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For me, the distinction between science and magic is that science is using and exploring the rules of the universe as they are, whilst magic is telling the rules of the universe to take a hike because you want to cast a fireball. I think it was Terry Pratchett who had a quote to the effect of "Magic shouldn't work, but wizards are too stubborn to realize that". Science is guided by math ("If my calculations were correct..."), magic by philosophy ("The elements bend to my will!"). Science doesn't really care how you feel, magic is all about how you feel.
I like the Magic vs Science dichotomy in the sense it is used as a sort of Romanticism Versus Enlightement metaphor.
I once wrote a film that was actually about the conflict between magic and technology (rather than science per see), with magic being (marginally) more heroic. The idea is that there's been a war waging between the heralds of technology and magic since time immemorial. Right now technology is winning, but that's not exactly a good thing, as technology (in this narrative) is linked with mass-production (i.e capitalism), and thus the state of our world right now and its affliction with consumerism running rampant. Magic on the other hand is more connected to more tribal and pre-industrial ways.
The chief conflict of the script was that while "the age of the wheel" (as the characters call it) brought upon this ceaseless onslaught of industry, but also brought upon positive things like all the wondrous scientific discoveries and improvements to human life, which leaves the magic folks conflicted whether the should make peace with technology or continue the war.
I prefer stories where magic is approached as a science in and of itself. Complete with experimentation, research, and innovation. Stories where magic moves forward, like any other scientific field, rather than stubbornly clinging to the past.
The thing is, even with that setup you can still do science on magic. Science is just a way to generate explanations about the universe, and if in your universe you can cause things to happen on willpower alone then science can generate explanations about that process.
There’s no conflict between science and magic, because of magic exists it’s a field of scientific inquiry. It might be more accurate to say the conflict is between nature and industry, or tradition and progress.
There's a general trend in such stories that magic is in decline while technology is on the rise. Whether it's due to magical knowledge being lost, magical bloodlines going extinct, the resources that power magic being depleted...magic's glory days are over.
Heck, magic fading away could even be the justification for the advancement of technology. As people realize that they can't rely on magic so much anymore, they have to figure out other ways of doing things. Necessity is the mother of invention.
This leaves the remaining mages with a few options. They can stubbornly cling to their old way of life and try to clamp down hard on scientific progress to maintain their crumbling power base. They can accept that they are obsolete. Or they can engage in their own magical research rather than rely on the old ways of doing things and ensure that their magic can keep up with the rest of the world.
Edited by M84 on Sep 13th 2018 at 12:24:54 AM
I used to like Tradition vs Progress but then I realized that is a iffy dichtonomy. Sometimes technology can enchance traditions and kept them in memory.
And yeah, Mages should likely improve. Albeit, I have to admit that I like when they already act like.scientifics and is the time what make them advanced.
Also. I'm really becoming a fan of fictional war crimes. Thereo so many real life material to work, from the Big Ones© (The Holocaust, Holodomor, Japanese Imperialism, etc) to smaller scale (Rwanda, 1900 Maya massacre, etc).
Like. I now truly know why The Empire is synonymous with Evil. Like, in the past, I used to ask "Why The Empire is always evil?".
Read a bit about imperialism and war crimes and you get a answer.
I have to admit that like to avoid Nazi-like comparations, not making them use Concentration Camps.
If anything, I Like exploring the idea of Killing fields, Biological warfare against civilians, looting and that "heat of the moment" stuff. Manufacturated famines exist too.
Seriously. In the story that I wrote, The Empire had literally engaged in every type of genocide and war crime. The product of more than a millenium of indoctrinacion created to empower the worst of the worst. It wasn't hard, The Emperor just had to find motivated people and put them in command of others.
Genocide is becoming my new morbid interest. Learn about it so you can avoid it.
Edited by KazuyaProta on Sep 12th 2018 at 11:31:17 AM
Yes, which is not what Penrose thinks. He believes it is not computational.
Penrose's theory explains consciousness quite well.
Edited by CharlesPhipps on Sep 12th 2018 at 9:37:35 AM
Thing is, the idea is that magic literally cannot be explained by any means that aren't poetic. You could maybe say "his anger fuels those fireballs" is a kind of explanation, but it's not a very scientific one.
For the record, regarding the script I mentioned, the magical faction had a character named Balthazar who wanted to integrate magic with technology (i.e Magitek), while another one called Shroud was a hardcore magic extremist who sought to wipe out technology and bring back the old ways of magic en masse. Their boss, Omen, is on the fence and they have to convince her.
Edited by Gaon on Sep 12th 2018 at 9:38:15 AM
Eh, it's still pretty scientific. Have mages run experiments on how angry a person has to be to create a fireball. Maybe try to learn why strong emotions can be channeled to create tangible effects in the real world. See if fire can only be conjured with anger or if anger can only conjure fireballs. Maybe there's another variable that determines the effect and its power besides emotions. And so on.
