X Close

We are living in Mystic Meg’s world More powerful sorcerers are hiding in plain sight

Victor Watts/Alamy Stock Photo


March 16, 2023   6 mins

In 1564, John Dee was “appointed Royal Advisor in mystic secrets”, official astrologer and magician to Elizabeth I. If he had been born in the 20th century, would the astronomer, scientist and occultist have ended up writing for the News of the World?

That, after all, was the destiny of perhaps the most famous British astrologer of the 20th century: Mystic Meg, who died last week. Known as Meg Markova, but born Margaret Anne Lake, she became so identified with the power to predict the future that “Mystic Meg” passed into everyday language as a byword for prognostication.

It might be tempting to imagine that the modern age is so secular, scientific and disenchanted there is no modern-day role for a magician other than popular entertainer. How else to describe the “asparamancer”, who foretold the death of the second Queen Elizabeth last year in a pattern of falling asparagus spears?

But if you think there are no sorcerers left, you are looking in the wrong places. In fact, thanks at least partly to John Dee, it’s more accurate to say his inheritors now rule the world.

Whether or not you believe there’s anything paranormal “out there”, a great many studies affirm that most of the time when we notice patterns, we’re not conscious of doing so; what can feel like a “hunch” or “intuition” is really just our own powers of unconscious observation trying to get our attention. In this light, one way of understanding the many traditions of “reading” fortunes — whether in Tarot cards, the flight patterns of birds, tea leaves in a cup or the entrails of animals — is as a means of accessing some of these buried powers of pattern recognition, and allowing less conscious and sometimes more accurate observations to inform our conscious choices.

Dee himself used an obsidian mirror of Aztec origin, supported on wax discs inscribed with arcane symbols. He and the alchemist and medium Edward Kelley would gaze into its black, reflective surface, where they reported seeing visions of angels; these were reflected in numerous manuscripts, which form the basis of the Enochian system of magic. Their occult legacy has endured, from the 17th-century politician Elias Ashmole to the 20th-century British occultist and “father of modern Satanism” Aleister Crowley and beyond.

But this is hardly Dee’s only contribution. In the Elizabethan age, “natural science” and “occult science” were seen as intertwined — also seen in the mystical but proto-scientific study of alchemy. Dee epitomised this rich and strange Elizabethan brew of the material and magical, pursuing “thinges Supernaturall, éternall, & Diuine” alongside and often blended with mathematics, cartography and natural philosophy (and possibly also espionage, as the original “007”).

Dee stands alongside Francis Bacon as one of the founding figures of modern science — and the modern world in general. For two of his proposals helped lay the foundations for the age that followed: first, creating a national library accessible to anyone, and second, expanding Britain’s holdings into a “British Empire”, a term he’s credited with coining. While he didn’t live to see either come to full fruition, this vision of mass literacy and expansionary, extractive capitalism were key foundations of the Age of Enlightenment.

This was in full swing two centuries after Dee’s appointment as court magician. But as this world blossomed, in the process (as Dee envisaged) vastly enriching Britain’s wealth and power, so the “natural” aspect of the alchemical sciences came to dominate — even as the “occult” aspect lost status. Thus as Dee’s political vision was realised, his black “spirit mirror” remained in circulation — but as a curiosity, having passed through multiple hands into the collection of Augustan writer, art historian and Whig politician Horace Walpole.

Walpole was 56 in 1773, when Dee finally got his wish and the British Library was founded. That same year, too, Walpole denounced the immense inflows of wealth from the East India Company’s colonial depredations in India, deploring the “sink of Indian wealth” that he saw as turning Britain into a “gaming, robbing, wrangling, railing nation without principles, genius, character or allies”.

But did Dr Dee really “see” things in his black mirror? Was he a fraud, seeking only to befuddle the gullible? Was Mystic Meg only pretending to entertain the crowds?

It is true that in the flurry of affectionate recent articles commemorating the passing of Mystic Meg, there’s a conspicuous lack of efforts to tally up the hit-rate of her predictions on the National Lottery Show every week. But viewers loved her anyway: the theatrics, the crystal ball, the pendulum and the sometimes extraordinarily specific suggestions such that a woman named Pat or Cathy would win with a ticket bought at 6pm (which did not, in fact, happen).

Nor have any of the other predictions made last year by “asparamancer” Jemima Packington come true. Boris Johnson hasn’t returned as PM; Princess Anne is not Duchess of Edinburgh; Prince William hasn’t been made Prince Regent. And the jury is still out on whether Ukraine will defeat Russia.

Even so, enough people found enough resonance to sustain Mystic Meg’s legend, such as the lorry driver who recently remembered gratefully sticking his ticket into the cab copy of the Yellow Pages on her advice, and then winning £15 million. And even if such stories have a touch of back-rationalisation about them, those who point to the patchy hit-rate of popular fortune-tellers to dismiss the power of pattern recognition as mumbo-jumbo don’t understand its real power.

The “libraries and colonialism” Age of Enlightenment in turn laid the foundations for the “digital libraries and post-colonialism” Age of Information we now inhabit. And in this world, you would only dress up your intuition (patchy or otherwise) with a breathy voice and the aesthetics of a Victorian medium if your preferred field was weekend telly and the tabloid press. What, though, if you were a figure more like John Dee — political Ă©minence grise, global traveller, possibly spy? In that case, you’d want the kind of authority that gets you taken seriously by people with real power.

Let’s say you wanted the modern equivalent of a royal charter today, for your powers of pattern recognition, and to offer those powers to guide the modern-day kings and princes in areas of unfathomable complexity, where decisions can make or break fortunes. You wouldn’t use hexagrams or chanting or the power of fear and the uncanny. Such a practice wouldn’t refer to angels, spirits or occult forces, either.

We live in the age that succeeded and built upon the one of science, exploration and British Empire that Dee inaugurated: that is, the American Empire. And in this era, someone who wanted the ear of those with real power would be far more likely to borrow the authority afforded by the exoteric side of Dee’s interests: the field now known just as “science”. Instead of sigils, it would use more mundane symbols to give substance to intuition. Users might call it “data-driven decision-making”.

And nor would such a person bother to learn abstruse tables of Enochian symbols or inscribe wax discs with elaborate symbols, if they wanted to use languages to shape reality. Other arcane languages are now routinely in use, coding the algorithmic trading engines that power the roiling back-and-forth of global finance, and the social media platforms that serve as giant, distorting scrying-mirrors for our collective souls.

