The Science Behind the Salem Witch Trials

Malleus Maleficarum was a Puritan book. It was considered a very important book, and was looked upon in the same light that modern-day books about one’s own religion are viewed today. The Puritans believed witches were real people who practiced dark magic. Of course, there are biblical contradictions to this theory, but the Puritans believed many unbiblical things.

Malleus Maleficarum means “The hammer of witches” in Latin. This book impacted the Salem Witch Trials greatly with suggestive power.

Think about it this way, say you’re babysitting a little girl who likes princesses, and you decide to read her a story about a princess and an ugly monster. Will she be more or less likely to ask you to check for monsters under the bed that night? The obvious answer is that she will be more likely to ask you to check under her bed. Why is that?

The reasoning is a phenomenon called suggestive power. Suggestive power is when people hear about a piece of fictional information (such as “Aliens are real!”) or story element (like the monster in the story in the scenario above), then their brains actually connect that to something real. It’s like drawing a line to the wrong dot in a connect the dots puzzle.

When you’re younger, you realize the difference between fact and fiction. Smaller children call this real and pretend. Most adults are convinced they can tell the difference between reality and fantasy, yet they can still usually be swayed by abstract concepts, such as religion or emotion. So is the case of the Salem Witch Trials.

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