Magic is not mechanism


Today’s Oglaf is appropriate and entirely work-safe!

It makes a good point, that magic isn’t an explanation for much of anything — you need some chain of causality and evidence, with some mechanism at each step. You don’t just get to say “it’s magic” or “it’s a miracle.”

Bonus, the comic pokes fun at that absurd ad hoc magic system in the Harry Potter books that is nothing but lazy plot gimmicks.

Comments

  1. gijoel says

    I liked the cartoon the week before that one. It neatly punctures the idea that beauty is effortless. It’s also NSFW, FYI.

  2. says

    It would be funny if the physical mechanism that the magic used to achieve levitation emitted a lot of hard radiation and killed everyone in the room in a couple days. Or, perhaps, resulted in the chair catching fire. As always “magic” seems to mostly work by violating conservation laws – which one should not attempt lightly.

  3. says

    I’ve seen the first three Harry Potter movies, and came away thinking that the author, having posited this powerful magic force, utterly failed to work out the implications of the existence of such a force, its effect on society, the world economy, global politics, transportation et cetera. Very ad hoc, used not only for cheap plot devices but also tossed out randomly to increase the “whimsy” factor. A world where such magic was real would be very different in fundamental ways from the world presented.
    I know his politics weren’t much more palatable than Rowling’s, but Larry Niven at least made the effort to work out the implications of any new technology or magic presented in his stories, whether writing science fiction or fantasy, as well as defining the limitations of that technology or magic.
    Yet, as far as I know, no movie has ever been made from one of his stories.

  4. mordred says

    @1: Seems I wasn’t the only one who was reminded of Enid Blyton when reading HP.

    @6: I don’t think most fantasy authors really work out all the implications of their invented magic. Many strories of course have magic being much rarer and less powerfull than HP, so any possible consequences can be more easily be ignored.

    Personally I’m not a verry critical reader and mostly ignore these problems if I notice them, though it depends on the story – the early HP stories felt like typical children’s books to me, so it didn’t bother me. In the later stories JKR tried to make things more adult and political, thats when her shoddy world building started to bother me.

  5. Hyacinth Sttrachwitz says

    It’s not just Harry Potter. Substitutionary atonement is the doctrine that what was done to Jesus on the cross pays for your sins. It’s exactly like sticking a pin into a vodoo doll causing you pain. So how is the effect propagated from Jesus to you? Gravity? The strong force? Well, grace they will say. Ok. Where are the equations showing how grace interacts with the 4 forces?

  6. says

    I love that comic.

    Magic is magic. Yes absolutely magic isn’t science. In fact the wizards of HP’s Wizarding World are strangely incurious about the Muggle world, and the story includes evidence that wizards and witches used to be a lot more curious about magic.

    Of course that is because THE GOLDEN PAST is also a common and lazy plot device.

    Anyway, there’s a pretty good fanfic that is about this very issue. You can read it here
    https://www.lesswrong.com/hpmor/chapter-1-a-day-of-very-low-probability
    (Yea, it’s by Yudkowsky. I think it’s well written, though.)

  7. AstroLad says

    @7 Robert Heinlein’s Magic, Inc. And to a lesser degree, Waldo. They are usually published together.
    @16 It’s Randall Garrett.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    In Ankh-Morpork, the effort to make magic was equal to the effort to get stuff done by mundane means. But you might deflect the effort/energy expenditure.
    In The Light Fantastic one of the wizards rises to the summit of the Tower if Art by balancing the effort with bricks falling down.
    The wizards of the Unseen University were not big on safety. Or a balanced diet.

  9. chigau (違う) says

    feralboy12
    re: Niven
    a missed opportunity. The whole Ringworld thing would be an eternal franchise.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    Snarki @ 1
    Stephen Fry, Rick Mayall et al were in a TV parody of Enid Blyton called “Five Go Mad In Dorset” .
    If that was used as the starting point to a story of a school of magic I would be all for it.

    Or cross The Young Ones with Harry Potter. Violence, pop music , more violent humor, craziness, magic, Rick Mayall returns from the dead, things get blown up.
    Vyvyan punches Voldemort, steals all skulls and mount them as ornaments on the hood of his car.

  11. AstroLad says

    I like the first four HP movies for the atmosphere and the supporting cast. Yes, the magic is nonsensical. And none of the students would survive to graduate because the Hogwarts staff is completely incompetent when dealing runaway trolls, or hiring a werewolf.

    I really don’t like Harry. He’s not a good student or magician, and he repeatedly lies by omission to Dumbledore.

  12. silvrhalide says

    @6 Possibly the reason that no movie was ever made from any of Larry Niven’s works is that they were already pretty retrograde when they were published–the casual misogyny in pretty much all his books (the Kzin, anyone?) is not really going to go over well with anyone who isn’t an incel or a MRA. Also, Larry Niven in person is a raging entitled asshole and misogynist and his social Darwinism would not find a ready audience these days. There are lots of popular books, novels, series, games out there that have an audience already and whose creator isn’t a walking, talking migraine to deal with AND an incipient sexual harassment lawsuit.
    I liked his Magic Goes Away books but that was about it. Dream Park didn’t particularly capture my attention, and I was never a fan of the Ringworld series.

  13. pick says

    The short answer to how the magician saws the lady in half is ….he doesn’t. (after Daniel Dennett).
    If the supernatural were manifest in the world then it would simply be natural – hence the word serves as a placeholder for that which is isn’t.

  14. Matt G says

    The reason Harry Potter is so special is because his parents are special. What kind of message does that send about self-determination and not being who your ancestors are?

  15. says

    At the risk of bringing the dark ages of our real world crashing into this interesting discussion, pay attention to the rtwing aholes trying to control government today and you will see a constant and colossal use of ‘magical thinking’ devoid of all honesty and fact!

  16. Tethys says

    I read the Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe series as a child, and the trite religious ending was a huge disappointment. I place the Potter franchise is the same category.

    I particularly don’t appreciate the author mining historical texts for details of her stories, and then turning Hagrid into a dolt, Hermoine into a supporting girl role, and Griffens into mythological creatures rather than a group of actual people who lived in early medieval Pomerania.

    George Martin mined the same texts, but at least he got the name of the sword right and wrote great female characters with agency. Brienne of Tarth, Arya Stark, and of course the Ice Queen and her dragons.

    I always found it ridiculous that Potter people required magic wands, and spells in faux Latin.