Should such an individual want to intervene more directly in these ebbs and flows of reality-shaping meaning, he might, for example, in the wake of a crucial tech-sector investment bank’s failure, take to Twitter and whip up investor panic or (according to some) try to incite bank runs so as to force a government bailout.

In other words, were John Dee alive today he wouldn’t be Mystic Meg. Her role was more akin to what I do: dabbling in pattern recognition, in service as much to entertainment as anything more solemn. Dee’s real inheritors, meanwhile, eschew overt “mystic” symbolism to hide in plain sight, in metropolitan skyscrapers and first-class business lounges. Nor do they stare at the images conjured on a blank piece of obsidian supported by a disc of wax inscribed with mysterious symbols. Instead they (and in fact most of us) spend much of our time staring at messages conjured on a blank surface powered by a tiny chip of silicone covered with mysterious symbols. Which is completely different.

Is this sorcery? Well, not exactly. I dare say the financiers, coders and economists conjuring in realms of pure meaning would (at least in public) vehemently reject the idea that they’re communing with anything beyond the exoteric world. Others, though, increasingly treat the voice behind the silicone mirror explicitly as an entity (or entities), with agency and unknown intentions.

Mystic Meg epitomised an age, and a culture, in which those with unusual powers of pattern recognition were more often than not perfectly happy not to be taken seriously. But in ways we’re only just beginning to grasp, this more innocent age is succeeded by a much more eerie one. And here, as in the age of Dr Dee, the natural and occult sciences are once again unnervingly intertwined.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

moveincircles

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

84 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago

Modelling is the modern day obsidian mirror. Non-science dressed up as science. Every influential group has a model, from economics to climate to pandemics.

Now, there’s nothing wrong per se with a model if it is used to understand the world by empirical feedback. But that’s not how much of publicly funded modelling works. Today models are built to prove a point, no falsifiable test cases are designed. Then the models are used to predict the future in highly specific ways often with prescriptive policy outcomes recommended.

Armed with the”scientific” model and the “scientific” policy recommendations, attention is grabbed the narrative controlled. Not just what the model says about tomorrow but what policies must be enacted somehow become a scientific truth. Theory confused with hypothesis, not helped by the English language’s use of theory to describe any old idea. Politics confused with science, not helped by the gullability and woeful scientific illiteracy of politicians.

Empiricism – the science bit – is entirely missing. Next to nothing is invested in the comparing of predictions with outcomes needed to quantify the statistical certainty of these models. Despite many of these models having decades of forecasting history proved wrong by what actually happened, the models still hold sway. Why? Because the models confirm the biases of those producing them and those using them. And in that sense, modellers are modern day mystics and their models nothing more than sticks of asparagus.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nell Clover
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Modelling comes from people who call themselves Social Scientists. They are not scientists, who try to prove by long-term experiments. They are people who stare at their computers, collect random data, analyse that data and show a trend. The problem with this is that you can create any trend that you want to create by choosing the right data.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

As von Neumann put it “With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.”

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

Excellent. I hadn’t encountered that quote before.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

Excellent. I hadn’t encountered that quote before.

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Modeling does not come from social scientists.
Another lie.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Modeling is used in all walks of science and engineering. Like any tool, you can use it effectively or not. Every “law” of physics is essentially a model. Over reliance on models is foolish. So is not understanding and exploring their simplicities and limitations.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

Yes we use models all the time in my field of engineering, constantly adjusted with real time data, where available, and backmodelling.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

Yes we use models all the time in my field of engineering, constantly adjusted with real time data, where available, and backmodelling.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Untrue.. all of it!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

This is epidemic at the moment. One sees people stuck in a shaky narrative and thoroughly convinced that they are right. If you disagree you are cancelled. When this is in government it is dangerous.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

As von Neumann put it “With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.”

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Modeling does not come from social scientists.
Another lie.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Modeling is used in all walks of science and engineering. Like any tool, you can use it effectively or not. Every “law” of physics is essentially a model. Over reliance on models is foolish. So is not understanding and exploring their simplicities and limitations.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Untrue.. all of it!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

This is epidemic at the moment. One sees people stuck in a shaky narrative and thoroughly convinced that they are right. If you disagree you are cancelled. When this is in government it is dangerous.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Yes, old John Dee would today be earning very lucrative consultancy fees as a COVID and climate change adviser.

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Another lie.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

Mindless. Your comments expose your lack of intellect.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

On what basis? You haven’t even said why. That’s not good enough.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

Mindless. Your comments expose your lack of intellect.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

On what basis? You haven’t even said why. That’s not good enough.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Our two biggest shaky narratives almost destroying our country.

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Another lie.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Our two biggest shaky narratives almost destroying our country.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Accurately modelling complex phenomena takes centuries of hard work and learning – we can now do it with rocketry exceedingly well; weather systems pretty accurately; seismic systems, and human affairs (economics, psychology, politics) not so well – but much better than we did 10 or 100 years ago. It’ll take many more decades, and AI, to get reliability. Any good scientist – social or pure -, understands the limits of their modelling. It tends to be the rest of us – politicians, civil servants, journalists, activists, grifters and the hoi polloi who misunderstand it, rely on it, weaponise it; and who ‘miss the science bit’ (e.g. who do not hear or understood the margins of error, probability ratios)…. and some luddistically dismiss the whole endeavour, and the scientists to boot.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

The faith of the modern scientist is noble, indeed. But perhaps Aristotle was correct when he said that human and political phenomena simply do not admit the same degree of certainty as physical phenomena do.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan B

He was surely correct in the the admission that then (and currently, and no doubt for a long time yet) prediction and understanding of human affairs is so difficult, complex as to be near impossible, whilst physical phenomena are now predictable in ways he might think of as magical. I’m not sure that anything other than complexity is the key factor. Have you seen the drama series DEVS? It imagines a near future where a quantum computer is designed that can prospectively and retrospectively calculate all things that have or will ever happen. Clever and fun.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I think another factor is the unkown, what we’re not aware of, as inputs to the modelling which has an influence on the outcome. Good comments, you were downticked and I cannot honestly believe the mentality of who would do this.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  stephen archer

