading power (a view he traces back to Samuel Wentworth Upham, whose 19th century 2-volume history of Salem Witchcraft was for a long time the standard history. I think Dover still has it in print). Hansen makes a good case for a lot of the history being misinterpreted in this light. He also makes a pretty good case that witchcraft was practiced at Salem -- but not in the way the accusers madfe it out to be. Hansen draws intriguing parallels between the "hysterics" studied by Charcot and others in the 19th century, and sees the witchcraft hysteria as a case of literal Mass ysteria. Reading his cites from the original trial documents, it's hard to believe that the girls were just making it up, or faking it. his was deadfly serious business, and people really did seem to have physical reactions to it. The witches, after all, were said to be atytacking the colony's food supply, and they weren't much above subsistence as it was. People were genuinely terrified.

I could see ergotism being a trigger for this sort of thing. Read Hansen's book, and you'll see that there were plenty of visions that might have been caused by hallucinatory ergotism (people have made much of similarities between ergot and LSD), but it's not the only possible source.


Mennochjio -- it's my understanding that "St. Anthony's Fire" is caused by ergot poisoning. That's the claim made by supporters. See also the book The Day of St. Anthony's Fire about an outbreak in southern France, caused by tainted bread.
__________________
On weekends, Hogwarts had The Sorting Hat separate the laundry. It hated that.
  #6  
Old 01-14-2005, 03:03 PM
Menocchio Menocchio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: 15th Century Italy
Posts: 4,366
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
Mennochjio -- it's my understanding that "St. Anthony's Fire" is caused by ergot poisoning. That's the claim made by supporters. See also the book The Day of St. Anthony's Fire about an outbreak in southern France, caused by tainted bread.
That's what I meant. If the girls had St Anthony's Fire / ergotism, they would have been diagnosed as such, not as victims of an unknown and possibly supernatural ailment. The Salem folks would have recognized ergotism. This wasn't it.
  #7  
Old 01-17-2005, 06:33 PM
The Punkyova The Punkyova is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 818
For those who are interested, this is a site with all the original documents, and a lot more besides. It's quite fascinating. http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/

Ben Ray, who put it together, told me that the most interesting thing to him was the way Tituba's character changed. She is usually referred to as a West Indian slave or servant, but he said the documents don't call her that. My memory is failing me, but I think he said she was Native American (or maybe African? this conversation was before yesterday, and the "People" section of the website is down right now).

In any case, the site has trial transcripts, maps, and all kinds of fascinating stuff. Check it out!
  #8  
Old 01-17-2005, 09:22 PM
WCStyles WCStyles is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Virginia
Posts: 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Punkyova
For those who are interested, this is a site with all the original documents, and a lot more besides. It's quite fascinating. http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/

Ben Ray, who put it together, told me that the most interesting thing to him was the way Tituba's character changed. She is usually referred to as a West Indian slave or servant, but he said the documents don't call her that. My memory is failing me, but I think he said she was Native American (or maybe African? this conversation was before yesterday, and the "People" section of the website is down right now).

In any case, the site has trial transcripts, maps, and all kinds of fascinating stuff. Check it out!
Is the "People" section actually down? A little trial-and-error found it here.
  #9  
Old 01-18-2005, 01:07 AM
sheherazahde sheherazahde is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3
Yes, and...

I never bought the ergot theory and I was disgusted by PBS supporting it.

I recommend "Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend" by Jeffrey S. Victor. It isn't about Salem but he examines how and why people can be caught up in a "satanic panic".

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/081269192X/

I read something once (unfortunately I can't remember where) that said that there were similar Witch scares in other town in the same time period. But in the other towns the courts wouldn't hear the cases. Salem was a big deal because people actually got killed.

