Magical Thinking : For or Against

Ever thought about various beliefs, taboos, and superstitions? Do they make sense to you? Can they be explained? Most of them fall under the purview of magical thinking. According to Wikipedia:

“Magical thinking is the attribution of causal or synchronistic relationships between actions and events which seemingly cannot be justified by reason and observation. “

Magical thinking is often the reason behind certain rituals like sacrifices, prayers, observing taboos, anything that is against the conventional wisdom as per the prevailing circumstances. For example, the belief that sacrificing an animal will bring good luck cannot be scientifically explained. Coincidence or grouped phenomena is also explained by this causal fallacy in terms of unlinked relationships.

It is believed by some that a dog howling at night means someone will die or some unfortunate occurrence will happen. Again, this is an unexplainable relation, and the two events may have completely different reasons.

In Favour of Magical Thinking

magical thinking favour

Despite it being a rather illogical thinking, there are several people who vouch for it, including some very famous ones.

  • People in creative fields often talk about the idea coming to them. A lot of the creative process books actually talk about this and are almost promoting Magical Thinking. With so many creative people, be it writers, musicians, painters, directors, actors- talking about the idea coming from them, it seems like a fair justification in magical thinking.

  • The famous instance of the benzene ring is one example of magical thinking itself. August Kekulé says that he dreamed of a snake eating its own tail, which is an ancient symbol called ouroboros. This dream led him to think about benzene having a ring structure. Since a scientist of such stature talks about this, there might be some reality as the dream sequence inspiring him to create the ring structure falls under the gambit of magical thinking itself.

Against Magical Thinking

disadvantages of magial thinking

Any normal thinking person would argue against magical thinking. There are several points worth considering against it.

  • Several of the hotels, residences and buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Number 13 is considered unlucky. People don’t like to stay on 13th floor. However, if the 13th floor doesn’t exist and there’s 14th after 12th, people have no issues. Logically, it’s still the 13th floor so if there’s bad luck associated, it can’t simply be fixed by removing one number from the count.

  • When asking for any wish from dying stars or fallen eyelashes, people think those will come true. However, there’s no real logical explanation as to how a dying star miles away or a small fallen eyelash would help you get your wish. This cannot be proved scientifically or logically.

Almost everyone believes in magic or likes to believe in magic. Fairy tales of Santa, Sandman, Tooth Fairy among others exist only because we believe in them. However, there’s no way we can prove their existence. Magical thinking is in the similar vein, wherein we can’t really prove it and arguments against magical thinking are much stronger than those in favour of it- which are just personal tales.

 

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