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Magical thinking:our downfall or our blessing?

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posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 12:54 AM
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I remember the good ol' days of childhood, when it was still acceptable to have magical thinking. It is described by child developmentalists as a psychological phase.

Magical thinking is a common phase in child development. From the age of a toddler to early school age children will often link the outside world with their internal consciousness, e.g. "It is raining because I am sad".

I love being the Tooth Fairy in the middle of the night. I sneak around putting the tooth away for later, giving her a present. she leaves a glass of water by her bed for the fairy to dip her wing in to show her what color she is. (evidence) And I get to pretend I am a very good actress for a while. Her friends on her bus have told her they aren't real, but she doubts that. Either I am a very good magician, or she is still in that "phase".


In anthropology, psychology, and cognitive science, magical thinking is nonscientific causal reasoning that often includes such ideas as the ability of the mind to affect the physical world, correlation equaling causation, the law of contagion, the power of symbols, and the meaningfulness of synchronicity.

There is a huge nonscientific database of evidence that this occurs on the internet.
So if we don't understand cause and effect, we create some kind of story to go with it in our own minds? As adults? What happened to the phase theory? Shouldn't they tell us it starts there and continues for the rest of your life?
We continue to have to ask ourselves if Santa is real, or the Tooth Fairy even when we grow up, but now it is UFOs, conspiracies and doomsday prophecies. It seems to be somewhat of a coin toss. Either it is real phenomena or someone's imagination. We tend either believe or we need proof, we ignore it, or chalk it up to Karma.
Some say even words have magical qualities.

Another form of magical thinking occurs when people believe that words can directly affect the world. This can mean avoiding talking about certain subjects ("speak of the devil and he'll appear"), using euphemisms instead of certain words, or believing that to know the "true name" of something gives one power over it, or that certain chants, prayers or mystical phrases will change things. More generally, it is magical thinking to take a symbol to be its referent.


It is the process that is used against the UFO sightings. Since we don't understand what it is, it must be magical thinking. That what you see is not evidence because it can't be put in glass jar and be poked. Dreams, abductions, all kinds of strange phenomena are discounted, but happen to so many people.

We decribe our ancient myths as just that "myths", because we cannot explain why they would think that half-man half-beasts could have possibly roamed our Earth at one time. Was that magical thinking by adults? or was it that they didn't know the cause of what they were seeing?


From the point of view of outside observers, magic is a way of making coincidences meaningful in social terms. Carl Jung coined the word synchronicity for experiences of this type.
So is it just a coincidence that cultures all over the ancient world believed these creatures existed, or did they all communicate with each other socially and this is how they dealt with it? They made it meaningful?

And if you are thinking magically and there is no social understanding or mass syncronicity involved then you are mentally ill?

In each it can take a different form peculiar to the particular illness. In OCD, it is often used in ritual fashion to ameliorate the dread and risk of various dangerous possibilities, regardless of whether it has real effects on the object of fear. It contributes more to peace of mind, in that the person now feels they can engage in a risky activity more safely.


But if it is acceptable you are just religious or superstitious?...

This is not unlike magical thinking in non-afflicted individuals; lucky garments and activities are common in the sports world

and to top it all off, Science does the same thing when they find something statisically significant with very little testing, because "magically" they want it to be so. Many of our sciences create stories (theories) to describe their research.
oh and good ol' reporting bias... (because all my sources came from Wiki.);p

So we think magically, is it our downfall or our blessing?

Does anyone have a thought? Something to add? Experiences they would like to vent about? Any advice?


[edit on 28-6-2008 by seagrass]




posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 01:23 AM
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Excellent post. Personally, I think this thread belongs in "philosoplhy" because that's what we're really talking about here.

The ones who label "Magical thinking" are basically saying "there's no connection that we don't understand."

which is hilarious since supposedly, science advances by testing various hypotheses, instead of informing people that "there's no connection."

20 years ago, doctors were convinced that tonsils served no useful purpose, and should be removed if they became infected. Likewise, few doctors even 30 years ago were even trained to spot a malfunctioning thyroid.

The philosophical problem here is that materialism is a world-view that claims a privileged position; In that regard its practically a religion, because it says "I'm right, and if you disagree then you're either stupid or bad."

It's one thing to say, "if you believe in prayer, you should realize that I think you're mistaken," versus "if you believe in prayer, you're emotionally child-like." Which is exactly what this document's materialistic evangelism is saying.

Thanks for reminding us.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 01:29 AM
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Yes, exactly, and let's not forget about advertising. A psychologist's dream job! "It's magically delicious!"



