1. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    Do you believe in magic?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Thanshin, Nov 7, 2011.

    [Please. Not a single word about religion in this thread, please. I'd really like this to not be derailed. Please]

    You're a particular crowd and I'm curious:

    Do you believe in anything that's outside of the mundane reality currently explained by science? I really mean anything. Any single tiny little thing.

    Examples (not trying to be exhaustive):
    - luck.
    - ghosts/spirits/etc.
    - people with extraordinary (non human) abilities.


    Not trying to discuss whether it makes sense or not. I just want to poll the WF population, so a "Yes" or "No" is enough if you don't want to specify.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Do I believe that there are things beyond the explanation of science at present? Absolutely. I'm not sure about specific phenomenon, but we definitely do not know or understand everything yet.

    I'm not sure magic is the best term for what you're asking though. You seem to be asking more generally about the paranormal.
     
  3. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    However, what we don't understand is pretty specifically defined. I mean, It's not the same to believe in luck and say it's something science doesn't understand, than to believe dark matter is composed of particles and saying it's something science doesn't undestand.

    In one case, science's opinion on the topic is clear, in the other, it isnt. I guess it would be de difference between "what we don't understand" and "what we don't understand yet, but we expect to understand soon".

    Technically, "paranormal" is correct, however I do not think people usually include "luck" in "paranormal", for example. Or most superstitions, for that matter.

    I wouldn't enter a theater playing "paranormal activity" expecting to see a movie about a lucky guy who wins a lot in Vegas. :)


    [Maybe I should've asked specifically about luck. I sense in myself a special interest in that facet of my question.]
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Actually, as a concept I don't think luck is dissimilar in nature to concepts like quantum mechanics. It's all inter-related when you get down to it, and I have no doubt that science is, someday, capable of giving us the answers. Just as I'm sure that those answers will raise even more questions.

    Really religion, the paranormal, etc, are all about trying to understand the world, the same as science is. I expect that there is some truth in ideas of the paranormal, as I find the idea that they are pure fantastical inventions of peoples' imaginations entirely too simplistic.

    If I saw a Paranormal Activity film about a guy winning at Vegas, I'd be impressed. It might be better than the other three PA films.
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I know that we humans do not know or understand everything. That I accept. I think it's great we have a bunch of very clever people devoting themselves to make the cosmos a less mysterious place. But. What I don't understand is why we still feel the need to fill in our lack of understanding with the supernatural/magic/[insert alternative here]. Which to me always seemed amazingly illogical.
     
  6. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    It's a secondary effect of our skill in finding patterns in what happens around us. Without that skill we'd be bold monkeys.

    We see someone running several times and being faster than everyone else and we decide he runs faster because he runs every day.
    We see someone winning several times in a game of chance and we decide he is lucky.
     
  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Actually, I think that's it's very logical indeed Lemex. As a species, humanity does not like gaps in its knowledge and understanding. It's what drives us on to find answers and make discoveries, our relentless need to know why. The paranormal, etc, is simply people trying to make sense of what they don't understand, using the best of the information available to them to come up with a solution. I don't think it's that dissimilar to the scientific process, only less strictly empirical dating from a time when such empiricism was a practical impossibility.

    (Hark at me, getting all technical :p)
     
  8. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I said 'still feel the need'. The idea of the supernatural does have evolutionary and cultural advantages, sure. I just don't see why we would need to complicate it with things like Ouija boards and Holistic medicine, and other almost entirely modern reinterpretations of spirituality.
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me, "magic" is really just a placeholder for what we don't understand yet, and besides from being indifferent, there's two ways one can approach it. One is to search for the right answer, no matter where that search takes you, and the other is to make one up that satisfies that uneasy feeling of not knowing. Science is taking the first approach, which is slow and difficult and often leads to more questions than it answers. The other approach is the lazy one. It's the approach of willful ignorance, which also in my mind is the greatest threat to the prosperity of humankind. If you want a hint of what I mean by that, read something about "witch children" in Africa. Even in our day and age, the belief in "magic" makes people act with absolutely unspeakable cruelty towards one another, out of plain and stupid fear.

    Movies about the paranormal tend to play on this "willful ignorance" rather than enlighten people, and there's one of the main reasons I loathe the genre. It either relies on people being stupid or at the least "play along with it" for the duration of the story, and the stories end leaving you suspended in the sphere of the dark unknown, rather than exposing it for what it is. Similar to high fantasy, the genre preaches backwardness, obsolete values and beliefs, and (atleast indirectly and probably not by conscious intent) undermines the enlightenment of humankind.

