Unbitten, yet undeterred: the Salem witch trials as a demand-pull phenomenon
Franklin G. Mixon
Ernest W. King
Purpose – In a relatively new and interesting study, a new theory was offered to explain events surrounding the Salem witch trials of 1692. According to the author of that study (Carlson), the behavior of the accusers can be explained by an outbreak of encephalitis. The purpose of this paper is to offer evidence that contradicts that hypothesis. Design/methodology/approach – To these ends, this paper examines life expectancy data from the Wigglesworth 1789 life expectancy tables to reject the Carlson thesis. The current study also provides a graphical exposition of the Salem witch trials as a demand-pull phenomenon. Findings – According to the data, the age at-death minus the Wigglesworth life expectancy of 28.15 years for the witch trials accusers averages between 26.4 years, a figure that is statistically significant. This result contradicts Carlson's view that the accusers encountered encephalitis. Finally, the stylized graphical model presented here provides an additional way of viewing the witchcraft episode in 1692 Salem as a demand-pull phenomenon. Originality/value In refuting previous hypotheses about witchcraft episodes, and by offering a graphical model of witchcraft hysteria as a demand-pull phenomenon, this study re-focuses attention on the ethico-economic aspects of the Salem witchcraft episode.
Demand management, History, Organizations, Rents, United States of America
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