Some officials became infected with the scientific spirit and tested the witchcraft hypothesis for themselves. A Milanese judge killed his mule, accused his servant of committing the misdeed, and had him subjected to torture, whereupon the man confessed to the crime; he even refused to recant on the gallows for fear of being tortured again. (today this experiment would not be approved by committees for the protection of human subjects in research.) The judge then abolished the use of torture in his court.
Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature, p. 140