Though the score is most probably much higher in atheism and science’s favour, I’d like to take this opportunity for all the believers in magic out there to take a look at a recently publicised event in India (link):
On 3 March 2008, in a popular TV show, Sanal Edamaruku, the president of Rationalist International, challenged India’s most ‘powerful’ tantrik (black magician) to demonstrate his powers on him. That was the beginning of an unprecedented experiment. After all his chanting of mantra (magic words) and ceremonies of tantra failed, the tantrik decided to kill Sanal Edamaruku with the ‘ultimate destruction ceremony’ on live TV. Sanal Edamaruku agreed and sat in the altar of the black magic ritual. India TV observed skyrocketing viewership rates.
Definitely worth the read.
Not to say I’ve not had my own peculiar results, but I attribute it more to a level of “reality hacking” I’ve learned over the years via my interest in chaos magic, rather than so-called magick in the (traditional?) sense of the word.
Two interesting reads to follow-up the above with are on Psychology Today, dealing with magic:
I had a good talk about this with Erik Davis, the author of TechGnosis. He told me, “In the magical worldview, the world is kind of like a language. If you know the spells or the signs or the symbols you can effect change.” Hard physics has discredited that soft outlook, “but with cyberspace and technology and the Internet it’s a human space, or it’s all a constructed space. And on its most basic level, it’s constructed of language.” Maybe not English, but computer code.
Magical thinking springs up everywhere. Some irrational beliefs (Santa Claus?) are passed on to us. But others we find on our own. Survival requires recognizing patterns-night follows day, berries that color will make you ill. And because missing the obvious often hurts more than seeing the imaginary, our skills at inferring connections are overtuned. No one told Wade Boggs that eating chicken before every single game would help his batting average; he decided that on his own, and no one can argue with his success. We look for patterns because we hate surprises and because we love being in control.