Wednesday, December 8, 2010

EGS Twitter Survey for December 6, 2010

My Twitter profile - Past Surveys

This survey question is about the absolute biggest moral dilemma in all of EGS. There are those who would consider the acceptance of homosexuality and all that to be a moral dilemma, but I consider that to just be common sense.

In any case, there is potential for great good and great horror depending on how the magic in EGS is used. Used benevolently, it could usher in a golden age. Used malevolently, it could have the potential to literally destroy the world. Note the "literally" there. I'm not talking Fallout games "life goes on" sort of end of the world here (although I really like Fallout 3).

In short, the consequences of it being common knowledge are unknown, which is in part due to the limits of magic being unknown. Odds are some dude with magic can't blow up the planet, but who knows for sure?

With all that said, here is how I originally presented the question (in the interest of full disclosure, I said nothing about "destruction of the world" potential prior to compiling the results):

You can prove magic is real. Public knowledge would irreversibly change the world, possibly making it worse. Do you keep magic a secret?

As a die hard skeptic I want knowledge to be available. The trick is how people are educated about it.

What makes you think I haven't already proven it is real and is keeping it a secret? People suck. They would be worse.

Yes, I don't have enough faith in humanity to not use it to in some way blow themselves up.

I would tell the world before I blink twice.

I think it would make it only 'worse' for the first year or maybe less. After that it would probably commonplace.

Make it look as though they are super rare cards that become real from the game Magic the Gathering. So it is forgotten by most

I would reveal magic to the world, I believe the benefits would outweigh the risks involved.

It would depend on how powerful the magic is. Very powerful, then keep it secret. Fairly basic, sure let the world know.

Of course not. Truth is truth and cannot be transmuted. Perhaps though it should be more gradually introduced...

No. Fruit of the poisoned tree, and all that.

Hell flippin' no way.

No. Secrets always get out and cost far more to keep secret than the cost of the truth being widely known.

That seriously depends on who has access to magic. If only some do, it might start a magic vs no magic war.. I tell either way!

no. because who's to say it won't get better? things can always get better or worse, so it's best to let what happens happen.

Not at first. I would engage on a public information campaign that would raise public awareness/acceptance first.

No. Secret use of magic is more dangerous to people than open use of magic. Plus more magicians = more discovery, new spells.

No, although I magic myself a flying castle, guards and a food/water supply to ensure me and close friends/family survive

Truth goes through 3 stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as being self-evident.

I'd keep it secret. There would be people who would use others power for themselves. The known enemy is better than the unknown

Nope, no secret keeping. So, the truth could destroy the world, sure. Who is to say hiding it wouldn't destroy it though?

Hm. If I have access to magic. Yes. I want to lord it over others in secret. If not, then no. I won't let them lord it over me.

That depends. If I have magic powers I would totally keep it a secret. If it's someone else... I'd probably rat them out.

The world is always changing. Is proving magic exists any worse that north Korea attacking the south? Than a Recession?

I would reveal that magic is real and hope that people begin preparing for Magic attacks.

For a little while, until I think that the world is ready.

It would depend. If most people could learn to use it definitely. If only a very few I would keep it secret for their sake.

Depends on the magic. Flight, sure. Ability to control animals, probably not. Summon demons? That needs to be kept private.

I'm the sort who would pick interesting times over peaceful ones every time, so out with the truth!!

No. Almost all has potential for good and bad. Methods, maybe keep secret but existance? No.

What circumstances? Is there an imminent threat from magic? What sort of magic? Present EGS situation: Continue secret.

no, I truly believe in freedom of information

I would only prove magic to a select group of people who can be trusted to use it well and no one else.

I'd have to weigh how much good revealing magic would do compared to how pain it might cause. Ultimately I think yes, however.

Not even if it costs me my life.

Much though I hate to say it (Wish magic WAS real), yes. Most of humanity isn't ready for magic yet, regardless of limitations.

