Saturday, March 11, 2017

Actually, Probably Not

So the "prayer warriors," no surprise, are still in the tank for President Donald Trump. Preacher Lance Wallnau recently told his flock to join him in fasting and praying during Purim so that God would destroy liberals, the media, and the "deep state" opposing Trump. Let me be the first to offer a prediction - this will never work. Not because prayers can't be effective, but because by targeting such a large group, Wallnau and his followers are casting their "prayers" all wrong.

Last night, right-wing preacher Lance Wallnau called on his followers to join him in fasting and praying for President Trump during Purim so that, like Esther, Trump can turn the tables on what Wallnau says are the “sabotaging, sniping and snarling” enemies in the media and progressive movement that seek to destroy him.

In a video streamed on Periscope, Wallnau said that liberals, the media and the “deep state” are all working together to undermine Trump’s presidency, but “we’re not playing games, [so] we are fasting and praying so that the Lord will turn the tables” and destroy them instead.

“Our prayer, at this time, is corresponding to the time that Esther mobilized the Jews to pray and fast for their deliverance from Haman,” he said. “And Haman was a government adversary who wanted to annihilate the people of God and God’s influence in the government. So there is a spirit behind the protests of the liberals, the hate, the assassination tweets, the mind control that is so evident in the media, the bizarreness, the toxicity … of the pissed-off progressives.”

I've seen a few people throwing the idea around of praying or casting spells to "destroy Trump's enemies," and as a magician I want to make it as clear as I can that this is bullying nonsense. There is no way that the people opposing Trump are even going to notice a spell cast at them as a group. In addition, as I'm going to delve into shortly, this was also a problem with the "mass Trump hex," in that it named Trump and "those who abet him" - a very large group of people.

To break this down and explain further, a directed prayer is a spell. It's exactly what we ceremonial magicians do when we call upon spirits by divine names, except people who pray aren't doing any conjuring so their probability shifts are smaller. They're just directing their will towards an objective, and the strength of that will comes from their faith. Focused on an individual person, it can have a significant effect. But against a very large group, not so much. Note that even in Wallnau's Biblical example, the Jews prayed against Haman, a single individual.

There's a reason for this. When you cast a spell, the probability shift that you create is divided among all targets of the spell. So using the "mass Trump hex" as an example, to insulate me a bit from charges of political bias, the probability shift would be divided about 50/50 between (A) Donald Trump and (B) "those who abet him." If that means "folks who voted for Trump," then that half of the shift gets divided about sixty-two million times. Even if the "mass hex" rose to Powerball jackpot levels (one hundred million to one against) you can see how it works out with some basic math:

Total shift: 100 million to 1.
Shift to Trump: 50 million to 1.
Shift to "Trump abetters": 50 million to 1.
Number of "Trump abetters": 62 million.
Shift to each "abetter": 50 million / 62 million = .80645, less than 1.

Since a probability shift of 1 (1 to 1 odds) is the same as chance, that means the effect on each "abetter" is essentially zero. The "mass Trump hex" probably had some effect on Trump, but it did nothing to his voters. Because mathematically, it couldn't. To be clear, I don't think there's any way that spell could have hit the numbers I'm using above. The effect from it was almost certainly lower. And it does really work this way. I've spent more than twenty years conducting research on magical probability shifts, and this model is by far the closest to my experimental findings.

If somebody disagrees and wants to argue this with me, I would point out that if a mass candle spell really can produce a Powerball jackpot winner, wouldn't it make more sense to just do that and then donate the money to progressive Democrats (or even third parties) for the midterms? Hundreds of millions of dollars are known to make huge differences in political races. I'm not trying to be a skeptic here, either. If somebody can produce a shift that big with one of these spells, I totally want to see it so I can analyze how it works and reproduce it.

That's not to say that prayers like this don't do anything. It is possible that prayers and other operations performed in response to the original "hex" neutralized its effects, because the portion of the shift protecting Trump did have a single target on which to work. But about 65 million voters opposed Trump, so that's the calculation these "prayer warriors" are be facing if they want to go after such a large group. What's nice about this, from my perspective, is that I can explain this in plain language and they're never going to listen to me, so they're going to keep on diluting their efforts down to practically nothing.

My point is that the smart thing to do, on both sides, is to direct all efforts at Trump himself, or perhaps at specific members of his administration. Spells and prayers work best with single targets. For one person, even a hundred to one shift can be devastating. Also, from a strategic standpoint, it should be noted that administration members are going to be easier targets just because of how Trump sucks up all the attention and admiration in the room. Generally speaking, his enthusiastic supporters love him, and care a lot less about cabinet secretaries and the like. That love and admiration is what produces the low-level "protection field" noted by Peter Carroll that seems to surround successful politicians.

My other point is that when somebody comes out and tries to scare you by saying, "I'm going to hex all of you Trump-opposers," you can be sure that it's a bunch of bullshit. If said individual could hit the Powerball mark with a spell, they'd have much better things to do with their time than threaten people online, and even if they could, the spell still wouldn't have enough juice to work on "people who oppose Trump." So fear not, and always cast your conscience. Just be sure to limit your targets strategically.

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