It really doesn’t. His theories have been debunked dozens of times by relevant professionals, they’re pure quantum woo.
It’s not even technically science, as many of Penrose’s assertions remain unfalsifiable. It’s below even supposition at this point.
Also, those links aren’t great. The Elsevier one is just a press release, it’s not an actual analysis. The paper it talks about has been raked over the coals in academia. The other one is an editorial.
M84 already said it, but there’s a hell of a lot of science you could do on “getting angry makes fireballs”.
Edited by archonspeaks on Sep 12th 2018 at 9:51:31 AM
Except for the small part where it's outright true. If nothing else, what they postulated was happening was happening.
But this isn't media, I admit.
I bow down.
That’s the exact same press release you quoted before, just on a different website. And “outright true” is a funny way to describe something with no supporting evidence whatsoever.
They were completely unable to prove that any of the effects they observed had anything to do with human consciousness. The link between the two is nothing more than conjecture. In fact, from the beginning his original assertion that human consciousness wasn’t algorithmic relied on a severe misinterpretation of another scientist’s work. There are also a few other critical issues with it, such as the fact that thought doesn’t happen at quantum timescales.
I can appriciate a religious approach to mind-body duality, but trying to make it scientific is ridiculous. Quantum consciousness is such utter nonsense I’m honestly a little surprised to see it on this forum.
Edited by archonspeaks on Sep 12th 2018 at 10:12:19 AM
...That page just links to the press release in Elsevier.
You did not provide anything new.
Edited by M84 on Sep 13th 2018 at 1:03:25 AM
In my own sci-fantasy setting (which I often run D&D campaigns in) I go with the idea that magic can be analyzed. A high-level wizard tends to resemble a scientist more than anything and often carries more "high-tech" spellcasting focuses and the like.
Part of the idea of my setting being that at low levels it's like a medieval fantasy setting, but at higher levels things become more akin to sci-fi.
Sorry, cut and paste issue. Was linking to a discover article.
Not the article I wanted to link to but was doing two things at once. My apologies. But yes, there is quantum activity happening there despite decades of denying it is. WHAT it is doesn't matter, just that it is happening and that by itself refutes the vast majority of shade thrown at it.
You may disagree
An article without a single linked source. That's your proof. And the tone of it is hardly professional.
It's not credible. It's an interesting story to read, maybe. But it's not exactly a smoking gun here.
It doesn’t refute anything. There’s quantum activity happening in every atom in every part of our body. The issue with the hypothesis isn’t that quantum activity is happening, it’s that there’s no link whatsoever between quantum activity and consciousness. And again, the proposed link between the two was based off faulty logic to begin with and has been utterly torn apart in the years since it was proposed.
Edited by archonspeaks on Sep 12th 2018 at 10:20:30 AM
I mean obviously quantum events are happening in our brains. The question is whether it's happening enough to actually affect how we think in any meaningful way.
Edited by M84 on Sep 13th 2018 at 1:24:45 AM
Quite literally all available evidence points to no. Orch-OR has been falsified multiple times, and most of Penrose’s original assertions are unfalsifiable to some degree. His interpretation of Godel, which his original argument rests on, is also quite badly flawed.
Edited by archonspeaks on Sep 12th 2018 at 10:31:41 AM
Another factor in all of this is how accessible magic is, both in how many people can use it and how much effort is required to use it.
Edited by Kakuzan on Sep 12th 2018 at 1:32:56 PM
I prefer stories where anyone can learn it even if they don't have the same degree of potential for it.
Like the Pillars of Eternity games. Anyone can theoretically develop superhuman abilities and magic because in this setting souls are real tangible things that can act as sources of great power. Though not everyone has an equally powerful soul. There's even a branch of magic called animancy devoted entirely to studying souls and the potential applications of harnessing soul power. Though it's very controversial in-universe because animancy requires experimenting on souls.
And in this setting, soul power has a lot of applications. It can be used to perform feats such as creating an entire pantheon of artificial gods.
Edited by M84 on Sep 13th 2018 at 1:39:12 AM
Good grief do I absolutely hate Magic vs. Science outside of the rare occasions where it's used for a decent non-story reason (such as Arcanum or Shadowrun, where it's mostly a balancing thing to keep people from being both a powerful mage and loaded to the gills with implants/steampunk gear).
Firstly because it's a false dichotomy. Magic is an addon to natural laws, while science is a methodology that can be applied to pretty much anything. They're not mutually exclusive, they're not even opposed.
