Encyclopaedia Arcana #55: Normals and Magic (Part One)

One question that apprentices and adepts always ask sooner or later is how magic stays secret.  If so many people can use and detect magic, why doesn’t everyone know about it?  Why hasn’t the existence and practice of magic been documented and recorded via cameras, cell phones, eyewitness accounts, CCTV, scientific research, and so on?

The answer is both simpler and more complicated than they expect.

No-One Wants To Run A Conspiracy

The most popular explanation for the secrecy of magic is the global conspiracy.  Under this theory, the Councils of the various magical nations work together to suppress evidence of magic, using manipulation of the media, control of governments, and mind- or memory-altering magic to guarantee that no-one can ever prove that magic is real.

This theory does have some truth to it.  The fourth clause of the Concord does state that magic should be kept a secret, and each magical nation does have an organisation that works to this effect (in Britain, this is carried out by the Keepers of the Order of the Cloak).  It’s even true that the the Order of the Cloak does have connections in the media and the government, and while they don’t make a habit out of using mind magic on normals, they’ve definitely done it in the past.

There is, however, a problem with this theory:  large-scale conspiracies of silence aren’t very practical.  The simple fact is that keeping a secret which is known to lots of people is very, very difficult, and the larger the number of people who know the truth and the longer the length of time that the conspiracy is to be maintained for, the more ‘very difficult’ becomes ‘impossible’.  When all it takes is one person getting the truth out, maintaining a conspiracy is a losing battle.

In the case of magic, multiple people have gotten the truth out.  In fact, if you know where to look, it’s possible to find quite detailed explanations of how magic works, all available to the public.  Yet magic is generally disbelieved in.  And while the Order of the Cloak are influential, they have neither the power nor the inclination to manipulate the minds and opinions of everyone in the country.  So while it’s true that the Order of the Cloak run a kind of conspiracy, it’s also fairly obvious that their efforts alone wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to keep magic a secret even in Britain, much less the rest of the world.

And It’s Not That, Either

Before getting into the real explanation for the secrecy of magic, we’ll cover a few more of the false ones, and the problems with them.

• Magic messes up technology and stops recording devices from working

Problem:  While it’s true that some kinds of magic can mess with recording equipment, it’s also true that lots of others don’t.  Besides, people don’t need to see something to figure out that it exists.  The vast majority of human knowledge was not accumulated by means of watching videos.

• Everyone who finds out about magic gets silenced by the mage police

Problem:  There is no way even all of the Keeper orders put together would have enough manpower to oversee the entire population of Britain with that kind of thoroughness.  And while they can be ruthless, they’re not that ruthless.

• Humans are stupid and good at deceiving themselves

Problem:  They’re not as stupid as many would like to think.  And while self-deception is entirely real and very common, it generally happens for a reason.  People don’t fool themselves just because.  (However, although this explanation is mostly wrong, it is getting closer to the truth.)

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One Response to Encyclopaedia Arcana #55: Normals and Magic (Part One)

  1. Geli says:

    How interesting! 🙂 So now I can’t wait for the real explanation. Maybe normal humans like a world without magic just better? And in consequence seek other explanations?