The Importance of Useless Techniques

by Mike Sententia on April 2, 2016

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A reader asked me about telekinesis. I haven’t seen any demonstrations that didn’t involve jostling the table that the object is on, but that’s not what today’s post is about.

He said he used to be able to move water, but that he “retired of it because it was not useful in real life (no matter how cool it was).” That’s what I want to talk about: What does it mean to be useful?

There are two types of useful: Directly useful, and scientifically useful. And by focusing only on directly useful techniques, we will wind up holding ourselves back.

A few examples: Transmuting lead into gold is obviously useful. Same with reading minds, flying, etc. They’re abilities we’d all love to have. (For this post, I’m ignoring what’s possible and what’s not, and just plucking examples from fantasy.)

But let me ask you this: Is it useful to know that the same force that holds me to the earth, also governs the motions of the planets? Is it useful to know that DNA is in the nucleus of a cell? Or that passing a magnet over a wire will cause the electrons to move?

None of that is useful in isolation. Transport a person 1,000 years into the past, and they can’t do anything with that knowledge. Without gears to make clocks, knowing the precise location of planets and stars doesn’t help you navigate. Without the rest of biology, knowing about DNA doesn’t solve any problem. Without steam engines to power an electric generator, it doesn’t matter if you know how to create an electrical current.

And yet, the last hundred years have been shaped by those three pieces of information. Space travel, modern medicine, and electricity. That useless information is the foundation of the modern world.

Which brings us to telekinesis. A force, generated from thin air, without an obvious opposing force. This is impossible in current physics. If it existed (and that’s a big if, but if it did), it would be a massive addition to physics.

What would that finding ultimately let us do? No one knows. Just like no one knew that learning about gravity would lead to space travel, or that learning about quantum physics would lead to transistors and computers. That’s the point: We often have no idea where new science leads. But we follow it anyway, despite being initially useless, and it’s given us the modern world.

What would I do with a clear demonstration of energy healing or magick? The Randi challenge pays $1,000,000 for it. San Francisco venture capitalists would likely give even more — not to create a water-moving device, but to put together a team, figure out what’s going on, and then create the next spaceship, internet, or whatever this science leads to.

This post isn’t about telekinesis. It’s about all the phenomena we explore. Because the real question isn’t, “Can I use this?” The real question is, “What could I do with this, plus a team of scientists and the backing of venture capitalists?”

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Magus732 April 4, 2016 at 4:08 PM

I think you are right there. I simply wasn’t paying attention to the possibilities. I will try to practice again pk to “put myself on form” so I can do it again (if i found time that is). Maybe I could combine it with direct magick (I think they are related, healing is almost synonims with biokinesis). Imagine an ethereal software that can do pk for you on command. I could even win that Randi challenge… There’s too much I could do with that money…

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Julie April 5, 2016 at 5:33 PM

I’m glad it’s never been proven. Magick in the wrong hands would be used inappropriately. That’s why angels and spirit guides are trusted with the awesome power, while we’re only allowed to dabble because we’re human and we can still choose evil. I looked up the Randi challenge, although quite fascinating, it’s been recently terminated! Sorry about that.

I don’t read many blogs, have trouble keeping up with my own, and yet your blog always gets me thinking, which is kind of annoying because I do enough of that already.

People do have the ability of alchemy, reading minds, and healing. Maybe not flying. Who knows? Nothing is impossible. Telekinesis included. Friendship is useful. Hope is useful. Science is useful. Magick is useful. Science has done a lot for us. I am grateful for science, even chemotherapy. Did I just say that !?!

Do you think knowing how magick works (the science behind it) would make you happy? Isn’t not knowing what makes life grand? That’s why people wrap up Christmas presents, it makes it more exciting. You don’t know what’s in the box until you open it. I think you know more about healing and magick than you let on.

It’s like when you kick a soccer ball, yes, there’s a science and technique behind it, but at the moment of the kick, thinking stops and it’s all magic. You can see the magic much clearer in a person who has natural ability than a person who does not. The skilled person is grateful and knows their talent is a divine gift.

