Vanuatu, A response

Discuss the latest feature articles in Genii.

Postby John Hopkins » 01/11/05 04:19 PM

My nephew was in the Peace Corps (PC)in Vanuatu for two years recently and so when I read the Genii article I thought he might be interested and sent it to him. Here is his response:

Hey John,
Thanks for the article, I really enjoyed reading it. It's actually a very accurate portrayal of the Vanuatu people. During my PC days I saw many things dealing with black magic. The one that sticks out in my mind right now is the time when my village had a court hearing to find out who was making all the rain. Anytime someone died people would accuse others of using magical stones or leaves to kill them. So I can imagine how entertained they would be by a professional magician. And I can imagine how much David must have loved doing his magic in front of such an excited crowd. I had hours of endless entertainment putting that magic book you sent me to good use [Harry Lorayne, The Magic Book]. But my best trick was the one where you "remove your thumb". Many people, big and small, actually believed that I could remove my thumb. But anyway, the best part of the article is David's reaction to Vanuatu. He didnt quickly conclude that the Ni-Vanuatu must be less intelligent. He went deeper and came up with some very good points about the differences between Western culture and indigenous people. The article has motivated me to pick up the book Guns, Germs, and Steel, a book that I wanted to read but I have sort of forgot about it in my post-PC life. Anyway, its definitely one of the best articles Ive read on Vanuatu (not like there are many out there) and Im looking forward to sharing it with my PC friends. Thanks again!
Andy
John Hopkins
 
Posts: 30
Joined: 01/24/08 01:00 PM
Location: Portland, Oregon

Postby Guest » 01/12/05 10:28 AM

These people, and their court systems, local governments, and their whole society, live within a belief of magic. It suffuses their everyday. And who are we to say they're wrong?
Guest
 

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/12/05 10:46 AM

Originally posted by David Groves:
...And who are we to say they're wrong?
The very premise that outsiders can offer judgment as to the right or wrongness of social constructs FOR those inside a society is troublesome.

Consider how we might react to an outside opinion comparing our religious/spiritual cultural models to our practiced cultural behavior and making suggestions for our 'betterment'.
Mundus vult decipi
Jonathan Townsend
 
Posts: 6666
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Westchester, NY

Postby Guest » 01/21/05 05:18 PM

Originally posted by David Groves:
And who are we to say they're wrong?
Answer: :) Modern science, knowledge and education can answer questions like this. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that there is no real magic, to think otherwise is based on superstition, and that can be very destructive.... Witness the Salem Witch Trials.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 01/22/05 08:30 AM

Originally posted by Dick Lucas:
Answer: :) Modern science, knowledge and education can answer questions like this. [/QB]
I'm not a believer in real magic, just a skeptic when it comes to "modern science, knowledge and education." If you believe that modern science and knowledge are all-powerful, I can make a list of all the many areas in which it has failed through the years: Valium, Vioxx, Amphetamine, tobacco, cocaine, spontaneous generation, Newtonian physics, the wave theory of light, and every scientific belief through the centuries that was considered immovable dogma at the time and was eventually replaced by a contradictory theory that, in time, itself became calcified dogma, and will, in time, itself be proven wrong.

The only characteristic of Western science and knowledge that has remained constant is its always-incorrect belief in its own infallibility. :) :)
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 01/22/05 10:26 AM

Dave,

I appreciate your opinion, but if your wife or child were deathly sick I'd bet you'd seek modern science for the answer.

'nuff said. :o
Guest
 

Postby Larry Horowitz » 01/22/05 11:10 AM

David,
No one said science is all-powerful. What it is, is adaptable to conclusions based in new information. Light a match in front of a Vanuata, its magic. To a scientist there is an explaination and a course of action easily repeatable by man. Will the Vanauta except that fire is no longer governed by the Fire God?

While modern society may not have the moral fiber and community of a primitive society, there can be no question that the proper use of scientific progress can make physical life better.

Intelligence has nothing to do with your amount of education. Intelligence is the ability to recognize a problem and work to solve it. Education is recognizing something is not a problem because someone else has already solved it.

And this is all to deep for a magic forum.
Larry Horowitz
 
Posts: 398
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: L.A.

Postby Guest » 01/22/05 09:26 PM

Originally posted by Dick Lucas:
Dave,

I appreciate your opinion, but if your wife or child were deathly sick I'd bet you'd seek modern science for the answer.

'nuff said. :o
Actually, my mother's boyfriend is deathly sick, and the chemo is killing him. I have badgered him for some time to seek out the ancient medicine called acupuncture. And only now, after modern science has failed to make the tumor shrink in the least, is he going to the Chinese medicine doctors.