Keep the knowledge of how to do it secret while admitting to its existence. Sell magically enhanced items to the public.

Hm... First I'd try to figure out some of the future possibilities, but if that failed... I'd go ahead and do it anyway.

Hell no. Chaos is what makes life interesting.

Yes, I would.

As with all knowledge, the sharing of it will have unforeseen consequences, good and bad. I'd show everyone.

Heck no! If I can make the entire world believe magic, thus increasing my chances of getting magic, I do so wholeheartedly.

if it's the real world + only magic, definitely yes. ignoring the potential race war between mages / muggles. if it's magic and monsters, absolutely not. don't want to scare the muggles. :D

Yes. Ruining the world would be bad.

I would prove magic to be real. It could just as easily make the world better. Either way, truth is easier than lies.

No. In this day and age it would become public knowledge someday anyway (And perhaps only because somebody loads a copy of a spellbook on wikileaks). A (somewhat) controlled release is better. But even if it could stay a secret Iwould release it.

Yes. Someone greater than me should be the one the one to reveal it, if it needs revealing at all.

Yeah, I'd keep it hidden until I done all I could to control fallout. Failing that, I'd move far away, and watch the chaos >:D

Most probably.

I'd be undecisive, *almost* exposing magic, then *almost* scrapping the evidence, etc. I've watched enough Heroes to know that!

My Response to Your Answers:

Pretty much what I expected, which is to say there were a mix of opinions. Some people want the information to be free, others think people are jackasses and can't be trusted, others don't know, etc. This makes me happy, because I want it to be a debatable moral dilemma. If there was a unanimous yes or no answer, it would put a bit of a monkey wrench in various EGS plots.

My Answer:

I would be torn. Odds are good that if I could prove it, I would have access to magic myself. As such, it would come down to how many other people I knew, or knew of, who also had real magic at their disposal.

If it was just little ol' me? Hell yes I'd keep it a secret. I've read about Salem. I don't trust the general public to not kill me to death over it.

If I knew of enough people and knew there were plenty of others out there who were in the same boat as me, however, I would consider letting people know about it. It would depend on numerous other factors, but if I genuinely thought it would be best for everyone and I had people to back me up on it, I would let the world know.

Of course, if we knew so little about magic that we couldn't be sure if magic atomic bombs or something were possible, that's the sort of thing where a "keep secret pending further research" policy might prove prudent.


  1. Depends on the kind of power we're talking about. If it's lightweight stuff--short range, minor effects, think Harry Potter--then sure. Though what would be kept secret is if I, personally, can use magic. No sense being experimented on.

    That sentiment relates heavily with my stand on super powers: if it can't handle at least half the world's military forces at once, I don't want it.

    If it's Slayers or Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha styles of magic (i.e.: heavy on Wave Motion beams and megaton yield explosions), I am conquering the world with it first.

  2. Oops, I meant to say most likely not. Then I said most likely.

  3. Not enough space to give a really good answer to this question in the twitter survey. Here's my estimation of the effects of revealing magic to the world.

    Merely knowing that there are powers like this at hand, regardless of their availability, would most assuredly change the world.

    Furthermore, the existence of yet another government coverup would most likely lead to a push for the reveal of secrets from the government. Meanwhile, panic would fall on the people prone to panicking should it be revealed in a poor manner. Essentially speeding up every major plot and plan going on by a small amount.

    The most important thing would be its impact on the scientific community. Skepticism would be tested most heavily. And people would have to account for the sum of what they learned about physics (or possibly biology) being slightly off in at least one crucial matter. Except for some of the stranger sorts out there. They're exempt.

    Overall, its impact would be underwhelming at first, and then gradually reach a crescendo of importance and integration into the world. Possibly by eliminating it. Unless there's some extra factor in there (immortals, aberrations, government coverups, more magic in the neighborhood would constitute extra factors). This is my estimation of what would arise from that reveal.