I know! odd isn’t it? do remember that the more variable inputs the lower the level of confidence in the final prediction: eg if you have just 5 variable inputs and even if you have 90% confidence in each the outcome might be as low as .9x.9x.9x.9x.9 ie 55% accuracy even assuming no input errors.
So ‘as likely to be accurate to a value between 50% and 150% only. With complex models there might be 10+ inputs. If each had a 90% probability the accuracy might be as low as 25% – unlikely though but since estimates might be inaccurate up and down thereby reducing the level of inaccuracy to perhaps 40%.
My daughter had a ‘reading’ several years ago and swears she have nothing away and was highly skeptical.. She was told she would be..
1. Going back to university – true but a good guess might have got that for mystic Meg.
2. Going to UCC – no she had been accepted into UCGfor her masters’.
3. “Pulling pints” within 2 years – she’d never worked in a bar in her life and had no plan ever to do so.
However, a few days later UCG apologised for a c**k-up, had no place for her but had found a similar post grad course in UCC!
And after getting her masters she got a job in Guinness’s lab.. one of her duties was to pull pints from the production floor to test in the lab!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  stephen archer

I know! odd isn’t it? do remember that the more variable inputs the lower the level of confidence in the final prediction: eg if you have just 5 variable inputs and even if you have 90% confidence in each the outcome might be as low as .9x.9x.9x.9x.9 ie 55% accuracy even assuming no input errors.
So ‘as likely to be accurate to a value between 50% and 150% only. With complex models there might be 10+ inputs. If each had a 90% probability the accuracy might be as low as 25% – unlikely though but since estimates might be inaccurate up and down thereby reducing the level of inaccuracy to perhaps 40%.
My daughter had a ‘reading’ several years ago and swears she have nothing away and was highly skeptical.. She was told she would be..
1. Going back to university – true but a good guess might have got that for mystic Meg.
2. Going to UCC – no she had been accepted into UCGfor her masters’.
3. “Pulling pints” within 2 years – she’d never worked in a bar in her life and had no plan ever to do so.
However, a few days later UCG apologised for a c**k-up, had no place for her but had found a similar post grad course in UCC!
And after getting her masters she got a job in Guinness’s lab.. one of her duties was to pull pints from the production floor to test in the lab!

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I think another factor is the unkown, what we’re not aware of, as inputs to the modelling which has an influence on the outcome. Good comments, you were downticked and I cannot honestly believe the mentality of who would do this.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan B

Political narrative goes much further than certainty and strays into the area of dogma alas and calls it science.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Conrad
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan B

He was surely correct in the the admission that then (and currently, and no doubt for a long time yet) prediction and understanding of human affairs is so difficult, complex as to be near impossible, whilst physical phenomena are now predictable in ways he might think of as magical. I’m not sure that anything other than complexity is the key factor. Have you seen the drama series DEVS? It imagines a near future where a quantum computer is designed that can prospectively and retrospectively calculate all things that have or will ever happen. Clever and fun.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan B

Political narrative goes much further than certainty and strays into the area of dogma alas and calls it science.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Conrad
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Physical phenomena can be usefully modelled. Physical phenomena do not change when they are modelled. Refining the model of fluid mechanic boundary conditions doesn’t change the real world phenomena.

Human affairs cannot be usefully modelled. If a really useful model is used to do something in the real world then the world that was modelled has just changed and the model becomes untested and probably invalidated. If the model is not used to do anything then the model is not useful.

A classic example is financial risk management. The model identifies low risk assets. The market takes note and puts low risk investments in the low risk assets. But immediately the price of such assets rises so the risk-value trade-off worsens. In extremis, so much money ends up in these low risk assets that the systemic risk rises. And on top of this, there are then layers of creative derivatives engineered to play on these changes in ways that haven’t yet been invented and so sit outside of every single risk model. AI is no solution to this problem because it only learns from events that have happened and it cannot assign meaningful probability to investment behaviours yet to be tried.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nell Clover
Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

The faith of the modern scientist is noble, indeed. But perhaps Aristotle was correct when he said that human and political phenomena simply do not admit the same degree of certainty as physical phenomena do.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Physical phenomena can be usefully modelled. Physical phenomena do not change when they are modelled. Refining the model of fluid mechanic boundary conditions doesn’t change the real world phenomena.

Human affairs cannot be usefully modelled. If a really useful model is used to do something in the real world then the world that was modelled has just changed and the model becomes untested and probably invalidated. If the model is not used to do anything then the model is not useful.

A classic example is financial risk management. The model identifies low risk assets. The market takes note and puts low risk investments in the low risk assets. But immediately the price of such assets rises so the risk-value trade-off worsens. In extremis, so much money ends up in these low risk assets that the systemic risk rises. And on top of this, there are then layers of creative derivatives engineered to play on these changes in ways that haven’t yet been invented and so sit outside of every single risk model. AI is no solution to this problem because it only learns from events that have happened and it cannot assign meaningful probability to investment behaviours yet to be tried.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nell Clover
Simon Simple
Simon Simple
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

English language is actually accurate, it is the use of it by the dubious or uninformed Hypothesis is what we were taught is the starting point, and provided the experimental evidence confirms the Hypothesis, then you may decide it is a Theory.
Blaming English for that is like blaming English for the redefinition of Gay or Racist – more accurate would be to blame Humpty Dumpty or his inventor Lewis Carroll (which even then is also a ‘disguise’ for the real man). Even people who haven’t read the book now decide that a word means
“”When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean â€” neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.””
Perhaps the author had a crystal ball or obsidian mirror and watched the 21st Century unfold – he couldn’t have described it more concisely if he had!

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

And this is a typical anthropogenic climate change denier pack of utter lies.
The ACC models have been extremely accurate.
The problem is click bait headlines that get it wrong.
Its the sort of trash you’d expect from an oil company executive.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

Says you.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

Says you.

Paula Adams
Paula Adams
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

How to lie with statistics, an old, yet still applicable book.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paula Adams

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics“.*

(* MT or BD?)

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

MT.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

MT.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Paula Adams

I still have my copy that was used in a class back in the seventies. Just passed it on to my daughter. Great little book!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paula Adams

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics“.*

(* MT or BD?)

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Paula Adams

I still have my copy that was used in a class back in the seventies. Just passed it on to my daughter. Great little book!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

A tad overstated and one-sided. While it’s true that models are more likely to be inaccurate than accurate (the terms right and wrong are unscientific) they are more like to be more accurate than wishful thinking be that political or mystical. In short they are better than nothing and far better than propaganda and deliberate misinformation which seems to be the stock n trade of lying, cheating, corrupt politicians and their greedy, misanthropic puppet masters.