    The Owl concept is charming, who wouldn’t want an Owl familiar?

  17. wmsberry1 says

    What “silvrhalide” said. Niven was/ is a major asshole. More than being a misogynist (bad enough in itself), he was also a racist.

    There was, in fact, a movie (TV movie, perhaps) based on one of his works. That was the famous short story, “Inconstant Moon”, which is a case in point WRT the racism business.

    A powerful solar flare (or something like that) wipes out nearly all life in the Eastern Hemisphere, including all of Africa. At the end of the story, the “hero” muses that maybe he– and some other surviving (presumably white) Los Angelenos— can recolonize Africa!

  18. Ridana says

    Dunno what’s going on with her hat (magic!, I suppose), but whatever it is, I love it. Especially the octopus, furballs, and the chili pepper earrings.

  19. DanDare says

    Levitating the chair requires convincing the powers that actually decide chairs should stay on the ground to let you have your way.
    Magic is politics and physics is the general consensus.

  20. microraptor says

    In many settings, magic is treated as being akin to science, with natural laws that are internally consistent about how it operates and can be studied and described the way we study and describe physics and chemistry.

    In Harry Potter, magic is more of a cargo cult, practiced by people who are intellectually lazy and culturally backwards because the stories were written by an author who’s intellectually lazy and culturally backwards.

    Harry is someone who skates through life only ever bothering to exert himself on things that come naturally to him and relying on adults to bend the rules in his favor for everything else.

  21. Ed Seedhouse says

    @35: “At the end of the story, the “hero” muses that maybe he– and some other surviving (presumably white) Los Angelenos— can recolonize Africa!”

    Maybe do the same story but it’s the Western hemisphere that gets it and the African hero realizes he can start colonizing the Americas. Only it turns out that the flare killed 99% of all animal and plant life including in the oceans. The loss of sea life in half the oceans just might affect the other hemisphere, don’t you think?

  22. microraptor says

    @39: Even if all the sea life didn’t die, the amount of plants and animals that died and suddenly began to decay would have an extremely detrimental effect on the oxygen levels in the atmosphere.

  23. kaleberg says

    Dr. Who got it right. Any magic sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from technology.

  24. outis says

    Eh, it’s fantasy. That means, no explanation, just, like, go with the flow… ’cause the author has other stuff to do rather than build a coherent story. Ah well.
    This said, there are some good fantasy novels. Try China Mieville for instance, good stuff, often somewhat disturbing. Cannibal moths…
    About the consequences of Potter-style magic, there’s this for instance:
    https://bouletcorp.com/2014/11/04/moment-magique/
    (I don’t know if the English version works or not, it doesn’t on my old browser. Desolé…)

  25. says

    Plus derivative as F and gets an F for lack of originality really.

    True; but when it comes to fantasy as a genre, people don’t seem to respond to originality, so much as to stories and characters that they’ve heard before, and that resonate at the level of the unconscious or archetypal. See especially The Lord of the Rings, which brought back fantasy/fairytale characters from CENTURIES ago: wizards, goblins, evil sorcerers, rings of power, elves, dwarves, humble innocent little people living happily in idyllic shires, pagan(ish) nature spirits…was anything in those books less than a century old?

    The same is true of the Narnia books, which basically re-package the Bible with characters from Olde English fairytales and children’s stories. It doesn’t appeal to people because it’s “original;” it appeals for pretty much the opposite reason.

  26. says

    I always found it ridiculous that Potter people required magic wands, and spells in faux Latin.

    My favorite was “expecto patronum!” Which seems to mean “I expect a patron!” Which has lots of possible meanings, all of them sad and ridiculous: “I expect a father,” “I expect a sugar-daddy,” “I expect a patron to bankroll a movie version of my life story”…

    (Actually, it sounded like “patronam” in the movie, but of course that’s silly. That’s a feminine declension, patrons are male, and we can’t have them pretending to be women, can we? /s)

  27. Dago Red says

    For me, its what emotion is being expressed that can be the real problem. When one swears angrily at someone else, for example, its the anger I often find inappropriate rather than the word choices used. If a person generally swears as part of their own vernacular, I rarely, if ever, even notice it.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the line in the film, “Inherit the Wind”, where Henry Drummond was told he can’t say “damn” on the radio. He replied, “I don’t swear for the hell of it. Language is a poor enough means of communication. We’ve got to use all the words we’ve got.”

  28. Tethys says

    expecto patronus

    I imagined them coughing up and spitting out some dude.

    Tolkien’s source material was likely written down in 750-850, but the oldest stories refer to much earlier people like Attila, and historical events that occurred centuries before Rome was repeatedly sacked.

    The ring and the dragon are both in the oldest stories, and could easily be older than 2000, though there is no way to date unknown oral traditions.
    They don’t say dwarf, or giant. (Blame Tolkien) Jotun are not bigger than the Aesir gods, and in multiple instances they are literally family. Thors mom is a Jotun. Lokis dad is a Jotun. Odins uncles are all Jotun. Skadi is a Jotun who married Nordr as recompense for Thor killing her Dad. Dvergr is in the dictionary, and it has nothing to do with dwarfs. It means wise man, possibly one who lives on a wharf or terp.
    The kind who live in rocks and make things from gold are in several sagas, but everyone knows that dwarfs are miners. Amusingly, Gandalf is in fact, a dwarf, or possibly a shapeshifting reindeer according to the tally of the dwarves.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terp

  29. John Morales says

    It makes a good point, that magic isn’t an explanation for much of anything

    It also makes the point that magic is real.

  30. whheydt says

    About all the snark about Larry Niven’s character… If you know his family background, it’s not at all surprising. Take yourself back to the time of the Teapot Dome scandal. Sec. of the Interior Fall was convicted of receiving bribes from two oil men, Sinclair and Doheny. Sinclair was convicted of bribing Fall. Doheny was acquited of paying a bribe that Fall was convicted of receiving.
    Doheny was Niven’s maternal grandfather. Hence Niven’s occasional joke that writing SF about pays his bar bill. Niven got all the polish of very expensive upbringing. Didn’t do much for the actual character underneath.

  31. John Morales says

    About all the snark about Larry Niven’s character…

    Yeah, about that. There’s no ‘there’ there, far as I can tell.
    In this thread, only silvrhalide offered such “snark”, if one can call it that.

    Bah.

