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Science and Magic
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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
Arlington, VA

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Monday, 11th April, 2011 - 2:49 pm
Member Since: Friday, 20th June, 2008
Forum Posts: 540
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I was debating whether to post this under the otherkin section or under the magic section, but I finally decided it belonged here.  Why do people, when they believe in magic, so often seem to throw science out the window?

I've seen a lot of examples of this, but the most recent one that I've stumbled across is a statement claiming that vor'jen cannot physically manifest on earth due to the earth's magnetic field.  That it, in some way, acts as a barrier to them.  headdesk

Now, I'm not an expert on the science involved by any means, but I'm fairly certain that if they remember *breathing* on the worlds they've previously encountered vor'jen on, those worlds also had a magnetic field that clearly did NOT act as a barrier to the vor'jen. Why is that?  Because in the absence of such a field, the atmosphere is subject to erosion from the solar wind, as is the case with Mars.

I've singled out this particular example, but it's far from the only one out there in either the otherkin community or among the wider pagan, newage, and occultist communities.  For some reason, when people accept the existence of magic they often seem to reject understanding the world through science.  Or maybe they just don't bother understanding the science in the first place.

A book I was given this past weekend by Itzocelotl (The title, if memory serves, is The Complete Metalsmith: an illustrated handbook by Tim McCreight) had a quote in it that very poetically speaks to the way I view the relationship between science and magic:

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” -Ralph W. Sockman

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liryen
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Thursday, 14th April, 2011 - 12:29 am

Jarandhel Dreamsinger said:

I was debating whether to post this under the otherkin section or under the magic section, but I finally decided it belonged here.  Why do people, when they believe in magic, so often seem to throw science out the window?

It may occasionally stem from the idea that magic is more “advanced”, with statements along the lines of: “Scientists are only beginning to discover such-and-such, while magickfolk have known about it all along.” This is the schpiel that I most often see directed at people who may be new to things like energywork.

I've seen a lot of examples of this, but the most recent one that I've stumbled across is a statement claiming that vor'jen cannot physically manifest on earth due to the earth's magnetic field.  That it, in some way, acts as a barrier to them.  headdesk

I’m not sure I see how this ties into shunning science. Her belief may or may not be correct, but she tried to explain it in a scientific way, and in any case I have no heart to pick on her for it. It would be better to invite her to come and speak for herself, and then perhaps more could be brought to light.

Now, I'm not an expert on the science involved by any means, but I'm fairly certain that if they remember *breathing* on the worlds they've previously encountered vor'jen on, those worlds also had a magnetic field that clearly did NOT act as a barrier to the vor'jen. Why is that?  Because in the absence of such a field, the atmosphere is subject to erosion from the solar wind, as is the case with Mars.

With respect, mightn’t you want to be fully certain before decrying Ahril’s explanation?

I've singled out this particular example, but it's far from the only one out there in either the otherkin community or among the wider pagan, newage, and occultist communities.  For some reason, when people accept the existence of magic they often seem to reject understanding the world through science.  Or maybe they just don't bother understanding the science in the first place.

*nods sadly*. I hope to eventually come to a deep understanding of both.

A book I was given this past weekend by Itzocelotl (The title, if memory serves, is The Complete Metalsmith: an illustrated handbook by Tim McCreight) had a quote in it that very poetically speaks to the way I view the relationship between science and magic:

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” -Ralph W. Sockman

🙂

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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
Arlington, VA

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Thursday, 14th April, 2011 - 11:10 am
Member Since: Friday, 20th June, 2008
Forum Posts: 540
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Liryen said:

It may occasionally stem from the idea that magic is more “advanced”, with statements along the lines of: “Scientists are only beginning to discover such-and-such, while magickfolk have known about it all along.” This is the schpiel that I most often see directed at people who may be new to things like energywork.

*nods* Sadly, many of those statements completely ignore the glaring differences between what Science actually discovered and what “magickfolk” had previously claimed.  It comes across a lot like those who claim that Genesis closely agrees with scientific theory as long as you take a “day” as a figurative rather than literal period that may actually have spanned thousands of years.  Even with that adjustment, the two still don't match.  No creation story that places the creation of the earth and land-based plants *prior* to the creation of the sun, moon, and stars matches scientific theory.  The same is true of a lot of the attempts to map magical ideas onto scientific theory.  I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's rarely done well in either the pagan or newage communities.

I'm not sure I see how this ties into shunning science. Her belief may or may not be correct, but she tried to explain it in a scientific way, and in any case I have no heart to pick on her for it. It would be better to invite her to come and speak for herself, and then perhaps more could be brought to light.

It ties into shunning science because using scientific-sounding words does not equal trying to explain something in a scientific way.  “Intelligent Design” is not science even though it tries to mimic the language of science, and neither is this.  Ahril likely knows that the magnetosphere shields the earth from certain forms of solar radiation and has extrapolated this into the magnetosphere functioning as a shield against the physical manifestation of subtle energy/subtle matter/things from Elsewhere (aka “the Veil”).  But she's apparently done nothing, not even thought experiments, to test that hypothesis.  She's just presented it as a fact.  That's the very essence of what it is to shun science.