Cymru Wales
Cymru Wales
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

How can you say that models are better than no models when it is up to you to select the model which supports your theory?
So-called ‘global warming’ follows this. You measure something, look for figures which support your theory, get your theory accepted, teach children and ‘whadda ya know’ – the theory has become a fact. A fact based on a pseudo-communistic way of live where improvements are forbidden. In Wales there will be no new roads!!!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Cymru Wales

Global warming is a very anti human theory which is being used against us at every turn. I think there is a narative behind it which is seeking something, else particularly with the WEF lot.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Cymru Wales

Global warming is a very anti human theory which is being used against us at every turn. I think there is a narative behind it which is seeking something, else particularly with the WEF lot.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

A model is no more intrinsically accurate than wishful thinking. Wishful thinking can and is used to make many models. The label “model” is slapped on anything and everything that makes a prediction using some numbers.

So many become spellbound when the magic word “model” is used. One only has to inspect the absolute coding* and parameters* mess that was the Imperial College COVID model to realise the problem with models is everywhere.

*I was asked to independently review the code and parameters. It was pure junk. It was so sensitive to the human input variables about the expected future progression of COVID that it essentially just repeated back what those variables predicted.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Well now, if the models are more likely to be inaccurate than accurate, it would be best to ignore the models – And you.

Cymru Wales
Cymru Wales
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

How can you say that models are better than no models when it is up to you to select the model which supports your theory?
So-called ‘global warming’ follows this. You measure something, look for figures which support your theory, get your theory accepted, teach children and ‘whadda ya know’ – the theory has become a fact. A fact based on a pseudo-communistic way of live where improvements are forbidden. In Wales there will be no new roads!!!

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

A model is no more intrinsically accurate than wishful thinking. Wishful thinking can and is used to make many models. The label “model” is slapped on anything and everything that makes a prediction using some numbers.

So many become spellbound when the magic word “model” is used. One only has to inspect the absolute coding* and parameters* mess that was the Imperial College COVID model to realise the problem with models is everywhere.

*I was asked to independently review the code and parameters. It was pure junk. It was so sensitive to the human input variables about the expected future progression of COVID that it essentially just repeated back what those variables predicted.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Well now, if the models are more likely to be inaccurate than accurate, it would be best to ignore the models – And you.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Well done, Clover! Modeling is the great fallacy of our time; likely to be problematic in the hands of policy makers.
It’s all about “narrative control”. As usual.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Same principal.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

We have been suffering from these models since Covid started.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Same principal.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

We have been suffering from these models since Covid started.

Rick Hart
Rick Hart
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I would suggest you read Dr Dean Radin’s books, Supernormal and Real Magic, after you read Entangled Minds and The Conscious Universe. Dr RAdin is exactly what you need-a scientist applying the Scientific method to his experiments, with very interesting results.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Modelling comes from people who call themselves Social Scientists. They are not scientists, who try to prove by long-term experiments. They are people who stare at their computers, collect random data, analyse that data and show a trend. The problem with this is that you can create any trend that you want to create by choosing the right data.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Yes, old John Dee would today be earning very lucrative consultancy fees as a COVID and climate change adviser.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Accurately modelling complex phenomena takes centuries of hard work and learning – we can now do it with rocketry exceedingly well; weather systems pretty accurately; seismic systems, and human affairs (economics, psychology, politics) not so well – but much better than we did 10 or 100 years ago. It’ll take many more decades, and AI, to get reliability. Any good scientist – social or pure -, understands the limits of their modelling. It tends to be the rest of us – politicians, civil servants, journalists, activists, grifters and the hoi polloi who misunderstand it, rely on it, weaponise it; and who ‘miss the science bit’ (e.g. who do not hear or understood the margins of error, probability ratios)…. and some luddistically dismiss the whole endeavour, and the scientists to boot.

Simon Simple
Simon Simple
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

English language is actually accurate, it is the use of it by the dubious or uninformed Hypothesis is what we were taught is the starting point, and provided the experimental evidence confirms the Hypothesis, then you may decide it is a Theory.
Blaming English for that is like blaming English for the redefinition of Gay or Racist – more accurate would be to blame Humpty Dumpty or his inventor Lewis Carroll (which even then is also a ‘disguise’ for the real man). Even people who haven’t read the book now decide that a word means
“”When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean â€” neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.””
Perhaps the author had a crystal ball or obsidian mirror and watched the 21st Century unfold – he couldn’t have described it more concisely if he had!

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

And this is a typical anthropogenic climate change denier pack of utter lies.
The ACC models have been extremely accurate.
The problem is click bait headlines that get it wrong.
Its the sort of trash you’d expect from an oil company executive.

Paula Adams
Paula Adams
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

How to lie with statistics, an old, yet still applicable book.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

A tad overstated and one-sided. While it’s true that models are more likely to be inaccurate than accurate (the terms right and wrong are unscientific) they are more like to be more accurate than wishful thinking be that political or mystical. In short they are better than nothing and far better than propaganda and deliberate misinformation which seems to be the stock n trade of lying, cheating, corrupt politicians and their greedy, misanthropic puppet masters.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Well done, Clover! Modeling is the great fallacy of our time; likely to be problematic in the hands of policy makers.
It’s all about “narrative control”. As usual.

Rick Hart
Rick Hart
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I would suggest you read Dr Dean Radin’s books, Supernormal and Real Magic, after you read Entangled Minds and The Conscious Universe. Dr RAdin is exactly what you need-a scientist applying the Scientific method to his experiments, with very interesting results.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago

Modelling is the modern day obsidian mirror. Non-science dressed up as science. Every influential group has a model, from economics to climate to pandemics.

Now, there’s nothing wrong per se with a model if it is used to understand the world by empirical feedback. But that’s not how much of publicly funded modelling works. Today models are built to prove a point, no falsifiable test cases are designed. Then the models are used to predict the future in highly specific ways often with prescriptive policy outcomes recommended.

Armed with the”scientific” model and the “scientific” policy recommendations, attention is grabbed the narrative controlled. Not just what the model says about tomorrow but what policies must be enacted somehow become a scientific truth. Theory confused with hypothesis, not helped by the English language’s use of theory to describe any old idea. Politics confused with science, not helped by the gullability and woeful scientific illiteracy of politicians.

