Straddling the Science/Magic Line
What’s the difference between science and magic? It’s our understanding of what makes something happen.
If magic is hocus-pocus, science is simply well understood hocus-pocus. Fire? Solar eclipse? Volcanic eruption? Earthquake? Once we can explain it, it becomes science. But sometimes we’re stuck straddling that science/magic line.
Remember when you were a kid back in elementary school and you first discovered the wonder of magnets? What a thrill it was to explore the possibilities! There’s nothing like messing with natural forces to spark a child’s imagination.
Thirty five years later, I’m still fascinated by magnets. Magnetic therapy has been used for thousands of years in Asia and Europe. Some believe that magnets help restore the flow of blood through the capillaries, therefore assisting in the flushing of toxins that may accumulate due to injury or illness. Magnets have been used to relieve the pain of arthritis, carpal tunnel, migraines, joint injuries, menstrual cramps, and much more. There has been some research in the last couple of years indicating that magnetic therapy may offer relief to those suffering from depression and attention deficit disorder.
Yet we’re not sure how–or if–this really happens. It’s got to be some kind of placebo effect, right? We’re all looking for simple solutions to help us feel better. Sometimes we want things to work so much that they actually DO. Does that mean it’s all a bunch of hooey?
I’ve learned a lot about magnets since my husband started developing and distributing Bodylinx, a line of inexpensive magnetic bracelets. Tom stated right from the beginning that he wanted to downplay the jewelry’s possible health benefits. He likes the bracelets because they’re fun—you can play around with the magnetic links and rearrange them. Though he remains reluctant to promote a healing property he doesn’t really understand, some of his customers are strong advocates magnetic therapy.
We believe whatever we tell ourselves. If we want to think that a bracelet helps our arthritis, we are free to believe that. And if it turns out to be true, did it work because we believed it or because there is some kind of science/magic at work?
As important as it is to question our beliefs regularly, it’s also crucial that we become willing to suspend disbelief. Fifty years ago, nobody would have believed that we’d have spacecraft landing on Mars and sending us digital images of the craters there. As a species, we have broken barrier after barrier by daring to believe the impossible one small idea at a time.
We need to accept that there may be therapies that work even if we can’t prove they do or understand how it happens. This doesn’t mean we have to be gullible or stop questioning. We simply need to entertain the possibility.
Whenever possible, I like a hefty dose of science to back up my beliefs. There is a magnetic field present on our planet. Fortunately, we don’t often shoot out into space and have to deal with the physical effects of that. What about those who do?
Remember the early days of space exploration? We had to wait several hours after splashdown before the astronauts appeared at any press conferences.
It turns out that human bodies must be properly reintroduced to the earth’s magnetic field. In recent years, the scientists at NASA have learned how to facilitate this physical readjustment. They now have the astronauts change into special suits embedded with magnets as soon as they land. They slip into their orange suits and voila–they’re ready for the cameras!
There is a great deal we are learning about magnets, and it’s not just to help those who’ve blasted off into space for a while. Magnetic wraps have been used for decades to help racehorses heal after injuries. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from trainers to support the continued use of magnetic therapy for horses. Horses don’t tend to say much about their beliefs, so it’s hard to point to the placebo effect as a possible explanation.
The most compelling idea about magnetic therapy is that we may need it now more than ever. We used to walk barefoot in the forests and plains. We had direct contact with the earth as we slept, hunted, and harvested. We were surrounded by vegetation and natural rock formations.
Not anymore. We’ve built concrete sidewalks, roadways, foundations, and buildings. We travel in cars and trains, essentially encapsulating ourselves. We’ve created a world of barriers between the earth’s natural forces and our bodies. It’s reasonable to consider that this may be affecting us physically in ways that are difficult to diagnose.
The earth has so much to teach us. Sometimes we know what works long before we understand why it does so.
We’ve never questioned the fact that being surrounded by nature helps us feel soothed, refreshed, and invigorated. Scientific research now shows us more specifically how the earth helps us feel better. We benefit from the negative ions near the ocean, our brains respond to the binaural beats present near waterfalls or during rainstorms, and our bodies react positively to a restored connection to magnetic forces.
I’m not likely to latch onto the latest pharmaceuticals or tout the benefits of new-fangled remedies. But the old ones? There’s no big company poised to reap huge rewards by promoting them, and consequently, we’re not likely to hear about them on the evening news or be bombarded with television commercials praising their potent power. I always like supporting the underdog, and in this case, that underdog is backed up by plenty of science of the unprofitable kind.
We would do well to restore our connection to the earth and the powerful forces that help us maintain our health naturally. How wonderful that we can benefit from negative ions, binaural beats and magnetism without dealing with health insurance or spending a lot of money at the drugstore.
The next time you take a walk in the woods, stroll along the beach, or stretch out in a meadow, remember the magic of magnetism. Recapture the wonder you had as a child, and celebrate the fact that sometimes the simplest solutions are still the ones that fill us with awe.