There’s something interesting going on over at altmagic.com. Could this be a naturalistic form of magic?
When the site started, I was extremely skeptical. It’s the work of Drew Jacob, and it’s no secret that he’s a good friend of mine (not to mention an HP contributor). Yet despite our friendship, I’ve been quite reluctant to mention his new business. Selling magic scrolls online? Um… Even I have a hard time stomaching that one. It’s hard to imagine a more blatant way to exploit naïve believers in the supernatural.
That’s why it’s been such a surprise to see his work. He calls himself an “honest magician”, and makes good on that claim by stating flat out he doesn’t know why or even whether his magic works. Beyond that, he’s publishing a series of articles that call bullshit on supernatural explanations, and present scientifically-sound research toward naturalistic explanations of certain “magical” phenomena.
Where is this going, and will it ever be able to justify ordering magic scrolls from a website? I don’t know. Honestly, I have my doubts. But I’m looking forward to finding out.
As for Drew’s magic, let me just say this:
Getting me to actually take seriously a site that sells magic scrolls? – well, that’s magic enough for me.
Here are a few particularly interesting articles so far:
- The Honest Magician – Here’s where he calls out other magicians for dodging the question of whether magic works, and puts forward his vision for a different approach
- Skeptic Tests – Here he acknowledges that hundreds of well-designed tests of a variety of magicians have all failed to confirm results, without exception. But what about tests of traditional tribal magicians?
- Three Magic Spells That Work – This one presents scientific research toward naturalistic explanations for tumo, vodou zombies, and death curses.