Science, Magic, and Other-Related-Stuff

by Darryl Branning

You canít bump your head without being reminded of Science and its results. My Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary defines Science as, "Knowledge; comprehension or understanding; knowledge coordinated, arranged and systematized; ..." and goes on to categorize the many types of Sciences.

Webster has this to say about Magic: "The art of producing effects by superhuman means, as by spiritual beings or the occult powers of nature; sorcery; enchantment; necromancy; ..."

Magic is the manipulation of strange and mysterious powers, by the use of mysterious rituals and strange ingredients. A magic-user is almost always in search of access to more and greater powers, and magic often defies, or ignores, the Laws of Nature.

Science and Magic could not exist, one, without the other. Without the basic tools of Science, such as knowledge of language and geometric figures, Magic would be impossible. And, without the IDEA of Magic, and the curiosity inspired by those claiming to possess Magical powers, Science would never have become what it is today.

As for Other-Related-Stuff, what I had most in mind was--the mind--psychic powers, sixth sense, ESP. I did find telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance in Webster, but the definitions were boringly mundane, (precognition has something to do with court trials), and offered no insight into how Other-Related-Stuff was related to Science or Magic.

Psychic power is power of the mind. Extrasensory Perception (ESP) and Psycho-kinesis (PK) are the result of desire and concentration. No rituals are needed, unless as an aid to concentration; and the only knowledge required in the use of Psychic Power is how to access and control the power of the mind.

ESP is knowledge that is not gained through the use of one of the five normal senses. Telepathy (knowledge of the thoughts of others), and Precognition (knowledge of the future), are both forms of ESP. From what and where does the knowledge come?

PK (Psycho-kinesis) is a physical manifestation of thought that does not require any physical transfer of energy. Making objects move without touching them, and 'thinking' pictures onto film are examples of PK. Where does the energy for these events come from, and if it comes from the mind, how does that energy get from the mind to the PK event?

All in all, it seems more like Magic to me.

Can we make a firm distinction between Magic and Psychic powers? Science acknowledges the possibility of Psychic activity, but labels Magic as superstition. If Science canít ignore or explain strange events, it puts them under the heading of parapsychology. Is that really a Science, or is it just a scientific name given to the study of Magic?

Science is based on what is known to be true. Scientific theories are formulated from data, and when the theories are tested, more data is collected. Eventually the theory being tested is either disproved, or accepted as truth.

There is almost no solid data on Psychic activity, and statistical data is subject to wide interpretation. Data is hard to collect on Psychic activity. Scientists do not know what it is; they only know it isnít Magic.

There always have been and always will be someone in the world trying to explain Magic. That is why psychics and magicians exist. Magic cannot be explained. Magic is mystery; Magic is the unknown. Explain it, and it is no longer Magic. Explanation is Science.

Modern and educated people never mistake Science for Magic. Flip a switch and a light comes on; it is electricity. Drop an object and it falls to the ground; it is gravity. People have been taught to expect and believe in the miracle of Science.

Science has limits and rules that define it as Science. Ever since Isaac Newton saw the apple drop from a tree, Science has been trying to figure out why and how gravity works. Albert Einstein explained gravity as a four-dimensional dent in the fabric of space-time, and quantum mechanics is trying to take it from there. But Science is just a pile of guesses that no one has proven wrong.

Psychic Powers are often used in science fiction, and such powers are often easily explained, or at least accepted, as scientific phenomena. Many authors will attempt to follow the Laws of Nature (especially the law of the Conservation of Energy), by using Science to augment the power of the Psychic agent; but they often ignore how and why Psychic powers exist. Writers who use these powers in their stories have only two choices--ignore the how and why, or make something up to explain it.

People want to know why. Many fantasy books attempt to explain Magic. Magic is given names, separated into categories, and analyzed--because everyone has his or her own idea of what Magic is, and how and why it works. Yet, three thousands years ago the author of the Odyssey never tried to explain Magic. The gods did it. Why did the gods do it? That is what gods do.

In todayís modern world, people want to explain Magic because they were taught to seek explanation. Science has invaded the realm of Magic. Superstition has been replaced by analytical fantasy.

Magic is mystery. Mystery demands explanation. Explanation is Science. And Science is just one mystery after another.