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Sorcery For Scientists

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Sorcery for Scientists
by Lincoln Stoller, Tenger Research, LLC

Presented at the Memorial to Jerry Lettvin
Sept. 25, 2011 at Stata Hall, MIT, Cambridge, MA

Creative Commons License
Sorcery for Scientists by Lincoln Stoller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Our scientific world view is rooted in the power of governments and corporations. A cosmology first institutionalized in schools and universities as an abstract study, with little more authority than the early doctors had in medicine, now dominates our world uncontested. Scientific arguments and formulas provide the guidance once read from chicken entrails by oracles and priests.

Science depends upon interaction because interaction precedes observation. The method of science: observe, predict, verify, and reproduce, presumes interaction with the environment. The differentiation between the observer and world he or she observes is a prerequisite for observation. Experience is a necessary prerequisite for anything.

Science proscribes the scope of experience acceptable to its consideration. Originally, so as not to intrude upon the domain of the church, science avoided astronomy, biology, and medicine. The range of scientifically allowable observables has greatly expanded, but the range of human experience has not.

Scientific thought requires the exclusion of a wide range of subjective human experience. Questions pertaining to social and personal consciousness are discouraged. When these phenomena are excluded from consideration, they are also excluded from recognition. Direct human experience has drifted ever further from the reach of our scientific society.

The modern scientist is a golum built from the mud of trainable skills and social attitudes, viewing the world according to the invocations written upon his or her forehead. Scientific thought does not potentate the scientist if the scientist is not his or her own master. And if they are not their own masters, then their power lies in the hands of those who control them.

Science will undermine itself not because it fails to realize its power or achieve its goals, but because it ignores what it does not see. When power inevitably turns to serve values other than the corporation and the state, scientists will be asked to see what they have overlooked. Those who cannot will be dealt with as the communists dealt with the monks: to return to the mud from which they were created. Systems that cannot bend will break.

We can avoid the destruction that results from a clash of values by reconnecting with a shared point of view, a common experience. We should return to magic because magic is the unfiltered, uncensored experience of the world. In order to see the world as more than what is illuminated under Nasrudin's street lamp -- recognizing only what fits our preconceptions -- we must swim in the dark sea of experience without expecting knowledge. We don't have to abandon reason, but we must experience a richer world. We must learn to experience what we can't understand.

Magic is everything that science is not. Magic is the unfiltered experience. Magic never asks "why," or "how," or "if." And where science excludes and reduces, magic strives to include everything and anything that makes a richer, more inclusive, disintegrated experience. The only rule is that you must come back, though you may return a changed person.

It is an historical lie that science overthrew magical thinking, as science is based on the primary magical experience. But whereas magic empowers the magician to define his or her own reality, science retracts this authority with the tether of method and the scrutiny of peers. Without this a scientists has no connection to the ineffable and no spiritual authority. To regain spiritual authority scientists must return to magic.

Practice sorcery as the root of unadulterated human experience. Strive to develop contact with everything that science denies, ignores, and excludes. Yes, magic involves spirits, visions and the supernatural. This is how our minds work when conflating the irreconcilable. This is how we deal with what we cannot understand. In this realm the questions of lucid science are destructive, blowing away the motes of experience and blinding us to the shadows of consciousness. Is magic real? Do not ask.

Our appreciation of the magic in the world equals our appreciation of the world. Only in magic can we find beauty. Only in magic can we become more valuable than the mud of our intellects.

Lincoln Stoller, September 2011

Physicist, neurologist, neurofeedback practitioner, junior sorcerer, enthusiastic participant in extreme explorations involving mind and body. Believer in the idea that individuals find meaning in bettering and helping to evolve the ecologies in (more...)