Now, I'm not an expert on the science involved by any means, but I'm fairly certain that if they remember *breathing* on the worlds they've previously encountered vor'jen on, those worlds also had a magnetic field that clearly did NOT act as a barrier to the vor'jen. Why is that?  Because in the absence of such a field, the atmosphere is subject to erosion from the solar wind, as is the case with Mars.

With respect, mightn't you want to be fully certain before decrying Ahril's explanation?

Short of physically traveling to the world Ahril claims to remember and measuring whether or not it has a magnetosphere, and how the strength of that magnetosphere compares to Earth's, it's impossible to be fully certain.  However, science has established that in the absence of a magnetosphere a planet with roughly the same mass as Earth would lose its atmosphere (and its water, for that matter) to erosion by the solar wind, as Mars has.  And all of the planets space-elves have remembered would have to be roughly the same mass as earth; too little mass = too little gravity, too much mass = too much gravity.  Since, in our memories, we're neither afraid of killing ourselves by falling a relatively short distance nor gasping for breath because there's not enough gravity to form an atmosphere it's a safe bet that the planets we remember are fairly earthlike in that respect even without taking into account the highly similar flora and fauna.  We can also be fairly sure that the atmosphere is of similar composition to Earth's due to things like the presence of liquid water, the familiar forms of precipitation, and the fact that you can light a fire and have it behave like one here on Earth.  It neither smolders weakly and then goes out, nor causes an explosion.  

I've singled out this particular example, but it's far from the only one out there in either the otherkin community or among the wider pagan, newage, and occultist communities.  For some reason, when people accept the existence of magic they often seem to reject understanding the world through science.  Or maybe they just don't bother understanding the science in the first place.

*nods sadly*. I hope to eventually come to a deep understanding of both.

Same here.  I do believe science and magic are two sides of a single coin.

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” -Ralph W. Sockman

🙂

*grins* I really like that quote.  And that book has a bunch of random-ass really cool quotes like that in it. smile  Though the rest of the book won't interest anyone unless they're seriously into metal-smithing/jewelry-making.

 

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liryen
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Saturday, 16th April, 2011 - 3:57 am

Jarandhel Dreamsinger said:

*nods* Sadly, many of those statements completely ignore the glaring differences between what Science actually discovered and what “magickfolk” had previously claimed. It comes across a lot like those who claim that Genesis closely agrees with scientific theory as long as you take a “day” as a figurative rather than literal period that may actually have spanned thousands of years.  Even with that adjustment, the two still don't match.  No creation story that places the creation of the earth and land-based plants *prior* to the creation of the sun, moon, and stars matches scientific theory.

This. Can we slip this into Bibles? 😉

Seriously, though, I def. agree with you here — it saddens me to see this kind of thing.

The same is true of a lot of the attempts to map magical ideas onto scientific theory.  I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's rarely done well in either the pagan or newage communities.

*nods*. This is something that I personally find very interesting, and I’d love to discover books (!) which go into it further.

It ties into shunning science because using scientific-sounding words does not equal trying to explain something in a scientific way.  “Intelligent Design” is not science even though it tries to mimic the language of science, and neither is this.  Ahril likely knows that the magnetosphere shields the earth from certain forms of solar radiation and has extrapolated this into the magnetosphere functioning as a shield against the physical manifestation of subtle energy/subtle matter/things from Elsewhere (aka “the Veil”).  But she's apparently done nothing, not even thought experiments, to test that hypothesis.  She's just presented it as a fact.  That's the very essence of what it is to shun science.

I have to give ya this one. But what I’m saying is that I don’t think that was her intent…even if the methodology or the statement was incorrect. And she didn’t say whether she’d tested it, so for all I know it could have been a conclusion she’d drawn from some experiment, memory, or other experience, but I really don’t. *shrugs*. And if she’s wrong, then well – haven’t we all been wrong before? It’s not really any skin off my back.

Short of physically traveling to the world Ahril claims to remember and measuring whether or not it has a magnetosphere, and how the strength of that magnetosphere compares to Earth's, it's impossible to be fully certain.  However, science has established that in the absence of a magnetosphere a planet with roughly the same mass as Earth would lose its atmosphere (and its water, for that matter) to erosion by the solar wind, as Mars has.  And all of the planets space-elves have remembered would have to be roughly the same mass as earth; too little mass = too little gravity, too much mass = too much gravity.  Since, in our memories, we're neither afraid of killing ourselves by falling a relatively short distance nor gasping for breath because there's not enough gravity to form an atmosphere it's a safe bet that the planets we remember are fairly earthlike in that respect even without taking into account the highly similar flora and fauna.  We can also be fairly sure that the atmosphere is of similar composition to Earth's due to things like the presence of liquid water, the familiar forms of precipitation, and the fact that you can light a fire and have it behave like one here on Earth.  It neither smolders weakly and then goes out, nor causes an explosion.

Spoken like a true scientist. alien

*grins* I really like that quote.  And that book has a bunch of random-ass really cool quotes like that in it. smile  Though the rest of the book won't interest anyone unless they're seriously into metal-smithing/jewelry-making.

Cool! 🙂 Jewelry-making I know little of, metal-smithing even less, but I do love good quotes. 🙂

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