Even the hard-core skeptics believe in magic, says Matthew Hutson in his new book The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep us Happy, Healthy and Sane which has just been released in paperback.
Most of us have some sentimental objects that would seem to lose their importance if replaced by an exact copy. We imbue our pets with human personality traits. We are disgusted at the thought of eating a cake that looks like fecal matter. We expect that what goes around comes around. All of these are examples of magical thinking, Hutson argues. A skeptic and an atheist, Hutson claims that ‘our ongoing flirtation with supernaturalism is a relationship that we depend on for survival.’ I’m not convinced. In a lively discussion, we delve into magical thinking, its pitfalls and potential benefits.
Matthew Hutson is a former editor at Psychology Today, and has a B.Sc. in cognitive neuroscience from Brown University and an M.S. in science writing from MIT. His work has appeared in Wired, Discover, Scientific American Mind, Popular Mechanics, The Boston Globe, The New York Times and the New York Times Magazine.