In the past few days there have been news reports of unidentified flying objects darting about the skies over Lubbock, Texas. It’s more of the same — don’t even bother looking for anything new in these articles. People see things they can’t explain and it must be magic. The same old claptrap that UFO-chasers have spouted for years is in this story.
Pyramids in the desert! How is that possible?! It must have been aliens! No, a lot of time and horribly oppressed slaves.
Crop circles in the English countryside? Aliens! No, pranksters.
Whether UFOs, pareidolia, Bigfoot, yetis, ghosts, poltergeists, little green men, Nessie, leprechauns, mermaids, or magical beings that command you to live your life a certain way, people somehow gravitate to the unexplained. Anything that cannot be proven immediately must, therefore, be extraterrestrial, magical, or otherworldly.
People are so desperate for magic in their lives that they ignore science — questionably the closest real thing to magic we have. Two hundred years ago it was completely unimaginable that you would be able to talk to any person on the planet by dialing a couple numbers on a keypad. The idea of hurtling through the sky at 500 miles per hour was ridiculous — now air travel is (relatively) cheap and available to everyone. And while there’s no physical mechanism for casting spells, we know enough about the human brain to fool it into thinking events did or didn’t happen.
Want to see some magic? Send an electron at a wall and watch it go straight through. Flip the spin of one particle and watch another flip in the opposite direction, no matter where they are. Make a particle that lives for 0.000 002 2 seconds travel for much, much longer in a particle accelerator. You can even double your mass merely by traveling 87% of the speed of light!
I’m not optimistic that everyone will stop chasing fairies and start following science. But if we want to live in a Star Wars society with spaceships and robots and cute fuzzy space aliens, we need to glorify the real magic.