  32. StevoR says

    @41. kaleberg : “Dr. Who got it right. Any magic sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from technology.

    Can’t recall if they cited t in the Whjoverse but that’s actually Aerthur C Clarke’s third law :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws

    @29. silvrhalide

    @6 Possibly the reason that no movie was ever made from any of Larry Niven’s works is that they were already pretty retrograde when they were published–the casual misogyny in pretty much all his books (the Kzin, anyone?) is not really going to go over well with anyone who isn’t an incel or a MRA.

    Er, what? How so? Did I miss something here? If memory serves, the Kzin were hyper-agrressive cat-like aliens with their own extreme honour culture. A bit Klingonesque but not overally misogynist from what I remember though obvs a long time since I read the novels and could well be mistaken..

    @32. Matt G :

    The reason Harry Potter is so special is because his parents are special. What kind of message does that send about self-determination and not being who your ancestors are?

    It is a bit more than just that though isn’t it? Its that Harry’s mother sacrificed herself for love for him and that caused a part of Voldemort’s soul (horcrux) to split off and attach itself toHarry henc esome of his abilities and the scar.

  33. John Morales says

    [OT]

    StevoR, in the canon, the Kzin bred and genetically manipulated sapience out of their females (s. Kzinrett, pl. Kzinretti), and likewise bred males into warrior patriarchs, who had to acquire a name just to be in with a chance at procreating.

    Basically, a similar conceit as in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, but amped up SFictionally. Or Star Trek’s Ferengi, but more committed.

    (BTW, humans found that rather abhorrent in the canon, not that that sort of fact would likely matter to silvrhalide)

  34. Tethys says


    Basically, a similar conceit as in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

    How so? Handmaid does not involve genetic manipulation so men can have sex slaves. Gileads plummeting fertility rates are due to war and pollution. The handmaiden as surrogate is in fact based on the Bible. Abraham and Rachel.

    If you want a similar conceit without the blatant misogyny of most SF writers, I recommend ‘The Gate to Women’s Country’ by Sherri Tepper.

  35. John Morales says

    Tethys:

    How so? Handmaid does not involve genetic manipulation so men can have sex slaves.

    Because it’s science fiction and it’s aliens, not sociological fiction and humans.
    Same concept, better tech (and longer timespan) in the fictional universe.

    If you want a similar conceit without the blatant misogyny of most SF writers, I recommend ‘The Gate to Women’s Country’ by Sherri Tepper.

    Don’t need it; point being, it’s part of the entirely fictional milieu, not the author’s point of view (cf. John Norman and Gor).

    Iain Banks had a species called the Affront which was way worse; cue some clueless person to say the author must have been an evil person on that basis.

  36. Tethys says

    JM

    point being, it’s part of the entirely fictional milieu, not the author’s point of view

    The author inventing a fictional milieu that has female sex slaves tells you many things about their point of view.

    There is no coercion in GTWC, but the whole novel revolves around a secret breeding program to eliminate male violence.

    I’m terrible at remembering titles and authors but I do recall a very creepy story that involved giant alien caterpillar aliens that enslaved humans via maternal mind control. No idea what that says about the author beyond wondering if they smoked opium.

  37. John Morales says

    Tethys:

    The author inventing a fictional milieu that has female sex slaves tells you many things about their point of view.

    Margaret Atwood.

    There is no coercion in GTWC, but the whole novel revolves around a secret breeding program to eliminate male violence.

    Huh. That’s fine, in your book?

    (The term for that is called ‘eugenics’)

  38. silvrhalide says

    @35, 51 In Larry Niven’s Ringworld series, he basically takes the idea of Darwinism (and to a certain extent, Lamarckian evolution) and goes off the rails with it. Puppeteers have been selecting for intelligence and cowardice; Kzin have been selecting for violence, savagery, physical strength and coordination and humans have been breeding for luck.
    Kzin females are not only non sapient, they are by and large nonsentient as well. Literally the only function they have is as breeding machines.
    Larry Niven went to some pains to create the “luckiest human” as the end result of the winners of a reproduction lottery, for 6 generations. He made her character an uneducated, a brown-skinned woman who is clumsy, lazy and fairly unintelligent. But none of that matters, because she is “lucky”. She isn’t smart or hardworking because she doesn’t have to be. She’s also the only named female character in the book. Kind of says it all.
    Or you could just subject yourself to 10 minutes of conversation with Niven, at which point the entitlement and misogyny will become blazingly apparent. (If you have female friends, warn them to keep the jerk at arm’s length, literally, because he’s also a creepy dude.)

  39. John Morales says

    silvrhalide:

    Puppeteers have been selecting for intelligence and cowardice; Kzin have been selecting for violence, savagery, physical strength and coordination and humans have been breeding for luck.

    Sorta.
    In the canon, the Puppeteers deliberately set up situations where the Kzin went to war prematurely and disastrously, and over time the more aggressive Kzin were culled. Basically, only the less aggressive ones got their name and got to breed, over time.

    Kzin females are not only non sapient, they are by and large nonsentient as well.

    In your head-canon, maybe. In the stories, they were about as smart as dogs, maybe more. Vocabulary of around 100 words, able to be told what to do.

    (Sentient means being able to sense the environment and react to it, BTW)

    Literally the only function they have is as breeding machines.

    Nonsense. They were also servitors and status symbols — the more powerful the patriarch, the more Kzinretti.

    (And, in other stories in the milieu (Man-Kzin wars), fully sapient and admirable Kzinretti were featured. For example, there was an outpost where ancient Kzin were kept in stasis and a human released them)

    Larry Niven went to some pains to create the “luckiest human” as the end result of the winners of a reproduction lottery, for 6 generations.

    Yeah, and Terry Pratchett had Dom bred for luck in The Dark Side of the Sun. What Niven did, Pratchett did even more — Dom was literally unkillable.

    Or you could just subject yourself to 10 minutes of conversation with Niven, at which point the entitlement and misogyny will become blazingly apparent.

    Well.
    Your personal opinion and evident acumen and knowledge of the topic is duly noted.

  40. Tethys says

    JM

    Your snark reveals that you’ve not read either the Handmaids Tale, or Gate to Women’s Country.
    Atwood is simply writing a world where Old Testament misogyny is taken to the extreme.
    Its main theme involves fighting against the patriarchy that literally claims ownership over their reproductive abilities.

