July 18, 2014

More Mirrors

I was reading a piece on The Toast called Games You Shouldn’t Play, which includes the famous Bloody Mary and a couple of games out of Reddit’s creepypasta called the Midnight Game and Three Kings. I don’t know if the Midnight Game includes mirrors, but Three Kings apparently does, and sounds like some form of divination. (There are links to more about them, but I’m offline as I write this, and haven’t investigated them yet.) It goes on to talk about some of the optical effects that create the scary things we see in mirrors when we look at them too long, especially in low light, like Troxler’s fading and the Caputo effect (go look at the article, it’s got explanations).

Many skeptics are of the opinion that demonstrating that these effects occur, figuring out what physiological or psychological causes they have, naming them and studying them disproves that magic and divination that makes use of them works, just as they think that proving that the human brain will construct patterns where no pattern can be empircally proven to exist somehow means that no patterns actually exist in places where some people see patterns and others do not. (They also, as my wife pointed out, assume that because there is one identified effect, all vaguely similar phenomena can be attributed to that effect, which is absurd.) I say that instead, they demonstrate some of the mechanisms by which these magics and divinations work.

Magic and divination both work partially by means of altered states of consciousness, and by means of symbols. Randomizing elements and them observing them to find patterns tells us things that we can’t easily learn otherwise precisely by giving us access to patterns and to other states of consciousness. Many magicians and diviners and spiritual technicians have said these things over the years. We’ll continue to say so, and skeptics will continue to scoff, and I don’t really care.

But mirrors. Mirrors are magic.