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skeptics in magic land

To: alt.magick,sci.skeptic,sci.chem
From: (Robert Scott Martin)
Subject: Re: skeptics in magic land
Date: 8 Jul 2002 08:58:39 -0400

In article <>,
Fred Kasner   wrote:

>Remarkable! You really believe that some of the most fundamental 
>principles that were developed and bruited as being the glories of 
>alchemy were shown to be flat out wrong and then divorce alchemy from 
>them so that you can say that their failures could not be laid at the 
>door of alchemy and hence show alchemy to be at best a fraud intentional 
>or not.

In my experience of about a dozen contemporary alchemists l have
interviewed (my anthropological training reasserting itself, l suppose),
none had much time for either "caloric fluids" or "phlogiston", and most
were at least sidereally comfortable with the periodic table and atomic

Likewise, my library contains a few dozen alchemical texts, most scattered
from the 11th to the 20th century, from Europe, China and India.  The
better ones aren't wasting time with "caloric fluids" or "phlogiston". 
Neither are anything remotely central to practice.

Conversely, the volumes of the New International Encyclopedia in my 
possession define light as "the sensation of which one becomes conscious 
through the optic nerve . . . in general, the cause of this sensation is 
the entrance into the eye of ether waves."

Is the understanding of light "bruited as being one of the glories of 
physics" (thanks, Sir Isaac)? If so, was ether physics "a fraud" or merely 
a transitional stage?

Then again, this particular encyclopedia also defines the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire as "the largest European country after Russia since the separation 
of Sweden and Norway", so perhaps the borders of science may be in flux.

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