I think you really need to look at the larger issues. If you say it was caused by "a bedrock belief in the reality of witches held by a theocratic society having only a superficial acquaintance with the rule of law." How do you explain the Satanic panic in western New York State in the 1980s? A better explanation is a few symbolic urban legends supported by "experts" fit the unconscious needs of a community stressed by changing social structures and an uncertain economic future. That explains the burning times in Germany and France in the 1500s, the Salem trials 1691-2, the McCarthy hearings 1953-54, and the Satanic ritual abuse cases in the 1980s.

http://members.shaw.ca/imaginarycrimes/howRAstarted.htm
  #10  
Old 01-18-2005, 08:56 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 41,961
Quote:
I read something once (unfortunately I can't remember where) that said that there were similar Witch scares in other town in the same time period. But in the other towns the courts wouldn't hear the cases. Salem was a big deal because people actually got killed.
See Hansen's book (cited above in my earlier post) -- he talks quite a bit about earlier cases of supposed witchcraft and possession in New England. A few of the cases come from Cotton Mather's own books, especially More Wonder of the Invisible World. Mather reports on his treatments of the afflicted women (almost invariably women). Note that, although popular memory has Mather at the center of the witchcraft hysteria, and some historians even blame him for "getting it up", Mather actually had very little involvement in the Salem cases, and was a voice of moderation where he did appear.

The Salem cases were remarkable for being so great in number -- most other instances were much snmaller "outbreaks", but in Salem a great many opeople were accused at the same time. It's also remarkable, as you note, because people were actually killed, ultimately a result of the court's acceptance of "Spectral Evidence". It's worth noting that this was an extraordinary step at the time, and that the court repented of it a year later, publicly apologizing (although that did no good to the nineteen hanged and one pressed victims). Whatever the ultimate cause of the witchcraft mania, the resulting deaths were due to a panicked court system responding inappropriately.


As for Tituba, my recollection is that she and her husband came from Jamaica with Rev. Parris (or whoever their owner was), and that she was a Carib Indian. Her husband's name, in fact, was "John Indian". In an awful lot of fiction based on the trials (not to mention in some of the plays and exhibits in the town of Salem , Massachusetts), she is portrayed as black, however.
__________________
On weekends, Hogwarts had The Sorting Hat separate the laundry. It hated that.
  #11  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:55 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 34,607
Note that there is one thing which few consider- that perhaps one of the accused (maybe Tituba) was in actuality a 'witch". Not capable of real magic, of course, but one who thought she was or pretended to be so. Fortune tellers- even those that claimed they have 'demon familiars" were not unknown then... or now.
  #12  
Old 01-19-2005, 12:26 PM
The Punkyova The Punkyova is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 818
Thanks to WCStyles I actually made it to the people section. In Tituba's biography, the writer comments that the first girls picked up were telling fortunes, which was considered Satanic and forbidden. ( They were dropping egg white into a glass of water and looking to see what shapes formed.) It's unclear whether they were playing a silly game or whether they actually thought they were doing something. The writer also comments that all the specific acts of witchcraft were culturally European, not African or Afro-Caribean. This makes it unlikely that Tituba was a leader of the practices.
  #13  
Old 01-19-2005, 04:57 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 34,607
Well, yes- but VooDoo and similar practices look a lot like witchcraft to the un-initiated, and the witchhunter dudes of the day wouldn't care about the significant culteral differances.
  #14  
Old 01-19-2005, 05:49 PM
Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
Uncharted
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Somewhere in the Potomac
Posts: 32,194
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheherazahde
I think you really need to look at the larger issues. If you say it was caused by "a bedrock belief in the reality of witches held by a theocratic society having only a superficial acquaintance with the rule of law." How do you explain the Satanic panic in western New York State in the 1980s? A better explanation is a few symbolic urban legends supported by "experts" fit the unconscious needs of a community stressed by changing social structures and an uncertain economic future. That explains the burning times in Germany and France in the 1500s, the Salem trials 1691-2, the McCarthy hearings 1953-54, and the Satanic ritual abuse cases in the 1980s.
West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993?
  #15  
Old 01-20-2005, 05:40 AM
Dan Norder Dan Norder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA
Posts: 1,088
Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Michael Reiter
Listen, folks, I just read the article on The Salem Witch Trials and the root cause of them not being from Ergot or Ergotic Alkaloid ingestion. I think you are all wet
And this would be why you don't write the Straight Dope.