    No men are being harmed at all, or reduced to mindless sperm donors in GTWC. It’s a far more creative take on dystopian humanity than anything written by the misogynist Niven.

  41. John Morales says

    Tethys:

    Your snark reveals that you’ve not read either the Handmaids Tale, or Gate to Women’s Country.

    No. I have only read synopses.

    Atwood is simply writing a world where Old Testament misogyny is taken to the extreme.

    I know. See my #55.

    Its main theme involves fighting against the patriarchy that literally claims ownership over their reproductive abilities.

    Arguable; some people hold that it’s a cautionary tale, much like 1984.

    Point, it’s a fictional tale. Real in-universe, not in reality.
    I have been told that a fictional milieu that has female sex slaves tells you many things about [the author’s] point of view.

    No men are being harmed at all, or reduced to mindless sperm donors in GTWC.

    Not that sort of secret breeding program to eliminate male violence.
    An admirable one, in your estimation.

    (That’s the proper sort of breeding program one should desire, right?)

    It’s a far more creative take on dystopian humanity than anything written by the misogynist Niven.

    When you write “the misogynist Niven” in order to argue that Niven is misogynist, you beg the question.

    I’m not disputing your opinion, I’m disputing your adduced basis for it.

  42. Tethys says

    Yes, Nivens writing is frankly lazy, and very obviously imagined by a misogynist. Piers Antony is also creepy as hell sometimes, though I enjoyed some of his books.

    All SF worlds are equally fictional, but Atwood’s handmaids aren’t being made into mindless one dimensional sex toys that exist solely for men’s pleasure.

  43. Tethys says

    If an author writes misogynist claptrap, it’s a pretty safe bet that they hold misogynistic views.

  44. John Morales says

    Yes, Nivens writing is frankly lazy, and very obviously imagined by a misogynist.

    No.
    You personally think that.

    Piers Antony is also creepy as hell sometime

    Well, yes. And John Ringo and Jack Chalker and multiple others.
    I don’t dispute you there.

    But I’m not disputing your opinion other than about Niven, because its basis is both vacuous and (after elaboration) selective.
    Again: Margaret Atwood.

    All SF worlds are equally fictional, but Atwood’s handmaids aren’t being made into mindless one dimensional sex toys that exist solely for men’s pleasure.

    And neither are Niven’s.

    You do get that Kzin are not humans, and that humans deplore that circumstance about them in the canon, right? That they’re the antagonist, right?

    (specifically)

    <

    blockquote>… one dimensional sex toys that exist solely for men’s pleasure …

    <

    blockquote>

    You obviously have not read the books in question.

    Depending on the author (it became a shared universe), the Kzin just think of them as servants and breeders in general. They are not supposed to be human.
    Their pleasure is hunting, killing and devouring game creatures, and dominating others.
    The breeding itself is necessary for the continuation of the line, but that’s all it is.

  45. John Morales says

    If an author writes misogynist claptrap, it’s a pretty safe bet that they hold misogynistic views.

    Therefore, since Niven has not, it is not a pretty safe bet that he holds misogynistic views.

    Look, assert all you want, but if you want someone familiar with his corpus to concur, at least support the claim.

    You have so far failed on the aspect of the authorial voice, the setting, the canon, the context, and recently the species applicability of the concept at hand.

    You’re down to naked assertion.

  46. birgerjohansson says

    I favor the Discworld style magic; unreliable, and likely to mess up the practicioner. It was probably affected by narrativium, just like everything else on Discworld.
    And hybrid magic -including Baron Samedi- was welcome. Very inclusive.
    Finally, among the witches there was scope for many brands of magic as well. Consider the difference between Magrat Garlick and Ms. Weatherwax.
    Narrativium granted all these variants interesting outcomes.
    The only magic guaranteed to fail was that based on talismans bought from ‘Cut-my-own-throat’ Dibbler.

  47. jo1storm says

    @66

    Therefore, since Niven has not, it is not a pretty safe bet that he holds misogynistic views.

    He has but never mind. Double negative doesn’t always make a positive. So you got it the other way around, as it were. It is not just his work that points to his misogyny, it is the interviews.

    Here’s a fact for you: Niven is a misogynistic creep. That fact is proven with multiple interviews with the man.

    Here’s another fact: that misogyny seeps into his work. That fact is also proven by reading his works, with the tiniest veneer of deniability. That tiniest veneer is: its the villains doing it and the good guys are horrified to learn of it BUT it is their culture after all! And is thus fair for them and should be respected and therefore trying to change it would be speciest!

    Only after a backlash did Niven put some “fully sapient and admirable Kzinretti” characters in the later books.

    Third fact: what you have written about Margaret Atwood is plain red herring. She is not the point of the discussion, Niven is and only by taking things out of context and intentionally misconstruing them (which you are fond of doing, John) can you pretend to have an argument that Atwood and Niven are the same. One work is openly critical of the idea of female slavery, the other is not and is at points openly fawning over it. You are smart to know which is which. Hint: it is not looking good for Niven.

  48. jo1storm says

    @68 birgerjohansson

    I like them because it is shown multiple times that even narrativium has its limits. Like with the belief in homeopathy, which nobody in Discworld believes in after a year long fad because of “homeopathic whiskey” incident. Somebody tried to sell homeopathically diluted whiskey in Ankh-Morpork and barely escaped with their life.

  49. StevoR says

    Regarding Niven, having one species be extremely sexually dimorphic and misogynist is one thing :

    To this end, because females are not valued except as bearers of children, the male-dominated Kzin society bred (most of) their own females into sub-sapience. In the novel Treasure Planet it is hypothesized that Kzin scientists genetically modified the females of the species as the differences between the brain chemistry and metabolism between the two genders were too radical to be explained by evolutionary means. Kzinti females (s. Kzinrett, pl. Kzinretti) have a vocabulary of fewer than a hundred word/sounds and primarily instinct-driven behavior, and are treated as chattel by males (s. Kzintosh, pl. Kzintoshi). Kzinti society explains this by stating the Fanged God removed Kzinrrets’ souls as punishment for an attempted rebellion against him shortly after he created Kzin. In reality it was a result of the Kzintosh’s desire to maintain patriarchal dominance over Kzin society.[3]However some tribes, long isolated from the Patriarchy, were spared the genetic modifications and still produce sentient females, as well as certain bloodline, Occasionally a Kzinrett will be born that has intelligence equal to or even superior to their male counterparts. Although such occurrences are rare, there seems to be a secret society of intelligent Kzinretti who play dumb while biding their time for a future when all Kzinretti can be restored to their normal state.

