Some interesting speculation: Does Climate Change Mean More Witch Hunts? by Freakonomics, New York Times Blogs, NY, 4/25/2008:
Times columnist Nick Kristof recently highlighted economic research showing that climate change may be driving up the rate of executions of suspected witches in East Africa.
Tough times in the Congo may have been behind the recent witchcraft panic there, where police arrested 13 people accused of using black magic to shrink men’s penises.
University of Chicago economist Emily Oster also found a surge in witch hunts [PDF] during Europe’s “little ice age,” from the 1500’s to late 1700’s.
Dubner and Levitt also wrote of some other surprising climate results over the ages, ranging from property crime, to life expectancy, to civil war.
What other unexpected consequences, whether economic, social, political, or otherwise, should we expect to see from climate change?
I suppose this is possible. Economic hardship does tend to lead to scapegoating. Here in the West, for example, it has been noted that indicents of racist violence tend to increase during economic recessions.
Meanwhile, still more news of full-blown witchhunts in Africa and India:
- Liberia: Mobs Burned Witch, Wizards’ Homes by J. Nathaniel Daygbor, AllAfrica.com, Washington – April 23, 2008
- Woman branded witch by villagers, set abalze Daily News & Analysis, India – April 24, 2008
- Woman branded witch, beheaded, Hindustan Times, India – April 21, 2008, and Man beheads ‘witch’ to avenge brother’s death, Times of India, India – April 20, 2008
On the other hand, another ongoing problem, in parts of Africa, is “witch doctors” who murder people for their body parts. The latest stories on this have to do with albinos being murdered in Tanzania:
- ‘It must stop forthwith’, Independent Online, South Africa – Apr 3, 2008
- Murderers target albinos in Tanzania, Malaysia Sun, Malaysia – Apr 3, 2008
- State protect albinos’ right, Independent Online, South Africa – Apr 8, 2008
- Tanzania leader appoints albino, afrol News, Norway – Apr 9, 2008
When calling attention to this sort of thing in the West, there’s always a danger of fueling racism. So, perhaps I need to point out that the more educated folks in these countries are taking a stand against these practices.