Secondly because even Magic vs. (modern) Technology (which is what people often mean when they say 'Magic vs. Science') doesn't make any damn sense. A lot of modern technology is, laws of physics-wise, not significantly more complicated than mechanisms from the 18th century, they just rely on natural processes we didn't have a grasp on at the time. This is especially galling when the reasoning is that magic somehow interferes with 'complex technology' and as a result all the wizards in the setting use, at most, clockwork mechanisms instead of electrical devices, despite the fact that, say, a clockwork wristwatch works through a massively complex set of interacting gears and cogs moving at a variety of speeds, while a digital wristwatch uses a deceptively simple array of binary gates. Especially especially when the wizard in question has an 'entropy field' that causes devices with very finicky margins for failure to malfunction and therefore they use a 'robust' revolver over a 'complex' semi-automatic, despite the fact that a semi-automatic use a combination of locking lugs and spring tension to keep the seal on the chamber intact and slight momentary variances in either spring tension or the lock individually aren't going to break the seal, whereas a revolver, having no spring, relies entirely on very precise measurements in the cams and gears to rotate the cylinders and very, very precise measurements in the lock between the chamber and the barrel to keep a seal.
While a revolver is mechanically simpler than a semi-automatic, when one of the finicky things in a semi-automatic fails, it will usually result in some annoying issue, like a failure to properly eject the spent cartridge, load the next one or simply a failure to fire... When the finicky details in a revolver don't work properly, it usually results in the gun blowing up or at least a misfire that damages the gun and probably the hand of the person holding it.
Therefore if you have an 'entropy field' around you that makes little things that might go wrong more likely to happen, you might not want to use a semi-automatic, but you definitely do not want to use a revolver. No matter how cool it is.
And lastly because Magic vs. Science is all too often just code for 'Romanticism vs. Realism' and fiction being very much a creative discipline, that just basically means that Romanticism/Magic always wins out over boring Realism/Science.
Edited by Robrecht on Sep 12th 2018 at 12:35:42 PM
I hated when Dresden Files and Harry Potter utilized that, what's even the point of being Urban Fantasy if the largest part of urban life isn't even represented?
The authors just want to have Wizards in the modern day while they're still acting suitably antiquated, it's trying to have their cake and eat it too.
The simple theory is none of that results in anything and it turns out to simply be completely arbitrary on the eyes of science. Why does anger channel fireballs? All the experiments turn out zilch, zero, nada. There is no rhyme or reason, only that anger channels fireballs when the mages want them to. Because magic is, as I said, a narrative force, not a mathematical one. You cannot replicate its results in a lab, because they only function when "powered by poetry" (i.e when the stars align, when the moon is right, at the 13th stroke of midnight or what have you).
@Robrecht: That seems like a very laser-focused criticism of Dresden files and similar works. There are a lot of others where the wizards don't even use watches of any kind (or if they do it's with open disdain only out of a necessity to blend in). Wizards opposing 16th century tech is not a rare sight.
There are works where enlightenment/science (calling it "realism" seems a bit biased) wins or is meant to be rooted for: The Flight of Dragons, Age of Ultron, some Warhammer fiction.
For me, part of the appeal of magic is its curious logical pathways and strange traditions, how it seems to be primarily guided by form rather than function. Things like sacrificing a innocent man because his innocence somehow powers a demon (despite the fact "innocence" is not something that can be measured or used as a power source, since it's a abstract concept). The fact they're putting their fath in something that by all reason and logic shouldn't work but somehow fucking does powered by sheer willpower is part of the appeal of magic. In heroic portrayals sorcerers are "true men of faith" while in negative portrayals they are "fanatics". It's a good concept. A lot like religion in that sense (i.e the fact it shouldn't make sense yet somehow does is its appeal).
Attempting to break it down into numbers and scientific experiments (as you seem to be suggesting) robs most of its appeal for me, but different strokes I guess.
I think we all may be operating under different definitions of what science is. When I think of science, I think more about the practice of observing something to understand it more. And when it comes to experiments with magic, they don't necessarily have to be in the type of lab setting we would imagine real life to be like since experimenting is the process of testing out different circumstances basically. So while it wouldn't be sciency like we know it, I can see why people would consider the application of magic to be science, or at least uses the scientific method.
Edit: Also, I'd argue that creating fireballs through emotion has its own logic. Not the logic of the real world, but an internal logic. I think I get what you mean with liking the mystique of magic, but I don't think that it is completely antithetical to trying to understand it through a certain lens since there are many things we do not know about our own world.
Edited by Kakuzan on Sep 12th 2018 at 5:29:13 AM
Put them in an MRI machine and ask them to generate a fireball. Which neurons have to fire for the fireball to appear? Does any kind of anger work, say frustration? Does the amount of anger correspond to the size of the fireball? If so, what stops people who are angry often from being on fire all the time?
All of that is science, and the answers to those questions would lead to more questions, and so on. Science isn’t just microscopes and beakers.
Edited by archonspeaks on Sep 12th 2018 at 2:24:33 AM
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