    Source : https://larryniven.fandom.com/wiki/Kzin#Females

    .. the Puppeteers consider themselves to have three genders (two male, one female), except their two “male” genders are the equivalent of human female and male (one has an ovipositor, the other a penis, of sorts) and the “female” is the (non-sentient) parasitised host into which the ovum and spermatozoon are deposited. Male puppeteers refer to themselves as Citizens, while the smaller females are Companions.

    Source : https://larryniven.fandom.com/wiki/Pierson%27s_Puppeteer#Reproduction

    Having two starts to look a lot worse than just carelessness ..

    Having your main female characters being objects of mockery and literal sex objects .. yeah :

    https://www.reddit.com/r/printSF/comments/vjht6/lets_talk_about_ringworld_by_larry_niven_and/

    Not good for Niven here at all – even if there was a later twist in Teela’s story and of course her not being so lucky afer all hence going on the trip to Ringworld in the first place.

  50. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    PZ.
    I get where you’re coming from, and you have something of a point, but overall you’re deeply wrong.

    As long as we’re arguing by cartoon strips.
    https://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081205
    “Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!”

    At some point, humans observing chemical reactions didn’t have any underlying explanation. They simply observed that certain reagents when combined would produce certain resultant compounds. They didn’t need an underlying explanation in order for their experiences to be data, and for a large collection of data to constitute evidence of causation. You’re making a fundamental mistake of philosophy of science. You do not need to have a mechanism in order to show causation.

    Tritely, “fucking magnets, how do they work?”. To quote the greatest physicist of the previous generation, and one of the greatest science teachers of the previous generation, Richard Feynman:


    But it’s a force which is present all the time, very common, basic force, almost. I could go a little further back if I was more technical, but in the early level I’m just going to have to tell you that’s going to be one of the things that you’ll have to take as an element of the world, the existence of magnetic repulsion, electrical attraction.

    I can’t explain that attraction in terms of anything else that’s familiar to you. For example, if we said that the magnets attract like as if they were connected by a rubber bands, I would be cheating you, because they’re not connected by rubber bands. I would soon be trouble. You would soon ask me about the nature of the band. And secondly, if you were curious enough you would ask me why rubber bands tend to pull back together again, and I would end up explaining that in terms of electrical forces which are the very things that I’m using the bands to explain, so I have cheated very badly – you see. So, I’m not going to be able to give you an answer to why magnets attract each other except to tell you that they do, and to tell you that that’s one of the elements of the world, the different kinds of forces, electric forces, magnetic forces, and others, and those are some of the parts.

    If you were a student, you’d go further – I could go further. I could tell you that the magnetic forces are related to the electrical forces very intimately, and our relationship gravity forces and electrical forces remains unknown. And so on.

    But I really can’t do a good job, any job, of explaining magnet forces in terms of something else that you’re more familiar with because I don’t understand it in terms that you’re more familiar with.

    At the end of the day, most human scientific knowledge is reductionistic on a materialistic physics standard-model paradigm, but the base of this reductionistic inverted pyramid is nothing more than the old alchemists observing As then Bs, i.e. Hume’s constant conjunction.

    It is said that correlation does not prove causation. That is correct. However, strong evidence of correlation over time plus strong attempts to find confounding factors (such as via lab experiments) is evidence of causation. That’s the only kind of evidence for causation that we have. Hume’s As then Bs. Assuming that we need evidence of a mechanism in order to have evidence of causation – that is your first mistake. (Having said that, you typically need a lot more evidence and attempts to find confounding factors before properly concluding causation compared to a reductionistic approach of finding a mechanism in terms of already well known and established scientific models of reality.)

    A deeper mistake is requiring evidence of a materialistic mechanism even as a character in the fictional world of Hogwarts. The kids in the cartoon strip in the OP have a point that someone ought to be trying to find underlying mechanisms, but you are entirely wrong to dismiss the science of magic that the teacher is teaching. Again, that kind of scientific knowledge is comparable to the early days of chemistry when they were still called alchemists. We don’t understand a mechanism of how magnets work, but that’s ok, because we understand a great deal about the details of what magnets do. Similarly, the students in that cartoon strip are being foolish for saying that the teacher has zero understanding of magic in spite of being able to clearly use magic. Clearly that teacher has some understanding, just like the early alchemists had some understanding of chemistry.

    In the real world, I’m totally ok with requiring evidence of a materialistic mechanism before taking it seriously because of the absolutely ginormous mountain of evidence that we have against non-traditional-materialistic stuff like magic, miracles, and other supernatural stuff. I don’t know if you’re making this mistake, but many make the following mistake – to assume that science does not apply to claims of magic, miracles, and other supernatural stuff. That is a fundamental mistake of philosophy of science, e.g. Stephen Jay Gould’s Non-Overlapping Magisteria. This mistake is unfortunately much too common from scientists who are probably knowingly telling this lie as a political compromise to protect their science classes from religious fundamentalists. Science works on supernatural phenomena and explanations. The reason that we don’t have a developed science of supernatural phenomena and explanations is because supernatural phenomena do not exist. For more information, see:

    Boudry, M., Blancke, S. & Braeckman, J. How Not to Attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical Misconceptions About Methodological Naturalism. Found Sci 15, 227–244 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10699-010-9178-7

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225492424_How_Not_to_Attack_Intelligent_Design_Creationism_Philosophical_Misconceptions_About_Methodological_Naturalism

    You are probably making the related mistake of drawing a fundamental distinction in your head between naturalism / materialism vs supernaturalism as it relates to philosophy of science. That’s wrong. That is the fundamental mistake. You’re being misled by religious propaganda, by a trick of language. A trick of language is messing with your thinking. The word “magic” and the word “supernatural” are tricks of language that we should not be using. It confuses us by making us thing as though it’s something different. It’s not. If magnets are not magic in every meaningful way that you use the word “magic” in the OP, then you haven’t thought it through clearly enough. As Feynman said, we don’t know how magnets work. We don’t have an explanation. Ok, sure, you can go one step further in the standard model and modern quantum field theory, but the standard model doesn’t have mechanisms or explanations. You don’t need mechanisms or explanations to have good science (but of course it’s a really good thing to have the development of a rich reductionistic approach to explaining many phenomena in terms of a small number of fundamental forces which are themselves unexplained).

