In a recent Research on Religion podcast ("Peter Leeson on Witch Trials and Human Sacrifice"), Leeson explores how economic theory can help us better understand the rise and fall of witchcraft trials and human sacrifice. Here is a brief summary of the podcast (from the Research on Religion website):
Our annual Halloween special takes us back in history to the 16th century when Europe faced a wave of witchcraft trials. To learn why these episodes took place when and where they did, we consult with economist Peter Leeson who enlightens us as to how economics can be used to understand these questions. He also explains the seemingly irrational behavior of human sacrifice in India through the lens of rationality and connects it to an episode that happened in his apartment complex. To find out what that is, you will have to listen.
As in the past, you can download the podcast from iTunes or from the Research on Religion website ("Peter Leeson on Witch Trials and Human Sacrifice"). You will find a more complete description of the podcast there as well, as well as links to Leeson's books and papers and other related podcasts.