  4. In all honesty.. I would prefer the option that would continue the comics progression. I have been reading EGS for a -very long time- and if it were to ever end 'suddenly, with a bang, the universe destroyed' then I would personally be devastated because all the characters are so lovely.

  5. The benefits always outweigh the risks. When we embarked upon the internet, there were those who tried to use it for harm; they created computer viruses. But what did we do? We created antivirus programs. If you have the ability to make a harmful thing, you also have the ability to make an equally protective thing. This is what life does. It's going to happen sooner or later, and I, for one, am quite more interested in injecting chaos into our stale system ;3

    There are forces that have a power monopoly for now that really don't deserve it, and Magic would likely be a great equalizer--at least in the beginning. It's just another paradigm shift, another growing pain for The Universe that Lives. A lot of people disparage that humanity is a disease, without considering this: ALL LIFE IS A DISEASE. Be it humanity or ANYTHING else, past a certain stage of development, it WILL be of colonialism and conquest! It WILL be about seizing and engaging natural resources! There WILL be war! In the end, only one thing is certain: Life will do what life does. Live.

  6. A good approach is what Hunter x Hunter does with Nen. Only teach a few select that you know will do it for good. There will be always those who discover it and use it for their own purposes, but that can't be avoided. Still, teach your students good, and they will fight for justice.

  7. I like the George from the comic's "magic shield of ignorance" argument. If there are any evil magic users in the world, then no amount of concealment is going to stop a madman from summoning a fire monster in the parking lot, so we may as well tell the world and get as many minds looking at the problem as possible.

    I might make an exception if we're talking "Magical Nuke" levels of power. If that level of destruction is available to any two-bit terrorist with a magic wand, then releasing it will do more harm than good. But magic is such a versatile, powerful tool that in general, I'd say it's worth releasing.

    For another take on this subject, there's a fanfic, "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality", which demonstrates what happens when a scientist gets their hands on wizardry. The results are... impressive.

  8. I feel that it is my responsibility to first offer an apology: This is long. It is a lot of text. If you don't want to read it, I understand your decision - and I'm the one who wrote it, so you know it's okay to do anything from put it off to never read it at all. Do something fun with the time you'll gain, though, or I actually will be kind of sad.

    I think that I would have to sit down and think up a step by step plan. I'll assume I know about magic, and can prove it - if I only know about it, I'll find proof.

    1) How long until magic is revealed without me interfering?
    I might not be able to answer this, but if there's time pressure everything else needs to speed up. 'Never' versus 'In two weeks when Chicago gets eaten'.

    2) How well can I master my own, specific magic? Or if it's not me, the person I know who has magic?
    If I or someone I know has magic, I/they need to learn all about it - including not only using the magic well, but being a good person, and one who can handle it.

    3) How much can I find out about magic?
    This is step 2, but more general. I don't want to find out that magic allows people to destroy continents but not ward them against destruction, for example. And at the same time, if Dumbledore/Gandalf comes up and says 'maybe you shouldn't do this' you can bet I'll at least listen. If there's Lord Killemall out to destroy all life with dark rituals, though, then it's important to protect people from that.

    4) Start spreading it.
    I like to think that I'm smart, capable, and ethical. But I'm not exactly a journalistic expert, and I think my greatest talents are talking and tweaking things. I want to find some help I trust, spread magic to the people who need to know, and then just keep spreading it until it can go 100% public. Of course, if there's a magical monster attack in Chicago two weeks from now? Start with proving it there and evacuating. Civilization can handle a little chaos, and if the first act of public magic is 'save Chicago' and not 'destroy Chicago' it's less likely to become destructive, terrible chaos.

    Whew! Much typing. As for EGS itself? I don't know for certain. I think it's key that magic is no longer so restricted to the one weirdness hotspot. But the comic is very character-driven, and I don't know how much they'll impact how magic is revealed except by being at the center of it all - And would it be fun if all eight went 'What I do is too important and too public now; I can't ever let loose again'?

