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date: 25 September 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the role played by science in changing the notions about witchcraft. For almost 250 years, the idea that the march of modern science was responsible for ending the era of the witch trials has held sway in academic and popular writing on the subject. At the same time, it has become equally axiomatic that the belief system which underpinned the legal persecution of witches was itself the product of faulty scientific thinking that was widely rejected as backward-looking, medieval, or superstitious in kind. However, this overly simplistic account of the demise of witchcraft was challenged by a later generation of scholars paving the way for a new consensus that has greatly diminished the role of science in this historical process.

Keywords: science, witchcraft, witch trials, persecution

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