Magic and madness: Polar opposites when it comes to science

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“Magnets, how do they work?” goes the oft ridiculed line in the song Miracles by 2000’s face painted hip hop group Insane Clown Posse.

The song itself, a wide-eyed ode to all things wondrous in this world of ours; from trees and stars to “long necked giraffes” tries its hardest not to touch on anything specifically scientific or explanatory but simply recognises them all as miraculous and beyond our comprehension.

And although their hearts may be in the right place (after all, the world can be a wondrous place), the irony of using lines such as “pure motherfuckin’ magic” and “I don’t wanna talk to a scientist, y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed” whilst simultaneously describing their reverence of solar eclipses and weather (both of which have been the subject of decades of research and scientific discovery), create a very muddled message.

Do they like these things? And if so, why are they so averse to learning more about them?

In the eyes of Insane Clown Posse, these miracles are simply there to be appreciated at a superficial level and no more.

But what if these miracles had a practical purpose? What if the study of weather phenomena could help us predict the weather and warn of advancing storms?

And what about magnets? We already know that they have a wealth of day-to-day applications from sound systems to MRI scanners. But what if they also had miraculous healing powers for chronic conditions and injuries? Spoiler alert: they don’t.

But there are companies manufacturing magnetic devices that supposedly aid conditions ranging from knee injuries to the menopause, from magnetic bracelets to magnets that you shove in your pants and they certainly don’t let something like science get in the way when it comes to selling them.

In fact, many of these devices report that their devices are instead a natural remedy that exploit “the natural healing properties abundant in nature through plants, waterfalls, rainstorms and forests.”

So that’s cleared that up then. It’s hard to argue with such succinct, logical and convincing principles especially when they run parallel with the lyrical stylings of the Insane Clown Posse. I mean, waterfalls – how do they work? I don’t know and I don’t care, I just think they’re like powerful and majestic and stuff.

Many of those who buy these devices openly admit they see no physical healing powers in these devices, but simply use them as a placebo to trick their brains into thinking they are having some effect. But is the answer really just to fool others and fool ourselves? If we disappear too far down the path of shamanism and witch doctors, where does it end?

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