The ergot poisoning idea is a pseudo-intellectual answer to a great mystery. By that I mean something phrased in scientific-sounding words that superficially matches some minor features and is then offered up as the One True Solution and swallowed by the gullible public even though it doesn't make sense to the actual facts of the topic. For others see the ideas that werewolves were people who suffered porphyria (although ergot poisoning is offered up as a pat solution there as well), Atlantis was [fill in the blank of some geographic location], Noah's flood was based upon catastrophic Black Sea flood (or the same tsunami that supposedly got Atlantis), vampires were albinos (or also porphyria), and so forth and so on.
  #16  
Old 01-20-2005, 04:27 PM
The Punkyova The Punkyova is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 818
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth
Well, yes- but VooDoo and similar practices look a lot like witchcraft to the un-initiated, and the witchhunter dudes of the day wouldn't care about the significant culteral differances.
Look again. I said "the specific acts of witchcraft." Tituba, for example, pled guilty to "riding about on a pole," an act that has a long history in European witch beliefs, but no counterparts in African or Afro-Caribean practice. The inference is that she pled guilty to whatever she was accused of, reasoning (correctly) that her chances of survival were much better that way. A further inference might be that she wasn't guilty of anything, but YMMV.
  #17  
Old 01-20-2005, 05:55 PM
Larry Borgia Larry Borgia is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 9,913
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Norder
And this would be why you don't write the Straight Dope.

The ergot poisoning idea is a pseudo-intellectual answer to a great mystery. By that I mean something phrased in scientific-sounding words that superficially matches some minor features and is then offered up as the One True Solution and swallowed by the gullible public even though it doesn't make sense to the actual facts of the topic. For others see the ideas that werewolves were people who suffered porphyria (although ergot poisoning is offered up as a pat solution there as well), Atlantis was [fill in the blank of some geographic location], Noah's flood was based upon catastrophic Black Sea flood (or the same tsunami that supposedly got Atlantis), vampires were albinos (or also porphyria), and so forth and so on.
While I agree with the general gist of your post, we should remember that sometimes the glib pseudo-intellectual sounding answer turns out to be the right one. One case is the Dinosaurs being killed by an asteroid. This sounded a lot like the list of ideas in your post and was (IIRC) a pretty controversial opinion at first. Now it is the mainstream view.
  #18  
Old 01-21-2005, 05:04 PM
sheherazahde sheherazahde is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lute Skywatcher
The West Memphis three looks more like a simple case of scapegoating using socially acceptable stereotypes, then a full blown Satanic panic. Three children were killed so there was a crime that needed to be investigated. And I didn't see anything about widespread mob fear of Satanist in the area.

But I don't know much about the particular case.
  #19  
Old 02-07-2005, 07:04 PM
IAMMYOWNGOD IAMMYOWNGOD is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 45
I think it's worth mentioning that The Holy Bible clearly has something to do with perpetuating the idea that witches exist. If you believe the Bible to be the divine word of God, then it follows that you not only believe in witches but also that they should be killed simply for being witches. Exodus 22:18 states - "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." This is a statement made by "God" to Moses during his famous Mt. Sinai speech. An obvious problem: how do you identify the witches? Clearly this presented a problem for the religious freaks in Salem, but believing in their duty to kill witches, they apparently improvised. It's amazing to me that intelligent people in this day and age could subscribe to the Bible at all since this is but one example of the superstitious hogwash contained therein.

I would love to hear from a Jew or Christian who could defend their belief in witches and/or this passage from the Bible. Please inform me - how do you identify witches
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheherazahde
I never bought the ergot theory and I was disgusted by PBS supporting it.

I recommend "Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend" by Jeffrey S. Victor. It isn't about Salem but he examines how and why people can be caught up in a "satanic panic".

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/081269192X/

I read something once (unfortunately I can't remember where) that said that there were similar Witch scares in other town in the same time period. But in the other towns the courts wouldn't hear the cases. Salem was a big deal because people actually got killed.

