In this world, roughly 1% of people have actual supernatural ability (a combination of magical, deific, witchcraft, whatever). Their abilities range from the spectacular (pyromancy, flying, indestructibility) down to the quiet utility (bird poop repulsion) and all the way down to the underwhelming (a sixth sense that warns you of approaching cockroaches).

But fully 5% of people believe that they have magical abilities. They talk to plants, come back the next week, and they believe that the ones they spoke to are healthier than the others, ergo they MUST have a magical green thumb. Etcetera.

With that background, here's the scenario. Fred and Joe are alone together, no witnesses. They argue, and Fred pokes Joe in the chest and utters a curse. Joe immediately collapses. By the time medical help arrives, Joe is dead. An autopsy declares that Joe died of a perfectly natural heart attack. Should Fred be guilty of anything? Is there any way to ascertain whether Fred's curse was meaningful, short of having him attempt to curse someone else and seeing if they die?

Does it make a difference if Joe was known to have believed that Fred's curses have real meaning?

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    $\begingroup$ This depends on the specifics of country, state, and local laws, as well as existing legal precedence. Without knowing the specific jurisdiction this question is far too broad to be answerable. You can basically have it play out however you want. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 30, 2021 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings is right - note that this is not a fictitious example abc.net.au/news/2021-06-26/… $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2021 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ I quite like the question because it throws-up interesting possibilities, but it seems too story-based at present. Is Fred's wish-fulfillment reproducible in an ethical way for the court? (Lab mice eg.). I think you'd need to fill things out a great deal more about your legal system, etc. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2021 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ "Any reasonable legal basis" is way too broad. Please narrow it down. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2021 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ VTC:Needs Details. I apologize, but "YOU answer based on what YOU would find reasonable" is the basis for closing a question for needing details. Stack Exchange expects questions to be objective and detailed, leading to a single best answer. SE is not a discussion forum. You're expected to provide the framework for objectively answering a question about your world. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2021 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


The only real solution to these threats I see is time. Out of 100% of the population only 6% will have any idea to even investigate. Then less the 1% could event be able to determine anything. But, now everything is recorded and this 6% can communicate with other.

Plus, A lot of it will come down to who gets the power from a grizzled police chief who can talk to the ghostly victims to a mentally unstable teen who can and does rip people limb from limb.

I reminds me of an anime, From the New World. I won't go into details, but you definitely want to be on the side with power. Because the murder, if it was one, doesn't matter. What matters is the New World and what those people with power do with it.

  • $\begingroup$ Another series, called Area D (only available as a manga though), shows another great solution at first: when in doubt of whom has a special ability that can be harmful and who hasn't, solve the problem by treating them all like freaks and locking them all up in an inescapable prison in a secret island (because locking away the percentage that includes people like the dude that can end your life by looking at you from a Mile away is totally a good idea with no chance of backfiring). $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2021 at 0:22

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