Re: Belief in magic and witchcraft
Mon, 20 Nov 1995 19:57:05 GMT

In article <48fe1l$>, (Xochi Zen) writes:
>> : perspective. It's hard to believe that educated people still believe
>> : in this sort of thing as something more than manipulation by subtle
>> : psychological methods - when I say "witchcraft" I'm referring to
>> You might find life more interesting if you weren't so eager to
>> dismiss people because you don't accept their beliefs. And if
> I find life enormously interesting as it is, thanks.
>> you're interested in being _scientific_ about, a certain emotional
>> detachment and objectivity would help. If your sole purpose is
>> to bash you disagree with, you're not much better than a bigot.
> I'm not ought to bash anyone. Just as I stated, I'm looking for books
> that discuss magic and witchcraft some a skeptic's perspective, because
> this sort of analysis is sorely lacking in-print. Whereas I can take
> a trip down to the local new age bookstore and find any number of
> credulous books on the subject... certainly no shortage of those.
> If you happen to know of any particularly persuasive books that would
> lead me to believe there might be something to magic and religion
> (aside from religious, metaphysical beliefs) as a real force (as
> opposed to an imaginary one), by all means send those references my
> way. Otherwise, please don't waste my time. I think I was pretty
> careful in qualifying my request.
>> : Enough educated people believe in this stuff (humanities "scholars" seem
>> : particularly prone to belief in this sort of thing - must be an aesthetic
>> : thing -) that there ought to be more written about it.
>> If you weren't so busy being skeptical, you might discover that
>> part of the interest in witches is a revival of a mother-goddess
>> religion, such as conjectured by Gimbuta.
> Actually, I do have an interest in this, but that's not what I asked for.
>You really didn't read my post very carefully, but had a knee-jerk reaction
>to it apparently. It would probably surprise you to know that one of my
>favorite authors is Terence McKenna who is deep into Gimbuta and a whole
>lot of other weird stuff. If anything, it's a lot of fun. But again, I'm
>here with my epistemologist's/skeptic's hat on as I made abundantly clear.
> A lesson for you here is: people may seem 2-dimensional from their posts,
>but many are far more complex in their interests, viewpoints, etc. as their
>posts might indicate. Who knows --- maybe I'm playing the devil's advocate...
>> : I'm especially interested in how people convince themselves that
>> : they can cast death and destruction spells on others successfully - or
>> At this moment, you've shown so much bias, I'm not sure your
>> characterisation of spellcasting is even close to reality. Have
>> you ever talked to someone who claims to this ability?
> More times than I care to remember. Yes, indeed I have. Interpretations
>vary widely, from gaped-jaw acceptance of all things occult to more
>sophisticated explanations and beliefs... and there actually is a bit of
>room for skepticism within the occult... I think those with more knowledge
>of the subject develop a skepticism for magic even within their belief
>and use of it.
>> : in this sort of stuff --- to the point of indulging in it and coming to
>> : believe they have special powers --- see a shrink on a regular basis or
>> : have had some contact with mental health professionals in the past.
>> It is much kinder to lock them in psych unit than gulag, isn't it?
>> I understand. Tolerance is so difficult. If you can't destroy every
>> one who disagrees with, good lord, does that mean you might be wrong?
>> Better to lock them away to face even the tiniest sliver of self
>> doubt.
> Again, a knee-jerk reaction. To quote Rodney Dangefield, "You're _way_
>off." I do tolerate people with beliefs other than my own. More so than
>most actually. But I'll leave you to your 2-d, incorrect fantasies about
>me and others who post here. - maybe this argument makes _your_ life more
>interesting, as you really haven't spoken subtantively to anything I've
>said. My sympathies go out to you if you feel you've somehow been
>persecuted, but I'd say look elsewhere for your enemy.
>> You should learn to be skeptical about skepticism. Skepticism is not
>> destroying and trashing and insulting thing different with your own
>> views. It is about holding judgement in abeyance until sufficient
>> evidence has been collected. But even then, you should be skeptical
>> about the nature of "evidence."
> You're preaching to the choir. Good day, sir.
>| "Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and |
>| Xochi Zen religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from |
>| deep nonsense" - Carl Sagan in _Broca's Brain_ |
If you are interested in finding any material that looks at magic and
witchcraft from a skeptical veiwpoint, check out any of the major
anthropological writings on the subject that were written before the fifties,
that should satisfy your appitite and, if you're a "skeptic", reinforce your
own ideas on the subject....