    The words “magic” and “supernatural” themselves are bunk conceptually. There is no conceptual space for “magic” or “the supernatural”. Everything is natural. Nothing is magic. Nothing is supernatural. These words are just tricks of language to make you think that the normal rules of science might not apply. This Skepticon video makes the point better than I could.

    God, Science and the Problem with Nature – Scott Clifton (Theoretical Bullshit) – Skepticon 7


    If you want a brief spoiler and paraphrase of the conclusion of the Skepticon talk: If the Christian hypothesis was true, then Yahweh existence and his power to create things by force of will would be facts of nature, natural laws. That would be the natural state of the universe. By contrast, in this imagined world, humanity would not be natural. We would be artificial, constructed, unnatural. Even if you take the Christian world view seriously, there is still no conceptual space for the words “magic” and “supernatural”.

    PS:
    Quoting magician and religious studies professor Lee Siegel from his book “Net Of Magic” which is about Indian street magic.

    “I’m writing a book on magic,” I explain, and I’m asked, “Real magic?” By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers. “No,” I answer: “Conjuring tricks, not real magic.” Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while that magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic. (p. 425)

    Look above at the perverseness of language that these illegitimate concepts give rise to. “Real magic” refers to the magic that does not exist, and the magic that does exist is known as “not real magic”.

    PPS:
    Imagine you’re in a cliche D&D world. Are you really going to argue with the wizard that the wizard has zero understanding of what they’re doing when they say you from the evil zombies by casting a fireball by utilizing bat guano and very specific hand gestures and vocalizations?! That’s basically flat-Earth atheist territory.
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist

    My favorite example of the flat-Earth atheist is from the Dresden Files novels. Quoting tvtropes.

    The Dresden Files:

    Recurring Character Sanya is a Russian man who was once possessed by a Fallen Angel and offered redemption and a kick-ass magic sword wrought from one of the nails that crucified Jesus, from the hand of the Archangel Michael himself. He describes himself as agnostic. However he makes no effort to deny the existence (and powers) of the Sword, demons, faeries, or wizards. It’s mostly played for laughs, but his argument that the existence of the Swords (and even the Angel) doesn’t actually prove anything theologically in a world packed with so many magical objects and creatures running around is pretty valid. He suggests the Sword (and Angels) could be Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, a dream he’s currently having in a coma, or a hallucination of some sort. That said he doesn’t think it matters if God is directly involved or even real, as the Sword allows him to do good and help people who need it, and that’s all that matters. Or if he’s insane he’s in no rush to figure it out.

  51. Rob Grigjanis says

    Gerrard @73:

    the standard model doesn’t have mechanisms or explanations.

    Well, you can play games with ‘explanation’ (there’s always another ‘why?’ just over the horizon), but the standard model is basically a bunch of mechanisms involving particles. How are particle interactions not mechanisms? How is the Higgs mechanism not a mechanism?

  52. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    @Rob
    The standard model does an excellent job explaining the various interactions, but it doesn’t give a mechanism for those interactions. It doesn’t answer why it is this way and not some other way. Compare that to asking the question “why [do] rubber bands tend to pull back together again?”, which we could answer in terms of a mechanism: rubber bands are made of atomic and subatomic particles, which feel the electromagnetic force (among others), which provides for the “push” that tends to make rubber bands pull back together again. That’s an explanation in terms of a mechanism. An explanation in terms of a mechanism is a reductionistic explanation in terms of a “simpler” or “more basic” or “more fundamental” model of reality. You can’t give an explanation of that kind for the correctness of the standard model. You just have Hume’s As then Bs, constant conjunction.

    Again, PZ’s error in the OP was demanding a particular kind of materialistic reductionistic explanation in terms of a mechanism, aka in terms of a “more fundamental” model of reality, but you don’t need that in order to do science, and you don’t need that in order to establish causation.

  53. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Let me phrase it another way. Yes, the Higgs mechanism exists, and it explains why particles have mass (approx), but can you tell me how the Higgs field interacts with other fundamental fields? What’s the mechanism? How does it do it? Why is it this way as opposed to some other way?

  54. jo1storm says

    @73 GerrardOfTitanServer

    Personally, I find that part of The Dresden Files (the way Dresden talks to Sanya, at one point openly calling him The Knight of Maybe) the least believable and most grating. It can be explained by real life deconversion of Jim Butcher from fundie Christianity to moderate to “there’s something in there” theism over the course of the books. Butcher started his life deep in bible belt in Independence, Missouri, went to University of Oklahoma and finished it with degree in Literature. Jim has said that he grew up “on the fun end of fundamental Christianity as opposed to the mental end”. In Dresden Files there are multiple powerful entities, including gods like Odin and Hades, but there is still big G christian God with angels and archangels who is implied to be vastly more powerful than them. Satan and fallen angels Order of the Blackened Denarius are one of the main antagonists.

    In short, the author is culturally Christian, when he had thought of Sanya as a character he was moderate Christian then ironically became closer to Sanya in character as he got older. Thus the weirdness. In fact, the whole world is called creation and the Outsiders (the main enemy and the only one that matters in the long run, because even fully evil fallen angel Denarians gang up with the good and neutral and other guys to fight them) are explicitly described as forces outside Creation, beyond good and evil as we know it. It is not even “Good, Evil, Squid” world like tv tropes calls it.

    Butcher wants to build “all mythologies are true” world but he can’t shake off his upbringing. I guess that nobody can. Thus strangeness. We have Harry Dresden, a guy who believes in everything, vs Sanya, agnostic Knight of the Cross who disbelieves some of it. Dresden is implied to be correct. Still doesn’t explain magic in depth, despite being a series about detective wizards.

  55. Rob Grigjanis says

    You’re confusing ‘explanation’ with ‘mechanism’. Yes, I can tell you how the Higgs field interacts with other fields. No, I can’t tell you why it’s not “some other way”.

    That’s enough language games for me tonight.