Empiricism – the science bit – is entirely missing. Next to nothing is invested in the comparing of predictions with outcomes needed to quantify the statistical certainty of these models. Despite many of these models having decades of forecasting history proved wrong by what actually happened, the models still hold sway. Why? Because the models confirm the biases of those producing them and those using them. And in that sense, modellers are modern day mystics and their models nothing more than sticks of asparagus.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nell Clover
Thomas K.
Thomas K.
1 year ago

Another great, thoughtful, and quietly unsettling read from Mrs. Harrington. I too have a keen sense of pattern recognition, but because we’ve collectively delegated most of our reasoning to central authorities and their ‘experts’, I find people increasingly respond to my perfectly reasonable, rational, cause-and-effect predictions like I’m some babbling madman claiming he can see the future.

Just because I AM a madman with a penchant for babbling doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had a pretty spot-on track record over the past few years.

Simon Simple
Simon Simple
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

The most potent ‘pattern recognition’ is related to body language – something that is now like unstable nitroglycerine in the hands of the Woke. Which explosive a number of the non-self-identifying members of the female variety then hand over to naive unsuspecting males who are unaware that biology and time has built into them some innate patterns they recognise as being ‘encouraging’ of closer contact. Then “boom” – with all the consequences for the current relationships between the sexes.
For the sake of clarity, I doubt that many of the females truly understand precisely what observations result from the patterns they provide, and how explosive the mix may be. If they did, we’d have far fewer of the lurid headlines we get I suspect and the Oscars & other glittering award ceremonies would display far less expanses of female flesh – applying the same to male celebrities, we might also find fewer signs of odd male fantasies Mr Smith?
Perhaps we need to pay more attention to the autonomous and pattern recognition systems of the human being when it comes to life in general. It might save us a lot of trouble not only in business, politics and banking. We might even discover that scientists begin to realise that facts are what they are supposed to be discovering in the patterns, rather than covering up to preserve the ‘false pattern’ they’ve espoused and on which perhaps their incomes and reputations are based. Does that ring a bell with Dr Faucci or Prof Mann to name but two I wonder?

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

It’s utter drivel, and you think it’s thoughtful.

Cymru Wales
Cymru Wales
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

Strange. He makes an argument that he believes in his own models. You say, ‘Drivel.’ What do you believe, then?

Cymru Wales
Cymru Wales
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

Strange. He makes an argument that he believes in his own models. You say, ‘Drivel.’ What do you believe, then?

Simon Simple
Simon Simple
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

The most potent ‘pattern recognition’ is related to body language – something that is now like unstable nitroglycerine in the hands of the Woke. Which explosive a number of the non-self-identifying members of the female variety then hand over to naive unsuspecting males who are unaware that biology and time has built into them some innate patterns they recognise as being ‘encouraging’ of closer contact. Then “boom” – with all the consequences for the current relationships between the sexes.
For the sake of clarity, I doubt that many of the females truly understand precisely what observations result from the patterns they provide, and how explosive the mix may be. If they did, we’d have far fewer of the lurid headlines we get I suspect and the Oscars & other glittering award ceremonies would display far less expanses of female flesh – applying the same to male celebrities, we might also find fewer signs of odd male fantasies Mr Smith?
Perhaps we need to pay more attention to the autonomous and pattern recognition systems of the human being when it comes to life in general. It might save us a lot of trouble not only in business, politics and banking. We might even discover that scientists begin to realise that facts are what they are supposed to be discovering in the patterns, rather than covering up to preserve the ‘false pattern’ they’ve espoused and on which perhaps their incomes and reputations are based. Does that ring a bell with Dr Faucci or Prof Mann to name but two I wonder?

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

It’s utter drivel, and you think it’s thoughtful.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
1 year ago

Another great, thoughtful, and quietly unsettling read from Mrs. Harrington. I too have a keen sense of pattern recognition, but because we’ve collectively delegated most of our reasoning to central authorities and their ‘experts’, I find people increasingly respond to my perfectly reasonable, rational, cause-and-effect predictions like I’m some babbling madman claiming he can see the future.

Just because I AM a madman with a penchant for babbling doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had a pretty spot-on track record over the past few years.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
1 year ago

The simple facts are: historical shamans and mystics had the eye of the world and any shortcomings were negated by the powerful imagination they had and imparted to the world.

Shakespeare followed on from such times and England and Britain thrived.

Now a bank called silicon valley bank has collapsed, and a week later on LinkedIn every smart ass is saying: “the probability of recession is up 35% from 25%”… We live in an age of absolute speculation and mysticism. It’s just one of manipulation of that mystic thing called the economy and so few benefit while so many suffer.

This was a fantastic essay and well timed. Just before I read it I saw the LinkedIn financial mob running their mouths saying, you can’t have your cake, bank runs mean something… Sure they mean rich people get to duck up, make a load of noise, make speculation, goad us all with negative projections, pull the wool over eyes and then make bank again in some other future financial event. The rest of us groan at stupid technocrats, investors and start ups who get to take risks we are never able to.

We need a John dee, a Shakespeare, a Bach, a Bacon, a Watts, a McKenna, a Huxley, the list goes on, to awaken our souls again. We’re so far down in the darkness, truly.

Simon Simple
Simon Simple
1 year ago

The effects of the two banks going down may ripple outwards to the rest of the world’s banks and possibly beyond, however I have just read an interesting article, (But such is my memory I can’t quite remember where – read far too much today, I must get out and do something physical.) It provides an interesting alternative view to why the banks were so suddenly ‘closed down’.
Both were claimed to be heavily involved in Crypto Currencies AND the Fed wants to introduce its own. Thus having the anarchistic Cryptos competing with theirs isn’t favoured. So the Feds rejoiced in the liquidity issues as a great excuse and launched ‘dawn raids’ to shut down these two ‘exits/entrances’ between the Anarcho crypto world and the normal financial world. It seems now the Fed is a happier bunny.

