30 JAN 2015 by ideonexus


PETWHAC stands for Population of Events That Would Have Appeared Coincidental. Population may seem an odd word, but it is the correct statistical term. I won't keep using capital letters because they stand so unattractively on the page. Somebody's watch stopping within ten seconds of the psychic's incantation obviously belongs within the petwhac, but so do many other events. Strictly speaking, the grandfather clock's stopping should not be included. The mystic did not claim that he could stop...
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19 APR 2011 by ideonexus

 Science Tames Nature by Understanding

Man masters nature not by force but by understanding. rhis is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast over nature. The alchemist and the magician in the Middle Ages thought, and the addict of comic strips is still encouraged to think, that nature must be mastered by a device which outrages her laws. But in four hundred years since the Scientific Revolu tion we have learned that we gain our ends only with the laws of nature; we control her only ...
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Contrasted with comics, fiction, and religion, where nature is subdued by force and magic.