  56. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Rob
    It’s not language games. The teacher in the OP comic can do the exact kind of explanation about how their magic works that you can for the Higgs field interaction. PZ Myers critiqued the wizard teacher because their explanation was not a materialistic reductionistic explanation in terms of some other more well established materialistic model of reality, and that same critique would apply to you because you don’t have a reductionistic explanation for how the Higgs field interacts with other fields in terms of another model underneath the standard model.

    jo1storm
    I agree with basically everything. Let me be clear: Sanya was not being reasonable. I also note that I found Sanya to be funny because of his ridiculousness of his reasoning and his weird unreasonable refusal to accept the existence of magic and gods, again, given he was given a sword with one of the nails of the cross of Jesus, given directly by the archangel Michael, and he’s used that sword for years (decades?) to slay evil monsters including demons, evil fey creatures, etc.

    Thanks. That also makes a lot of sense of the story. The Christian god in the story, the white god, seems to be an outlier in terms of power and theme, and what you said explains it well.

  57. John Morales says

    Gerrard, presumably you mean a nuclear fire, not a fossil fuel fire.

    (BTW, 39.2% renewables in Australia overall during the last week)

  58. Rob Grigjanis says

    Gerrard:

    The teacher in the OP comic can do the exact kind of explanation about how their magic works that you can for the Higgs field interaction.

    But she didn’t. A list of spells is not a theory. The Standard Model is.

  59. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    “Sure, but what is magic?” “It just feels like a cop-out.”
    “Sure, but what is a standard model? What is a quantum field?” “It just feels like a cop-out.”

  60. Rob Grigjanis says

    A list of spells is not a theory.
    The Standard Model is a theory.

    It’s not complicated, no matter how hard you try to make it so.

  61. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    And that’s non-sequitir because that’s not what PZ was talking about and that’s not what I was talking about. So, sure, you’re right, but it’s also irrelevant to the conversation.

  62. Rob Grigjanis says

    The student is asking for a theory of magic. The teacher can’t or won’t give one. Where’s the non sequitur?

  63. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Read what PZ wrote again:

    It makes a good point, that magic isn’t an explanation for much of anything — you need some chain of causality and evidence, with some mechanism at each step. You don’t just get to say “it’s magic” or “it’s a miracle.”

    You don’t have that mechanism for the standard model either. Saying “the Higgs field interacts with other fields” is precisely the same sort of statement as “Wave the wand and say ‘floatularis’, and look! It levitates!”. It’s a just-so story with no explanation behind it.

    Now, the standard model is a well developed scientific theory in the meaning that it explains a great many things using a small conceptual framework, and the wizard’s example is not a scientific theory. This is not PZ’s critique. PZ’s critique is that the wizard doesn’t have an explanation in the sens of an underlying materialistic explanation and that you need such a thing to conclude causation, which is simply wrong.

  64. Rob Grigjanis says

    A teacher in a classroom flips a switch, and a chair levitates. A student asks for an explanation. Consider two possible answers;

    (1) The teacher says “it’s physics! Fucking physics!”

    (2) The teacher says “I activated (by a well-defined mechanism) a strong magnetic field, with a steep gradient in the vertical direction. The applied field creates an induced magnetic field in the molecules of the chair (by a well-defined mechanism), and the interaction between the two fields (another well-defined mechanism!) can counteract the effect of gravity.”

    You seem to think (1) and (2) are “precisely the same sort of statement”, apparently because the teacher in (2) didn’t ‘explain’ magnetic fields, or gravity, or whatever. OK. There are no explanations for anything. You could have saved yourself a lot of typing.

  65. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    @Rob
    Sigh. The level of understanding in your two examples are clearly different. There is still a level of understanding in both. There can be a clear demonstration of causation in both. Contra what PZ wrote, one does not need to have a known materialistic reductionistic explanation in terms of underlying materialistic mechanisms in order to conclude causation. Your comparison here is not a fair comparison to what I was getting at earlier – I was asking “how does the Higg’s field interact with other quantum fields?” which cannot currently be answered by a reductionstic explanation, which is not the same thing as your recent example where you explain how a chair levitates in terms of a reductionistic explanation. You’re still spectacularly missing the point.

  66. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Here’s a better comparison. How did that orc die? The party fighter stabbed him with a sword. How did that other orc die? The party wizard killed him with a fireball spell.

    Both are clearly causal explanations. Both are perfectly adequate causal explanations in a world where orcs, fighters, and wizards are commonplace.

    With our knowledge, we can give a deeper (reductionistic) explanation for the fighter’s sword and muscles and how that works. We don’t know much about how the wizard creates the fireball. However, we still know that the wizard creates the fireball even if we don’t know how.

    Another apt comparison. Persons thousands of years ago still knew that certain kinds of poisons could kill people even though they had practically no idea about the biological and chemical processes of the poison on a human body. To those people, that would be like magic. They know that it works, but they don’t know how it works.

    Obviously, knowing how something works is better than not knowing how something works.

  67. Rob Grigjanis says

    Gerrard @91: It’s the (well-defined) way in which the Higgs field(s) interact with other fields which allows the ‘reductionist’ explanation I gave about the levitating chair. Where does reductionism begin and end, according to you?

    It’s the Higgs mechanism which leaves us with the weak interaction (with massive mediating particles), and the electromagnetic interaction (with massless mediating particle – the photon), as well as the masses of electrons and quarks, which make up the matter in the chair (actually, the masses of nucleons are determined by the strong interactions between the quarks, as well as their masses).

    It’s the electromagnetic interaction which gives us the explanation I gave. So what point am I missing?

  68. Rob Grigjanis says

    The student in the comic is asking for an explanation of type (2) in my #89. Instead, she gets a type (1) ‘explanation’. Type (2) has mechanisms, backed by experimental evidence. Type (1) has nothing. Why are you spectacularly missing this simple point?

  69. says

    …error in the OP was demanding a particular kind of materialistic reductionistic explanation in terms of a mechanism, aka in terms of a “more fundamental” model of reality, but you don’t need that in order to do science, and you don’t need that in order to establish causation.

    Actually, yes, you do need such a “reductionistic explanation in terms of a mechanism” to do science, or to establish causation; and when one isn’t readily available, scientists tend to strive to find and test one, to whatever extent their current knowledge allows.

    And if whatever we call “magic” was real, then those who study, use or depend on it would most likely not be satisfied with “it’s magic!” as an “explanation,” and would try to learn about it at a deeper level. Anyone who expected us to be satisfied with “it’s magic!” would be regarded with deep suspicion at best, just as those who say “it’s just God’s will!” are rightly regarded with suspicion today. (And even if a certain group of magicians refused to take a closer look at how their power works, sooner or later someone else who wants to counter or neutralize that power will.)

