April 24, 2012

Climate Change did NOT Cause the Salem Witch Trials

This just in...

I always get worried when I bump into TV cameras downtown Salem because a lot of shows just aim to make the whole city look goofy or mock witchcraft ( which tends to be pretty easy around here). So when I dropped into Hex yesterday and almost tripped over camera wires and noticed a whole crew surrounding Lori Bruno I got a bit suspicious and paranoid.

I asked around and apparently this production company just got green-lit for a show on National Geographic called American Chainsaw which "showcases the artistry New England-based hard rock star Jesse 'The Machine' Green and his team of chainsaw sculptors as they create artworks for prestigious clients." 

Actually sounds pretty cool. Maybe it's a bit cheesy in the description, but you can't go wrong with chainsaw sculpting. Apparently they are making something amazing for Lori Bruno and coming back later in the week to unveil it. (hint: it's a dragon!)

In other news...

The other big story about Salem this week has been so prolific that it's become quite an annoyance.

Everywhere I look I see the headline "Did Climate Change Cause the Salem Witch Trials?" and I just want to respond angrily to every single article with a big "NO!"

People still coming up with theories as to what caused the trials are always people new to the subject. Any person who has actually studied the trials knows that there was no one single "cause" and looking for a single "theory" is pretty uneducated. This theory is being posited in a paper written EIGHT YEARS AGO by a Harvard student as her senior thesis. The woman, Emily Oster, was previously most well known for her PhD dissertation on the subject of Hepatitis B and is a teacher of economics at The University of Chicago, so obviously this is yet another person who dabbled into the Salem Witch Trials as a pet project. As an historian and tour guide in Salem I have been approached by dozens of university students writing papers on the trials, and most of them claim that they "have always been drawn" to the Witch Trials or "always found it fascinating," but the bottom line is, you can't just take a vacation to Salem and do a few months of research and then consider yourself an expert. (Not to say Oster isn't awesome, her analysis of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa is extremely important and made huge waves a few years ago.)

Too easy.

This reminds me of the much disproven Ergot Theory (Excellent article in that link by the way! A must read for anyone interested in the hysteria.), which still gets brought up by know-it-alls and stoners trying to come up with an easy answer to explain away the trials. Ergot is what LSD is a synthetically derived from, so it would be an easy way to explain things - of course, they were all just tripping! 

"Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we're the imagination of ourselves" - Bill Hicks

But trying to come up with a theory to explain the trials is absolutely ignorant considering these types of persecutions still happen today! Is it so impossible for us to admit that human kind is just a little messed up? Do we have to come up with theories because we are ashamed to admit the people seen as the founders of the Americas were capable of such atrocities? These things happen in undeveloped and socially backwards countries all the time, and back in 1692 Salem MA was like a third world country. Mind you, that was mostly by choice - the Puritans were not big on education, every single thing a child learned was straight from the Bible, not science or history books.

I have been studying the trials in a professional and official capacity for years and work in the tourist industry in Salem. When a tourists asks me what "caused" the trials I answer simply: The Puritans!

The Puritans were not the cute little pious people you learned about in school, they were a cult of ignorant fanatics. What happened to cause the trials was more of a "perfect storm" type scenario, where a perfect combination of actual events, psychological stressors, and social problems came together in just the right way to result in such a conflagration of circumstances. 

One enlightening fact people never tend to know about the Puritans is that they were an apocalyptic cult! A Puritan minister, leader, and author who was one of the main villains during the trials is a man named Cotton Mather who posited that the end of the world would happen in 1697. That's right, the Puritans were like Y2k people. They were like that crazy libertarian Ron Paul supporting friend of yours that says fluoride in the drinking water controls our minds and the Mayans predicted the end of the world was in 2012. They're like that idiot last year who said the world was going to end and bought up all those billboards

The point being that we tend tend to romanticize the Puritans when in fact we should look at them for who they really were - 


April 3, 2012

Rob Zombie Comes Out of Nerd Closet - Does Tom Baker Impression

I've been following Rob Zombie news religiously for more than a year now, scouring for Lords of Salem news. As a huge nerd and an insane Doctor Who fan I freaked out when I saw this video of Rob Zombie doing a Tom Baker impression. Apparently he is going to be making videos for Chris Hardwick's "The Nerdist", and having been a fan of Chris' for a while now I couldn't be happier for everyone involved. Chris has also gotten Weird Al to make videos for The Nerdist and the first one debuted today!

The internet freaked out and geeked out over this clip to which Rob replied via Twitter "Why is everybody so surprised I know who Tom Baker is? I've been a fan of his Dr. Who since the 70's." XD

Further evidence of his nerd-dom can be found in this picture he posted to Facebook a few months ago, edited by myself: