Spookywood's definition of magick is, "the design of function."
This article is an introduction to the scientific method and ways to apply it in magick practice.
Image Description: Yolk-like neon blobs being dropped in a clear blue solution in a science beaker - UV lit
WHAT IS SCIENCE?
Biologist Eberhard Voit (2019) describes science as a "hypothesis-driven deduction" and provides this guideline for it:
1. Identify an observation not immediately explained
2. Collect existing knowledge about the observation and formulate potential explanations
3. Select the seemingly most likely but so-far unproven explanation and formulate it as a testable hypothesis
4. Design and execute carefully controlled wet-lab or computational experiments to test the hypothesis
5. Determine if test results support hypothesis (REPEAT)
SCIENCE AS A CRITICAL PROCESS
One important thing to know about science is that it's a system of critical analysis. It's not as important to produce significant results as it is to conduct honest science.
A scientific study participates in a long, rigorous test/retest process that occurs across a system of researchers, peer reviewers, students and publishers. It may or may not bear significant results and be reproducible. That's OK!
Science is a deductive process. Deduction is a type of reasoning that begins with general observations then reaches specific conclusions. There's another form of reasoning called induction. This reasoning starts with a conclusion and scopes for general details. Both are important.
Scientists understand that people are limited in knowledge, skills and perception. Our models of reality are always missing some detail. This doesn't mean science is useless. Scientists learn by connecting, asking new questions, innovating experiments and optimizing the state of existence.
Scientists explore claims of existence and the unknown, and this process never stops as long as there are participants!
WHEN IS SOMETHING SCIENTIFICALLY SIGNIFICANT?
Knowing when science bears significant results requires statistics and reproducibility.
There's a whole field of discussion surrounding research ethics and good statistics. Statistics is the collection and analysis of empirical data.
Publication journals, particularly in psychology, can be shady and unreproducible if best data and research practices are not followed. Some factors that contribute to irreproducible significance are publication bias, unethical or incorrect statistics and vagueness of hypotheses (Stephan Lewandowsky & Klaus Oberauer, 2020). When publishers prioritize novel, significant results more than excellent research, this puts pressure on scientists to gain attention rather than do proper science.
Participants in the peer review system are human and subject to bias and mistakes. While science aims to minimize error, a noble scientist prioritizes discussion of both known and possible errors.
Science helps us model and predict what's consistent about reality and how stuff changes. We can participate in reality more cohesively and sustainably if we understand it.
When assessing a scientific study, look for the sample size (n), probability of effect (p-value) and citations (references).
Sample sizes should be around sixty people or more. Many studies have fewer participants, but this increases risk of irreproducibility across larger populations.
P-values are indicators of probability of effect. They can be incorrect if unethical research practices or statistics have been used, but this can be minimized by conducting a study again and again then comparing the results. A significant study will have a p-value of less than 0.05 (p <0.05).
You should also check the cited list of a research paper or source of information. These are the related pieces of literature that informed the study or expands on it.
WHY IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO PARTICIPATE IN SCIENCE?
A solo thinker might discover something significant or fundamental about existence, but if there aren't other scientists testing the hypothesis, the risks of them doing faulty science and faulty statistics is higher. They also have a limited lifespan, so their knowledge may not get passed to proceeding generations.
When many peers are involved, it's easier to gather larger pools of data, ask more precise and revised questions and innovate new ideas based on results. It's also easier to build sustainable systems that are more complex and detail-oriented.
Science has improved society's survivability drastically. It would be extraordinarily difficult to retract science from the structures of communities. Think about all the places science is being used:
- Hospitals and medicine
- Research labs
- Cleaning solutions at restaurants
- Physics for automobiles
- Skate parks
- Music and sound systems
- Hemp cultivation
Science is a highly productive and progressive part of human existence. By participating in science, we can notice more magick in the mundane. We can see the ways our participation does make a positive impact.
We help each other build our dreams and find better solutions.
IS IT REALISTIC FOR EVERYONE TO PARTICIPATE IN SCIENCE?
Not everyone is participating in long, peer-reviewed processes of science. That's usually reserved for doctors and students (or trial participants).
However, people do have characteristics that make science possible in daily life. Every day, we make predictions. We process sensory input and simulate virtual, neural predictions about the places we inhabit. If we're right, we do more of what works. If we're wrong, we adapt and learn how to do something new.
We inquire things. What's the meaning of life? What are other people's reasons and intentions? We're curious about death and despise our limitations, so we learn how to change them. This takes experimentation! There is always some bit of experimentation in experience.
Humans are observers, predictors, sensors, information processors and systems of communication. We are highly specialized beings that are built for thinking scientifically. Our unique abilities allow us to manipulate magick (which is the design of function), and this is what makes us magickians.
You don't have to have a PhD to participate in magick or science. Spookywood's definition of magick is the design of function. It's when structures of existence or particles interact in process. To be a magickian, you are especially stunned to design and process.
Magick teaches us how things work and what they do. We learn the structures and formulae of existence as well as appreciate and write poetry about their essences, work or “spirit.”
Here are a few tips for applying science in magick:
- Remember that magick is a process. There's always a spell or formula.
- Remain secular and agnostic. Religious claims bypass reason and the scientific process.
- Science isn't a specific set of knowledge claims. It's a process that routinely reveals new details about existence as long as there are scientists participating.
- Stay social. Listen to cultural stories, travel and keep up with what's going on in the world.
- Get more complex. Learn to ask better questions and factor in new details with old models.
- Study computation, chemistry and the sciences. Subscribe to online lecturers and science podcasts.
- Take note of the times your intuition, spells or other magick are unsuccessful.
- Spend more time observing yourself and surroundings.
- Consider magick as the design of function. Look for the steps of a formula. Consider the substances of spirits. Notice how structures of design build templates for functions of spirit to emerge.
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