  70. says

    Here’s a better comparison. How did that orc die? The party fighter stabbed him with a sword. How did that other orc die? The party wizard killed him with a fireball spell. Both are clearly causal explanations. Both are perfectly adequate causal explanations in a world where orcs, fighters, and wizards are commonplace.

    The latter explanation would not be at all adequate to someone who wants to counter or protect himself from the fireball spell. Knowing how swords work enables us to counter them; and knowing how magic works would enable us to counter it as well.

  71. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Rob

    The student in the comic is asking for an explanation of type (2) in my #89. Instead, she gets a type (1) ‘explanation’. Type (2) has mechanisms, backed by experimental evidence. Type (1) has nothing. Why are you spectacularly missing this simple point?

    Because you’re having a conversation with someone else, not me. PZ Myers went further. He said that type 1 explanations are totally worthless and cannot show causation. I quote again: “It makes a good point, that magic isn’t an explanation for much of anything — you need some chain of causality and evidence, with some mechanism at each step. You don’t just get to say “it’s magic” or “it’s a miracle.”” That’s just wrong. You don’t need a mechanism in order to show causation or to do science. Am I claiming that both kinds of explanations are equally valuable or useful? No. Please stop strawmanning.

    Raging Bee

    Actually, yes, you do need such a “reductionistic explanation in terms of a mechanism” to do science, or to establish causation; and when one isn’t readily available, scientists tend to strive to find and test one, to whatever extent their current knowledge allows.

    Just wrong. Again, we do not have a reductionistic explanation in terms of some other mechanism for how the quantum fields of the standard model behave and interact with each other. We just know that they do. Are physicists like Rob not doing science? I can only encourage you to watch that Feynman video that linked to above, or the Boudry paper.

    And if whatever we call “magic” was real, then those who study, use or depend on it would most likely not be satisfied with “it’s magic!” as an “explanation,” and would try to learn about it at a deeper level.

    Of course. Just like people today are not satisfied with the standard model of physics and its dozen or so arbitrary constants, and they’re looking for deeper explanations.

    Anyone who expected us to be satisfied with “it’s magic!” would be regarded with deep suspicion at best, just as those who say “it’s just God’s will!” are rightly regarded with suspicion today.

    There’s a fundamental difference there. Testability. When the wizard creates a fireball with certain mental preparation, certain hand gestures, certain vocalizations, and bat guano, that’s testable. It’s falsifiable. The claim that all of these things are necessary to produce the fireball is a testable claim. A falsifiable claim. That’s science.

    It’s ridiculous to compare a cliche D&D wizard in a cliche D&D world where wizards are commonplace and their powers are real, demonstrable, testable, and falsifiable, vs the real world Christian priest frauds who have no real powers of conjuration, divination, evocation, etc., no demonstrable powers, no testable claims, no falsifiable claims. That’s the difference. Again, you’re being a flat-Earth atheist right now.

    The latter explanation would not be at all adequate to someone who wants to counter or protect himself from the fireball spell. Knowing how swords work enables us to counter them; and knowing how magic works would enable us to counter it as well.

    Imagine a trial in court in a D&D world.

    Prosecutor: “We have several witnesses that saw the accused perform the necessary vocalizations, hand gestures, with bat guano, to create a fireball, and they observed the creation of the fireball, and they observed that the accused threw the fireball at the victim, and the witnesses observed the victim promptly burn to death.”

    Defense attorney: “Objection! We don’t know that the wizard is responsible for the death of the deceased because we really don’t know how the wizard created the fireball that was used to kill the deceased. We don’t have enough evidence for a scientific causal link between the wizard’s actions and the death of the deceased.”

    Clearly, the defense attorney’s rhetoric is ridiculous, and the jury should convict. Clearly, saying that the wizard created the fireball is an adequate explanation for many sorts of questions, but as you noted, it’s not an adequate explanation for other questions. This is just like the situation today with the standard model. It’s great for giving explanations for certain kinds of questions, but cannot answer other kinds of questions, like “why do the fundamental constants have the values that they do?” or “how can we use or change the rules to allow faster-than-light travel?”.

  72. Tethys says

    There’s a fundamental difference there. Testability. When the wizard creates a fireball….

    This wins stupidest thing written in this thread so far.

    When imaginary beings do impossible things…abracadabra…. It’s science!?

  73. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    When imaginary beings do impossible things…abracadabra…. It’s science!?

    So, it’s improper to use science on something that hasn’t already been proven to exist… with science? That’s silly, but that’s the take-away of what you wrote.

    These thought experiments are important to elucidate philosophy of science. Not everything real is known today. We have to keep our minds properly open to the possibility of discovery of new things. Science definitely can work on new things. That’s what science is.

    Am I saying that we’re going to discover D&D magic in the future? No. We have extremely exhaustible evidence that such things do not exist. However, as Boudry argues in the paper, it is philosophically improper to say that “science can’t investigate magic”. The philosophically proper thing to say is “science can investigate magic, and science reached the firm conclusion that D&D magic does not exist, and that Christian magic (e.g miracles) do not exist”.

    Boudry points out that it’s disingenuous and illegitimate to argue against creationists by saying that science can’t work on magic. They’ll just claim that we rigged the game against them from the start, and the creationists would be right to say that against anyone who says such silly things about science. The methodology of science was not biased against magic at the start. Science could have proven the existence of magic if there were any. But after thousands of years of extensive scientific study and gathering of evidence, we can be quite confident today that there is no magic. Magic does not exist. That’s a scientific statement with scientific evidence and reasoning to back it up.

  74. Rob Grigjanis says

    You don’t need a mechanism in order to show causation or to do science.

    Ah, so the problem is that you don’t understand what ‘science’ means. And apparently, ‘show’ just means ‘make something up’.

    Q: What caused that event?
    A: Bargle! Just fucking bargle!

    Causation and science, baby!

  75. Rob Grigjanis says

    Gerrard @99:

    Boudry points out that it’s disingenuous and illegitimate to argue against creationists by saying that science can’t work on magic.

    Jesus, talk about strawmanning! Of course science can address magic, if it makes specific testable claims. Who has ever said otherwise?

  76. Tethys says

    No need to dig that hole deeper GOTS. I understand that you’ve fundamentally misunderstood the OP, and the scientific method.

    Do continue splaining to physicists how to scientifically test magical fireballs. It’s hilarious!!

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