Talk:European witch-hunts

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Icon christianity.svg

This Christianity related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


Archives for this talk page: <1>, (new)

Black Death[edit]

The statement that the main period of witch-hunts (1400s onwards) coincides with the Black Death is untrue. The Black Death was the 1300s. Totnesmartin 14:53, 25 February 2009 (EST)

Hmmm, I seemed to recall from a book I have that there were several waves, but couldn't find an easy reference in it outside the mid-1300s. However, from the ever-trusty and easy to access "wiki-pedia", I quote: "The plague is thought to have returned every generation with varying virulence and mortalities until the 1700s.[17] During this period, more than 100 plague epidemics swept across Europe.[4] On its return in 1603, the plague killed 38,000 Londoners.[18] Other notable 17th century outbreaks were the Italian Plague of 1629–1631, and the Great Plague of Seville (1647–1652), the Great Plague of London (1665–1666),[19] and the Great Plague of Vienna (1679). There is some controversy over the identity of the disease, but in its virulent form, after the Great Plague of Marseille in 1720–1722,[20] the Great Plague of 1738 (which hit eastern Europe), and the 1771 plague in Moscow, it seems to have disappeared from Europe in the 19th century." ħumanUser talk:Human 21:56, 25 February 2009 (EST)
The two did coincide in part but there were also periods when the two had nothing to do with each other. To be honest, I think the role of Black Death in continuation of the witch-hunting crazes would be fairly easy to overstate. What survives of the historical record tends to suggest a moral panic, a convienient scapegoat and lots of motivation in the form of money and spite. --Ebon 22:10, 25 February 2009 (EST)
The "Black Death" usually refers specifically to the major epidemic of 1340s-50s, not to subsequent outbreaks (although the term was coined by historians in the 19th century). There were very very few witch trials before about 1500, & no direct connection to plagues at all. This article looks like it was written by somebody with a lot of trite preconceptions about pre-modern Europe & v little actual knowledge of the history. The major contributing factor to the witch-hunts was the religious zealotry, hysteria & paranoia of the era, among both Catholics & Protestants. People of this age believed that Satan was a very real force in the world, that he was setting up false churches & causing religious schisms, & that he was also seducing people with the lure of magic & witchcraft. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 08:26, 26 February 2009 (EST)

Toast, the difference between "who" and "whom"[edit]

Firstly, a look at the link you provided. It contains, as an example, a very similar sentence: "Whom can we turn to in a time of crisis?" (Even that makes me cringe; I would have to write it as "To whom can we turn...?")

Secondly, about subject and object: In the disputed sentence, "we" — referring to the people doing the blaming — is the subject and "whom" — referring to those being blamed — is the object. Even Wikipedia can tell you that. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:07, 25 February 2009 (EST)

I'm going to go with Listener on this. We are debating the sentence "Who/whom can we blame?" We can reconstruct the sentence to read, "We can blame him." "Him" is pretty obviously the object of this sentence. So the appropriate word would be "whom". At least that's how I would interpret it.
On the other hand, the "rules" of the English are created by majority usage - if most people think it looks "wrong" then maybe we should use "who".--Bobbing up 03:38, 26 February 2009 (EST)
It might be technically correct, but it reads like a foreign language taught by a hyper-pedantic wazzock. No-one, in normal English usage would ever (except of course a grammar wanker) use the "whom" version. Language is led by usage: not by grammarians. ToastToastand marmite 06:46, 26 February 2009 (EST)
I have a lot of sympathy for Toast's position on this. On the other hand here is Time magazine's title "Whom Can We Blame for the Michigan Shooting?" - so the idea that no-one would use such a construction may be overstated.--Bobbing up 10:06, 26 February 2009 (EST)
See, I have to agree strongly with toast here. "who/whom" (unless you are in an English Grammar class, or prepping something for academic writing) is about style and tone. Since toast wrote it, toast gets to choose the tone, in my opinion. there is no rule that says we have to be consistent from one page to the next, cause the tone, the humor, the intent might have been different. (Personally "whom" feels like a stuffed shirt that I had to read for 10 years of graduate studies. Who is much more inviting and conversational).--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Nous naissons tous fous. Quelques-uns le demeurent.» 11:04, 26 February 2009 (EST)
Toast's first contribution to this article was removing "whom" in favor of "who." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 11:07, 26 February 2009 (EST)
(EC) The use of "who" in that place makes me cringe, but it is a fairly common mistake. I first inserted "whom" just as a routine copyedit in the process of making other edits, and my primary issue was with Toast saying that, by prescriptive rules, "who" was correct and "whom" was not. Now that that is resolved, I am disinclined to push the matter any further. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 11:06, 26 February 2009 (EST)
you could always use the grammatically incorrect "which", since it's a witch hunt.  :D ok, i should go back to work and stop annoying you all.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Nous naissons tous fous. Quelques-uns le demeurent.» 12:02, 26 February 2009 (EST)
I feel that the reason "whom" makes us cringe there is partly the "m" followed by a consonant, making for clumsy mouth movements. "Whom is to blame?", for example, seems ok - to my ears and eyes, anyway. And, yeah, "whom" might be a "dying word"... ħumanUser talk:Human 23:19, 26 February 2009 (EST)
"Whom" is incorrect in that place. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:25, 26 February 2009 (EST)
Yes, the simple rule of thumb is that if you can replace your proposed "who/whom" with "he" then the word you want is "who". If you can't, then you'll probably need "whom". In the example immediately above we could say "He is to blame" so the question is "Who is to blame?" In the initial example we could not say "He should we blame." and the grammatically correct form is "Whom should we blame."
Having said all that, I'm not a great fan of prescriptive grammar, and in anything other than the most formal of contexts I'd say that "Who should we blame?" is perfectly acceptable and, indeed, preferable.--Bobbing up 03:34, 27 February 2009 (EST)
This still rolling? "Whom" sounds odd at the beginning of a sentence. It might actually be correct, but sounds odd. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:43, 27 February 2009 (EST)

