Hands up those of you who can explain exactly how a refrigerator works. No, quoting Wikipedia is not allowed.
I’ll tell you, then. There’s a low-level gremlin living in the back of every refrigerator, and it casts a simple freezing spell-
What? You don’t believe me? What’s that I hear about a scientific explanation and chemical reactions? It’s not like you can explain those in detail, right?
If we can believe something happens because it’s science, without understanding the process in detail, then science has indeed become a new religion. And that is exactly what we see happen in the world of To Aru Majutsu no Index. To the residents of Academy City, nothing that happens on the streets is surprising, even if it involves Gaussian acceleration, movement through the 11th dimension or subverting the principle of entropy. The kids studying there have seen so many incredible things that they can probably believe anything to be possible. That is, as long as you don’t mention magic.
The students are firm in their rejection of anything even vaguely smelling of magic. God, angels, demons? There’s no way something so unscientific could exist. That might well be a reasonable approach for the people of the new enlightened age… but how can they calmly reject any notion of this:
And nod their heads knowingly to this:
It certainly doesn’t seem like any of the kids have a firm grasp of what this ‘personal reality’ their teachers keep going on about actually is. If so, aren’t they magicians themselves? But that’s just it. They aren’t magicians…
They are ability users. The Japanese term – nouryokusha (能力者) – is not that much different from the ESPers Haruhi made so famous, the chounouryokusha (超能力者). In fact, it is merely one kanji shorter. The missing kanji – chou (超) – means ‘to transcend’ when on its own, and it is the ‘supernatural’ in ‘supernatural ability user’.
Academy City is a world of the denial of the supernatural, and the brainwashing starts with the words the students use. Every time they use the term ability user, they’re also telling themselves there is nothing out of the ordinary about raining thunderbolts from your fingers. And if they keep repeating that long enough, they will start believing it. Because an ability is just science.
And science justifies everything.