Simon Simple
Simon Simple
1 year ago

The effects of the two banks going down may ripple outwards to the rest of the world’s banks and possibly beyond, however I have just read an interesting article, (But such is my memory I can’t quite remember where – read far too much today, I must get out and do something physical.) It provides an interesting alternative view to why the banks were so suddenly ‘closed down’.
Both were claimed to be heavily involved in Crypto Currencies AND the Fed wants to introduce its own. Thus having the anarchistic Cryptos competing with theirs isn’t favoured. So the Feds rejoiced in the liquidity issues as a great excuse and launched ‘dawn raids’ to shut down these two ‘exits/entrances’ between the Anarcho crypto world and the normal financial world. It seems now the Fed is a happier bunny.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
1 year ago

The simple facts are: historical shamans and mystics had the eye of the world and any shortcomings were negated by the powerful imagination they had and imparted to the world.

Shakespeare followed on from such times and England and Britain thrived.

Now a bank called silicon valley bank has collapsed, and a week later on LinkedIn every smart ass is saying: “the probability of recession is up 35% from 25%”… We live in an age of absolute speculation and mysticism. It’s just one of manipulation of that mystic thing called the economy and so few benefit while so many suffer.

This was a fantastic essay and well timed. Just before I read it I saw the LinkedIn financial mob running their mouths saying, you can’t have your cake, bank runs mean something… Sure they mean rich people get to duck up, make a load of noise, make speculation, goad us all with negative projections, pull the wool over eyes and then make bank again in some other future financial event. The rest of us groan at stupid technocrats, investors and start ups who get to take risks we are never able to.

We need a John dee, a Shakespeare, a Bach, a Bacon, a Watts, a McKenna, a Huxley, the list goes on, to awaken our souls again. We’re so far down in the darkness, truly.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

The world is more complicated than we can grasp but we desire understanding so we can respond swiftly to future events…
We had shamans to explain the nature and animal spirits
We had priests to explain the mysterious moves of God/Gods
We have economists who depressingly forecast economic matters
So other practitioners with a good line in patter are nothing new (or any more accurate). All driven by our desire for a predictable future.

Last edited 1 year ago by AC Harper
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I see a pattern here.
Do i also detect phallic symbolism with the use of asparagus in divination, or is that just wishful thinking?

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Simply couldn’t find her I-Ching sticks one day, and had just been to market, so …

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Simply couldn’t find her I-Ching sticks one day, and had just been to market, so …

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

This is where the internet comes in. There used to be just one economist – the one you saw on the BBC. Now there are thousands of them. If you have 1000 opinions, then one of them could be right. That doesn’t help, does it.
But it shows that economists are shysters. They play with figures and try to show trends. Another waste of money.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

If we do away with economists then I guess, ipso facto we must do away with economics but we cannot do away with the economy can we? So if no assessments / predictions are made what will the economy look like? It will be in utter chaos. But it is I hear you say!
Sure it is, but the economic catastrophe was not created by a lack of economics but by highly selective, high suspect, long since discredited trickle down economics.
Of course, although I say it’s a catastrophe that’s the case only of you think the 90% have any right to a decent income.. if, like the Tories you despise the 90% and want only to enrich the already filthy rich then their economics is working perfectly well.

Cymru Wales
Cymru Wales
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You have evaded the issue. You have changed the subject – economics – and thereby delivered your political opinion.
It is a chicken and egg situation. Which comes first, economics or politics? I would suggest that economics comes first. You would suggest politics. My driving force is that politicians actually know very little – maybe a bit of history (itself open to doubt today). So politicians justify their beliefs by choosing the economic theory which supports them. As simple as that. Back to the 1000 economists.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Cymru Wales

I don’t disagree; not in the slightest: the Tories opt for trickle down economics because it tells the lie that making rick people richer means everyone gets richer!
But as you rightly say, I’m off piste.. so let me say (as I’ve done elsewhere) statistical modelling IS a valid pursuit nut only for those equipped intellectually and honest enough to interpret them. In the hands of charlatans like politicians they amount to “a little learning” ie a dangerous thing!
Models are better than nothing and better too than random wishful thinking provided they are treated as what they are: approximate predictors of probable outcomes.. not crystal balls with zero risk of inaccuracy.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“Trickle Down” is a pejorative term only. Nobody espouses it.
Economics is a worthy study, encompassing all human behaviour and interactions. (interactions which existed long before “economics” was thought of)
Where it goes off the rails is when people think it’s a science.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

But rephrase it as ‘making wealthy people wealthier means everyone becomes wealthier’ and that’s a more arguable point.
Wealthy people always had a better standard of living but many of those ‘advantages’ have subsequently rolled down to ordinary people. Consider medical care, washing machines, double glazing, central heating, personal transport, sanitation, house ownership etc.
Trickle down of wealth yes, money not so much.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“Trickle Down” is a pejorative term only. Nobody espouses it.
Economics is a worthy study, encompassing all human behaviour and interactions. (interactions which existed long before “economics” was thought of)
Where it goes off the rails is when people think it’s a science.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

But rephrase it as ‘making wealthy people wealthier means everyone becomes wealthier’ and that’s a more arguable point.
Wealthy people always had a better standard of living but many of those ‘advantages’ have subsequently rolled down to ordinary people. Consider medical care, washing machines, double glazing, central heating, personal transport, sanitation, house ownership etc.
Trickle down of wealth yes, money not so much.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Cymru Wales

I don’t disagree; not in the slightest: the Tories opt for trickle down economics because it tells the lie that making rick people richer means everyone gets richer!
But as you rightly say, I’m off piste.. so let me say (as I’ve done elsewhere) statistical modelling IS a valid pursuit nut only for those equipped intellectually and honest enough to interpret them. In the hands of charlatans like politicians they amount to “a little learning” ie a dangerous thing!
Models are better than nothing and better too than random wishful thinking provided they are treated as what they are: approximate predictors of probable outcomes.. not crystal balls with zero risk of inaccuracy.

