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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".
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
This is not unlike magical thinking in non-afflicted individuals; lucky garments and activities are common in the sports world
Either it is real phenomena or someone's imagination.
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."
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. In short, methods that are scientific may be used to generate results that merely seem scientific.
Originally posted by lostbug
The strict quantification of materialistic thinking does have its place as well.
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).
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.
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]