Very short backstory:Â Â On this day in 1692, arrest warrants were issues for three women accused of being witches. Â Starting with these, more than 150 people were arrested and put to trial for the felony offense of witchcraft, often citing “spectral evidence.” Â Yes, really. Â Twenty-nine were convicted and at least twenty were put to death. Â Although it took until 1957, all were eventually exonerated. Â Yes, 1957. Â
Skepchick point of interest: Some folks did try reason and logic to quell the crazy. Â Father and son duo Increase and Cotton Mather, along with 10 other local ministers, try and inject some sanity, asking authorities not to convict only on the basis of “spectral evidence.”Â Â The â€œwitch cake,â€ made with the urine of the cursed, seems to have been fair game, however.
Not-so-Skepchick?:Â Earlier this week, this very week in 2008, news ofÂ a pregnant woman in Papua New Guinea found guilty of witchcraft and hanged.Â Â While struggling to free herself from the noose, she gave birth to a baby girl. Â Both survived, as did the new mother’s similarly accused husband. Â Police have been slow to investigate, and the new family have since moved out of town.
Personal note: Itâ€™s also a happy birthday to my dear friend David, the finest man I didnâ€™t have the good sense to marry!