Saturday, 18 March 2006

The Laws of Magic

The Laws of Magic as a Ven DiagramSturgeon's Law says that 90% of everything is Crud. My addition would be if you're lucky, because it's usually more like 100%.

However, sometimes you can find interesting and useful nuggets of truth in a midden-heap of nonsense. A case in point is Isaac Bonewitz' "Laws of Magic", many of which are astoundingly quite useful for any Scientist or Engineer, no matter how, um, sceptical we may be of the whole neopagan edifice of Sturgeonosity.

Consider the following:

The Law of Knowledge

Essence: Understanding brings control; the more that is known about a subject, the easier it is to exercise control over it.
What is this, but the principle underlying scientific research with technological applications?

The Law of Cause & Effect

Essence: if exactly the same actions are done under exactly the same conditions, they will usually be associated with exactly the same "results;" similar strings of events produce similar outcomes.
Repeatability of experimental results is an essential requirement for the Scientific Method to work.

The Law of Synchronicity

Essence: Two or more events happening at the same time are likely to have more associations in common than the merely temporal; very few events ever really happen in isolation from nearby events.
Finding correlations between synchronous events, then determining any causal link : Did A cause B, B cause A, were both A and B caused by some event C, or is it all a coincidence - is a Science in itself, dealt with by the practice of Statistical Analysis.

The Law of Contagion

Essence: Objects or beings in physical or psychic contact with each other continue to interact after separation.
See Quantum Entanglement : "...measurements performed on one system seem to be instantaneously influencing other systems entangled with it.
Quantum entanglement is closely concerned with the emerging technologies of quantum computing and quantum cryptography, and has been used for experiments in quantum teleportation."

The Law of Personal Universes

Essence: Every sentient being lives in and quite possibly creates a unique universe which can never be 100% identical to that lived in by another.
See the Many Minds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.

The Law of Infinite Universes

Essence: The total number of universes into which all possible combinations of existing phenomena could be organized is infinite.
See the Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.

The Law of True Falsehoods

Essence: It’s possible for a concept or act to violate the truth patterns of a given universe (including an individual’s or group’s part of a consensus reality) and yet to still be "true," provided that it "works" in a specific context.
Anyone who has worked with physicis will have used Newtonian physics within its appropriate domain, Special Relativity when that's appropriate, and General Relativity in special cases. All are equally "true", inasmuch as they're all approximations to Reality which are good enough to work with within limited domains.

The Law of Perversity

Essence: also known as "Murphy’s Law," "Finagle’s Law," etc.: if anything can go wrong, it will — and in the most annoying manner possible.
Is there a single Engineer out there who doesn't have a deep and abiding Faith in this one?

The Laws are worth a read, anyway, if only as an intellectual construct that shows that some people have very different beliefs than others.

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