The persistence of ignorance

Posted: August 27, 2010 in Current events, Religion
Tags: ,

Reading news stories from around the world today is like reading chapters in Charles Mackay’s  1841 Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The persistence of ignorance does not seem to be abating.  “…A crowd gathered around two brothers and their sister. Tears streamed down their mother’s face as she cast out her children from the family, accusing them of causing the premature deaths of two of their siblings with black magic. ‘I am afraid. They are witches and they can kill me as well,’ she sobbed.” Here. Another such story, also involving “witchcraft’ in Africa, involves albinos:  “As many as 10,000 albinos are in hiding in east Africa over fears that they will be dismembered and their body parts sold to witchdoctors… The killings of albinos in Burundi and Tanzania, who are targeted because their body parts are believed to have special powers, have sparked fears among the population in the two countries…” Here. Belief in witches is of course not confined to Africa; it’s a belief widely held in India and SE Asia. There are strains of it in S America; also Haiti, Cuba, and among other islanders. Historically speaking it’s a belief that once terrorized Europe. It’s a belief widly held by Christians and Muslims today. Here’s a short overview.

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