I stumble upon this question after reading this Wikipedia article, which I find very intriguing: The laughter epidemic began on days averaging around 7 days.

After reading that article I went through a rabbit hole of related topics: Dancing media

And one of the famous ones: The Salem witch trials were fourteen women and five men.

I am not sure most of the people or the masses that make up "society" believed they were crazy but righteous and doing the right thing, I am pretty sure if anyone from today was put in the same situation they would have accepted these now-called 'hysterias' as rightful actions. The only people that might have seen the people as 'crazy' might be the ones that were prosecuted in the "Salem Witch Trials" case and other countries that hear of the people in the case of "the Laughing and Dancing Hysteria".

Is 'society' just a huge bunch of 'hypocritic' mess? If not, please humor me.

  • 3
    according to some "normal is what craziness happens to be more common at a given time". cf “Every established order tends to produce the naturalization of its own arbitrariness.” ― Pierre Bourdieu
    – Nikos M.
    Commented Mar 5 at 16:38
  • Yes, unfortunately society rules. During the Salem trial, both judges and "witches" shared most of common beliefs in supernatural. Commented Mar 5 at 17:27
  • @NikosM. Superb!
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Mar 6 at 2:16
  • 1
    "rumored to have occurred in or near the village of Kashasha" - so the easiest explanation that things described in article never happened, had other reasons or greatly exaggerated. Especially since nothing similar happened anywhere else. Why? Simple explanation - it just didn't happen
    – Groovy
    Commented Mar 7 at 16:16

3 Answers 3


The root questions here, as I perceive them, are (a) whether we live in a real, independently existing, objective, verifiable world, (b) are our beliefs based accurately in that world, and (c) how can we be sure?

These questions have often been tackled by philosophers, and for surprisingly many of them, throughout time, the answer to the very first question is "no." Plato, Lao Tzu and the ancient Hindu sages had very different views of the universe, but they would all agree that the world as we perceive it is largely illusionary. More recently, there are theorists who claim that reality is a social construct, an artifact of our perceptions, or even an artificial simulation. Even those who do believe in an objective, real world, however, will often admit that our perceptions of that world can be flawed and unreliable.

For those who do believe in a real, objective world AND that our perceptions of it are largely reliable, therefore, the question becomes how can we verify that? Descartes, in the Meditations, claimed that the power of pure reason is enough to verify our perceptions of the world, while the logical positivists felt that empirical data and logical inference could certify the world. That influence lives on in the widespread contemporary assumption that the advance of science, and the reliability of technology, is a sufficient certification of reality. If you take that point of view, then your strategy would be to test your intuitions against available scientific data.

  • 1
    What a beautifully written response. Thank you. Watch the Ted Talk video by Donald Hoffman, titled - Do we see reality as it is?
    – How why e
    Commented Mar 5 at 22:14

I think we know it the same way we get to know everything else: by connecting the dots, by piecing together the puzzle. That puzzle is our personal knowledge, our personal map of reality. It is a detective work, but until a person succeeds and has their own map assembled, they would often feel lost and confused -- if not losing their mind.

  • Is 'stoicism' a supposed cure for this feeling of being lost and confused? Does it ground ones sense of normalcy regardless of the occasion?
    – How why e
    Commented Mar 5 at 18:36
  • 1
    The way I understand it, stoicism is about building resilience in the face of adversity. But I'm not an expert. Commented Mar 5 at 19:18

I move to declare thiis question "are/am we/I crazy?" to be The Fundamental Question of Philosophy.

Headmaster: [...]I administered a beating during which he died [...]
Mr. Perkins (distraught father of deceased student): Are you mad?
Headmaster: I'm furious!!!

Fatal Beating

  • 1
    Peak humor, honestly! Rowan Atkinson is truly a comedy genius
    – How why e
    Commented Mar 6 at 4:21

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