28 May 2010

"She turned me into a newt!" ... "I got better."

Marginal Revolution | Tyler Cowen | The unenlightened economy
SNAKING AROUND the outer wall of the courthouse in Mbaiki, Central African Republic, is a long line of citizens, all in human form and waiting to face judgment. It’s easy to imagine them as the usual mix of drunks, reckless drivers, and check-bouncers in the dock of a small American town. But here most are witches, and they are facing criminal punishment for hexing their enemies or assuming the shape of animals.

By some estimates, about 40 percent of the cases in the Central African court system are witchcraft prosecutions.

...most lawyers I consulted there favored keeping the law intact, although they admitted that it fits uneasily in a modern legal system. “The problem is that in a witchcraft case, there is usually no evidence,” said Bartolomé Goroth, a lawyer in Bangui...
More here. Add this to the evidence for Joel Mokyr's thesis.
Hat tip: The Browser.
"Usually no evidence"? Is there ever any evidence?  I can only hope the evidence involves putting people on scales with ducks.

You could also change "most lawyers I consulted there favored keeping the law intact" to "most lawyers I consulted there favored superstitious bullshit which keeps them employed."

Also, consider that in a country with $745 of GDP per capita (PPP), the government is confiscating money from people and spending it on witchcraft trials.  In the 21st century.

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