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Old 04-19-2009, 05:01 PM
 
Location: NC
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This is something I have wondered about for a while and have noticed two ways that science and magic are reconciled. The first being summed up in the quote "Magic is the stuff science has not gotten around to making boring yet." That is to say that in certain areas where science is not far along yet things that may have scientific explanations appear to be supernatural to the particular group of people observing them. Examples of this include the way things like auras (electric fields generated by the human body) and magnetism appeared supernatural and unexplainable in earlier times. In this case magic would simply be a placeholder explanation for things science has not gotten around to explaining.

Another particular means of reconciling the two is that certain things are just not able to be explained by science. Many people I have encountered, practice things including, but not limited to tarot and other divination, prayer, warding, curses, sympathetic magic etc. and while there is no scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of these particular activities, certain people will swear by them, find them to be useful, or see them as a threat which must be eliminated. Some of these people simply see magic as something that runs parallel to and outside the scope of science not conflicting with science and even taking the former approach that these supernatural seeming activities have a logical explanation that we simply cannot capture yet. The heart of my question is that for many people these non scientifically verifiable practices seem to have a definite effect on their lives and if something like tarot or prayer works for an individual can it really be peremptorily dismissed as that individual's delusion because studies show that overall it seems to have no effect when tested on a large group of people? Does it require more examination of the individual? Or can such things even be understood scientifically?

I am interested to hear responses.
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Old 04-19-2009, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
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There are of course a great many things that science can't explain but I think it's self evident that there's a few that are obviously false and not worthy of taking any time to try to dispute them. You mentioned curses. That would fall into the category that I've just described because it's very clear that only a believer in the power of curses could be affected by one because of their very own beliefs and irrational fears which would be the cause of any harm they might sustain. The word magic also goes against the grain of rational thinking and scientific inquiry and when anything is described as being magic it sounds rather foolish. From my perspective belief in magic seems primitive and is not based on reality while science attempts to actually explain phenomenon that we don't understand and to try to get to the bottom of it and provide an explanation that's accurate.
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Old 04-19-2009, 05:30 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there
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Default Imho...

I'd say that those things which certain people have claimed or continue to claim as functional might well be so. To them. Empirical, testable functionality (such as, say, a Voodoo curse that actually causes a distant person, unaware of the effort to "curse" him, suddenly feels a sharp chest pain, or whatever) would be a documented measurable. (One would have some fun defining the measurable "units...".)

On many things. the curse only seems to work when the intended victim is already a fearful believer, and is also then told that a person who is considered to be an actual working and successful practitioner is about to affect a curse upon them. Thus, the ensuing heart-attack. One's strongly held convictions about the supernatural result in their consequential belief that God or Jesus has, in fact, talked to them. Or acted on their behalf in direct response to a recent prayer. Evidence for this, outside of the strong beliefs of the receiver of such messages, are never recordable, and cannot be tested. nor have they ever been documented in a measurable scenario.

Voices in the head do not constitute any sort of empirical evidence (empirical denotes information gained by means of observation, experience, or experiment, measurable in verifiable ways, and possibly reproducable).

Remember the ability of Mayan shamans to heal, curse or manage the thought processes of their illiterate tribe? I'd also say that the less literate, less worldly, less experienced a person or group of people is, the more likely they are to participate in "magic" as both a source of daily event management or explanation of events, particularly those which were ferful (lightning, earthquakes, floods, pestilence, volcanoes, the appearance of a rival tribe with some new weaponry, etc.).

Various modern organizations, Churches most prominent them, have convinced literally millions of their ability and power to effect changes in individual's lives. Of course they maintain that their newfound income, their newfound job, their recovery from a bad back situation, is all directly attributable to their totem or their prayers

They never consider the equally likely and possibly more frequent occurence of bad things: the bad back's appearance in the first place, the layoff from their previous job; the pay scale reduction that their struggling employer must now enforce.

We all go to Vegas and watch Penn & Teller, and no-one actually believes that they can truthfully levitate a cute girl (the idea there being that her spectacularly attractive shape and skimpy clothing keeps the audience's eyes off the carefully hidden support system...).

Dorimar Bonilla Pictures - Nathan Burton Comedy Magic Opens At Flamingo - Zimbio

Nor can they actually manufacture out of thin air, and then pull out of a top-hat, rabbit after rabbit after rabbit. We all know we're being deceived, and we marvel at their skills, and enjoy their deceptions. It's just when we really need to believe that we willfully suspend our disbelief, our logical referencing systems, and hope that we can believe. In a God, for instance.

People have no such demands from science, nor dedication to it, as is often assumed. Science is simply the means by which we direct and answer our curiosity. It has explained away many natural events once attributed to magic or shamans or curses, and will, in the future, explain many others now thought to be inexplicable and/or Godly, or "magic".

