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January 30, 2010

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Matt

Well, I have to say I'm pretty skeptical. Obviously we don't expect there to be a huge string of foot-notes in a newspaper article but I would have liked at least some pointer to some serious historical research showing that this is true. Given that there weren't even such pointers I'm going to suspect there's some making things up and a priori logic doing a lot of the work here. As it is, it sounds too much like the history one would expect from an economist- that things must have been rational and worked or else people wouldn't have done them for so long. People used ordeals for a long time, so they must have worked. But since the first premise is false, the argument doesn't go through, and there's not even a gesture at real work here except to some other dubious or not super strong arguments about belief.

Alfred

Agreed, Matt.

Sam

I think Leeson's theory comes down to this: more or less everyone believed in the efficacy of the ordeal rituals except the judges, who knew better but manipulated the gullibility of the masses in order to maintain social order. Isn't that pretty implausible on its face?

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