Saturday, August 03, 2013

21st century witch hunts: Is blaming James Inhofe for causing bad weather really more sane than blaming witches in Salem or Tanzania for the same thing?

2012: Did Cold Weather Cause the Salem Witch Trials? | Weather Patterns & Witchcraft Accusations | Bizarre News | LiveScience
Historical records indicate that, worldwide, witch hunts occur more often during cold periods, possibly because people look for scapegoats to blame for crop failures and general economic hardship. Fitting the pattern, scholars argue that cold weather may have spurred the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692.

The theory, first laid out by the economist Emily Oster in her senior thesis at Harvard University eight years ago, holds that the most active era of witchcraft trials in Europe coincided with a 400- year period of lower-than-average temperature known to climatologists as the "little ice age."Oster, now an associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago, showed that as the climate varied from year to year during this cold period, lower temperatures correlated with higher numbers of witchcraft accusations.

The correlation may not be surprising, Oster argued, in light of textual evidence from the period: popes and scholars alike clearly believed witches were capable of controlling the weather, and therefore, crippling food production.

The Salem witch trials fell within an extreme cold spell that lasted from 1680 and 1730 — one of the chilliest segments of the little ice age...A winter fuel shortage would have made for a fairly miserable colonial home, and "the higher the misery quotient, the more likely you are to be seeing witches."
Weather patterns continue to trigger witchcraft accusations in many parts of Africa, where witch killings persist. According to a 2003 analysis by the Berkeley economist Edward Miguel, extreme rainfall — either too much or too little — coincides with a significant increase in the number of witch killings in Tanzania. The victim is typically the oldest woman in a household, killed by her own family.
Environmental Science Class Studies the Impact of Weather on Human Behavior | UVA Today
[2009] In fact, the Salem Witch Trials took place during the "Little Ice Age," a period when temperatures began cooling. This was particularly troublesome for women suspected of being witches, who were often accused of changing the weather.
List of people executed for witchcraft - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
About eighty people were accused of practising witchcraft in a witch-hunt that lasted throughout New England from 1648-1663. Thirteen women and two men were executed. The Salem witch trials followed in 1692–3, culminating in the executions of 19 people.

It has been estimated that tens of thousands of people were executed for witchcraft in Europe and the American colonies over several hundred years. Although it is not possible to ascertain the exact number, modern scholars estimate around 40–50,00

No comments: