Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers
by Matt Kaplan
Scribner, 2015 (($26))
Science and magical thinking might seem at odds, but science journalist Kaplan demonstrates that they can inform and even influence each other. In every chapter, Kaplan examines a putative supernatural phenomenon, such as an ability to predict events or heal someone with water from a sacred spring, through a scientific lens. He pulls back the curtain on the seeming magic, drawing on his own investigations and conversations with experts to determine whether tales of the supernatural have scientific explanations and what these stories reveal about human life and thought at the time and place of their origin. Kaplan also explores ways that the occult inspires scientific research and cases where new technologies are making “magical” capabilities, such as accelerating healing and controlling the weather, into real possibilities.