Cymru Wales
Cymru Wales
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You have evaded the issue. You have changed the subject – economics – and thereby delivered your political opinion.
It is a chicken and egg situation. Which comes first, economics or politics? I would suggest that economics comes first. You would suggest politics. My driving force is that politicians actually know very little – maybe a bit of history (itself open to doubt today). So politicians justify their beliefs by choosing the economic theory which supports them. As simple as that. Back to the 1000 economists.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

If we do away with economists then I guess, ipso facto we must do away with economics but we cannot do away with the economy can we? So if no assessments / predictions are made what will the economy look like? It will be in utter chaos. But it is I hear you say!
Sure it is, but the economic catastrophe was not created by a lack of economics but by highly selective, high suspect, long since discredited trickle down economics.
Of course, although I say it’s a catastrophe that’s the case only of you think the 90% have any right to a decent income.. if, like the Tories you despise the 90% and want only to enrich the already filthy rich then their economics is working perfectly well.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I see a pattern here.
Do i also detect phallic symbolism with the use of asparagus in divination, or is that just wishful thinking?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

This is where the internet comes in. There used to be just one economist – the one you saw on the BBC. Now there are thousands of them. If you have 1000 opinions, then one of them could be right. That doesn’t help, does it.
But it shows that economists are shysters. They play with figures and try to show trends. Another waste of money.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

The world is more complicated than we can grasp but we desire understanding so we can respond swiftly to future events…
We had shamans to explain the nature and animal spirits
We had priests to explain the mysterious moves of God/Gods
We have economists who depressingly forecast economic matters
So other practitioners with a good line in patter are nothing new (or any more accurate). All driven by our desire for a predictable future.

Last edited 1 year ago by AC Harper
Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
1 year ago

We are no longer in the ‘information age’, but in the ‘age of feelings’, a counter-Enlightenment where the confected ‘anger’ of a not very bright footballer is taken as a true account of government policy, and a charity ditches one of its best ambassadors despite acknowledging that she was relaying a legally required disclaimer rather than speaking her own opinion.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
1 year ago

We are no longer in the ‘information age’, but in the ‘age of feelings’, a counter-Enlightenment where the confected ‘anger’ of a not very bright footballer is taken as a true account of government policy, and a charity ditches one of its best ambassadors despite acknowledging that she was relaying a legally required disclaimer rather than speaking her own opinion.

David Holland
David Holland
1 year ago

Good article. The blind faith demanded of us by our newly super-empowered expert class is for an unquestioning belief in their occult powers of divination. One small point, though. It’s silicon, not silicone. Silicone is for breast augmentation or caulking round the bathtub.

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  David Holland

Lol.
It’s utter tosh.

David Holland
David Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

No, it’s actually very good stuff and provides a watertight seal, if used correctly.

David Holland
David Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

No, it’s actually very good stuff and provides a watertight seal, if used correctly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  David Holland

Funny!

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  David Holland

Lol.
It’s utter tosh.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  David Holland

Funny!

David Holland
David Holland
1 year ago

Good article. The blind faith demanded of us by our newly super-empowered expert class is for an unquestioning belief in their occult powers of divination. One small point, though. It’s silicon, not silicone. Silicone is for breast augmentation or caulking round the bathtub.

Chris Twine
Chris Twine
1 year ago

Another really thought-provoking article, but really the star was the “asparamancer”. No dafter than most organised religion.

Simon Simple
Simon Simple
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Twine

and yet with the demise of organised religion, particularly Christianity, the world of belief becomes more insane. Chesterton was not wrong it seems.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Simple

I agree with you but why are you surprised?
When people used to cut their finger in the field and die of fever a week later, they had to see some kind of unfairness. Why me and not my neighbour? So the answer was clear – God works in mysterious ways.
If I am in a bad mood and decide to kill half a dozen people, why shouldn’t I? Because God would punish me. Why can’t I steal my neighbour’s plough? Same reason.
What will happen to me when I die? Don’t worry, you will go to God.
After hundreds of years you take this away. You can now do things without punishment. You can change from a man to a woman. You can kill people who believe in a foreign God. BUT that doesn’t mean that there is a god.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

If you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Indeed, you are showing that God’s ways are indeed “logical”. Your examples, though meant to be simplistic, point to the advantages of faith. In each and every case, the believer experiences the better outcome.

Sometimes I wish for a latter-day Pascal. He devised “the wager” to appeal to the atheist playboys fond of gambling and witty banter. Someone to challenge the supposedly “rational” “science-based” “data-driven” types with the logic of Christ the King.

People adopt the craziest habits: talking to an Apple Watch, consuming a fanciful diet, taking unknown drugs, paying a shrink to say what they wish to hear (a priest will tell you the truth and won’t even charge you), in order to gain an “edge” in their careers and “personal well-being”. . . But they can’t be persuaded to go to Mass once a week?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

If you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Indeed, you are showing that God’s ways are indeed “logical”. Your examples, though meant to be simplistic, point to the advantages of faith. In each and every case, the believer experiences the better outcome.

Sometimes I wish for a latter-day Pascal. He devised “the wager” to appeal to the atheist playboys fond of gambling and witty banter. Someone to challenge the supposedly “rational” “science-based” “data-driven” types with the logic of Christ the King.

People adopt the craziest habits: talking to an Apple Watch, consuming a fanciful diet, taking unknown drugs, paying a shrink to say what they wish to hear (a priest will tell you the truth and won’t even charge you), in order to gain an “edge” in their careers and “personal well-being”. . . But they can’t be persuaded to go to Mass once a week?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Simple

Christianity, properly speaking is not an organised religion.. sects claiming to be Christian, eg COE, RC etc. and also Islam et al are organised religions with their clerics and pageantry, dogma and ritual, bells, books and candles. The Christ never wrote a word nor instituted ritual nor dogma etc.
True Christianity is a Way, ie a way of deep understanding based on love like Buddhism.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Nonsense Mahony, have you been drinking again?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

More like a philosophy?

Cymru Wales
Cymru Wales
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Maybe, just maybe,Christianity and religion should be as you say – but it isn’t is it. As best it is the repetition of dogma. You can’t really separate the two, that is, belief and dogma.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cymru Wales
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Nonsense Mahony, have you been drinking again?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

More like a philosophy?

Cymru Wales
Cymru Wales
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Maybe, just maybe,Christianity and religion should be as you say – but it isn’t is it. As best it is the repetition of dogma. You can’t really separate the two, that is, belief and dogma.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cymru Wales
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Simple

Demise? It’s annoyingly alive in the US. The force behind the ban on abortions.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Abortion isn’t banned in the US.

If there are no providers in your area and you wish to abort your pregnancy, perhaps your employer will pay for your travel and hotel expenses?

If you anticipate abortion to be a regular procedure for you, maybe it’s time to get a job at Amazon or Disney.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Abortion isn’t banned in the US.

If there are no providers in your area and you wish to abort your pregnancy, perhaps your employer will pay for your travel and hotel expenses?

