Thursday, July 11, 2019

Magick Competition Banned

I had no idea anything like this went on in the world today, and it sounds like a great idea to me. But unfortunately the government of eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, decided otherwise. It recently banned a proposed event that would involve practitioners of witchcraft and magick competing against each other in a test of paranormal powers.

Organizers had planned to hold the competition in Manzini, the second city of eSwatini, a land-locked country in southern Africa ruled by King Mswati III, one of the world's last absolute monarchs. "The proposed competition of witchcraft and magic spells was unheard of in the country and it was regarded as an anomaly in the lives of the people of eSwatini," government spokesman Percy Simelane said in a statement.

"Government will not sanction any competition of that nature. Anyone who will persist with any activity related to witchcraft will face the full might of the law." The statement, released Tuesday, said the Witchcraft Act of 1889 defines witchcraft, sorcery or the practice of voodoo as a punishable offense."Government cannot sit back and watch while the lives of the citizens of this country are exposed to illegal and weird practices that have the potential to poison the minds of [Swazi people], especially children," Simelane added.

And this right here is one more reason that magical research is centuries behind the physical sciences. Imagine if the World Fairs of the last two centuries were banned by their respective host countries because they believed that science and technology should be prohibited! It sounds like a bizarre proposition to any modern person, but this is in fact precisely what is going on here.

Magick is a technology, and when people are prevented from doing legitimate research involving practices and techniques the whole discipline suffers. Likewise, a competition can be a great way to spur such research, along the lines of what the X Prize Foundation has done for space travel and other breakthrough research areas.

We need to work to get rid of the stigmas surrounding our work so that solid research can move at a faster pace. That's the only way that the paranormal arts are ever going to catch up with the state of mainstream science.

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Fuzzy Skinner said...

I feel like a comparative competition like this would be a much more useful "test" of one's abilities than something like the Randi prize. Sure, one practitioner's results could be chalked up to coincidence... but isn't that a possibility with any competition? There are plenty of basketball and football games that have hinged on a throw that only succeeded through pure luck.

Scott Stenwick said...

I definitely agree. As I have pointed out over the years, Randi deliberately sets his probability marks higher than pretty much any magician can hit, even in his "preliminary test." And the advantage of an ongoing competition is that there is a real incentive to keep improving techniques in order to win.

Kitos said...

Do you have any thoughts about what a Magick Competition would look like? What kind of events and competitions might be set up?

I see that eSwatini is co-ruled by the king and the king's mother. The king's mother is head of state and also "keeper of the ritual fetishes." I do not know what that means exactly, but it would seem to suggest some state involvement in magic.


Scott Stenwick said...

I expect it would have something to do with measuring who can produce the biggest probability shifts with their magical operations and declaring said person the winner. I personally test different spell techniques by casting against known, measurable probabilities and see which of those work best.

My guess is that the state involvement is probably religious. The main difference between magick and religion is that religions still do magick, but they believe any technique that violates their monopoly on it is evil. It's about controlling magick, not disavowing it - which lines up perfectly with wanting to cancel any open competition.