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As a scientist I have come to discover that the po... by lincoln stoller on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 9:14:44 AM
Lincoln, we need to distinguish the real science a... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 at 1:25:25 PM
Good bricks are made of mud, straw and water. ... by Ned Lud on Saturday, Oct 22, 2011 at 6:45:56 AM
that being alive consists of  having a licens... by molly cruz on Sunday, Oct 23, 2011 at 1:46:06 PM
and nickels and dimes. I just love that part wh... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:15:07 PM
attend to OEN only briefly.  But a scientist ... by GLloyd Rowsey on Sunday, Oct 23, 2011 at 7:06:30 PM
Mysticism is a prerequisite for greatness, at leas... by lincoln stoller on Sunday, Oct 23, 2011 at 10:50:38 PM
is an integral part of The System, a system which ... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Oct 24, 2011 at 4:03:59 PM
dude. it worked for Steve Jobs. hehehehehehe... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:18:40 PM
Pico della Mirandola wrote about the difference be... by Jim Arnold on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:31:48 AM
continuing experiments with the 17th century equiv... by GLloyd Rowsey on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 9:37:10 AM
where scientists all failed. To them, having th... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:35:28 PM
What Descartes' melding of geometry and algebra wa... by GLloyd Rowsey on Friday, Nov 4, 2011 at 12:08:10 AM
No one wants, the shortest straw. Least of all, sc... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:24:38 PM
and a few thoughts of my own. Science: a branch ... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 11:25:41 AM
Your definitions of magic and sorcery are popular ... by lincoln stoller on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:21:06 PM
..a teacher. He (Daniel) just doesn't like disr... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:29:04 PM
pulling my leg, when you should be pulling my fing... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 8:01:04 PM
Daniel, you're a really good guy and like many of ... by Ned Lud on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 at 7:51:36 AM
definitions created for political purposes. I'm no... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 7:58:50 PM
Daniel, I have to take issue with your definition ... by Jim Arnold on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 3:19:36 PM
I took the definitions from, which ... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 8:09:45 PM
the sun WILL rise tomorrow: I think, Jim, that Kar... by GLloyd Rowsey on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 at 5:10:25 PM
GLoyd,I don't think Popper did anything logical to... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 8:23:39 PM
Hume is famous for pointing out 2 logical gaps in ... by Derryl Hermanutz on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 6:37:04 PM
Many scientists seem convinced we will one day und... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 at 8:14:02 PM
I have my hesitations about some of this author's ... by lincoln stoller on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 at 10:46:23 AM
This is where science oversteps its self-imposed l... by Jim Arnold on Thursday, Oct 27, 2011 at 10:16:15 AM
Hell, I may as well tell you: Consciousness is ... by Ned Lud on Thursday, Oct 27, 2011 at 2:45:45 PM
Only read this section now. I tend to agree with... by Stefan Thiesen on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 10:24:04 AM
I can agree that consciousness is not a "thing." B... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 9:04:31 PM
Jim, the attributes you're ascribing to consciousn... by lincoln stoller on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 10:09:49 PM
I'm familiar with much of the literature on the br... by Jim Arnold on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 4:46:43 AM
jim, thank you for your reference to your "conscio... by lincoln stoller on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 8:39:20 AM
I am not sure if I can agree with the causality ... by Stefan Thiesen on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 10:04:15 AM
When you go fast and things stay still, they are a... by Ned Lud on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 11:51:01 AM
"much of modern experimental physics IS concerned... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 at 9:34:48 PM
Science is a toolbox. Just like money is merely a... by Stefan Thiesen on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 at 6:06:41 AM
Modern science is like putting on several extra la... by Ned Lud on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 at 7:40:48 AM
Ned - it actually strikes me as if you are not o... by Stefan Thiesen on Thursday, Oct 27, 2011 at 7:45:11 AM
Dam(n). Dam(n), Stefan. Concrete dam(s). Stops the... by Ned Lud on Thursday, Oct 27, 2011 at 9:05:26 AM
Elsewhere here you quoted the Koan "If you meet th... by Stefan Thiesen on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 9:33:04 AM
In the old days, it got you the rack and/or the bu... by Ned Lud on Saturday, Oct 29, 2011 at 11:43:00 AM
Dear Ned,I agree completely.Your friend,MikhailTo ... by Mikhail Lyubansky on Saturday, Dec 3, 2011 at 10:32:20 AM
Stephan,Mikhail's comment reminded me that I wante... by Jim Arnold on Monday, Dec 5, 2011 at 5:28:58 AM