Essex (my home town) was notorious for witch trials. They happened everywhere, of course, but a man named Matthew Hopkins saw money to be made in keeping the hysteria at high levels as he received payment to rid towns of their troublesome folk.
In such feverish times weird stories were bound to do the rounds, and here are some of them:
For the love of God watch Black Mirror by Columnist and writer of Dead Set etc Charlie Brooker if you haven’t already. I mean it! Or I’ll come round your house and…be really annoying and stuff. For me the last two episodes do what good sci-fi should do which is reflect the fears and worries of a society at that moment. On the Twilight Zone DVD is an interview with writer and creator Rod Serling and the interviewer asks him whether he plans to continue with sci-fi or write something important. You only have to watch The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street though to see the terror of cold war hysteria.
I think its important viewing, like Derren Brown’s most recent forays in The Experiments, particularly Derren’s episodes on de-individuation and personal guilt.