Why I Think Manifesting Only Guides Decisions

by Mike Sententia on June 8, 2012

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How do you build a good model of magick? It involves some testing, but more than that, it involves a good sense of which hypotheses are worth exploring. This is true of all sciences, but especially true of magick — with so few magick researchers, we need to focus on high-probability hypotheses.

Which brings me to our first terms: High- and low-probability hypotheses. See, all hypotheses are possible, and I can’t honestly call a hypothesis wrong without spending valuable time testing it. So, “low-probability hypothesis” essentially means, “This hypothesis looks wrong, so I’m going to focus on other things.” Example: Maybe dinosaur bones were left by aliens. That’s extremely-low-probability, but you get the idea.

Now we’re ready to talk about manifesting. I explained my model in the comments of a recent post, but wasn’t entirely happy with my answer. I kept seeing places where a casual reader could misunderstand me, not realize why certain points matter, and so on. Also, I didn’t make a good distinction between a thoroughly tested model and a best-guess hypothesis that might be wrong, which is important to talk about. Thus, this post.

Two Models of Manifesting

I’m going to compare two hypotheses:

  • Manifesting works by influencing peoples’ decisions. (My current model.)
  • Manifesting involves a significant amount of directly altering the physical world, for example, by moving an object which a person trips on, changing a coin flip in mid-air, and so on.

I’ll leave out the null hypothesis — that manifesting doesn’t work — as uninteresting to most mages who have experienced manifesting themselves.

When I explore two models, the first thing I look for is the base probability. Based strictly on what I’ve seen (no new testing), how likely is each hypothesis? This lets me discard a lot of hypotheses without testing them, saving a ton of time for more-promising investigations.

So, how probable is it that decision-altering magick exists at all? Evidence:

  • I can reliably alter neural behavior to numb pain. This shows that magick interacts with nerves well.
  • I’ve experienced emotion-altering magick, like from the Enochian spirits, along with transmission of ideas and visions. This shows that magick interacts with thoughts often and reliably.
  • I’ve experienced a friend doing manifesting, and fairly soon after, I got a connection from their ethereal software planting a thought in my mind (which would clearly further the goal they had manifested).

So, it seems pretty clear that decision-altering magick is possible, and that manifesting uses it. Also, thinking about what people manifest for, most of it could easily be handled by making the mage, and the people around them, to make decisions favorable to the manifested event. (Get me a job / a lover / a promotion are all about decisions.)

What about one-off stories of manifesting that’s not decision-based? They’re rare, so I feel pretty comfortable explaining them with confirmation bias: Sometimes, you just get lucky and random events line up perfectly, and that story then gets retold and embellished. That’s why the pleural of anecdote isn’t evidence.

Note: I wrote this post before Ananael’s comment about shifting powerball, but that’s exactly the sort of evidence that would make me change my mind. So, yes, I’m posting all this knowing I may be wrong, because I think it’s important to see how experienced mages explore magick in the face of uncertainty.

What about manifesting that involves directly altering the inanimate physical world? Evidence:

  • I’ve never experienced magick that directly alters the inanimate physical world. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it does suggest that it’s rare or very advanced.
  • If manifesting could alter the inanimate physical world in obvious ways, it would be easy to create an experiment with clear evidence for magick: Just make it so your goal can only be accomplished by pushing a button sealed in a glass case, and wait for your magick to push the button. The fact that there’s no evidence of this despite more than a century of paranormal research suggests that this is not how magick generally works.
  • This means that, if it turns out magick can alter the physical world, it will probably only alter certain things in limited ways. Exploring those details seems like a valuable area of research. (I don’t think this is the case, but if it turns out that manifesting does directly alter the physical world, then at least I’ll have been right about something in this post.)

Summary: I’ve experienced decision-altering magick and lots of similar magick, and it can account for most of what people manifest for, including 100% of the manifesting I’ve personally experienced. It’s a high-probability hypothesis. In contrast, altering the inanimate physical world has no evidence for (in my personal experience) and significant evidence against, and doesn’t seem to be required to account for common manifestings, so it’s a low-probability hypothesis. And that’s where my investigation stopped for a while.

I want to mention, this is a strong belief, but weakly held. It’s a strong belief because it’s precise, and makes real predictions — it’s useful if true, and provably incorrect if wrong. And it’s weakly held because I know it’s based on a probability analysis, rather than on testing. These beliefs are good — a strong belief is more useful for developing models than a vague belief, as long as you’re willing to change it in light of new evidence. But there’s a trap: Don’t become attached to one of these beliefs, and don’t forget the “weakly held” part of the bargain.

Manifesting Rain

JP brought up weather magick recently — causing rain, for example. I’ve personally experienced a few events that seem like weather magick. (“Seem like” because I haven’t done statistical controls, so they might be just freaky coincidences.) And it’s widely reported among other mages. So we’ll treat it as legit. And clearly, altering the weather wouldn’t work by altering peoples’ decisions.

Then I thought back to the instructions for my own manifesting ethereal software. See, ethereal software comes with instructions, usually written by the spirit who created it, to explain how to use it. I’d read them a while ago, but didn’t bring them up earlier because I wanted to focus on my logic in building the model — if this post was, “I read the instructions, this is what they say about how manifesting works,” that’s not a very interesting post. But to discuss weather magick, I need to go into the software’s instructions.

There are 3 levels for how aggressive the manifesting can be:

  • Basic: It guides you, plus alters decisions of people mildly. (That is, it will influence them to do something they were already considering, but not make them do something out of character.) You can also just have the software guide your own decisions, which is what I usually do.
  • Hard: It will influence people more dramatically. You need extra permissions from the software to do that, which includes doing enlightenment work (so that you would use this capability responsibly).
  • Full: Will also alter the physical world. Only available to ascended-level users.

(I haven’t talked about “ascended” before because it means such different things to different people. For now, just read that as “not available to human mages.”)

So, here’s my best-guess hypothesis for weather magick: Influencing the weather has been useful to people at least since agriculture, 10,000 years ago. It’s hard to abuse (in contrast with dramatically altering peoples’ decisions). And so, some spirits made some special-purpose ethereal software that only does weather, and which can do the direct physical alteration that’s normally prohibited to human mages. I call this my “best-guess hypothesis” because it’s the most sensible way to fit this new data into my current model, but I don’t have direct evidence for it.

Update, since Ananael’s comment about powerball: Maybe other ethereal software is wired to allow shifting the physical world. He does Golden Dawn, which would have had the kind of connections to spirits to create high-quality ethereal software. More investigation will be forthcoming.


Is there a moral here? I guess one is, when you’re modeling the external world, things are rarely neat and simple. Another is, we don’t have the time to fully-explore all possible hypotheses, so it’s necessary to discard low-probability ones. And a third is, don’t become attached to that decision to discard a low-probability hypothesis, because it might turn out to have some truth to it, particularly in special cases like weather magick.

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