I think magick is smarter than money. Trying to prove that magick is real, is a distraction from doing magick. We can’t prove paranormal things exist because it’s like their little joke on us. We know they’re real, but they can’t be in our dimension. It would make things complicated. There’s a reason things are the way they are. It’s how the world works. The divine cosmic plan. Randi knew he’d never give the money away.

When you already believe, you don’t need proof. That’s why we use the term metaphysical — of or relating to things that are thought to exist but cannot be seen. Trying to prove magick through science will be difficult because they have a different language. Why don’t we try to prove science? Why is that our standard and not magick? We live in a world based on facts and figures. We escape to the world of magick.

Hopefully, if nothing else, my comments make you chuckle :)

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Magus732 April 7, 2016 at 12:20 PM

Knowing how magick works is necessary for the human race to advance to new things. Also knowing how things work is an human “instinct”. Yeah, we all know that thinking too much about how things works can make us forgot to practice. But in the other side the knowledge obtained can become technology, and that technology can change things globally. Imagine that you become the best “mage” in the world, but know nothing about how it works (something almost impossible, to practice magick you had to, at least, have a theory of the things you have to do for it to works). You couldn’t teach anything about it and when you die and all that power die with you, without benefiiting the human race as a whole in that time. Is not only to know it works, but also how.

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simon April 7, 2016 at 4:51 AM

The real question is, “What could I do with this, plus a team of scientists and the backing of venture capitalists?”

I’m not sure that’s exactly the ‘real’ question. Its the question that drives you as a scientist who is enthused by a vision of magick becoming accepted by the current gatekeepers of ‘consensus reality’ . Because this will allow magick to be rolled out in a more centralized fashion making use of all the economic and social structures at our disposal in modern society.

Whether or not leveraging magick to create more ‘cool stuff’ like spaceships will actually make anyone happier is another question. It seems its a question not asked enough.

I guess this comes down to whether one buys into the utopian optimism and faith in ‘progress’ that you have. I am extremely skeptical of it – of this social narrative of linear progress that you buy into, NOT the potential for individuals and communities to rise above their limitations or for empirical observation to be useful.

Yes – your healing sigils would be amazing. But you know the reason i’m enthusiastic about them? They might enable people to escape many of the horrors of the current healthcare system. The potential of using sigils to aid plant growth? I love it because it could free farmers from the clutches of multinational argi-business and help stop the global depletion of Phosphorus. If Monsanto tried to patent a particular sigil then the ethereal software could just be bound to a new one. There’s no way they could keep ownership of the ethereal software.

You seem to argue that we need these centralized socio-economic structures to develop magick or to roll out this pesticide free future. I’m not so sure. To give an example from a different field: Its estimated that permaculture, a strategic food growing approach, feeds more people around the world than all government funded food aid programs put together. And it does this without any centralized funding or venture capitalists. It is done by small groups going round and seeding permaculture projects which the locals then take over. Its THAT network of self organizing projects that i’d be pitching plant sigils to.

It seems to me that, more and more, this is the way the interesting work is actually getting done – and by interesting I mean stuff that has a chance of actually making people happier and increasing their autonomy.

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Mike Sententia April 8, 2016 at 6:55 PM

It’s interesting, having readers who love science and technology, and others who feel uneasy about it.

It’s easy to forget how many of the things we love have come from science and technology: Heated running water that’s free of diseases. The eradication of polio and smallpox. The ability to talk with the people I love, even when I’m far away. Given the option, I’d much rather live today than 500 years ago.

In 2013, I worked in India, and saw how the poorest people live. People washed clothes in the ocean, which sounds romantic until you see mothers doing it in the hot sun. A child begged a bottle of water from me. I got sick and took the antibiotics I brought, and was very glad for the last 100 years of medicine that made that possible.

I think research on happiness is important, and it’s valuable to understand the aspects of the modern world that detract from happiness. But from there, move forward, figure out how to have more happiness while also having the clean running water and antibiotics and communications of the modern world, plus whatever amazing technologies come next.

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