Mass Hysteria Comparisons
The Salem Witch Trials vs. The Kissing Bug Scare
Hysteria in Salem
In 1692 a young group of girls in Salem, Massachusetts claimed to be taunted by the devil and accused many men and women in the village of being witches. There was said that nineteen people were hanged and over one hundred fifty were accused. Once one witch "gave her life back to God," she then accused others of witchery and that's how the hysteria spread. However in 1697 the Massachusetts General Court declared a day of fasting for the victims of the witch trials. The court deemed the trials unlawful and the leading justice then apologized to the public for his part in the trials. In 1711 the courts restored the good names of the condemned and gave financial aid to the families of the victims.
The Kissing Bug Scare of 1899
One reporter in 1899 started a scare that spread throughout the United States. People were contributing bug bites on lips and areas around the mouth to a kissing bug. This bug had never been seen but James McElhone, a writer for the Washington Post, wrote that the victims had been badly poisoned and that this kissing bug was going to start a new plague. After his article came out there was much panic and people contributed any injury on a face to be something the kissing bug had done. People were wearing unneeded bandages and some even quit there jobs and asked for financial support because "their wound made them unable to work." It didn't last long but at the end of it all no kissing bug had been found and entomologists claimed that it was just a newspaper myth.
The witch trials and the kissing bug are common to each other in several different ways. In both hysterias people believed things that were not proven. In the kissing bug scare people went off of opinionated newspaper articles and writings of people that didn't have the authority to say what they were. While in Salem they took the word of young girls and charged people on things unseen. At the end of the epidemic both hysterias were concluded as false and people had no right to believe them anymore because they were both proven to not exist. However I don't believe that the kissing bug compared to the hysteria of the witch trials. No one was killed or had to die on account of the kissing bug while in salem they killed many on false account. The severities of the two hysterics were different but still the same in that both created mass hysteria for no reason.