Myth: It was all because of religious paranoia
While emphatic religious behavior played a major role in the Salem witch trials, it was not the only contributing factor. History.com cites the tensions and stresses of living in a new colony, hostilities with the indigenous people, and even smallpox as possible sources. The hysteria over witchcraft in the town was also started by a select few young girls, who launched the very first accusations. Lastly, there is an argument that the convulsions and so-called “visions” people were experiencing were actually the effects of a disease caused by a bread-related fungus.
Myth: The victims were all innocent
There were people who did confess to practicing witchcraft during this time period. However, it’s likely that they confessed, not because they actually were witches, but because those who were accused of sorcery and confessed would have more lenient sentences. In some cases, they even implicated others in their stead. Don’t miss these real-life Ouija board stories that will give you chills.
Myth: The accused witches weren’t cleared until recently
While the state government of Massachusetts didn’t officially apologize for the Salem Witch Trials until 1957, all of the people accused of witchcraft were pardoned just a year after the trials began. From that point on, government officials took steps to repay descendants of the victims and honor the dead.