I think you really need to look at the larger issues. If you say it was caused by "a bedrock belief in the reality of witches held by a theocratic society having only a superficial acquaintance with the rule of law." How do you explain the Satanic panic in western New York State in the 1980s? A better explanation is a few symbolic urban legends supported by "experts" fit the unconscious needs of a community stressed by changing social structures and an uncertain economic future. That explains the burning times in Germany and France in the 1500s, the Salem trials 1691-2, the McCarthy hearings 1953-54, and the Satanic ritual abuse cases in the 1980s.

http://members.shaw.ca/imaginarycrimes/howRAstarted.htm
  #20  
Old 02-07-2005, 09:44 PM
kidchameleon kidchameleon is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Cecil's basement
Posts: 5,321
Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMMYOWNGOD
I would love to hear from a Jew or Christian who could defend their belief in witches and/or this passage from the Bible. Please inform me - how do you identify witches
Build a bridge out of 'er!
  #21  
Old 02-07-2005, 10:37 PM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chatham, NJ, USA
Posts: 5,002
Actually, belief in witches has been regarded as a leftover pagan superstition (you do know that it's a worldwide belief as old as mankind, with no special relation to the Bible, don't you?) for most of the history of Christianity.
__________________
John W. Kennedy
"The blind rulers of Logres
Nourished the land on a fallacy of rational virtue."
-- Charles Williams. Taliessin through Logres: Prelude
  #22  
Old 02-07-2005, 11:13 PM
kung fu lola kung fu lola is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: at the number prophetess
Posts: 2,656
I remember a Newsweek article that claimed to trace the Witch Trials to a disagreement over inheritance and the right of women to hold property. Has anyone else heard this theory?
  #23  
Old 02-07-2005, 11:52 PM
Tenar Tenar is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: The Well of Loneliness
Posts: 1,652
Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMMYOWNGOD
I would love to hear from a Jew or Christian who could defend their belief in witches and/or this passage from the Bible. Please inform me - how do you identify witches
No offense, but this seems more suited to Great Debates (if it is your intention to debate belief in witches) or to General Questions (if you are asking a factual question regarding the identification of witches).

Otherwise, though -- welcome to SDMB. Enjoy your stay.
  #24  
Old 02-08-2005, 02:10 PM
IAMMYOWNGOD IAMMYOWNGOD is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 45
The key point that you seem to be missing is that "God" himself is commanding humans (via Moses) to kill witches. I would agree that this is likely a leftover pagan superstition - but from a believer's point of view, this must be taken as a command from "God." In fairness, this passage seems to be a candidate for something arbitrarily added, perhaps during the writing of the King James version of the Bible. The passage sticks out like a sore thumb. The only relevant context anywhere near it is "Thou shalt not kill" - a contradictory statement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy
Actually, belief in witches has been regarded as a leftover pagan superstition (you do know that it's a worldwide belief as old as mankind, with no special relation to the Bible, don't you?) for most of the history of Christianity.
  #25  
Old 02-08-2005, 05:48 PM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chatham, NJ, USA
Posts: 5,002
Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMMYOWNGOD
The key point that you seem to be missing is that "God" himself is commanding humans (via Moses) to kill witches. I would agree that this is likely a leftover pagan superstition - but from a believer's point of view, this must be taken as a command from "God." In fairness, this passage seems to be a candidate for something arbitrarily added, perhaps during the writing of the King James version of the Bible.
No.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMMYOWNGOD
The passage sticks out like a sore thumb.
Not particularly. The whole thing is a laundry list.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMMYOWNGOD
The only relevant context anywhere near it is "Thou shalt not kill" - a contradictory statement.
Actually, that should be translated, "Thou shalt do no murder."

In any case, the exact meaning of the word that is translated "witch" is in doubt. The etymological sense is "poisoner", but it is not clear whether that was its meaning at the time -- and, one way or the other, "poisoner" and "witch", culturally, are closely allied concepts.

As C. S. Lewis points out, we don't have witch-hunts any more because we don't believe in witches. But if we did believe in witches, i.e., in people who have made an arrangement with the Devil to gain supernatural powers in order to do harm to their neighbors, then who could possibly deserve death more than such filthy quislings?
  #26  
Old 02-09-2005, 02:08 PM
IAMMYOWNGOD IAMMYOWNGOD is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy
No.Not particularly. The whole thing is a laundry list.Actually, that should be translated, "Thou shalt do no murder."

