The author takes as the most unequivocal example of the phenomenon he discusses the confessions of persons charged with witchcraft. He believes that these and nearly all other confessions of guilt by innocent persons are to be explained by two considerations:—(1) the dread of impending death renders a person accused of a capital offence specially amenable to suggestion; (2) the necessary suggestion is supplied by the persistent assertions and challenges of the accusers. He points out that these conditions are often as well realised by detective methods nowadays as they were by the inquisitors in the time of Cotton Mather. Hence the need of extreme caution in attaching weight to admissions of guilt in capital cases.
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