Not only that, but it's clear to me that many of the byproducts of modern science were most probably responsible for creating his cancer, including all the carcinogenic chemicals that are so common in our daily environment. I used to be a health writer for national magazines, so I know whereof I speak.

In addition, my mother is suffering from a number of ailments, including severe arthritis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure (she's had two strokes in the last three years), and what does her Western doctor tell her?

"You should be taking one pill for every ten years of life," he says. "So you should be taking seven or eight pills every day."

Such poppycock is what convinced us to dump him. Her consultations with Western doctors--good doctors, not the dumped one--are supplemented with Chinese-medicine treatments.

Nearly every week now, I receive acupuncture treatments. I don't know how it works, but they have their own explanations and their own success stories from the current day and from over the past four thousand years.

I don't mean to pick a fight, but you see, this isn't just some theoretical discussion for me; I live here.
Guest
 

Postby Brian Marks » 01/23/05 12:01 AM

David, I have 2 words for you, central heating. As I sit in my house right now, outside its 30 degrees with a foot of snow falling and heavy winds. The only thing between me and hypothermia is central heating. Science doesn't know everything but central heating is pretty damn nice right now.

I think its ironic were having this discussion on the internet.

I also have accupuncture weekly. I works and I like it. I dont consider it voo doo but everytime a needle gets stuck in me, there is a doll in excruciating pain.
Brian Marks
 
Posts: 918
Joined: 01/30/08 01:00 PM
Location: Nyack, NY

Postby Gerald Deutsch » 01/23/05 04:39 AM

There is no doubt in my mind that in olden times magicians had great influence in polictics. Remember Merlin (but then also remember the Salem witch hunts)

I'll always remember my time many years ago in basic training with the Air National Guard in Texas when I was a squad leader (called "element leader") and there was one fellow from the back woods (who had never taken a bath) and who wouldn't follow my direction.

I picked up a rock, pretended to put it in my left hand, gestured over my left hand with my right hand as I counted "one - two - three" and when I opened my left hand the rock was gone.

Then I pointed my right hand to this fellow and counted "one ---two --" I never counted further - I didn't have to - and I never had a problem with him again.
Gerald Deutsch
 
Posts: 326
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Glen Head New York

Postby Guest » 01/23/05 08:47 AM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
David, I have 2 words for you, central heating.
Hey, I said that I'm not a believer in real magic, just a skeptic with regards to modern science. Central heating is great (and Ziploc baggies are the greatest invention of the 20th century, according to Billy McComb), but 100,000 people have died from taking an FDA-approved drug called Vioxx over the past ten years, according to their own researchers' estimates.

My new DVD (available in March) will teach tricks, but will also address the beliefs of our audiences, as well. What do they believe? Why do they believe it? Some of them actually believe in some of our magic, and not just because it's well constructed, and not because they're stupid, but in large part because of their disillusionment with modern science and knowledge. Despite modern science's arrogant claims, it isn't a panacea.

Once you understand what audiences believe, you can take advantage of it in your magic. You must know what you're dealing with, and many magicians don't. Is true belief really to be desired? I talk about potential believers--those who toy with the possibility that you have special powers--as being the most useful to magicians, and most likely to hire you for their next event. Fighting skeptics, however, is a losing battle that you don't want to wage.
Guest
 

Postby Brian Marks » 01/23/05 09:26 AM

1 aspect of science that black magic and any other belief system dont have is an element that its dogma does change.
Brian Marks
 
Posts: 918
Joined: 01/30/08 01:00 PM
Location: Nyack, NY

Postby Guest » 01/23/05 11:18 AM

At the beginning of the 20th century, the life expectancy in the United States was about 44 years old.

At the beginning of the 21st, it was about 78 (and so we got to have Johnny Carson until 79).

This is what science has wrought (despite all the bi-product chemicals and their opposite effect).

:cool:
Guest
 

Postby Steve V » 01/23/05 04:03 PM

Chemo has saved cancer victims, acupuncture has poked holes in cancer victims. If you don't like modern medicine, don't use it, simple as that.
Steve V
Steve V
Steve V
 
Posts: 642
Joined: 01/20/08 01:00 PM
Location: Silver Springs, NV

Postby Brian Marks » 01/23/05 07:07 PM

Originally posted by WarlockDrummer:
At the beginning of the 20th century, the life expectancy in the United States was about 44 years old.

At the beginning of the 21st, it was about 78 (and so we got to have Johnny Carson until 79).

This is what science has wrought (despite all the bi-product chemicals and their opposite effect).

:cool:
western medicine has increased life expectancy.
Brian Marks
 
Posts: 918
Joined: 01/30/08 01:00 PM
Location: Nyack, NY


Return to Feature Articles