In any case, the exact meaning of the word that is translated "witch" is in doubt. The etymological sense is "poisoner", but it is not clear whether that was its meaning at the time -- and, one way or the other, "poisoner" and "witch", culturally, are closely allied concepts.

As C. S. Lewis points out, we don't have witch-hunts any more because we don't believe in witches. But if we did believe in witches, i.e., in people who have made an arrangement with the Devil to gain supernatural powers in order to do harm to their neighbors, then who could possibly deserve death more than such filthy quislings?
I can't remember my source, but I did read that the closest translation is "an evil, female spell-caster." Even if you do believe in witches and thought they should be killed, how would you identify them? "God" in the Bible doesn't say how to do that! And that's why I mention it hear because the misguided folks in Salem must've read this particular commandment from their god and tragically felt compelled to follow it.
  #27  
Old 02-09-2005, 02:20 PM
IAMMYOWNGOD IAMMYOWNGOD is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 45
hello again

I can't remember my source, but I read that the original translation is "an evil, female spell-caster" (which brings up the point - aren't there male witches and don't they deserve execution as well?). Even if you believe in witches and are willing to execute them as "God" commanded, how will you identify them? "God" doesn't say how to do that in the Bible. I think it's very likely that the misguided folks in Salem were familiar with Exodus 22:18 and tragically decided to obey their god's commandment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy
No.Not particularly. The whole thing is a laundry list.Actually, that should be translated, "Thou shalt do no murder."

In any case, the exact meaning of the word that is translated "witch" is in doubt. The etymological sense is "poisoner", but it is not clear whether that was its meaning at the time -- and, one way or the other, "poisoner" and "witch", culturally, are closely allied concepts.

As C. S. Lewis points out, we don't have witch-hunts any more because we don't believe in witches. But if we did believe in witches, i.e., in people who have made an arrangement with the Devil to gain supernatural powers in order to do harm to their neighbors, then who could possibly deserve death more than such filthy quislings?
  #28  
Old 02-09-2005, 03:24 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 25,045
Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMMYOWNGOD
(which brings up the point - aren't there male witches and don't they deserve execution as well?).
One of the people accused of witchcraft at Salem (who died after being pressed with stones after refusing to enter a plea), was a man, Giles Corey.
  #29  
Old 02-09-2005, 03:27 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 25,045
Further, six of the witches found guilty and executed at Salem were men: George Burroughs, John Willard, George Jacobs, Sr., John Proctor, Wilmott Redd, and Samuel Wardwell.
  #30  
Old 02-09-2005, 06:31 PM
Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
Uncharted
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Somewhere in the Potomac
Posts: 32,194
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheherazahde
The West Memphis three looks more like a simple case of scapegoating using socially acceptable stereotypes, then a full blown Satanic panic. Three children were killed so there was a crime that needed to be investigated. And I didn't see anything about widespread mob fear of Satanist in the area.