If you anticipate abortion to be a regular procedure for you, maybe it’s time to get a job at Amazon or Disney.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Simple

I agree with you but why are you surprised?
When people used to cut their finger in the field and die of fever a week later, they had to see some kind of unfairness. Why me and not my neighbour? So the answer was clear – God works in mysterious ways.
If I am in a bad mood and decide to kill half a dozen people, why shouldn’t I? Because God would punish me. Why can’t I steal my neighbour’s plough? Same reason.
What will happen to me when I die? Don’t worry, you will go to God.
After hundreds of years you take this away. You can now do things without punishment. You can change from a man to a woman. You can kill people who believe in a foreign God. BUT that doesn’t mean that there is a god.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Simple

Christianity, properly speaking is not an organised religion.. sects claiming to be Christian, eg COE, RC etc. and also Islam et al are organised religions with their clerics and pageantry, dogma and ritual, bells, books and candles. The Christ never wrote a word nor instituted ritual nor dogma etc.
True Christianity is a Way, ie a way of deep understanding based on love like Buddhism.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Simple

Demise? It’s annoyingly alive in the US. The force behind the ban on abortions.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Twine

Exactly!!

Simon Simple
Simon Simple
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Twine

and yet with the demise of organised religion, particularly Christianity, the world of belief becomes more insane. Chesterton was not wrong it seems.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Twine

Exactly!!

Chris Twine
Chris Twine
1 year ago

Another really thought-provoking article, but really the star was the “asparamancer”. No dafter than most organised religion.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

“t might be tempting to imagine that the modern age is so secular, scientific and disenchanted there is no modern-day role for a magician other than popular entertainer.”
On the contrary Mary, we are not tempted: We know that we live in an age where the most absurd drivel is treated as gospel by the majority of our youth.
PS: Anyone out there read Peter Ackroyd’s novel, The House of Dr Dee? – Spooked me.

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

“t might be tempting to imagine that the modern age is so secular, scientific and disenchanted there is no modern-day role for a magician other than popular entertainer.”
On the contrary Mary, we are not tempted: We know that we live in an age where the most absurd drivel is treated as gospel by the majority of our youth.
PS: Anyone out there read Peter Ackroyd’s novel, The House of Dr Dee? – Spooked me.

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

Roman sorcerers fiddled about with animal intestines, modern sorcerers fiddle around with mathematical models. Same result from both.

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

So many wrong people here. Just unbelievable.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

You fiddle around?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

“Most people would rather die than think and MOST do”*.

(*BR.)

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

Whole armies of ’em, darn it! Evil thigh deep! Purge ’em, BB! Erase ’em!

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

You fiddle around?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

“Most people would rather die than think and MOST do”*.

(*BR.)

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Beaver Boy

Whole armies of ’em, darn it! Evil thigh deep! Purge ’em, BB! Erase ’em!

Beaver Boy
Beaver Boy
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

So many wrong people here. Just unbelievable.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

Roman sorcerers fiddled about with animal intestines, modern sorcerers fiddle around with mathematical models. Same result from both.

Gerard McGlynn
Gerard McGlynn
1 year ago

I think a certain playrwright got it right, “By the pricking of my thumbs—-” Very scientific!

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Gerard McGlynn

Will now be used as evidence that women have pricks!

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Gerard McGlynn

Will now be used as evidence that women have pricks!

Gerard McGlynn
Gerard McGlynn
1 year ago

I think a certain playrwright got it right, “By the pricking of my thumbs—-” Very scientific!

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago

Forgive this slightly irreverent note but given John was able to detect patterns I find it encouraging that people are talking about a character who features in a novel I have written which I am hoping to get published.
It is an interesting coincidence that he should appear before me on Unherd but then of course it is not. I take it as a sign.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago

Forgive this slightly irreverent note but given John was able to detect patterns I find it encouraging that people are talking about a character who features in a novel I have written which I am hoping to get published.
It is an interesting coincidence that he should appear before me on Unherd but then of course it is not. I take it as a sign.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
Vicha Unkow
Vicha Unkow
1 year ago

What can I say bout the “asparamancer” except her vegetable looks much lovelier than what we get in Florida., and as far as predictions about the War and Politics, the Big Guns and Money tend to Win.

Vicha Unkow
Vicha Unkow
1 year ago

What can I say bout the “asparamancer” except her vegetable looks much lovelier than what we get in Florida., and as far as predictions about the War and Politics, the Big Guns and Money tend to Win.

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago

I found this an insightful article – I love how Ms. Harrington makes these connections and explains them in an eloquent way.
Also a great short history of dark magic – some really good pointers here.

Last edited 1 year ago by Emre S
Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago

I found this an insightful article – I love how Ms. Harrington makes these connections and explains them in an eloquent way.
Also a great short history of dark magic – some really good pointers here.

Last edited 1 year ago by Emre S
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

You know who reminds me of Mystic Meg? Stock market analysts. Year after year the statistics show they can’t even do as well as throwing darts at the stock pages of a newspaper (which don’t exist anymore – you know what I mean). And yet whatever manager managed to randomly come out on top for a couple years in a row is a “genius” endowed with mystical acumen. Until his picks tank and people move on to Mystic Mike.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

You know who reminds me of Mystic Meg? Stock market analysts. Year after year the statistics show they can’t even do as well as throwing darts at the stock pages of a newspaper (which don’t exist anymore – you know what I mean). And yet whatever manager managed to randomly come out on top for a couple years in a row is a “genius” endowed with mystical acumen. Until his picks tank and people move on to Mystic Mike.

Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
1 year ago

John Dee was also an astrologer and astrology as method of prediction has not gone out of fashion. Many people in high positions society and politics still consult astrologers. One only has to think of scandal about Ronald Reagan’s stargazer or Princess Diana’s advisers. But these people are only the tip of the iceberg

Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
1 year ago

John Dee was also an astrologer and astrology as method of prediction has not gone out of fashion. Many people in high positions society and politics still consult astrologers. One only has to think of scandal about Ronald Reagan’s stargazer or Princess Diana’s advisers. But these people are only the tip of the iceberg

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
1 year ago

Somebody has to say it: silicone is not at all the same thing as silicon.

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
1 year ago

Somebody has to say it: silicone is not at all the same thing as silicon.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

There were some entertaining reminiscences of Mystic Meg in the latest edition of The Thought Police podcast. Also a story about an editor, Kelvin McKenzie I think, firing astrologer Justin Toper with a letter beginning, “As you will already know, we have decided to terminate your employment”