Magic Doesn't Work

Here’s one reason I don’t believe in magic: People are not exploiting it.


When people find something that works, they put it to use. Fire, language, flint, copper, seeds, horses, wheels, arches, steel, rivers, electricity, light, atoms, etc. Human history is the history of us making stuff work for us.


If palm-reading worked, it would be used for job interviews. If astrology worked, the military would chart its invasions by the stars. If precognition worked, investors would use it on Wall Street. Even 5% precognition would be enough to run the casinos out of business. If ESP worked, the CIA would do their spying remotely. If prayer worked, we’d have prayer-itoriums instead of hospitals. If psychic surgery worked, that’s what doctors would train in. If pyramid power worked, we’d live and work in pyramid-shaped buildings.


The Chinese have adopted Western nuclear theory because it works. They have not adopted Western astrology. We use Japanese fuzzy-logic chips because they work. We do not use the Japanese theory of blood types and personality.


Humans are too resourceful not to put a good tool to use. If we’re not putting magic to use, it’s because it doesn’t work.


November 2005



Link: Here's a site with a unique take on efficacy of prayer.


Here is XKCD making the same point in table format.


bikes by the temple at Burning Man 2005