But I don't know much about the particular case.
The WM3 have been discussed at great length here, you should take a look.
  #31  
Old 10-25-2013, 10:05 AM
tgs222 tgs222 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 2
True?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Menocchio View Post
That's what I meant. If the girls had St Anthony's Fire / ergotism, they would have been diagnosed as such, not as victims of an unknown and possibly supernatural ailment. The Salem folks would have recognized ergotism. This wasn't it.
Ergotism was not really well understood until about 1820 (except by Jesus). I Googled a bit on doctors and ergotism and did not get any confidence that Salem's doctors (if any) would have ID'd this. Do you have a source? I had shingles (something remotely similar) 15 years ago & it was properly diagnosed by my physical therapist & my doctor never acknowledged that I had shingles. Ergotism had to be much less common.
  #32  
Old 10-25-2013, 11:23 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Beervania
Posts: 54,354
Quote:
Originally Posted by tgs222 View Post
Ergotism was not really well understood until about 1820 (except by Jesus). I Googled a bit on doctors and ergotism and did not get any confidence that Salem's doctors (if any) would have ID'd this. Do you have a source? I had shingles (something remotely similar) 15 years ago & it was properly diagnosed by my physical therapist & my doctor never acknowledged that I had shingles. Ergotism had to be much less common.
You revived an eight year old thread to ask a question of someone that hasn't posted here for almost five years.
  #33  
Old 10-25-2013, 01:41 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 19,982
Quote:
Originally Posted by tgs222 View Post
Ergotism was not really well understood until about 1820 (except by Jesus).
Jesus who? Did he live in Salem, Mass.? Was he a doctor? Researcher?
  #34  
Old 10-25-2013, 03:32 PM
Gagundathar Gagundathar is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: East TN Mtns USA,NA,Sol3
Posts: 4,101
'Tis the season for zombies!
  #35  
Old 10-25-2013, 06:24 PM
gnoitall gnoitall is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5,466
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gagundathar View Post
'Tis the season for zombies!
I bet even real Salem witches never raised zombies. Whether ergotic or not.
  #36  
Old 10-25-2013, 06:37 PM
simster simster is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 10,270
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnoitall View Post
I bet even real Salem witches never raised zombies. Whether ergotic or not.
ergot zombie?
  #37  
Old 10-25-2013, 07:15 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 19,982
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnoitall View Post
I bet even real Salem witches never raised zombies. Whether ergotic or not.
I want to raise a zombie. What do I plant?
  #38  
Old 10-25-2013, 08:16 PM
kidchameleon kidchameleon is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Cecil's basement
Posts: 5,321
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
I want to raise a zombie. What do I plant?
I hear plants fight zombies.
  #39  
Old 10-25-2013, 09:49 PM
Ignatz Ignatz is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5,503
Five of the "witches" were exonerated by the acting Mass. governor on Halloween 2001.
  #40  
Old 10-28-2013, 05:11 AM
bahimes bahimes is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Over here
Posts: 273
Quote:
Originally Posted by simster View Post
ergot zombie?
Ergo...
  #41  
Old 10-31-2013, 10:16 AM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: oklahoma city
Posts: 7,886
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ignatz View Post
Five of the "witches" were exonerated by the acting Mass. governor on Halloween 2001.
Just in the nick of time!
  #42  
Old 09-07-2017, 10:18 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
SDSAB
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: my Herkimer Battle Jitney
Posts: 73,161
Bumped because the article is back on the SD front page.

My high school American History teacher in the mid-Eighties discussed the ergot theory, which was somewhat recent at that point, but did not say it was proved, just interesting. Another analysis at the time suggested that the families whose members were leveling witchcraft accusations were often then beneficiaries of the lands and property forfeited by convicted witches' families. Money talks.
  #43  
Old 09-09-2017, 12:49 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 45,701
So in talking to a local Bible-thumping Christian, I asked why he wasn't out killing witches instead of harassing women going into a local women's health clinic. He claimed that the "witches" the Bible was talking about were a local group that were burning babies alive as a human sacrifice.

Of course, nothing in Exodus backs this up.
  #44  
Old 09-09-2017, 02:28 PM
furryman furryman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Collinwood, Collinsport
Posts: 3,380
I've come across all these theories at one time or another, perhaps a combination of all of them is true:
1. The accused were generally speaking women who were good at herbal medicine.
2. The accused were women who were old and single.
3. The main reason the hysteria continued was due to a small group of girls who where seeking attention.
__________________
NUMBER 6: What do you want? NUMBER 2: Information. NUMBER 6: You won't get it! NUMBER 2: By hook or by crook... we will. The Prisoner

"In the name of the Toon, I'll punish you!" Excel Excel (Dressed as Sailor "Toon")
  #45  
Old 09-09-2017, 02:40 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 75,602
Let's not overlook the obvious: people really believed in witches back then.