    Yeah, I know it's just fiction, but fiction teaches people about life, too.
     
  10. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think everything can be explained by science. And I don't even believe some scientific explanations, although that may be more down to me not really understanding them.

    As for your examples, Thanshin, I don't know. In a way, but not completely sure, I think we just get dealt different cards in life and blaming it on luck or whatever is a way to explain/justify it.
     
  11. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Luck: I think this is just coincidence and nothing more.

    Ghosts: I guess, that I think these are just as possible as a deity being real. Which isn't saying much, because I wont believe it until I have proof.

    People with powers: No, I do not not think anybody in this world has non-human powers.

    Magic: No, I do not think there is any fire ball throwing people in this world.

    Aliens: Sure, I think they exist. The universe is massive, there has to be other intelligent life somewhere. However, I am not saying people are getting abducted and see sightings left and right here on Earth. I am just saying somewhere, out there, I think there is other life.

    With all that said, I will believe anything with proof. And I guess anything is possible. But, my opinion as of this morning is what I said above.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a card-carrying skeptic who subscribes to Skeptical Inquirer and other pro-science magazines. I'm well aware that science hasn't solved every mystery, but that doesn't mean the mysteries science hasn't yet solved cannot be solved; that some mysteries are forever beyond the reach of science.

    And I'm well aware that humans have a need to understand the world around them, because without understanding, the world is very scary. But substituting magic and mysticism for actual scientific research is not a solution. That way lies madness, like thinking that human sacrifice to some god or gods is going to improve the harvest or defeat an enemy or something like that. Lack of scientific understanding has led people, over the millenia, to treat each other with insane cruelty.
     
  13. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Yes. We are not aware of it, yet. If we develop the right tools, we can study and explain it.

    'Superhumans' do exist - genetic mutations have created some pretty cool people. People can see music and hear color, others cannot feel temperature - in fact, his body was practically cold-blooded. The human body can be a pretty ridiculous thing.

    As for actual magic, it exists. I'm a wizard, you see.

    Religion is Religion
     
  14. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    Well, I don't believe in magic. End of story.
    Perhaps more to the point, I don't believe reality is mundane. Reality is amazing. A whole universe from one single event? A whole universe moulded from a single element? All the stars, the worlds, the life, the thoughts, the art.
    Why would anyone need more?
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    ^This.
     
  16. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I don't believe in actual magic, stuff like religion and witchcraft is just an explanation for events that was created when our society was too primitive (as in didn't have the technology) to determine the real answer. It's just that belief in the paranormal has continued into modern day because there are still things that science can't explain (and always will unfortunately though hopefully we'll get less and less superstitious as we go on but like a recurring decimal we'll never quite get there.) But as prophetsnake said the world is more than magical enough on its own :) And in a way thank god for those who did think of magic because then my favourite genre wouldn't exist.
     
  17. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Although, like I said above, I'm a materialist and a sceptic, I have often pondered the concept of magic (as well as spirituality). At a time I read a lot about hellenistic mysticism and alchemy, and although I'd dismiss its claims in a heartbeat, a lot of it makes sense once seen on a more metaphorical level. For example, I think there's a correlation between the "magic circle" seen almost universally in all forms of mysticism, and the circle itself as a symbol, which has fascinated mankind throughout all history. In a sense it can be said that the circle as a shape or symbol means something to us when we look at it, and has an effect on our psyche. In that sense it could be said to be "magical". Then, so could the square, of course, or any other recognizable shape, but there is inarguably something about the circle that has given it a special place in all cultures of history. Something we all understand but which isn't all that easily defined.
     
  18. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    I always thought of magic as a romantic out look on the unknown...

    Do I believe in ghosts and spirits: No, my family does though, my mother swears that my grand mother visited her several times in the form of various birds... :confused:

    As to luck I think it's simply coincidence.
     
  19. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    yes I do but only in books though.:D
     
  20. Gracia Bee
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    I believe there is something, but not what we claim it to be. Or maybe it can. The world can't be just plain and boring. There has to be something.
     
  21. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    aliens??
     
  22. Bob Magness
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    Bob Magness Senior Member

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    The universe is pretty freaking amazing. There is nothing boring or mundane about it. I don't need to introduce supernatural elements in order to be awed by it.

    So no, I don't believe in things like ghosts or magic. And for people who believe in luck I highly recommend reading a book called Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences.

    But my mind isn't closed about it. If I am given enough convincing evidence I will change my beliefs accordingly. But for now I am content getting my supernatural fix from fiction.
     

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