    Ultimately, fun and a good comic take precedence, and I'm sorry that I don't have the expertise to do more than point out a few obvious traps on the off-chance you missed them.

    As for more pointing out the obvious, remember that Pandora is probably going to work hard on this... in her own roundabout, sinister ways.

    As far as what might be coloring my viewpoint, to warn you? My favorite arc was Grace's birthday, the current one (New and Old Flames) looks good, and while Painted Black itself was merely normal, its impact and the slow fading as that impact moves into the past is a nice effect on the comic overall.

    Also I like Cat-Elliot, which is clearly the centerpoint of this massive barrel of exposition.

  9. Personally I think the truth is far stranger then any fiction. Also with releasing the information, as time continues without this theoretical information being released the various reactions to it being released are changing for both better and worse.

    Just consider what would happen if they had kept calculus secret up to this point and released it, though where we would be without calculus is an equally unanswerable question.

    I think that magic will be public knowledge only when we have sufficient technology to fully understand it down the level where children in school can randomly discover what it is. Like with electricity and air. Then it won't be magic but just some scientific thing which is just anouther tool.

    I have personally seen many things which at the time I thought was magic but when I looked back at them I realized it wasn't... or was it (don't know, don't care, doesn't matter). Though I do want continuously learn and develop myself, then maybe somebody will call me magic and I'll say no It's just skill... or technology... or a magic trick... or real magic lol.

  10. It boils down to the nature of magic.

    If magic is open to other people: Then make it as accessible as possible. Power to the people. Yes, there would be some upheaval - but there always is.

    If magic isn't open to other people, if it's in the hands of an elite? Well - then there is a pragmatic argument against sharing the information, because ultimately it probably won't change much and the upheaval will be for nothing.

    But then again - I still think that people would still be better off knowing exactly how badly the deck was stacked against them than they would be in ignorance.

    Now - this isn't to say that there would be responsible and irresponsible methods of announcing the existence or magic. So it would need to be managed VERY carefully.

    And at the end of the day, it seems utterly self-serving and contemptuous of other people to assume that I am mature and capable enough to handle the existence of magic rationally and with maturity, but that other people can't.

    I've actually wondered a few times if that's a direction the comic is going.

  11. Dan, i would like to talk to you one on one if your not busy. i'm not sure of your friendship load. do you have room for 1 more?

  12. Funny how I reply to this years down the line and even years thinking about it.

    To be honest it would be the safest to come out in full naked and exposed. The idea that humans would just abuse the heck out of it is totally right though. Not for evil nefarious purposes, but for gross excess. Evey time we aqure a new resource we abuse the hell out of it. Forests depopulated because we need firewood. Lakes abused as both a water source and a sewer. The dodo was killed off because it was delicious and sold well as a stuffed bird ill-regardless of how easy it was to hunt.

    The first guy who figures out how to convert magic to run his car, Whoo Nelly.

    As the excuse that humans would kill each other with it, I might be very democrat, but I am also pro gun. I like to shoot them, I like to get old 40 year old boxed up guns, get them out and clean them to make them shiny. I have a Concealed Carry so I could carry one around, though I use it mainly to get around the week waiting period. I have been taught as a young kid on how to respect a gun and what it can do and have even hunted before.

    Granted, you might not be able to cure cancer with a gun like you can do with magic its the same principle. The thing is though, is those same people with guns, or non guns still pull over to help people on the street. Those same people, ill-regardless of the danger, saved lives on 9/11. Without prompting, people help other people when a disaster strikes. True murdering criminals make up less than 1% of 1% of our population, the rest are poor/depresspate people who might not have much of a choice.

    The real serious problem with magic is complacency. Magic might be easy to learn or use, but like a gun, accidents can happen. Maybe a magic energy generator can explode and be more dangerous than a nuke, but small models describe otherwise. I see that as more of a real issue than human greed/evil. Stupidity:P

    Anyway, thanks for the comic all these years. Been reading it religiously:)