On September 22nd, 1692, the last eight people are hanged for witchcraft as part The Salem Witch Trials. More than two-hundred accusations and nineteen guilty verdicts resulted in death by hanging. Fourteen women and five men headed to the gallows and one man was crushed to death. An unknown number of the accused died while in jail. In retrospect it was easy to be declared a witch in Salem. One could have “the devil’s mark”, create mischief among neighbors or declare that there was no such thing as witches. In the end, simply having a different opinion than the authorities was often most damning.
The trials are a particularly violent example of the madness of crowds, also known as groupthink or the Bandwagon Effect. Show trials and killing those who protested innocence and sparing those who confessed offended seventeenth century logic just as much as it does today. But when accepted authorities join the wisdom of crowds, a devil of a time can ensue. Stock speculators know this after being burned (again) by taking risky bets on tech stocks because...well, because everyone else was doing it and some very smart people said it was okay. This created mischief among many of our neighbors in the last few weeks. Madness.
Don't wait for history to happen...