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 01:36 AM
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Oh don't get me started on thyroid malfunction. I went in to the emergency room for problems swallowing. I had the Barium Swallow, stuff poked down my throat. I asked the tech if my next move was to see a shrink? He shrugged. SHRUGGED! I went to my regular doctor and he poked around a bit. Didn't find anything. Various excuses for why I might do that to myself.
Then about a year later, I had a goiter during an exam. They told me after weird radio testing that I most likely had a cancerous tumor. After the thyroidectomy it was discovered I had Hashimotos' Thyroiditus. My own body had killed my thyroid (Rareish Autoimmune Disorder). I asked why? and more shrugging....
so I think "magically" about why that might be.. Was I too hyper and my brain said "kill it now!" Was God punishing me? Are there "bad" antibodies out to get me?

[edit on 28-6-2008 by seagrass]



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 02:28 AM
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Personally, I believe that understanding this "process" is the key to tolerance and the eventual appreciation of diversity. Right or wrong as it is.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 03:38 AM
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part of what is listed there as magicle thinking is acthuly a principal of some occult practices. the occult technique of sympathy is just that knowing the true name has great power. beings can also be effected by having a part (usaly hair, nail clipping, small amount of blood) of the target links you to the target making the practice easier and more potent. you can see these in the example of the jewish golem created by rabbi loew of prague who was brought to life with the name of god inscribed on his head, or the voodoo doll or apalacian poppet where a doll representing a person along with personal possesions and physical samples from the target allow the target to be effected in variouse ways by the practicioner. so not only are they saying prayer is pointless but the occult practices of all kinds is nothing but the simplistic ideas of a child.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 09:33 AM
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Either it is real phenomena or someone's imagination.


If anything, it's the failure to realise that imagination (= not the same as fantasy) and "real phenomena" are not mutually exclusive, that will be our downfall.



.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 09:35 AM
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It's one thing to say, "if you believe in prayer, you should realize that I think you're mistaken," versus "if you believe in prayer, you're emotionally child-like."


And it's the childlike who inherit the "kingdom of Heaven".
Literally.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 10:58 AM
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Magical thinking can include anything that isn't strict materialism.

It's funny that Richard Dawkins, the Rush Limbaugh of materialism, made many of his arguments based on genes. I say its funny because the human genome project just announced that there is not nearly as much matterial in DNA as was previously thought---only about a third as much. Which leaves many geneticists concluding that not all heritable traits are passed along via DNA. What magical thinking you have, science.


The root problem is the stance that a whole worldview is . . . false.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 11:11 AM
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A good overview is the current (June 28, 2008) article in wikipedia entitled Philosoplhy of Mind. This article cuts to the heart of the issue: whether the mind is anything more than the function of brain.


And while we're at it, here's the link to the wikipedia article on magical thinking

I found this paragraph amusing:


Richard Feynman suggested, in his "Cargo Cult Science" speech, that scientists may fall prey to a form of magical thinking as well as laypeople. When experiments are poorly controlled and not repeated, or reporting bias dominates, scientists may "fool themselves" into believing insignificant results significant. If enough flawed work is done in a field — Feynman singles out psychology in particular as sloppy — then further experiments may devolve into a set of unfounded rituals.[2] In short, methods that are scientific may be used to generate results that merely seem scientific.






posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 11:17 AM
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reply to post by seagrass
 


One discernment: Those emotionally deficient materialists who scoff at "magical thinking" have another image in their mind about it than I do. They are thinking "Superstitious Thinking", but superstitious thinking is different than magical thinking.

Superstitious thinking borders on the hysterical, paranoid and submissive.

Magical thinking means seeing the world with awe and appreciation, remaining aware of the mysterious and unknown.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 10:20 PM
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Exactly, true magical thinking is remaining open to what is presented to you, viewing everything with appropriate awe and wonderment. As such, it's clearly a blessing-and has clearly been viewed that way at least as long as we've had literature. Most dystopian stories describe their world with variations on the theme of grey, dull, staid, and stultifying; with the exception of course of the dangers. This is the end result of unrestrained materialistic thinking.

The strict quantification of materialistic thinking does have its place as well. This is the best way we've come up with as a species to make stepwise progress in technology. It's also handy for deductive reasoning. But magical thinking is what provides the spark, the 'intuitive leap' that gives the suggestion of direction to scientific testing. Magical thinking notices the melted chocolate bar in the pocket and attributes it to the new equipment; scientific thinking adapts radar equipment into microwave ovens.

The problem that I see comes when materialistic thinking disregards evidence because it doesn't fit with preconceived notions (fish don't fall from the sky, and if they do, it must be from a waterspout even if miles from water), whereas the 'childlike wonder' of magical thinking develops new hypotheses to cover the facts (maybe there's another dimension where this place is under water, or perhaps this is debris from a passing sky-island).



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 10:41 PM
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Welcome Lostbug, thank you for your very first post. Some of my favorite magical thinkers are in the movie industry, but I have to give my highest honors to Jk Rowling for taking magical thinking to new heights.(she deserves every penny) Some of our technology even comes from the movies. The Matrix phone for an example.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 10:48 PM
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Um, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and UFOs, Harry Potter and genetics have absolutely nothing to do with evne the concept of magical thinking. Where are you guys drawing the connection? The OP seems to be two ideas strung together with no connection at all.