Accidental deaths while "swimming" witches[edit]

"Trials by ordeal were also common, and often fatal, the most famous example being to throw the accused, whose hands and legs were tied with ropes, into a river. If the accused stayed underwater, they would be considered innocent and pulled up (however, this often did not occur in time, as they waited to make sure the accused was not coming up, and thus many drowned)."

This idea is often repeated in popular accounts of the period, but I would like to know if there is any evidence for it. It smells of propaganda to me. The description of the practice at gives only one instance of death by swimming, and the man responsible was convicted of murder. The tone of the contemporary quotes indicates that it was not considered morally acceptable to kill people judged by the process to be innocent. -- Tim Starling (talk) 04:40, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

From the source you cite: As described by Sir Robert Filmer (1653) a suspect would be stripped naked and then tied up - the right thumb to the left big toe and vice versa. In this position she was then secured by ropes and thrown into a deep stream or pond three times. If she sank (and often drowned) she was deemed as innocent - if she 'fleeted' (floated) then she was 'guilty'. Therefore I believe the text is correct. I'm going to cite the source for detailing that the ordeal could be fixed, and thus convict any suspect, for it fits with my knowledge of other so-called tests used in identifying witches at the time.Mcc1789 (talk) 08:29, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

The use of the Malleus Maleficarum as a source...[edit]

This seems problematic, as the book was not representative of thought at the time. It's the work of a single extremist who was sometimes influential, but in most areas, had little influence.

Woo and Witches[edit]

Anyone know what happened to the woomeisters of yesteryear when the witch hunts happened? Were the psychics and faith healers also rounded up and burnt at the stake? If so, what fraction of witches were innocent victims and what fraction were thieves? CorruptUser (talk) 19:06, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

You have some strange ideas about history. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:08, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Society changes, people don't. There is no reason to think that the scam artists that exist today didn't exist back in Medieval times. CorruptUser (talk) 19:07, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Sure, like the homeopaths and scientologists. ŴêâŝêîôîďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:11, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
What are you arguing exactly? I'm not arguing that Scientology existed back then, only that con artists similar to L Ron Hubbard existed back then. The scams may be new, but the people that start the scams are not. CorruptUser (talk) 19:18, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
People were executed for witchcraft not because it was a "scam" but because the majority of people within the society of the time believed it to be a real phenomenon. You're talking about this society in completely anachronistic terms and holding it to modern standards. WėąṣėḷőįďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:08, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Especially as several things that are rightly considered woo today were still seen as respectable subjects back then (e.g. astrology, alchemy and various forms of quackery). Some of those burned were probably woo peddlers by modern standards, but so too were many (or possibly most) university professors and doctors. ScepticWombat (talk) 21:15, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
"Rightly." I will have to remember to add that to my list of words and phrases that mean, "in my opinion." Einar aka !!!! — Unsigned, by: Carptrash / talk / contribs 05:24, 11 June 2015‎
Eh, wut? Are you saying that "astrology, alchemy and various forms of quackery" (the examples I mentioned) aren't "considered woo today"? Or are you claiming that such disciplines weren't "still seen as respectable subjects back then"? ScepticWombat (talk) 15:14, 20 June 2015 (UTC)