I'm not saying witches existed, then or now. But we shouldn't struggle so hard to explain why people were making accusations of witchcraft. There doesn't have to be hidden motives.
  #46  
Old 09-09-2017, 08:58 PM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chatham, NJ, USA
Posts: 5,002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Let's not overlook the obvious: people really believed in witches back then.

I'm not saying witches existed, then or now. But we shouldn't struggle so hard to explain why people were making accusations of witchcraft. There doesn't have to be hidden motives.
Well, yes, but assuming that you’re talking about Salem, there are still some mysteries remaining even after you allow for that. Why this sudden witch hunt when witch hunts had been long lost in the past? And why did all the judges, etc., say only a year later that they were so very, very sorry, and had no idea what ever could have come over them like that?
__________________
John W. Kennedy
"The blind rulers of Logres
Nourished the land on a fallacy of rational virtue."
-- Charles Williams. Taliessin through Logres: Prelude
  #47  
Old 09-10-2017, 08:13 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Troynovant
Posts: 7,973
Local politics or animosities could be at the root of it, the fantasies of the young girls used as a tool to further the designs of some particular people. Perhaps the relevant question here is cui bono?, who stood to gain from the trials?

Last edited by aldiboronti; 09-10-2017 at 08:14 AM.
  #48  
Old 09-11-2017, 08:22 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
Mod Rocker
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 40,477
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Let's not overlook the obvious: people really believed in witches back then.

I'm not saying witches existed, then or now. But we shouldn't struggle so hard to explain why people were making accusations of witchcraft. There doesn't have to be hidden motives.
Actually, their do have to be hidden motives. (Hidden in the sense that they are unknown, not in the sense of plots or conspiracies.)

The witch trials of the Renaissance, (they were never a Medieval phenomenon), tended to be social outbreaks that occurred in specific locations, for limited times. While there were occasional individual "witches" tried and executed in that period, it was rather more common for a community to have a frenzied outbreak resulting in a number of convictions and executions over a short period of time, followed by a restoration of something resembling sanity and the ending of the outbreak.

Given that phenomenon, a simple belief in witches does not really explain the Salem outbreak.
  #49  
Old 09-11-2017, 10:33 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 75,602
Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy View Post
Well, yes, but assuming that you’re talking about Salem, there are still some mysteries remaining even after you allow for that. Why this sudden witch hunt when witch hunts had been long lost in the past? And why did all the judges, etc., say only a year later that they were so very, very sorry, and had no idea what ever could have come over them like that?
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomndebb View Post
The witch trials of the Renaissance, (they were never a Medieval phenomenon), tended to be social outbreaks that occurred in specific locations, for limited times. While there were occasional individual "witches" tried and executed in that period, it was rather more common for a community to have a frenzied outbreak resulting in a number of convictions and executions over a short period of time, followed by a restoration of something resembling sanity and the ending of the outbreak.
The Salem Witch craze occurred in 1692. Burning witches was not some long forgotten practice. Thousands of people (mostly women) were executed for witchcraft during the seventeenth century.

Granted, an outbreak of witch hunting didn't happen for no reason. But it wasn't a rare event that required an extraordinary reason. If a town had a bad harvest, they might decide to burn some witches.

A year later, the townspeople might feel some regrets. But it was more like "Yeah, we went a little overboard" rather than "My God, what did we do?"

Last edited by Little Nemo; 09-11-2017 at 10:34 PM.
  #50  
Old 09-12-2017, 10:15 PM
qazwart qazwart is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,440
This witch hunt episode became famous because of something very strange and unusual happened: Society and those in charge admitted they was at fault.

Almost as soon as the trials began, the use of spectral evidence was questioned (something that was allowed in previous witch trials). By the next year, spectral evidence was banned and most of those accused were acquitted. By 1695, there were calls to compensate those who were falsely accused and either jailed or executed. By around 1710, the relatives of those executed were compensated.

This to me is truly the most amazing this about the Salem Witch Trials. If society did not show remorse, it's very likely that the trials would have become a mere footnote in our history much like The Red Summer when hundreds of Blacks were killed in race riots across the United States.

It worries me that if we had a similar incident, would society be so quick to admit fault, or just hope it goes away and never mention it again.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:11 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017