Presenter: Margo Burns
On April 2, 1976, Science Magazine published an article by Linnda R. Caporeal which posited that during the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials, the visions of specters and painful physical sensations described by the girls who claimed to be afflicted by witches could have been caused from eating bread made with flour tainted by ergot, a naturally occurring fungal hallucinogen that grows on rye grain under certain growing conditions. While experts immediately debunked this claim – the historical and medical data used to support the hypothesis was cherry-picked – the claim went viral in a pre-Internet age. More than four decades later, belief in this is still pervasive. This program will unpack how this explanation about a lurid chapter in American history was born and cemented in the public imagination. It is a case study in how mass media induces people to buy into “fake news."
Tuesday, October 24, 2023 1:00pm
Manchester Community College1066 Front StreetManchester NH 03102
Manchester Community College Library
Kristen Lindsay, 603-206-8154
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.