Right, OR Useful (Not Both)

by Mike Sententia on March 2, 2012

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Is your model of magick right?

No. It’s not. Mine’s not, either.

We’re much too early in exploring magick to talk about “right.” Everything we’re making now will eventually be supplanted by a better model. We’re at Aristotelian physics, trying to get to Newtonian. No one is anywhere close to Einsteinian or quantum.

So, if your goal is to be right, just bet against every model. Congratulations, you’re right. And utterly useless.

If you want to be useful, aim merely to make a model that’s better than the one we have now. Not right, just better. One that lets you do something new.

You can be right, or you can be useful. But it’s too early in exploring magick to be both.

Credit to A Smart Bear (a tech startup blog) for the idea, and a couple sentences.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dark Arckana March 2, 2012 at 9:34 AM

I don’t think it’s too early, Mike. I think that if we can get a research lab going we can truly find out what makes Magik work. Furthermore, I don’t think being “right” and being “useful” are particularly contradictory. I generally find that the more scientific we are about Magik, the more useful we are. Magik has so many pitfalls that it’s easy to read into a lot of extraneous things. With science, we know what considerations take top priority and what considerations we can preclude. I have a unique Magikal Model and way of crafting things. However, I didn’t do this by betting against every other model. Rather, I took whatever I found valuable from as many models as I could find and put what I found useful together.

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Ananael Qaa March 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM

“Right” is in fact completely pointless when you’re trying to work scientifically. Because you’ll never be right, no matter what. Science is a process that works by approximating the truth. Each new iteration gets us closer, but there’s always another layer left to explore.

In physics, was Newton right? His equations were an enormous jump forward in the understanding of motion and gravitation, but Einstein still was able to come along and show that the “truer” model was relativity theory. Then quantum physics came along and showed that a whole other layer of reality existed that didn’t seem to conform to the relativity model. So today we have various unification theories vying for contention, but so far no settled opinion as to which one is the “most right” and such esoteric differences between them that setting up experiments is profoundly difficult.

Science never does “right.” But it’s pretty amazing at doing “useful.” I’m in agreement with you 100% that magicians can learn a lot from that perspective.

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Mike Sententia March 3, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Well said.

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MrBlack March 3, 2012 at 12:03 AM

Well said, I couldn’t agree more. A great man once said, ”
As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.”

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Mike Sententia March 3, 2012 at 11:07 AM

That was Socrates, right?

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