My Magic series begins in the mid 1750’s, at a time when science wasn’t clearly defined. Today’s Websters defines science as “the state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.” At Dictionary.com it’s defined as “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.” I believe in high school I learned science was based on observation and proof from repeated experimentation, or some such.
But in the first Encyclopedia Britannica from 1770, science was defined as “in philosophy, denotes any doctrine, deduced from self-evident and certain principles, by a regular demonstration.”
Self-evident? It’s evident there are white glittering objects in the night sky, and those objects change with the season, but does that make astrology a science? Sure, as a Leo, born under the late July stars, I dress flamboyantly and display leadership qualities like Mae West, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Napoleon, but does that serve as “regular demonstration” that astrology is knowledge?
How fine is the line between superstition and science, astrology and astronomy, alchemy and chemistry? We don’t teach phrenology today, but some of the Victorian precepts led to today’s medical science of neurology. It sounds like ridiculous superstition to believe light particles know what is ahead and will adjust their behavior accordingly—leading to speculation about the time/space continuum and time travel—but this is one of the basic principles behind quantum physics. Warping time and space might warp my mind, so the theory impresses me about as much as astrology. But Newton figured out gravity from a falling apple and no one believed him either.
Which, of course, brings us to my psychic Malcoms. Are telekinesis, telepathy, and other so-called parnormal phenomena really superstition or have we just been put off by the bad rep and not applied sufficient scientific study? It’s been proven that animals have a higher order of smell and dogs can sniff the odor of cancer, so why is it so impossible to believe that some humans might have a highly developed sense of smell? And the army and computer geeks are working with human brain waves to control computers, is it so far-fetched to take that another step and believe there are human minds that can detect those electron patterns and literally read minds? And we’ve already located the brain receptors that respond to the ‘love” hormone oxytocin and proven some people are more empathic than others. Who is to say some people can’t read far more of emotion than others? Empaths, anyone?
Of course, the number of people who might be able to perform these feats are so far outnumbered by charlatans and scam artists that incredulity is stretched, but that doesn’t mean psychic phenomena are impossible. It just means that like phrenology eventually led to neurology, and alchemy gave way to the proven scientific precepts of chemistry, we just need more time and study.
It’s a pity my Malcolms are fictional. I’d love to see more psychics step forward to be studied, in hopes that one day we’ll be able to use our brains for better purposes than watching television. If you had one psychic ability, what would you like it to be? I believe I might have a copy of THE LURE OF SONG AND MAGIC left to give away to any creative commenters.
And as a reminder, I have a complete list of my reissued backlist e-books at www.backlistebooks.com/ and if you want to support a lot of great authors in their effort to build a better on-line store, look for my new material at www.bookviewcafe.com/ Michael’s book will be there in July!