Favorite Muggleborns headcanons (1/?)
Honestly I wish Rowling HAD covered muggle-wizard cultural diffusion more because the SECOND you allow for muggle-borns, that means that there WILL be cross-cultural borrowing. Humans are so lazy yet eager about technology, and will try to bring their standard of life with them to a new situation.
Quills? You kidding me? I mean, I love using quills and have done so, but let’s not kid ourselves about them being an effective means of writing. Even when I was first reading HP as a tiny kid, I knew what I’d do if I went to Hogwarts : bring pencils. You can erase mistakes. You don’t even need a metal scraper or spell to do it.
The wizarding world understands trains. They have yet to understand electricity. How backwards are they? How can something as relatively simple as electricity defy them? And if they do understand it, their inability to adapt to muggle inventions despite having muggleborns is just … frustrating. You’d expect wizarding adaptations to be one or two generations behind, but still present.
I think the biggest problem with the cultural adaptations of the wizarding world is that they never adopt a technology, but rather find a way to use magic to copy its appearance.
Let’s cover the things that the wizarding world shares with the muggle world :
Steel. All advanced metallurgy is performed by Goblins. Humans seem able to work with soft metals such as gold and silver, but their use of iron is outright stated to be limited (since the better form of iron for brooms etc is stated to come only from Goblins), though they seem able to create bronze and pewter artefacts.
Photography. Wizards are aware of photography and muggleborns have used photography in the series. To allow photos to move, a magical potion is used to develop them. Wizards are aware of at least basic photography, but are probably unaware of the physics of light and exact chemical interaction behind it.
Newspapers. Include text and magical pictures. Reproduced magically. The wizards may or may not be aware of moveable type. Goblins probably are.
Radio. Wizards do use a form of wireless, but it is always presented as being magical in nature. Apparently it does use radio waves, since muggles have picked up wizarding radio programmes. wizards are aware of radio waves. Telephone and television are never used by wizards.
Musical records. It is never stated how one is supposed to enjoy the music of Celestina Warbeck except through live concerts and the wireless. Wizards may or may not be aware of : wax recording, vinyl records, compact laser disc, electronic sound recording.
Trains. The chassis of the train is taken from a muggle, then assumedly magically powered. However, the train is mentioned as producing steam. Wizards may or may not be aware of steam power.
Motorcycles/Cars. The chassis of a vehicle is procured from a muggle source, then magically powered with an enchantment. Wizards are completely blind to the mechanics of gasoline combustion engines.
Plumbing. Wizards adopted this technology wholesale in the 1700’s. Thank heavens. Previously according to Rowling they would just pee/poop wherever and then use magic to disappear the pee/poo. Well at least they don’t have to dance and go JERTY, but when I can make that reference to a truly awful self-published novel about magical mud towers, Rowling, you know what company you’re standing in. And I am sad for having remembered that Something Awful thread.
Internet. Rowling has stated that some Muggle Studies wizards have learned to use the internet out of “slightly condescending” curiosity. Rowling has personally stated that the vast majority of wizards do not use the internet because their alternative sources of information about the outside world are “more fun than the internet.” ha. ha… HAHAHAHA. Rowling. Rowling you… you are aware the internet is more than… *internal screaming*
Wizards can use computers and the internet but are entirely unaware of the technology behind and unable to reproduce : silicon boards, data processing, computer programming, stored electronic data, electronic data relay, fibre optics, LED lights, cathode ray tubes, lasers, transformers (probably also Transformers), repeaters, analogue computation, digital computation…
Lenses. Wizards and witches wear glasses to correct their vision and use telescopes. They thus seem aware of how to smelt speciality glass and grind optical lenses. However, since Goblins also use glasses, this may be a Goblin technology.
Medecine. Magic or get out. Seriously, they don’t even know how to suture a wound. They just throw potions and spells at things until the body repairs itself, or use a prosthesis with an enchantment to replace the function of what was lost. They may know the germ theory of disease since St. Mungo’s has a ward for “Magical Bugs and Diseases.” But it seems much more likely that the bugs referred to, since they are in a separate category from diseases, would be parasites and biting insects. Thus, unknown to wizard science : the germ theory of disease, surgery (Mr. Weasley scoffs at it), antiseptics, antibiotics, vaccines, steroids, anti-inflammatories, opiate derivative drugs, x-rays, other scanning techniques (although there are probably less harmful magical alternatives), radiology, hormones, dental amalgam, neonatal care, the fact that sperm does not have tiny babies inside, gynaecology, knowledge of what cancer actually is, heavy metal poisoning and its treatment, neurology, de-fibrillation, pulmonology, gastro-intestina… you get the idea.
In fact, it seems that wizards lack the scientific method. Wizards are a pompous lot who seem to work on the base assumption that magic makes everything better and easier, despite the fact that magic keeps messing up and having unexpected consequences at every turn in the books. Being so separatist, they are only cutting themselves off from amazing advances that would, no lie, improve their health and well-being. Frankly, where would wizards be without the things they have copied from Muggles? Living in thatched roofed cottages or stone castles and disappearing their poop after they go on the floor. That’s where. Heaven preserve the wizarding world from wizard Luddites.
Muggle-borns, I salute any and all efforts to drag the wizarding world into the current century. Bring your tech to Hogwarts.
Also this is why I never got my letter because they knew I’d try to marry tech and magic after I graduated, and begin a new wave of knowledge. You think you can brainwash the entire world after I start teaching real working magic online? After I contact Randi and tech companies to start the fusion of magic into everyday society as well as its proper scientific study? They’d cart me off to Azkaban. Because wizards and witches want to keep this revolutionary power that slaps physics in the face to themselves instead of trying to use it to improve the human condition.