IMHO.
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Old 04-19-2009, 05:50 PM
 
Location: NC
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Part of the reason why I ask is that I am a strong believer in science, however; at the same time I am always down for a game or amusement and have met a few people, most people I have done this with appear just to be BSing, that on my first meeting with them, through the use of tarot cards and astrology have been able to uncover very unusual things about me. Such as what my recent dreams have been, what my relationship status was, that I had travel plans, and described my personality faults in all without having either meet or spoken to me before. I found that a little odd especially since the only real communication I had with them involved the questions do you want a tarot reading? and what is your birth date, time and place?. Now there I understand that there are certain people that can tell things about people just by looking and there is the highly off chance that someone may have told them a few things about me, though this is doubtful as I sort of just dropped in on them, but at them, but this was rather unusual. I happen to believe there is a logical explanation, and with most things I approached it with an open mind, but it still strikes me as unusual.
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Old 04-19-2009, 06:17 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
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Randomstudent wrote:
Quote:
Such as what my recent dreams have been, what my relationship status was, that I had travel plans, and described my personality faults in all without having either meet or spoken to me before. I found that a little odd especially since the only real communication I had with them involved the questions do you want a tarot reading? and what is your birth date, time and place?.
Astrology has had it's butt kicked when people who claim that it's real were put to the test. A perceptive person can pick up on a number of personal qualities that you may have just by looking at you. Physical traits, body language, personality and how attractive a person is can give the supposed psychic an instant insight into what's happening in your life. Another factor is that the subject being looked at wants to believe that what they're hearing is true (especially if they're paying for it). For example, if I were an astrologer or tarot card reader and had a beautiful young blond woman come into my shop I would take all of her advantages in life into consideration and use a little bit of common sense about what someone her age might be going through at this time of her life. On the other hand, if some awkward, shy and not particularly good looking person walked in the door they would get a reading based on their lack of social skills and appearance. It's just common sense.
Imagine this scenario. When you go to the grocery store you see all sorts of people from various walks of life and economic and social strata. I don't think it's very difficult to take one look at most of them and to get an instant impression of their circumstances and what's likely to happen to them in the future. It's not magic, it's seeing people as they are.
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Old 04-19-2009, 06:40 PM
 
Location: NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Randomstudent wrote:

Astrology has had it's butt kicked when people who claim that it's real were put to the test. A perceptive person can pick up on a number of personal qualities that you may have just by looking at you. Physical traits, body language, personality and how attractive a person is can give the supposed psychic an instant insight into what's happening in your life. Another factor is that the subject being looked at wants to believe that what they're hearing is true (especially if they're paying for it). For example, if I were an astrologer or tarot card reader and had a beautiful young blond woman come into my shop I would take all of her advantages in life into consideration and use a little bit of common sense about what someone her age might be going through at this time of her life. On the other hand, if some awkward, shy and not particularly good looking person walked in the door they would get a reading based on their lack of social skills and appearance. It's just common sense.
Imagine this scenario. When you go to the grocery store you see all sorts of people from various walks of life and economic and social strata. I don't think it's very difficult to take one look at most of them and to get an instant impression of their circumstances and what's likely to happen to them in the future. It's not magic, it's seeing people as they are.
For one I am a cheap, cheap man who avoids paying for things I can get for free. I have yet to pay for a tarot reading I think that paying for one is kind of silly when most people will give them for free. As I mentioned, I agree that it is also easy to sum up certain things about people by looking at them and some people are very perceptive and can go much deeper. I also agree that astrology has fared poorly in scientific tests and there is probably a good chance I may have been led on by my feelings. Even so it was so uncannily accurate that it was very strange, and even if it is not magic, which is reasonably likely, I will still continue to see her because being able to get that kind of information and perspective about yourself, which is why I do it in the first place, is useful whether it is acquired by magic or not. I also acknowledge that Tarot may very well just be a medium of communicating things with other people that would otherwise be unsaid in most conventional forms of communication. I guess what I am saying is just because something my be perceived as non-scientific, magic, or supernatural doesn't mean it should be disregarded as it very well may have value unrelated to science.
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Old 04-20-2009, 06:54 AM
 
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very informative thread so far. makes me tend to "believe" science has developed its own magic - fascination after all keeps us all going, somehow.
its psychological control mechanisms, however, seem not all that rigid and "powerful" anymore.

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Old 04-22-2009, 03:27 PM
 
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Observation can explain magic.

Is that a good answer?
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Old 04-22-2009, 05:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SomewhereInND View Post
Observation can explain magic.

Is that a good answer?

yep. goood enough for a new day - here already.

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