By Robert Horvat
A horrible incident of foul gossip in 1692 resulted in twenty people being executed and more than two hundred people being accused of witchcraft, before common sense eventually prevailed the following year in 1693. In one of the most bizarre incidents in American history, the Salem Witch trials would become synonymous with what happens when mass hysteria and paranoia shape decisions of the courts. It is also the best example of why spectral evidence and the absurd claims of ‘affliction by supernatural forces’ should be excluded from court proceedings and how easily in can lead to injustice.
The initial events grew out of pointing fingers and innuendo around claims of witchcraft being practiced in Salem. When a number of young girls became strangely ill in February 1692 with fever and aches and pains, it easily could have been put down to the flu. Unfortunately with this strange…
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