William C. Clark Quotes

As the true magnitude of the witch problem became more apparent, the Church enlisted the Inquisition, an applied institution specifically designed to address pressing social concerns. The Inquisition became the growth industry of the day, offering exciting work, rapid advancement, and wide recognition to its professional and technical workers. Its creative and energetic efforts to create a witch-free world unearthed dangers in the most unlikely places; the rates of witch identification, assessment and evaluation soared.

Professor Clark wrote this historical description of witchcraft and the Inquisition in contemporary verbiage as we would discuss the solution to serious problems of today. His overall point is that when society fears something, it establishes and institution to cope with the object of the fear, and the institution itself creates more fear as this is the way it “succeeds.” A more recent historical example was when Congress created House and Senate Committees to cope with the problem of communists infiltrating and undermining our important institutions. This had not been a problem until Senator Joseph McCarthy and a few others claimed that they had found thousands in our military, state department and other government agencies. In the final analysis, while there were NO witches, there were only a few former communists in government and most were fiction and imagination. Yet society went through a Red Scare that in some ways paralleled society’s problem with witchcraft.

William C. Clark, International Science Scholar & Educator, Witches, Floods, Historical Management Perspectives On Risk Management, 1980

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  • Born: December 20, 1948
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  • Profession: Harvey Brooks Professor International Science, Public Policy Human Development At John F. Kennedy School Government, Harvard University

William C. Clark is the Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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