The unenlightened economy

by on May 27, 2010 at 7:30 am in Economics, History, Law | Permalink

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.

1 E. Barandiaran May 27, 2010 at 9:33 am

SNAKING AROUND the walls of media outlets in U.S.A., are long lines of economists, all in human form and waiting to publish or broadcast their ideas. It’s easy to imagine them as the usual mix of scientists, philosophers, humanists, and professors in the coffee shop of an American university. But here most are witches, and they are eager to punish Americans with their gloom and doom predictions if they don’t comply with their wishes.

Alex, there are witches everywhere. Beware of those close to you.

2 pmp May 27, 2010 at 11:59 am

Some people are confused as to why Africa’s poor. In reality, the problem is wildly overdetermined.

3 j r May 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm

So, the answer is equivicol.

how about we go with whatever answer leads to a developed economy and well-functioning institutions?

4 idiot May 27, 2010 at 1:36 pm

“how about we go with whatever answer leads to a developed economy and well-functioning institutions?”

…or, you know, it is quite possible that a developed economy and well-functioning institutions might actually LEAD to the correct answer, as opposed to the other way around. The modernization thesis and all that.

5 An Onyx Mousse May 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

@Allan – OK I’ll take the bait –
While we certainly have our fair share of crazy people in this country, thankfully, casting magic spells or praying for harm to befall your neighbor are neither crimes nor torts in the US. It’s the rationality of the institution that matters, more so than the people.

6 YourBigotryFailsToAmuseMe May 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm

“Please show me conclusive evidence that witches do not exist.”

Is this a joke?

Russel’s Teapot. Negative Proof. Your statement is fallacious.

7 anon May 27, 2010 at 10:22 pm

…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…

most lawyers I consulted there favored keeping the law intact, because do you know how much money many of these lawyers make off these cases? ESPECIALLY with no evidence.

ROFL!

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9 Eric Rasmusen May 28, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I don’t think 40% of our lawsuits are meritless, but there are entire categories that are about as silly as witchcraft, and with less true damage (witchcraft scares people, if nothing else)

10 rdavout May 29, 2010 at 9:27 am

… which doesn’t mean than people don’t firmly believe in magical influences of all kinds. I believe that the power of healing potions and poisons is included in the African perception of magic – so virtually everyone *has to* believe in magic based on direct experience. The problem is that this automatic open door to gullibility makes it easier *for individuals* to fool around with peoples’ beliefs than in most other systems (organised religion in the US/…, spirits and folk religion in China/Singapore/…, etc).

11 Colonel Panic May 29, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she’s a witch?
Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant 3: [meekly after a long pause] … I got better.
Crowd: [shouts] Burn her anyway!

12 memory stick June 1, 2010 at 4:53 am

By some estimates, about 40 percent of cases in the central African Court is the trial of witchcraft.

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