Physics and Psychics: the Occult and the Sciences in Modern Britain

candles and grimoires

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Our method is Science, our aim is Religion

Published this September by Cambridge University Press, Physics and Psychics discusses the relationship between the “paranormal” and science. Does one necessarily exclude the other? Will magick become a thing of the past when science fully understands its machinations? In his review, Philip Ball seems to think not.

In the late 18th century, it seemed as though science would be a bulwark against the mystics and charlatans. A 1784 French commission, which included Antoine Lavoisier and Benjamin Franklin, was charged with assessing the claims of the German physician Franz Anton Mesmer that he could manipulate a force called “animal magnetism” for medical and paranormal ends. The commission concluded that there was nothing in it. And in 1853 Michael Faraday dismissed the craze for “table turning” (a type of séance) as a delusion produced by involuntary motions.

Occult arts and sceptical sciences


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