Magical thinking is a pretty well-defined idea in psychology and anthropology, but I think all of you are getting magical thinking confused with believing in magic. They are actually very different things.

I lose more and more faith in ATS every day...



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 10:51 PM
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Originally posted by lostbug

The strict quantification of materialistic thinking does have its place as well.



Agreed. materialism is unparalleled in describing the world under "normal" conditions. Some of us are just more fascinated by the exceptions to the rules; the para normal. But definitely, without materialism, there's no safe harbor for any of our theories of knowledge.




The problem that I see comes when materialistic thinking disregards evidence because it doesn't fit with preconceived notions (fish don't fall from the sky, and if they do, it must be from a waterspout even if miles from water), whereas the 'childlike wonder' of magical thinking develops new hypotheses to cover the facts (maybe there's another dimension where this place is under water, or perhaps this is debris from a passing sky-island).


I'm reading Fort this very evening! You type like a fellow-traveler!

all the best.

.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 10:56 PM
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Here's a prime example where the materialists resort to magical thinking. Materialist scientists believed in the steady state theory - that the universe was eternal until the Big bang was proved Creation rather recently. Not only that cosmologists determined the universe is fine tuned to a very precise degree to support life on earth. Not liking the obvious philosophical implications, materialists scrambled.

To rationalize this away in materialist terms they came up with a fantasy of multiple universes. So if their is an infinite number of universes the odd of one being tuned just right go up and we're no longer special. Problem is there's zero evidence for this idea. Its complete MAGICAL THINKING.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 11:04 PM
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reply to post by Bigwhammy
 


That's not magical thinking at all. Not even close.

Magical thinking, at it's core, consists of two principles:

1. Like produces like. This means that a shaman dressing as a deer and the hunter's "catching" him (in some kind of spiritual dance) will cause the next day's hunt to be successful. As the symbolic deer was successfully caught in the symbollic hunt, so will the real deer during the real hunt. This is also why there is the "law of attraction", believing that and thinking that good things will happen will cause good things to happen.

2. Objects that were once in contact maintain a connection when seperated. This is why you treasure a Christmas card from your family more than one from your boss, even though they are both just pieces of paper.

This is what anyone who know what they're talking about means when they say "Magical thinking." You and most other people in this thread are talking about the usual "high strangeness" stuff that has nothing to dow the the accepted term.

Ignorance successfuly denied?

[edit on 6-28-2008 by Esoterica]



posted on Jun, 29 2008 @ 02:50 AM
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Originally posted by Esoterica
reply to post by Bigwhammy
 


That's not magical thinking at all. Not even close.

Magical thinking, at it's core, consists of two principles:

1. Like produces like. This means that a shaman dressing as a deer and the hunter's "catching" him (in some kind of spiritual dance) will cause the next day's hunt to be successful. As the symbolic deer was successfully caught in the symbollic hunt, so will the real deer during the real hunt. This is also why there is the "law of attraction", believing that and thinking that good things will happen will cause good things to happen.

2. Objects that were once in contact maintain a connection when seperated. This is why you treasure a Christmas card from your family more than one from your boss, even though they are both just pieces of paper.

This is what anyone who know what they're talking about means when they say "Magical thinking." You and most other people in this thread are talking about the usual "high strangeness" stuff that has nothing to dow the the accepted term.

Ignorance successfuly denied?

[edit on 6-28-2008 by Esoterica]
Maybe you should take it up with Wiki then, because all of those source concepts were listed under the definition of Magical Thinking. Thinking magically is not some term "owned" by Psychology, it is a term and concept used across the social sciences. Are you saying we can't use the term Magical Thinking unless it used in child development? Like produces like is also not "owned" by psychology. That is a process also used by genetics and agriculture. Objects or even people who maintain a connection sometimes do so by magnetics or something called love. Also not exclusive to psychology.
"High Strangeness" is something you coined personally, and is up for extreme interpretation. What the OP is implying is that a psychological phase of childhood continues into adulthood and is expressed in numerous debatable ways.



posted on Jun, 29 2008 @ 02:57 AM
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Would you be happier if I said Magical Thinking leads to Belief in Magic? Either way adults are sometimes involved.
Magical Thinking, Thinking Magically:
You can call it whatever you like, but we all do it.

[edit on 29-6-2008 by seagrass]



posted on Jun, 29 2008 @ 09:53 AM
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I looked at the wiki article,. I see no mention of UFO's, the Tooth Fairy, genetics, or a "fine tuned" universe as the later poster mentioned.

If you're trying to tell me that childish, ignorant ways of explaining the world continue until adulthood, I would heartily agree. ATS is a treasure trove of that happening
. I won't say the paranormal doesn't exist as I do agree that there are still true msyterie sin the world, but I think that the majority of claims of it is based on the ignorance of those experiencing it, be they adults or children.

[edit on 6-29-2008 by Esoterica]






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